“Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (91 proof, 45.5% ABV) is born from some of the oldest remaining stocks to be distilled at Stitzel-Weller before the distillery shut its doors in 1992. Matured using the solera aging method, this last remaining bourbon ever distilled at Stitzel-Weller is mingled with other fine whiskies that have since been aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller, resulting in a premium liquid that contains a piece of history in every sip.”
Named after the two parts of a skeleton key, the blade shaft and the ornate bow handle, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey derives its inspiration from the Five Keys symbol that can be found throughout the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Representing the five steps of crafting bourbon – grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation and aging – these keys have grown to symbolize the southern traditions of hospitality, warmth and enjoying the finer things in life.
Those are snippets from the official press release for a new release from Diageo. In case you’re not familiar, let’s cover a couple of things that are a bit different than some of their other things on the market right now.
Solera aging method is a technique that started in the wine industry, and expanded to include spirits like brandy, rum and whiskey. Without being too nerdy, solera means “on the ground” in Spanish and was developed to produce a product with a consistent average age and taste. You stack barrels in rows by age, youngest on top. Each year, some percentage of the bottom barrel is bottled off, and liquid from the top-most barrel is blended down to the one under it, until you reach the bottom, with no barrel ever being completely emptied. It can be a complicated technique, depending on how you stack, what percentage you blend into each barrel, but those are the basics.
Stitzel-Weller distillery closed its doors in 1992 – and was originally the home of what we know as Pappy Van Winkle. Before you ask…no, I don’t think the “other fine whiskies mingled” in Blade and Bow are PVW. Just from the same distillery (PVW is now made at the Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky).
OK, enough of the history lesson. How’s it taste and can you buy it? The sample that the company sent me is the Straight Bourbon (which came in a cool barrel with a little key, of course), and they also offer a 22 year limited release version (retail $150). Sláinte!
Color: medium, shading more toward yellow than gold, not as dark as I would’ve expected for a fifteen year old whiskey
Nose: sweet caramel with a mild ethanol burn, faintest smell of fresh nail polish
Taste: cinnamon and cotton candy finish, with hint of fresh tea. Tastes like a higher proof than it is. Long, warm finish. Very sweet overall.
Overall: Blade & Bow is a good whiskey – not the greatest, and I’d be curious to see if the extra age of the 22 year old takes away some of the sweetness, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. If you’re looking for a small piece of history, and a bottle that’s reasonably priced, check out Blade & Bow.
8 pancakes out of 10 – good stuff!
Article by Jeanne Runkle