We reviewed Blade & Bow 22 Years Old when it first arrived in 2015. Since then, there have been additional, if exceptionally limited, releases, one of which was this fall in celebration of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery’s 86th anniversary. The distillery’s posh new cocktail lounge, The Garden & Gun Club, even features a “tasting experience” centered around the bottle. On a recent stop-in, I decided to revisit this luxe expression, 1) because it came with a handblown Terrane tasting glass (I’m a sucker for schwag) and 2) because our impressions six years ago were exceedingly positive.
As a refresher, this is a bourbon constructed from several different, well-aged whiskeys, at least some (but I’m assuming very little) of which are still reportedly drawn from original Stitzel-Weller bourbon stocks. It is bottled and aged at the present Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville. Is it as good as I remember?
It remains, as ever, an exceptionally well-built old bourbon, not overdone on the wood notes and showcasing a vitality in aroma and flavor that you don’t often find in bourbon of this age. On the nose, the oak is expressive and well-seasoned but not damp or musty. Rich notes of vanilla bean, candied ginger, and fig jam present unusual complexity. The palate, oily and rounded, features notes of stone fruit and caramelized sugar that call to mind Linzer cookies with apricot jam. A subtle bit of campfire smoke complements the well-developed oak notes that erode in an elegant finish of vanilla custard and a warming hint of rye spice. Still great stuff. And I got to keep the glass!