Beam Suntory launches legent

Beam Suntory launches innovative US-Japan whiskey

07 October, 2019

Beam Suntory have released a collaborative American whiskey made by Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe and Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo called Legent.

It is distilled and aged in Kentucky by Noe, seventh generation master distiller of Jim Beam, finished in Californian red wine and sherry casks and then blended by Fukuyo.

“Generally the bourbon industry doesn’t use the blending technique which is why I proposed we introduce blending to the new product,” Fukuyo told Drinks International. “To do his we needed a different type of whiskey and so I suggested a wine and sherry cask finish.

“The red wine casks came from California but I insisted they must be French oak because during the finishing process it’s not only the wine that’s important but the wood influence too. The sherry casks have been provided by Suntory which would have been used to make Japanese whisky.”

Fukuyo’s blending process means that the finished whiskey is then blended together with more bourbon to give a more rounded, balanced flavour.

Jim Beam is one of the most iconic and biggest producers of Kentucky whiskey, accounting for around 50% of all bourbon produced in the state and it is expecting to fill its 16 millionth barrel by 2020.

Noe added: “We’re always looking for new ways to innovate bourbon because there’s lots of things we can’t do due to regulations. Off course we’ve got products which look after the bourbon legacy but looking to the future it’s been interesting having Shinji introduce a new technique which could open up the taste profile of bourbon going forward.

“You will see bourbons which have been finished in wine casks and sherry casks, but to then blend it with more bourbon to get the balance right is totally new to the industry. Because of the heavy restrictions of bourbon, this process allows us to get a greater depth of flavour from the finish of the whiskey.

Beam Suntory launches legent

“The important thing is that Shinji and I both have good reputations for what we do which gives a stamp of quality for the product.”

Fukuyo is on the judging panel for the whisky leg of DI’s International Spirits Challenge and the industry legend said it wasn’t a straight forward process developing Legent.

Fukuyo added: “It was challenging because the Kentucky summers were much hotter than I expected which made the finishing and blending process happen much faster than I planned. This project started in 2016 and during the first summer I drew samples every two weeks just to see how it developed.

“Once we were happy we began the blending process and in February we did the first bottling after the marrying period.”

Legent (47% abv) will be distributed around eight US cities before rolling out to global travel retail and then most likely China. It has now also launched in the UK and is available to purchase exclusively at The Whisky Exchange until January 2020.

It is the first time the two brands have collaborated on a single whiskey and it is available in limited stocks, with an RRP £49.00.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.