Twenty-second birthdays aren’t particularly memorable, save for the case of Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old. The heroically aged bourbon is produced at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville and released each September.
The bourbon pours a rich ruby-red that brought candied apples to mind. On the nose, it’s all caramelized sugar and vanilla up front, buttressed by baked apples and a faint, sweet whiff of bubble gum.
It’s apparent from the first sip that this is going to be a fruity bourbon, with notes of apple, pear, and plum that are at once rich and earthy yet juicy and sweet. Those latter two qualities are emphasized at the middle, where the bourbon gets lighter and sweeter still with bright, tart blackberry and raspberry. All the while, there’s a powerfully sweet undercurrent of torched sugar that turns grainy and rich at the back of the palate, where it’s married to deep vanilla and oak.
With that brown sugar and vanilla come flavors of pie crust, and a general sense that those juicy fruit and berry notes from earlier are being folded into a pie with baking spices. This takes us to the conclusion, which introduces quince and a final whiff of sweet pipe tobacco before a finish that’s as long and full as you’d expect from a 22-year-old bourbon, yet much more gentle in the heat department. Rather than being an oaky barn-burner, the bourbon signs off with a final measure that’s deeply fruit-forward, and it nicely captures the two words I’d use to sum up this fascinating bourbon: dark and juicy.
By aging a bourbon to this Methuselahian length, Blade and Bow has shown us just how much more the category can accomplish outside of the expected sweet vanilla and spicy oak space. Here we’re served with juicy-to-the-point-of-bursting fruit against a backdrop of scorched vanilla sugar, making for a very interesting ride.
— 46% ABV