East Meets West

This New Affordable Bourbon Whiskey Was Made Like a Japanese Whisky


March 8, 2019 Home By
Brand: Jim Beam x Suntory
Brief: A blended bourbon distilled by Jim Beam and finished by Suntory
Price: $35 SRP
Age: At least 4 years
Proof: 94

Unveiled today, Legent is Jim Beam’s first new bourbon brand in more than 20 years. But that’s the least interesting thing about it.

The new bottle’s measurables — $35, 94 proof — belie what this particularly bottle means. Legent was made in a collaboration between Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe and Suntory’s Master Blender Shinji Fukuyo — Noe handling the distillation and Fukuyo the finishing and blending. It’s the first serious East-West bourbon collaboration in a very long time, and it goes against some precious bourbon-making traditions Kentucky distillers once held dear.

For one, it’s a blend of straight and cask-finished bourbon (straight bourbon being whiskey that hasn’t spent time in vessels other than its original maturation barrel, cask finished and blended bourbons being the opposite). Bourbon that wasn’t straight bourbon whiskey was once faux pas in the Kentucky bourbon world — though bottles like Noe’s son’s creation, Little Book “The Easy,” are changing that — but blending and finishing are as core to Japanese whisky as 51 percent corn is to bourbon. Bottles of Japanese whiskies are typically comprised of booze aged in different barrels, with different age statements and finished differently.

Legent is made, mostly, with 4-year-old straight bourbon and blended with red wine and sherry cask-finished whiskeys before bottling. It represents a first for both Jim Beam and Suntory — a mainline, reasonably priced, blended bourbon that’s made with various cask finishes.

There’s no word yet on distribution or availability. We’ll update the story as information becomes available.

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Fistful of Bourbon ($25)
Nikka From the Barrel ($70)
Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project ($70)
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