When Beam Suntory’s Legent hit the scene it immediately became one of my favorite new whiskeys, and I was over the moon excited to hear about the brand’s first extension to the line, a limited-edition whiskey called Legent Yamazaki Cask Finish Blend.
While purists groused over whether the original Legent was officially a bourbon due to its aggressive finishing, it’s safe to say that the new Legent Yamazaki probably has good reason, legally speaking, for not putting “bourbon” on the label. Though the underlying spirit is the same — bourbon made by Jim Beam — things get pretty wild from there.
The first eight years of the whiskey’s life take place in Kentucky, including selections aged not just in new American oak but also in French oak wine casks and Spanish oak sherry casks. From there, the whiskey is shipped to Japan for additional aging and finishing in Kyoto, where a portion is finished in Spanish sherry oak previously used to age Yamazaki Single Malt. The fully matured barrels are finally blended here by Shinji Fukuyo before bottling.
There’s a lot of family DNA in this expression, though right away the much higher proof is evident on the nose. Lots of nutty, citrusy sherry is immediately noticeable, with ample notes of red fruit and mulling spices on top of it. There’s a certain savory undertone that’s a bit beefy, with some black pepper in the mix, followed by sesame. There’s less pure fruit here than in the original Legent, with more of a Scotch-like sherry note behind the wheel. A touch smoky, though more incense than fireplace smoke.
The palate holds the line. again nutty with notes of orange and grapefruit peel, then something of a curry powder character coming into focus, building on the evocation of incense to guide the experience toward eastern flavors. Sandalwood, dried flowers, and Turkish rug shop provide a level of austerity. Peppery on the finish, with lingering hints of mint and more sesame oil.
Like the original Legent — which I tasted side by side with this expression — this is quite a wild ride, though it doesn’t take that boldly nutty turn on the back end, which isn’t good or bad, just different. Of course, one doesn’t want to get a retread of the standard Legent from a $200 special edition, and what this offering provides is certainly unique enough to continue to merit serious attention.
A- / $200 / legentbourbon.com