Published on July 21st, 2015 | by Greg0
Blade And Bow: A New Bourbon With History
New spirit brands launch regularly, but whiskey is a little bit different. While wines may take a year or so, and some spirits like gin even less time to come to maturation, whiskey needs to age for quite a while to be drinkable, much less exceptional. Take the original stuff that forms your favorite brand and you won’t likely be able to tell what it will become- the combination of barrels and lengthy aging is what makes the stuff so expensive and so prized. Craft bourbon is one of America’s greatest contributions to the craft spirits category, one that is fast-growing, which has led major distilleries to take notice.
Spirits company Diageo makes some very well-known brands like Bulleit and Johnnie Walker, and inevitably had to launch something in this premium bracket. What you might not expect is that they’d go to great lengths to distill, create, produce- and market- a surprising bourbon with an interesting history, the new Blade and Bow Kentucky Bourbon. It begins with the legendary Louisville Stitzel-Weller distillery which was founded in 1935 and open until 1992, and a host of barrels that they inherited when they took over and renovated the property, a process that is ongoing (and will end up with what sounds like it could be Disneyland for bourbon lovers, a whiskey experience melding history, tasting and production).
These barrels are fed into an unusual solera system, a five-tiered aging and blending mixer that ensures a little bit of their original product (including some of the last bourbon produced there before it closed) makes it into every new bottle of Blade and Bow (91 proof). On the flipside, it also means that unlike most competitors, there isn’t any clear “age” to their basic bottle- some of it will be older or newer, and so it’s not distinctly a ’10-year’ or a ’12-year’. That’s not the case, though, for their higher-end version- they’ve split the name into two basic whiskey releases, one of them the limited-edition 22-Year Old (92 proof), winner of a Double Gold Medal at the SF Spirits Competition.
And there is definitely a difference- the limited edition was darker, with a better body and a much richer flavor, notes of wood and a little smoke versus a slightly candy, fruitier taste on the younger edition. We liked the nose on both- zestier with age but inviting on either- and both were balanced and smooth. For sipping, the 22-Year-Old can compare nicely against anything else on your top shelf, and the regular Blade and Bow still makes a great gift and mixes well. The packaging is certainly luxurious with a nifty twist- each bottle has a key attached, with five different ones out there for you to collect (and potentially redeem as a set for something special we hear). The name of the brand itself actually refers to the two parts of a key, a fact you can bring up at the bar next time you offer someone special a drink. Bottles run $50 or $150, which seems just a bit too expensive, available now and well worth trying.