Blade and Bow is a very nice drink of Bourbon despite all of the marketing gimmicks Diageo put into this whiskey. They market that they have used a Solera method of aging of the whiskey. For those unfamiliar with this method it is a style of aging very popular with Spanish Brandy producers. The idea is that small amounts of young spirits quickly take on the characteristics of older whiskey when added to an aging barrel of spirits. What they will do is to have a set number of barrels ranging in age. They will bottle say 30% from the oldest barrel and then refill that barrel with spirits from the next oldest and then refill that barrel from the next oldest and so on with them adding new spirits to the youngest barrel. This a tried and true method that has been in use in Spain for a long time. I am not sure if that style should be labeled straight whiskey but evidently Diageo has convinced the government that it is.
The next marketing strategy is that they say it has Stitzel-Weller whiskey in the bottle because some Stitzel-Weller barrels are part of the mix. Now it is true that mathematically there will always be some of that original whiskey in the barrel but every time you withdraw from those barrels it becomes less and by now I would be surprised if there was more than a few drops of that original whiskey left in each bottle.
They have also taken a play from Blanton’s marketing book. People will purchase Blanton’s bottles just to get the Jockey and Horse topper they need to complete the collection and spell out “Blantons”. In this case, Blade and Bow has a key on a string used to break the seal on the bottle. There are five different keys with each one having from one to five teeth on the blade. Diageo are hoping people will begin to collect the keys like they do Blanton’s Jockeys. The bottle is labeled with an explanation about the five keys to the flavor of the Bourbon. Despite all of this marketing gimmickry the whiskey is still a very good whiskey and worth the investment in the bottle.
Blade And Bow Bourbon
Age: No age statement because the Solera method makes this impossible.
Nose: Caramel and vanilla with some dried fruit – dates and apricots. A little leather or tobacco with a hint of sweet spice.
Taste: Caramel and apricots with baking spices and oak. Very nice mouth feel and no burn. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the fruit comes forward and the spice is less forward. Tasted with a pecan and the fruit is replaced by the leather and tobacco with the baking spices.
Finish: Starts with a little oak but quickly becomes more peppery before returning to a dry oak. The cranberry takes the spice from pepper to more of a cinnamon and nutmeg flavor. The pecan takes the pepper out of the finish completely and brings out the oak wood for a long dry finish.
This is a very pleasant Bourbon to sip neat and will probably work well in a classic cocktail as well – a Manhattan in particular. I am also enjoying this with a cigar, a Padron 1964 Anniversary Series. The smoke is bringing a few milk chocolate notes out in the Bourbon and the Bourbon is bringing some sweet spice to the smoke. A very good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach
February 1, 2018 at 2:16 am
Glad you pointed out the gimmicks, Mike. In my mind, this whiskey screams “money grab.” I’ve avoided it solely on that thought.
February 1, 2018 at 2:31 am
Itmis good whiskey despite the gimmicks. Give it a try.
February 1, 2018 at 7:57 am
Good to know this is decent whiskey, and nice insight in the review. But because of their deceptive marketing that borders sleezy, I’ll continue to boycott Diageo just the same. They need a good dose of 130 proof transparency.
Interesting point about them calling Blade and Bow straight bourbon. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it a requirement to be aged in new oak? And if you use a solera system and dump a portion of the cask and refill it with different contents, it seems to me by definition it would no longer be in new oak. I believe it is true that even a straight bourbon finished in another type of cask can not legally be called straight bourbon any longer.
I hope one day a chemist will discover some SW fingerprint molecules and be able to quantify exactly how much SW juice is in the B&B products.
Also, would it be impossible to give an age statement to Blade and Bow as a solera if you just used the youngest age of the blend?
February 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm
Diageo is not the only distillery using gimmicks. They have some great whiskey.
I agree about the straight whiskey on both accounts but the government has approved both accounts. A mistake in my opinion, but if the government lets them do it they are going to do it.
February 28, 2022 at 9:28 pm
I have been trying to find a bourbon as good as this for years. Now it is hard to find in stores.I have been drinking Basil Haden for 35 years…now I want to Switch.