The Blade and Bow project started three years ago with intentions of honoring the heritage of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery site. There is currently no major distilling there today (a micro-still is in the works) but it does still have several warehouses, which is where Diageo ages most, if not all, of its North American whiskey. The name, Blade and Bow, comes from the anatomy of a key (the blade is the long section and the bow is the end or ornamental part) and the Five Key symbol that has always had a strong presence at Stitzel-Weller. The Five Key symbol stands for the five steps of making Bourbon (grains, yeast, fermentaion, distillation and aging) and was later used as a symbol of southern hospitality. The design of the bottle also honors the Five Key way of doing things. Five of its six sides are dedicated to the five steps of crafting Bourbon, leaving one side for the labeling. This Bourbon has already scooped up a couple major awards winning “Best Straight Bourbon” and a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The Bourbon inside this limited offering is not from Stitzel-Weller nor would the folks at Diageo tell us the exact name of the distilleries it came from. But they did share the juice is from two distilleries, one located on 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville (current address of the Bernheim Distillery) and the other one residing at 1001 Wilkinson Boulevard in Frankfort (current address of the Buffalo Trace Distillery). Although Diageo wouldn’t officially say there are four ingredients (corn, rye, wheat and malted barley) in the mashbill for Blade and Bow, they wouldn’t deny it either. This leads us to believe there is a good chance it’s a four grain recipe since Bourbon made at Stitzel-Weller was wheated.
Golden brown in color, the nose has many of the signature characteristics of Stitzel-Weller whiskey including bright green apple, banana, cinnamon spice, and oak. While there’s no age statement on this Blade and Bow (and with the solera system, age statements get muddled), it’s clear from the strength of the oak on the nose that there are some older stocks in this whiskey. The aromas on the nose are fairly well integrated, and spicy. The green apple and banana from the nose are there, along with caramel and a flash of the oak spice from the nose. In the midpalate, the oak spice ramps up a bit and is joined by black pepper and cinnamon. The level of spice is fairly balanced and light. Underneath, the spice is the tart green apple note from the entry. As with the entry, the finish is shorter and lighter than expected. It’s slightly dry and tart with just a hint of that oak spice.