In true “name a more iconic duo” fashion, Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe and Suntory Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo have joined forces to create a whiskey. It’s called Legent, and it’s a Kentucky straight bourbon that is distilled by Noe, aged in wine and sherry casks, and then blended with additional Kentucky straight bourbon under Fukuyo’s watch. Legent is a Beam Suntory product (as you might have guessed), and was released in March of 2019.
It pours a bright reddish-gold and has a sweet, spicy nose with prominent notes of oak, vanilla, cherries, cinnamon, and spice cake. It starts with expected but bold bourbon flavors like oak, vanilla, and cherry, and features a viscous, slightly chalky, and all-around pleasant feel on the palate.
It gets a little weirder at the center, where darker notes of fruit leather and dried apricot emerge, chased by a sharp vein of cinnamon spice. The dryness that follows the cinnamon spice surge is an invitation to its tannic, mineral-forward finish, complete with potent sherry notes, a mild salinity, and waves of spice that patiently roll over the tongue without crashing.
Legent is a bourbon that begins in familiar territory, but finishes far from home. It starts as woody and vanilla-rich as you want a bourbon to be, and ends with a tannic, savory conclusion that’s just begging to be paired with a caramel dessert. Much of the marketing material surrounding the bourbon stresses its “East meets West” quality, but the bourbon itself takes drinkers on an equally distinct journey.
Also worth mentioning is the price: at $34.99, Legent feels like an absolute steal within a category that’s seen steady price increases. If you’re the type of bourbon drinker that’s mostly stuck to Jim Beam in the past, Legent is an excellent—and highly affordable—step up the ladder.
Legent is more than worthy of being sipped straight, but I also tried it in a cocktail suggested by its press materials called Rising Sun. The drink combines 1 1/2 ounces of Legent with a 1/2 ounce of apricot liqueur (I used Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot), a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, and a 1/4 ounce of simple syrup.
This sour variant revealed that Legent is more than capable of holding its own in a cocktail. The bourbon’s fruit leather and stone fruit notes were emphasized by the apricot liqueur, and its dry finish wasn’t lost under the citrus and sugar.
— 47% ABV