The Blade & Bow review
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Price: c. $40 (£100+)
Deep in the bowels of Diageo...
DAVE: Boss we found it!
BOSS: You mean?
DAVE: Yes. The last remaining cask from the Stitzel-Weller distillery. It's a bit battered, and you wouldn't believe the amount of dust on this thing, but it's still intact. What do you want us to do with it?
BOSS: Hmmmm, this is tricky. We have only one barrel but we need to make it appear as though we have an infinite supply.
DAVE: But boss that's impossible...
BOSS: (Shouts) Silence Dave! I'm thinking. We may need the Devil's assistance here.
DAVE: (gasps) You can't be serious -
BOSS: I'm deadly serious. Only the Devil has enough trickery to solve our problem. Call Mark Devil from the Marketing department immediately!!
DAVE: Yes boss, right away boss.
1 hour later...
DEVIL: I see your dilemma. You were right to send for me, this is the Devil's work indeed.
DAVE: Why don't you use your first name? Mark's a nice name?
DEVIL: (Shouts) Silence Dave!
BOSS: (Shouts) Silence Dave!
DEVIL: (Grinning) I have your solution. I will take your last remaining barrel and I will make it last forever.
DEVIL: Nothing is impossible for the Devil.
DAVE: (Quietly) Mark.
DEVIL: Gather round and I will explain to you the 'Solera system'. (Mumbles) And after that you will sign over your soul to me.
DEVIL: Nothing! Now listen closely, and Dave go tell the Manufacturing department to make a million keys.
Fade to present day and the Gents review
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – very sweet, apple, pear and vanilla. Very light but overall fruity. Banana, even caramelised (Mr Pie)
What they say we should get - Red fruit, caramel, vanilla and dust fill the nasal passages with lighter notes of spice, bittersweet cocoa powder, wood and cough syrup. There is an underlying waxy sweetness.
What we got – Apple, minty and the banana following through from the nose with a hint of spice. A little watery overall. Finding the oak palate at the end.
What they say we should get - Nice notes of red fruit and pit fruit along with notes of caramel, butterscotch, leather, grains and baking spices (anise, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg). Light vegetal underpinning.
What we got – Exceptionally short finish which simply disappears into thin air.
What they say we should get - Medium paced with notes of cinnamon toast, vanilla and wood.
Let's just ignore the Stitzel-Weller connection and the Solera system. Let's also ignore the fancy bottle, and the free key, and just ask - Is this bourbon actually good enough to stand on it's own? Or does it need all the marketing that surrounds it?
The simple answer is that from our point of view this is a good bourbon. Sure, the story and the marketing may help it sell to the casual buyer who needs that to differentiate it from all the others on the shelves. However, from the Gents point of view, bourbon needs to hold up when it's just the liquid in the glass. Our scoring system doesn't take hype or a good story into account and this dram doesn't need it.
It's fruit bomb as Mr Pie put it when we reviewed it on the podcast. The nose is alive with light fruity aromas. Not too strong as to overwhelm, but just light enough to keep you coming back to inhale them again. This has quickly become one of Mav's favourite noses. The fruit also follows through on the palate and adds in a touch of mint.
It's the finish though where this bourbon might be a little divisive... because there isn't one. Now this is odd and at first when we tried this in our local bourbon bar we were surprised, and then a little disappointed. Upon reflection though Mav is convinced that this doesn't matter. There are bourbons out there that have great big finishes, so if you're in the mood for one of those then you are covered. If, however, you aren't then this fits the bill nicely. Do you always need a big finish bourbon? We say no, and thus have not marked this dram down because of it.
7 out of 10 - Mav
6 out of 10 – Mr. Pie