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Blade And Bow – Diageo’s Latest Attempt To Cash In On Stitzel-Weller? — Dramming
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Blade And Bow – Diageo’s Latest Attempt To Cash In On Stitzel-Weller?

by Oliver Klimek on May 18, 2015

Last week Diageo announced their new bourbon brand Blade and Bow. According to the press release there will be two expressions, a no age statement “Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” at 45.5% ABV (RRP $49.99) and a 22 yo “Limited Release” at 46% ABV (RRP 149.99).

The provenance of these whiskies is very interesting. The NAS bottling is described as using a solera system where “some of the oldest remaining stocks to be distilled at Stitzel-Weller” is “mingled with other fine whiskies […] resulting in a premium liquid that contains a piece of history in every sip”.

The 22 year old bottling is said to be “inclusive of whiskies distilled at both the distillery historically located at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville, Ky. and the distillery historically located at 1001 Wilkinson Blvd. in Frankfort, Ky.,” In other words it is a blend of Bernheim and Buffalo Trace. 

It is fairly likely that through the use of the solera method the cheap version will only contain a minuscule amount of the old Stitzel-Weller bourbon. It probably was set up especially for this purpose, to be able to say it contains the “good stuff” but to minimize the actual amount in it. And there appears to be not a single drop of Stitzel-Weller in the 22 year old even though the introductory text of the press release connects both bottlings to the distillery:

Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, DIAGEO’s newest brand within its American Whiskey portfolio, pays homage to the artful passion and renowned craftsmanship of the celebrated Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.

The naming of only the distillery addresses for the 22 yo does a very good good job in

  • evading possible legal action of the distilleries invovled because of name rights
  • obfuscating the real provenance
  • making unsuspicious readers believe that one of the “historical” addresses may actually be the one of Stitzel-Weller.

Diageo has to be applauded for bringing the Stitzel-Weller distillery back to life. And I am sure they will be making good bourbon there. But these new bottlings look more like an attempt to benefit from the aura of historic Stitzel-Weller and the current hype about the old “Pappy juice” than anything else.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff May 18, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Throw on top of all that the presentation that age matters to one whisky but not to the other and, yes, you’ve got a whole pile of spin. It’s important to know that the NAS contains “some of the oldest remaining stocks to be distilled at Stitzel-Weller”, but not how old they are (or, as you point out, their proportion) and that these are “mingled with other fine whiskies […] resulting in a premium liquid that contains a piece of history in every sip”, but not how big a piece of history we’re talking about.

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Hoke Harden May 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm

You’re being far too harsh here with your insistence on reality and interpreting the hype.

Think of Blade & Bow as Diageo’s homeopathic whiskey. It may be a few drops for every few thousand proof gallons, but the old whiskey “schools” the younger whiskey into maturity.

If it’s easier, think of it as magic.

And, hey, shouldn’t cash cows be milked dry?

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Oliver Klimek May 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm

LOL. Yes, I might be a little old fashioned about these things…

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Maltklaus May 18, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Not old-fashioned. Down to earth!

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Mark May 19, 2015 at 1:58 am

I don’t blame them for not wanting to use Buffalo Trace’s name. When they put the George T Stagg distillery name on one of the Orphan Barrels Sazerac threatened to sue them. It’s not just about obfuscating provenance, though that may be part of it.

Reply

Oliver Klimek May 19, 2015 at 5:20 am

This is exactly why I put the legal aspect on top of the bullet list.

Reply

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