Friday, March 29, 2019

Legent Kentucky Straight Bourbon Partially Finished in Wine and Sherry Casks

VITALS:
- $35
- 94 Proof
- NAS
- Kentucky

When Beam Suntory announced their newest product, Legent, I was skeptical. After all, it was really being hyped as something new in the market, something that hadn't been done before. Essentially, Beam took bourbon distilled by Master Distiller Fred Noe and placed it in the hands of Suntory's Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo, who then finished the bourbon in wine and sherry casks and blended those finished bourbons with the original bourbon to produce this final product.

So, what I was reading was that Beam Suntory was producing something never done before . . . a finished bourbon. Not to sound overly cynical, though, the process behind the final product was actually pretty cool, and I wanted to give it a try nonetheless, particularly as I've enjoyed finished bourbons when they are well done.

I remained skeptical, however, as I expected this to be a limited release, highly allocated and, of course, very expensive. However, as more news about this product came out, I learned that it would actually be very accessible and would carry a price tag of only $35! And so, I made it a point to track down a bottle to give it a go.

I expected far more fruit on the nose than I got. In fact, to me it just smelled like good bourbon. It had soft caramel vanilla notes with a light pepper spice at the end. I also got a slight note of some dark fruits, or perhaps closer to a raisin note. That was the only indication on the nose of this being a wine barrel finished bourbon.

The flavor certainly gave that away, but not in the in-your-face way that so many finished bourbons do. Rather it was simply very sweet up front, with vanilla bean and blackberry notes leading the charge. It also had some brighter flavors too, like raspberry and a slight citrus quality. While sweet, it wasn't overly sweet.

There was also the underlying bourbon-esque toffee note layered underneath the berry flavors, though perhaps not as prominent as I'd have liked them to be. It also had an interesting, sharp peppery spice at the end that seemed to come out of nowhere and in the end was one of my favorite characteristics of this bottle. It gave it that peppered sweet red wine quality, but again, not in any overwhelming way.

Overall, this was a very well-balanced whiskey, not allowing the finishes to take over but rather allowing the qualities of both finishes as well as the bourbon itself to come through. Additionally, for a 94 proof whiskey, this was surprisingly viscous and buttery in texture, and, aside from that peppery bite at the end, was very smooth and approachable. For the price, this is an excellent, very well-made whiskey that beginners and connoisseurs alike can certainly appreciate.

Grade: B+

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