- Buyer's Guide
Dewar’s x Billykirk No. 497 Messenger Bag: Drive By
Dewar’s Whiskey, in 2016 as much of a recognizable name for whiskey if there was one. But it wasn’t always that way. It was not until Tommy Dewar set off for a Ramble Round the Globe in 1892 (and published a book of the same name) to market his family’s whiskey label that the Dewar’s label took off. Over the course of two years he visited every continent and 26 countries in total.
It’s this wanderlusting spirit of Tommy Dewar that led Billykirk to collaborate with Dewar’s to craft the No. 497 Messenger Bag. Here at Carryology we like gorgeous leather bags and we also like whiskey. But how does this bag work for the modern rambler? I traveled with Billykirk’s No. 497 for a few months to find out. Spoiler alert, there’s a special compartment for a bottle of whiskey.
Who It Suits
The obvious answer to this would be suave, vagabonding world travelers. And while it would work as a great bag for those amongst us, the No. 497 is also a very good sidekick for your daily jaunts to class, the coffee shop or the office.
Like all Billykirk bags, the style of the No. 497 is very classic and understated, meaning that it will work most anywhere.
Who It Doesn’t
Billykirk’s no. 497 is a great go-to bag provided that you don’t have too many items in your EDC arsenal. There are more functional bags on the market if you need a never-ending pit in your bag.
This is a very well built bag sewn with some gorgeously thick slabs of leather. It can likely withstand some abuse but with a pricetag of $650 the No. 497 is probably the last bag you want to run through the rain with. Unlike in Tommy Dewar’s time, there are bags on the market today better suited to handle the elements.
Here at Carryology we like gorgeous leather bags and we also like whiskey.
And if you don’t imbibe, well the novelty of this bag is probably going to be lost on you.
The No. 497 is in line with what we’ve come to love from Billykirk. It’s constructed from thick leather, it’s got that feel, smell and patina that high-quality vegetable-tanned leather imbues, and is a simple but beautiful bag.
Billykirk did a wonderful job in laying out this bag. On the back is a magazine sleeve above which is a generous leather handle. Opening the bag up reveals a deep blue lining decorated with the Dewar’s logo. There are two exterior pockets, with three on the interior side. Opposite this there’s a sleeve for a 15″ laptop. A fair bit of space between works well for stashing a book or some papers.
And then there’s the whiskey pocket. A zippered pocket sized specifically to house a full bottle of, presumably whiskey. Luckily though extensive testing has confirmed that other bottles fit, and drink, equally well from this pocket. And thanks to a healthy dose of foam on the bottom of the No. 497 I’ve got no gripes with setting the bag down as I would any other. Having carried my fair share of glass bottles in other bags, there is nothing worse than having to handle your carry gingerly to accommodate said bottles.
Finally the hardware. Like all good leather bags, only metal hardware has been used on the No. 497. And not just some thin pieces of aluminum, but rather some real beefy chunks of metal such as on the flap closure.
The Not So Good
Yes, I realize the point of this bag is to hold a bottle of Dewar’s whiskey. And yes, I realize that it’s definitely a novelty bag for this purpose. But that said, I don’t often carry a bottle of whiskey to the coffee shop (only on Fridays). And for whatever reason there’s not a whole lot of other items in my EDC that have the same shape as a bottle of whiskey so this pocket is very one-dimensional. Maybe the takeaway here is that you should always have a bottle of whiskey on hand.
On a more practical note, the laptop sleeve has had to sacrifice some depth to accommodate that bottle of whiskey. My 15″ laptop could be jammed in but the top inch would still be peaking out. I guess it’s a moral question at this point, do you protect your whiskey or computer?
So that said I get it, this is a novelty bag and one of the few if not the only bags on the market that has a designated bottle compartment. With that in mind there’s not a whole lot to dislike about Billykirk’s No. 497.
Luckily though extensive testing has confirmed that other bottles fit, and drink, equally well from this pocket.
An excellent messenger bag that is also perhaps the only messenger bag out there with a dedicated booze compartment (hoping to see more of these compartments) that works with some really cool history to a satisfying effect. Sure, you’re giving up a bit of computer protection to safely carry a bottle of booze but in this case I like it. This bag reassures me that it’s an okay thing to do. At the end of the day it’s a damn good bag but unfortunately only 100 of the No. 497’s were made. Part of the allure I suppose.