In an unprecedented move by any spirits producer, Beam Suntory has created the world’s first bourbon that’s blended by a Japanese master blender. Christened Legent, the spirit is the result of a collaboration between Fred Noe, Beam family Master Distiller, and Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukuyo. 

Basically it starts off as a Jim Beam Kentucky straight bourbon – the same mash bill, distilled, and then aged in charred new American oak barrels.

Then, the spirit diverges from what would be technically considered a non-age statement Kentucky bourbon. The liquid destined to become Legent goes into ex-sherry and ex-red wine (bordeaux from a Beam Suntory-owned winery) barrels to be finished.

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It’s then blended by Fukuyo – who’s had a hand in whiskies like Yamazaki and Hashuku – before being bottled at a hefty – for a blended bourbon – 47% ABV. 

The result is a spirit literally unlike most others. While there’s plenty of classic Jim Beam characteristics – a light oak char, plenty of caramel and vanilla – the sherry and wine casks add an additional layer of complexity of dark fruits, spices, and just the slightest hint of tannins.

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It’s also a spirit that sits in that sometimes-neglected niche of a whisky that would do well neat, but also as a dram that wouldn’t be sacrilegious to turn into a cocktail. The red wine characteristics – subtle at first – comes out beautifully in a sour; while the hybrid nature of the spirit also means that an old-fashioned type mix would work too. 

This isn’t the first time that Beam Suntory’s created an East-meets-West spirit. Their previous effort, Haku Vodka, is distilled from Japanese rice saccharified using koji in a process closer to sochu production than a traditional vodka. 

Buy Legent at Beam Suntory’s store in Lazmall.