Gold-medal winner at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, is the perfect blend of tradition, history, and innovation. There are two variants of this new Diageo premium spirit: Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Both are produced in the Stitzel-Weller distillery just outside Louisville, Kentucky, which was open from 1935 until 1992. When Blade and Bow took over the property, it came with a number of barrels left over from the Stitzel-Weller days. This is where the innovation comes in: Diageo employs a five-tiered solera aging system to ensure that an amount of bourbon from the remaining Stitzel-Weller supply is included in each new bottle.
North American whiskey ambassador, Douglas Kragel, explains the importance of honoring the Stitzel-Weller tradition while providing premium bourbon whiskey for modern palates; his passion for Kentucky whiskey; and how enthusiasts can best enjoy Blade and Bow.
What prompted your passion for whiskey?
- It’s in my blood. I was born in Lexington, Kentucky. And when you’re from Kentucky it’s hard not to be a whiskey fan. My passion continued through working in the service industry and then within sales and distribution. I quickly discovered that what I love about this business is educating trade and consumers. I want to give some of my passion to everyone I meet.
Please explain how Blade and Bow is such a unique piece of bourbon history and why paying homage to Stitzel-Weller is so important.
Blade and Bow pays homage to the artful passion and renowned craftsmanship of the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Blade and Bow is named after the two parts of a skeleton key – the blade shaft and the ornate bow handle – part of the iconic Five Keys symbol found throughout the legendary Stitzel- Weller distillery. These keys represented the five steps of crafting bourbon – grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation and aging. More importantly, these keys grew to symbolize the southern traditions of hospitality, warmth and enjoying the finer things in life. To this day, the five keys can be found throughout the distillery. Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is born from some of the oldest remaining whiskey stocks to be distilled at Stitzel-Weller, using the solera aging system to preserve the original stocks. This solera liquid is then mingled with other fine whiskeys, aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller.
What’s your advice for the uninitiated Blade and Bow drinker? Best way to enjoy it?
- I always say, try it neat to start. This way you can understand exactly what it tastes like. Then maybe add some water — cutting down the proof will open up a whole new spectrum of flavor in the whiskey. After that, I say drink it however you like. Blade and Bow can be enjoyed in classic cocktails like the Manhattan or Presbyterian. If you choose to enjoy Blade and Bow whiskeys, please do so responsibly. These whiskeys have been aging for years, so be sure to enjoy them slowly.
Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, as well as the 22-year-old variant, can be found in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Louisville. (By print time, Blade and Bow should be available in other markets but still with a limited footprint.)