Blade and Bow 22, the “Mystery” Whiskey from Kentucky, Returns

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After more than a year off the market, a new batch of Blade and Bow is coming, and this time consumers know more about what’s in the bottle. 

Blade and Bow is one of owner Diageo’s “mystery” brands, or whiskeys that show up when there’s enough of-age stock to bottle. It’s also typically delivered with a lot of information missing — in particular, from where the bottles are coming.

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Part of what keeps this information secret is NDA agreements: These barrels were purchased years ago under the understanding that Diageo wouldn’t disclose who distilled them.

Technically, they still haven’t. But this year, we’ve received a lot more from Diageo about what’s in the bottle. Blade and Bow 22 is “distilled at both the distillery historically located at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville, and the distillery historically located at 1001 Wilkinson Blvd. in Frankfort, Kentucky.” That means the whiskey in this bottle is a blend of Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace whiskeys.

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The Heaven Hill whiskey in particular is special: It’s from before the 1996 fire that destroyed more than $8 million worth of bourbon and approximately 2 percent of the world’s whiskey stocks. Historically significant stock like that is invaluable. It also means that, at some point in the future, the finite supply will run out.

Without the history, this is still a desirable bourbon. Rarely does a 92 proof bourbon with two decades of age drink so light and smooth straight from the bottle, but that’s been the hallmark of this Diageo product for a couple of years. Burnt sugar and a hint of the cinnamon-spice of rye dominate this whiskey, and though there’s an oak presence, it isn’t dominant.

The original 2015 batch — which said neither how old it was nor from where it came — sold out quickly and has doubled in market value for many. The 2016 is on shelves this month, and the next release could be more than a year away. For $150, it’s also a fraction of what a bottle of 23-year-old Pappy would cost. In other words, if you see it, you might want to get it.

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