To create a means for regulating the quality of whiskey and weeding out shams, the government created the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. In order to be bonded, a whiskey had to be aged at least four years in a federally bonded warehouse, produced in a single season at a single distillery and bottled at 100 proof. To guarantee this, the government placed a lock on all bonded warehouses, preventing distillery workers from entering without supervision.
Not wanting to give the government unchecked access to his warehouses, David Beam put his own lock right next to the government one. As he would say, it was just his way of keeping everybody honest. Today, Jim Beam Bonded is still made in accordance with the Bottled in Bond Act, and the two keys on the label harken back to the two locks on our doors—one for the government and one for us.