How to Make a Whisky Bottle Look Old

As I was working on a current project, D ( my hubby) came to me with an empty Bulleit Bourbon whiskey bottle.  He was going to throw it away so he sat it on my shop table and said “I thought you could probably do something with this.”

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey Bottle Before Makeover

Of course, he knows me quite well!  Although it sat on my shop table for a month or two, I finally got around to giving it a makeover.

The Bulleit Bourbon Bottle Makeover

When thinking of whiskey, my mind takes me back to the old days when moonshiners made their whiskey in their hand-crafted stills.  It was that thought that gave me the inspiration for this Bulleit Bourbon bottle makeover. 

I did not want to slap paint on it and call it a day.  The raised text etching was beautiful and I wanted to make that stand out in some form or fashion.

I knew I wanted to give the whiskey bottle an old, rustic look, but how? I decided I would ponder on it a bit.

Removing the Whiskey Bottle Label

First and foremost I had to remove the pesky label.  Sometimes these labels are removed easily, other times you almost have to take a pressure washer to remove them!  But with a little perseverance and patience, I got it removed.

I let the bottle soak in hot water and dish detergent for a couple of hours.  I then sprayed Windex on the label and let it soak for about ten minutes.  To remove the glue,  I used a Brillo pad lightly scrubbing the label as well as the glue backing from the bottle.  Worked like a charm!

I let the bottle air dry overnight.  I did not want any water or moisture left on the inside of the bottle before I started applying the paint.

The Whiskey Bottle Makeover “Aha” Moment

The next day I thought I would try and decide what to do with the whiskey bottle. My goal, as I mentioned above, was to give the Bulleit Bourbon whiskey bottle an old, rusty look. 

I wanted the bottle to look like it had been buried way back during old moonshine days and dug up today.  I had no idea how I would add rust to the glass bottle.

Before I started the day, D and I were sitting at the table eating breakfast.  I was explaining to him what my plan was for the whiskey bottle, and he liked the idea of giving it an old, rustic look.  But he wondered how I would pull the rust off.  He didn’t think I could do it. Game on!

The AHA Moment

We happened to be eating cinnamon toast for breakfast, which I have loved since I was a small child.  That’s when a light bulb went off!  As I was sprinkling the cinnamon onto the toast, I thought to myself “Oh my gosh this totally looks like the color of rust.”   D could see my brain cells churning haha, but he didn’t dare ask questions.

I was skeptical about the cinnamon.  I mean this is an item from the kitchen that is meant for food.  But, I knew if it didn’t achieve the look I wanted, I could start over again.  So, I decided to give it a shot!  

The Painting Process

Since I wanted the etched wording to stand out, I needed to use two colors of paint. One for the base color, and another for the top color.

I had white chalk paint in my stash, so I gave the bottle two coats of Dixie Belle Cotton (white), allowing a couple of hours of drying time in between coats. This would serve as my base color for the bottle. This is after one coat.

Whiskey bottle with one coat of white paint.

For the top coat, I chose to use Dixie Belle chalk paint in Caviar. I had it on hand left over from my granddaughter’s dresser project.

I applied one coat of the Caviar chalk paint and then set it aside to dry completely.

Adding the “Rust”

Next was adding the cinnamon to the bottle. This needs to be done while the paint is still wet. I applied a second coat of black chalk paint.  While the paint was still wet, I added my “rust” a.k.a. cinnamon, by sprinkling it lightly here and there all over the bottle until I achieved the look I wanted.  

Adding the cinnamon to the whiskey bottle.

This is where I begin to get excited!  It looked just like rust on the bottle! It worked!

Keep in mind that you can add as much or as little cinnamon, depending on how “rusty” you want your whiskey bottle to look.

After it dried, I took a piece of 220-grit sandpaper and lightly sanded around the wording, and then the entire bottle, making sure to very lightly sand around the cinnamon.  Remember not to sand too aggressively, it will remove all of your cinnamon!

This is where the base coat that we applied in an earlier step comes in.  I did not want the clear glass peeking through on my finished whisky bottle, so the white paint served as a barrier. This barrier will keep the clear glass from peeking through when you are lightly sanding. It is very important not to sand too hard here.

Old Rustic Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey Bottle After 

Ya’ll to say I was excited is an understatement!  Not to brag, but I was ecstatic with the way the bottle turned out!  The cinnamon absolutely did the trick.  And of course, it gave the whiskey bottle a wonderful smell!

Since the bottle was for decor purposes only, I did not seal the finish. It was not going to be used at all, and I did not want to take away from the worn look!

Whiskey Bottle After With Rust

The Big Reveal

Since D works shiftwork, I was able to hide the entire process from him.  My objective here was to surprise him with his old, rusty whiskey bottle!

I snuck into his office and placed it on his cabinet on the top shelf.  He is a YouTuber, so I wanted to make sure that it was placed in the background where it could be seen during one of his live videos.

It worked out perfectly!  He never noticed the bottle, until the next night when he was conducting one of his YouTube lives and someone asked him about the old bottle in the background.  It could NOT have played out more perfectly.  He LOVED the way it turned out! And so did his followers!

Bottles that have the raised etched lettering make awesome DIY projects!  I plan to use the empty Crown Royal bottles I have on hand to create beautiful decor.  They also have the raised etching, so it’s a great base to work with.

As a creative person, sometimes inspiration comes to you in the weirdest places and at the craziest times!  I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go that allows me to take notes when inspiration hits.

If you love repurposed and thrift store makeovers, then join my FREE Facebook group, Redhead Remakes!  It is a group of awesome people who love to thrift and who love to see repurposed furniture and thrift store makeovers.  

If you have given a bottle a makeover, I would love to see it!  Join the Facebook group and share it with me today.

Check out the Fishing Lure Wall Decor I made for him from an old thrift store picture frame!

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