Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Devil You Know: Jim Beam Devil's Cut

By now, I think most people know the back story of Jim Beam Devil's Cut, which was released earlier this year, but if not, here's the short version: When bourbon is aged, some of the liquid gets trapped in the barrel. After it is dumped, you can sweat the bourbon out, usually by adding water and agitating the barrel. This can reportedly produce liters of whiskey. Beam extracts the trapped whiskey and then blends it with a six year old bourbon. The result is Devil's Cut. The name is, of course, a play on the "angel's share," that proportion of whiskey that evaporates during aging.

I've never been a huge Beam fan, but it's nice to see some new product coming out of them. After years of pretty much nothing new in the whiskey world (excluding flavored whiskey), they've given us Knob Creek Single Barrel, Maker's 46 and now this.

Jim Beam Devil's Cut, 45% abv ($22)

The nose on this is quite nice and very Beam with sweet corn syrup, maybe a bit of cough syrup as well and some fruit candy notes. The palate starts with some nice fruit notes, turns vanilla and then goes flat pretty quickly, becoming thin and watery. It's one of those where you try to hold on to the first taste on the tip of your tongue but inevitably lose it. It's inoffensive but not at all interesting.

It always bugs me when a distillery comes out with an innovation and then blends it with their regular whiskey (see also Ardbeg Alligator). We never know how much of the innovative whiskey is in the bottle or what it would taste like on its own. I'd be interested to taste what the actual "devil's cut" extracted from the barrel, pre-blending, tasted like, but then again, maybe the devil we know is better than the devil we don't.

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