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Friday, December 29, 2017

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Blade and Bow is a Diageo brand that comes in a standard non-age-stated variety or with a 22-year age statement.  Both rely heavily on a tie-in to the famed Stitzel-Weller distillery in Shively, Kentucky.  I’ve never seen the 22-year version (containing bourbon distilled at the Old Bernheim Distillery and the George T. Stagg Distillery, but aged at Stitzel-Weller) for sale in Louisville, but the non-age-stated version is readily available.

Diageo uses the “Solera System” for this non-age-stated Blade & Bow, which essentially never quite empties the old surviving Stitzel-Weller stocks that are part of the blend.  This is a process where a series of five tanks are used each with progressively older bourbon at the bottom, in this case, bourbon distilled at Stitzel-Weller.  Only a fraction of the bottom / oldest tank is used for the blend, and then that tank is refilled from the next oldest stock, which is repeated through the succession of tanks, with the youngest bourbon used to fill the top tank.  The procedure is repeated for each new batch and while the percentage of Stitzel-Weller bourbon will diminish, there will be at least trace amounts for the foreseeable future.

Put in a lot less complicated terms, Blade & Bow has a tiny bit of Stitzel-Weller 20-something year-old bourbon blended in with bourbon distilled at an undisclosed distillery or distilleries.  Many critics call it a gimmick or decry Diageo’s use of its old stocks, but if I called the shots, I’d probably use the Stitzel-Weller name even more.  It’s legendary property that suffered the harshest consequences of the nation’s turn away from whiskey, and during the 25 years since its closure, thousands and thousands of barrels continued to age.  Why not tout that?

Bourbon:
Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery:
Undisclosed.

Age:
Unstated.

ABV:
45.5% (91 proof)

Cost:
$50.00

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Medium amber.

Nose:
The aromas are subtle but very pleasant.  There is slight oak, but more of the polished-wood variety, and other aromas that are light and refreshing, like fresh citrus, spring grass, and a little mint.

Taste:
The taste isn’t as subtle as the aromas and it has some heat higher than its proof, but it’s consistent in its refreshing lightness, with light fruit (apple, pear), vanilla, and caramel sweetness.  A little pepper and baking spice round it out, but it’s missing a true spicy or oaky backbone.  Still, it is an elegant sipping whiskey.

Finish:
Blade & Bow finishes fast with lingering warmth and flavors of grain and char.  It’s pleasant again, but not a $50 finish.

Bottom Line

Some bourbon is contemplative, some is robust, and some is easy sipping.  That’s where Blade & Bow fits in; it’s an enjoyable, easy-sipping bourbon.  That’s what makes it an approachable bourbon and a great gift, especially when the Blade & Bow bottle adds its great presentation, which is why it made my 2017 Bourbon Gift Guide for a host/hostess gift.


Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale:  3.0

The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill.  I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings.  Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon.  Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws.  I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

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