The story of Blade & Bow Bourbon began with the founding of the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery in 1935, a Louisville icon and home to the fathers of bourbon. With a commitment to craftsmanship and artistry, Stitzel-Weller reimagined what Kentucky Bourbon could be until distilling stopped in 1992. Now owned by Diageo, the creation of Blade & Bow is an homage to the long tradition of this iconic distillery.
The name ‘Blade & Bow’ was inspired by the anatomy of the five keys that once hung on the door of the distillery, each opening the door to a room dedicated to one of the five stages of bourbon distilling – grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation and aging. Branding for the new product had been completed by NYC-based agency, forceMAJEURE and we worked closely with the client and the agency to develop a bottle embellishment that would reflect their overall concept.
ForceMAJEURE had already put forward the idea of creating five distinct keys that could be hung from the Blade & Bow bottle. Signet worked with them to refine the design of the keys, ensuring an authentic looking and robust final piece for die casting. Not only was each of the keys different from the last, but each die also included a number from 1 to 5. One particular challenge we faced was getting the same ‘aged’ finish on all of the keys, a process done using electrolysis to speed up the natural oxidization of the metal surface and notoriously different to get consistency on – although thankfully we managed it! Last but not least, we produced a smaller number of ‘Key 5’ than the other four designs; this was part of a marketing strategy to turn one bottle into something of a collector’s item that would be more tricky to find, driving the customer’s desire to complete the set of five bottles. Each key was attached to the bottle neck using a loop of waxed cotton cord, fastened with a simple brass crimp closure.
The eventual launch of Blade & Bow was delayed for some time due to trademarking issues but eventually came to market in 2015 where is has been extremely well received by critics. Of particular interest is the fact that each bottle contains a tiny amount of original Stitzel-Weller bourbon, which means that each small bottling run is more precious than the last. The overall effect created by the branding in conjunction with Signet’ die-cast key embellishments really reflects the strong history of the brand and it’s ultra-premium quality, and the client was extremely happy with the outcome.
Never under-estimate the impact of finish elements like a seal. It’s not always about print or labelling!