Japanese bourbon has been making itself known lately, so it’s no surprise that the first new line of bourbon in 30 years from the legendary Jim Beam company would be a blend of Kentucky and Japanese distilling. Legent Bourbon uses white oak-aged spirits that are finished in both Oloroso sherry and California red wine casks.
Legent has been in the works for nearly five years and comes after Jim Beam acquired Japan’s largest whisky producer, Suntory. Beam Suntory came out of that acquisition, creating the world’s third largest spirits company. Legent may blend the styles of Jim Beam seventh-generation Master Distiller Fred Noe and the fifth Chief Blender of Suntory Shinji Fukuyo, but the whisky is truly unique—being neither Kentucky nor Japanese. It first comes across with corn and caramel sweetness, but finishes up with lingering flavors of dark fruit, which match its ruby red color.
The partnership between Noe and Fukuyo seemed destined to be. “When we had meetings and I would visit Japan,” shares Noe, “somehow we would always end up together. I guess whiskey guys tend to gravitate to one another. I got to taste a lot of his whisky and learned a lot about the art of blending…. It was a natural thing that the two of us would hook up and work on something.” And it’s good news that they did, if Legent is any indication.