Yes, let’s just address the elephant in the room from the get-go; Beam Suntory’s latest release, the Legent, is pronounced ‘Lee-jent’.
The good thing about conglomerates are that collaborations of this level are possible. And thusly, Jim Beam‘s seventh-generation Master Distiller Fred Noe and Beam Suntory‘s fifth-ever Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo got together to put together this unique East-meets-West whiskey.
“This bourbon honours Fred and the Beam family’s proud traditions while showcasing Shinji’s award-winning blending capabilities. Quite simply, it’s a bourbon no one else could create,” said Takeshi Niinami, Chief Executive Officer of Suntory Holdings.
At its heart is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon made in the Beam classic family tradition, which is then aged in wine and sherry casks before being blended with more Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
“Legent is really something special. As a bourbon distiller, I enjoy breaking rules and creating new traditions,” said Fred. “It was a real honour collaborating with Shinji on what I think is different from anything out there in the bourbon world.”
The result is a familiar whiskey that has something patently different about it. Despite the high strength of 47% ABV – which is atypical of a regular Jim Beam expression – the whiskey is never harsh. Hints of a non-rye spice and a blend of fruity undertones will make you do a double-take after that first sip, no doubt. But to my mind, this is essentially a very familiar, approachable bourbon, given a new lease of life with an extra layer of depth and interestingness. Never at any point do the wine and sherry casks dominate, which I find is a good thing. I suppose they recognise that while you can have a dashing Frenchman and a smouldering Spanish hombre in a summer blockbuster action flick, but you almost always have bankable American muscle heading the (mash) bill. Fans of Mizunara expecting it to make a cameo, I guess you have to wait for the Blu-ray release to see if they’re gonna do a director’s cut. I’m actually thankful that they’ve exercised restraint and kept it simple – and you can’t get more Japanese than that.
“I have always been fascinated by the flavour profiles that can be achieved through innovation,” said Shunji. “Using the historic bourbon recipe of Fred’s family as a solid foundation, I was able to explore new taste profiles and reach a final product that reimagines what the future of bourbon can be.”
The Legent is priced at S$95, which I think gives typical 12YO Scotches a run for their money. While I don’t think this will blow anyone’s mind but if you appreciate that the simple things are rarely simple then this certainly deserves some merit. I would think some hardcore aficionados will be disappointed by how restrained this release is, but I would think that having something over the top would miss the point about what Japanese blending is all about…
You can pick up your bottle of Legent from Lazada because Beam Suntory has now started its official LazMall store. While the virtual storefront doesn’t stock Beam Suntory’s entire inventory online, it’s an easy way to restock your liquor cabinets with the usual suspects like Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Suntory Japanese whiskies, Courvoisier, Auchentoshan, Roku gin, Haku vodka, Horoyoi, and even Sipsmith.