Class: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Price: $45 - 55 U.S. Retail
Blade and Bow is a relatively new bourbon in the American whiskey scene. It was introduced by Diageo, a massive London-based spirits corporation, in 2014 in conjunction with the reopening of the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery to the public. There is perhaps no distillery more famous in bourbon lore than Stitzel-Weller, whose column stills used to pump out the sweet wheated spirit that would become Pappy Van Winkle bourbon from the 1930's to its closure 1992.
Before you let your minds run wild with delusions of grandeur (rivers of new Pappy flowing out from Louisville!), know that the Stitzel-Weller distillery is still not currently producing any whiskey other than from one currently operational micro-still that can produce about a barrel per day and is used for research purposes. Instead, the Stitzel-Weller site is utilized for its large amount of aging warehouse space (Bulliet, Crown Royal, Blade and Bow, and other Diageo whiskeys are aged there), and as a blending/bottling plant. Oh, and don't forget the tourist attraction component.
So what do we know about Blade and Bow? We know that, due to the unique Solera blending system that Blade and Bow utilizes, each bottle contains at least a fraction of some of the original Stitzel-Weller bourbon distilled before 1992 that was retained by what is now Diageo. Apart from this, the components are a closely held secret. They must be at least 4 years old, given the bourbon's "straight" designation and lack of age statement. Conventional wisdom would suggest that some of the whiskey is sourced from Heaven Hill and/or Buffalo Trace, since they are the sources of the bourbons used in Blade and Bow's limited 22 year old release.
- No Age Statement
- Aged and Bottled by Diageo at the Stitzel-Weller distillery site
- Unknown mash bill
- Bottled at 45.5% ABV (91 proof)
Nose: Quite interesting, with notes of vanilla, butterscotch, oak, and burnt sugar.
Palate: The classic bourbon-y oak and vanilla notes lead the way here, with some additional layers of honey and cinnamon.
Finish: Fairly short lived. A bit spicier than the palate with black pepper, cinnamon, and butterscotch. Quite warming, at least more so than one would expect given the proof.
- Nose - 77
- Palate - 79
- Finish - 76
- Overall - 78/100
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. This is a solid bourbon, but there is nothing spectacular about it. It has a pretty classic bourbon profile that most bourbon drinkers will enjoy. The flavors are tame and approachable, making this a simple sipping bourbon that those leery of bold proof/flavor will be able to easily enjoy. All in all, it's a bit underwhelming, given the premium price and the bourbons competing against it in that stellar $50 range.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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