Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin
It wouldn’t be surprising for those who appreciate savory spirits if their favorite bourbon is Blade and Bow. However, is this bourbon’s history enough to call it one of the best whiskey brands? Is the whiskey aged to perfection?
Let us find out what this historic whiskey is made of in this Blade and Bow Bourbon review.
All About Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Diageo currently produces Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight bourbon, but Stitzel-Weller Distillery initially created this. They are reproducing this bourbon using the Solera aging method (1). The Solera method blends whiskeys aged differently and combines them in a barrel for additional aging.
They blend the barrels made from the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery with a younger-aged whiskey. The flavors of the original blends from Stitzel-Weller Distillery are still present in the newer releases. The original blends can no longer be duplicated exactly how they did before. Blending it with a newer variety is the only way to ensure continuity and consistency of the same savory taste and delectable smoothness.
Brief Distillery History
The story of Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. and his wheated bourbon all began in 1935 when the Stitzel-Weller distillery opened in Shively, Kentucky. However, the Van Winkle family had to sell Stitzel-Weller Distilling Company in 1972.
The original distillery continued to produce the same type of whiskeys but eventually closed in 1992. In 2014, Diageo, the company that purchased the original Stitzel-Weller distillate, decided to reopen and reproduce the American whiskey.
How It’s Made
Stitzel-Weller made their bourbons using wheat instead of the usual rye. It gives the bourbon a richer taste and a smooth finish. Unlike others who use commercial yeast, they continue to cook sour mash to release the sugars.
However, the reproduction of Pappy’s bourbon is not the same. Diageo implemented the Solera aging method to ensure that the bourbon produced has the same consistency and flavor the Stitzel-Weller name is known for.
Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey are made of 51% corn. Stitzel-Weller Distilleries opened on Kentucky Derby Day in 1935 and used the same mash content but only with wheat and barley.
However, Diageo is no longer following the old bourbon production equation used by Pappy religiously. There are four grains used in the current blends—corn as the main component, rye, wheat, and barley.
There is no age statement on one of the two Blade and Bow variants, the Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey. However, since this is straight bourbon, it should be aged no less than four years.
The second variant is the 22-Year-Old Limited Release. Both are a blend of different whiskeys. The Solera system blended younger bottles with bourbons made from the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
The younger bourbon whiskey has a slight difference from the older Stitzel-Weller bourbon. This variant has enjoyable fruity tasting notes with strong hints of vanilla and candied cherries. It tastes a bit hot at first but eventually minimizes mid-palate.
The 22-year-old bourbon whiskey is a confectionery treat with woody oak notes, leather, roasted pecan, and caramel. Both possess remarkable complex flavors only a few distilleries were able to achieve.
The same scent goes for the two variants. The scent of vanilla is very noticeable to the nose, along with hints of oak, apples, and pears. However, you can smell honey graham cracker and caramel on the 22-year-old bourbon whiskey.
The two variants have different distinct colors. The younger drink has a light copper appearance and has the right viscosity.
On the other hand, the 22-year-old variant has a deeper red that has many legs in it. Due to aging, it has acquired a woody cherry shade with an obvious richness and dense texture.
The younger variant has a smooth and long finish with just the right spice and oak. It does not have that over-oaked palate you taste on most whiskeys.
A 22-year-old bottle has a more intense finish with notes of walnut and a tad of pleasant bitterness. It is long with clear hints of clove.
The younger variant contains 45.5% alcohol. Even if the brand did not release an age statement, it is safe to assume that it is younger than the second variant.
On the other hand, is the 22-years bourbon that was aged in a single barrel and bottled with 46% ABV. The alcohol content is not cask strength but is high. However, it does not have any harshness when swallowed.
What’s Blade & Bow Bourbon Five Keys?
The five keys of Blade & Bow Bourbon are grains, yeast, fermentation, distilling, and aging. These are what Pappy Van Winkle stood by over the years he was creating great-tasting bourbons. It symbolizes Southern traditions by expressing hospitality and warmth.
You can find the skeleton key representation at the entrance of the admin building of the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery. The blade shaft and the ornate bow handle greet everyone who visits. This same image can be seen on all the bourbons released bearing the name Blade and Bow.
Common Blade & Bow Bourbon Price
|Bottle||Size||Alcohol By Volume||Average Price|
|Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon||750 ml||45.5%||$50.99|
|Blade & Bow 22-Year-Old||750 ml||46%||$449.99|
Compared to Other Bourbons
Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey is from Heaven Hill Distillery and was introduced in 1957. It is currently ranked as one of the best-selling whiskey brands worldwide. The flavor profile is fruity and floral with sweet vanilla notes.
However, this brand’s rye content is higher than the Blade and Bow. Price-wise, Evan Williams is cheaper. The 750 ml bottle is sold at around $39.
Jim Beam makes maker’s Mark. It is a small-batch bourbon created by T. William “Bill” Samuels Sr. It is one of the famous premium whiskey brands today. It has a delicious blend with a taste full of vanilla, cornbread, brown sugar, cocoa powder, licorice, and baking spices.
Like Blade and Bow brand, this is also a wheated bourbon. It is a very affordable drink priced at roughly $30 per 750 ml bottle.
Knob Creek is from Beam Suntory distilleries, and they introduced the first bottle in 1992. It has big and bold flavors from the nose to the palate. The smell of oak and spice will greet the nose, and the mouth will also enjoy the flavors.
This bourbon stayed inside new charred oak barrels for nine years originally. However, they removed the age statement. These are sold at around $55. These are in the same price range as the standard Blade and Bow 750 ml bottle.
Related Post: Smoke Wagon Bourbon Guide
Popular Blade & Bow Bourbon Cocktails
Blade & Bow Gold Rush
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 1.25 ounces Blade & Bow
- .5 ounce Lemon Juice
- .75 ounce Orange Blossom Honey Syrup
- Candied ginger
Place all ingredients inside a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Set the candied ginger aside. Shake well. Place ice on rocks glass and strain over contents. Top with candied ginger. Serve
Blade & Bow Manhattan
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 1 ounce Blade & Bow
- .15 ounce Cherry Heering
- .15 ounce Sweet Vermouth
- Two dashes of Angostura Bitters
- One cherry
Place all ingredients except the cherry in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir. Take a coupe glass and strain over mixed liquid. Place the cherry on top. Serve.
Is Blade and Bow Bourbon hard to find?
Blade and Bow bourbons are hard to find. Some of the barrels were bought back by Julian Van Winkle and reproduced with the help of Sazerac and Buffalo Trace Distilleries. The last bourbon barrels are with Diageo, who are not distributing it for wild releases.
Is Blade and Bow smooth?
Yes, Blade and Bow is smooth because they use wheat in making bourbon. When wheat is used as the secondary grain for the mash, it acts as a flavoring grain as they are naturally sweet. This grain is also softer, thus giving you a richer and smoother tasting experience.
Is Blade and Bow Bourbon expensive?
Blade and Bow bourbon is not expensive though the Blade and Bow Limited Release 22 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey is. According to hearsay, Diageo managed to acquire barrels of this 22-year bourbon, which is from Buffalo Trace Distillery. However, this was not confirmed.
Blade and Bow bourbons and the Stitzel-Weller Distillery are a huge part of the development of the bourbon industry. Stitzel-Weller broke the ordinary distillation process and created something out of the ordinary when Pappy began using the blended mash he used for his whiskey variants.
Do we believe that the efforts exerted by Diageo in acquiring the remaining barrels from other distilleries are worth the contents? Yes, a barrel of this brand contains one of the best bourbon brands ever created. Stitzel-Weller managed to produce a savory-smooth bourbon for a bourbon enthusiast to enjoy.