Blade and Bow
Last year, the British spirits conglomerate Diageo released Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. As my image above illustrates, there are two versions- a no age statement (NAS), 91 proofer and a 22-year-old 92 proofer.
You can read a long background on Blade and Bow by The Bourbon Review, here. Bottom line from our perspective: Diageo's inclusion of the words "Stitzel-Weller DIstilling Co." is a ridiculous attempt to capitalize on the Pappy hype. While Blade and Bow is blended at the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery where Julian P. Van Winkle, Sr. was the senior proprietor, Diageo acquired the distillery and they closed it in 1992. These bourbons are produced by other Kentucky distilleries. While there is some Stitzel-Weller bourbon included in the NAS blend, for all we know, each bottle contains a single tear drop of early 90s Stitzel-Weller whiskey. By using the solera method, Diageo is able to blend old product with newer stuff from an undisclosed location. [The 22-year-old is apparently a blend of Bernheim and Buffalo Trace bourbon].
The name comes from the anatomy of a key (the blade is the long portion and the bow is the ornamental part), a symbol with ties to Stitzel-Weller. The Five Key symbol stands for the five steps in making bourbon (grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation, and aging) and was also used by Van Winkle as a symbol of southern hospitality. We passed on the $175 22-year-old blend but received a bottle of the NAS as a gracious gift from Kentucky kin.
Blade and Bow
$55 at Liquor Barn in Lexington, KY
Color: Light amber.
Nose: The nose is generally sweet and pleasant. I get maple syrup, brown sugar, warm rye bread, wet oak, and indoor pool chlorine, perhaps.
Tasting Notes: The sip is thin and the body oily. The flavors are predominantly sweet. Lemon zest and apple cider transition into cinnamon spice and very young, green wood. The finish is somewhat metallic.
Overall: C+. Not my favorite dram, although you can see that we've put a dent in the bottle. We recently paired it with mild cigars and the smoke improved the sip quite a bit. Glad we got to try Blade and Bow, although it would be nice to know more about where it comes from!