Jest messing around, y'all

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Jest messing around, y'all

Unread postby Mike » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:40 pm

Now, y'all and all, I have a fondness for wheat bourbons, always have, always will. I recently had a few unkind things to say about Larceny bourbon, but upon reconsideration, I think it to be a better than passable bourbon. In so far as I have any complaint agin it, it is the complaint I have always lodged agin wheat bourbons.... the finish tends to be abbreviated.

The strength of wheat bourbons, to me, is that they carry a lot of subtlety and softness. This subtlety and softness makes them prime candidates to anchor a vatting of bourbons. Which bring us to Blade and Bow, which, as they like to point out is a solera vatting (cf how sherry and port are 'mixed'), which is accomplished through a top down within the warehouse mingling.

Now, without distiller confirmation, it is assumed that Bland and Bow is a four grain bourbon (if you do not know what a four grain bourbon is, welcome to the intricate and interesting world of bourbon), which (as it seems) contains some of Diageo's sourced bourbons and the some of the precious remnant Stitzel-Weller bourbons which were last distilled and stored in the early 1990s.

I, like no doubt far too many others, was curious about Blade and Bow, because it reputedly contains some of the famous last stocks of Stitzel-Weller bourbon. Many of us, probably too many, bourbon lovers consider bourbon from Stitzel-Weller to be the sine qua non of bourbons. There is, in my opinion, a mite of truth in that. The other mite of truth in that lies in a bourbon lover's susceptibility to legend and lore, which I readily confess is an influence on me. There is no such thing as a pristine palate in regard to bourbon, aside from the one that rejects all bourbon upon the first taste.

That rejection palate is useless as regards the taste and attractions of bourbon. For the rest of us, I would suggest that this does not argue for the subjectivity of bourbon taste, but quite the opposite. Taste, for bourbon lovers, as in all else, is first public, then private, with that possible exception of the rejectees first encounter. We learn. as we create, our tastes from an encounter with others, and taste alone may not be the primary factor. My Bourbonenthusiast friend, Bourbon Joe, influences my tastes in bourbon, and I learn from him. If, as was true with Larceny, he likes a bourbon that I at first am not so fond of, that makes me reconsider.

Now, Larceny vs Blade and Bow. I like Larceny better now than I did initially, it is superior to Maker's Mark, although the finish is a bit short to me. I prefer Blade and Bow because of what I think is the rye component, which adds a degree of robustness and depth. It is my subjective opinion that the deficiencies of a wheat bourbon can only be corrected with time in the barrel and the tannins that result. I have posted thereupon extensively in the past. Time in the barrel, as does the barrel and it placement in the warehouse, matter, as does the experience of the master distiller in his selection of the contents of the bottle.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Jest messing around, y'all

Unread postby gillmang » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:35 pm

Now I've got the same bottle, Mike (Blade and Bow), and agree with your conclusions. You can taste some rye in it and this gives it that extra something a Larceny doesn't have. It has some wheat too, so that softens the taste. The older bourbons, up to presumably 25 yr old S-W, add depth. To me it's very good, not perfect, but rich and impactful. In this regard, it does actually approach original S-W in taste. The original Fitzgerald and Wellers were never 12, 15, 23 years old. Except for the odd Xmas specialty that was 10 or 15 yrs old they were all about 5-7 years old. Blade and Bow is roughly the same, maybe a bit older I think I read 7-8 years to which the older bourbons mentioned were added. So Diageo gets the style pretty close even though they are using a four grain to do it.

That original S-W had a lot of complexity, in other words, without great age. Bourbon was simply different then, more artisan, probably distilled with more copper, with more interesting yeasts, maybe with tastier grain. So that 6-7 yr old Fitz was very good. I had it many times, both pre-'72 and more typically between '72 and '92 and then heritage bottles later at Gazebos.

I am against prolonged age in bourbon simply because the tannins and acids can overwhelm all other aspects. I don't want to taste just wood. Bourbon should not be too old, I think 10 year is the top limit for me and more typically 6-8 years.

Try the current Jack Daniels straight rye, not the single barrel, the regular one in the square bottle. It's a superb whiskey, probably only 4-5 year old but rich and full. Certainly lots of wood and maple character yet hardly tastes like the regular Jack, you would never think to relate them in production.

On the point of subjectivity vs. objectivity, I really do think it's subjective. Too many people love Bud Light for me to say they don't know beer, for example. How can I say they are wrong? Coteries have their own standards to be sure, but their taste is relative also.Some people hate whiskey but we must include those who love vodka. So they like alcohol and must be considered in this calculus....

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