DSR – KY – 002: Legent
Company/Distillery: Legent Distilling Company
Location: Clermont, Kentucky
Mash Bill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Age Statement: No Age Statement (Website states at least 4 years)
Proof/ABV: 94 Proof/ 47% ABV
Color: Deep amber with slight strawberry hue
Purchase Price: $34.99 from VA ABC store; 750 ml Bottle
Bottle Label Information:
Neck Label: “L”
Front Label: “Legent”
“Two True Legends”
“One Truly Unique Bourbon”
“Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Partially finished in wine and sherry casks”
“A bold Kentucky bourbon by Master Distiller Fred Noe”
“Blended & refined by Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo”
Back Label: “Two legendary creators behind some of the world’s most revered whiskies have come together to bring you something special.”
“Expertly distilled by seventh-generation Master Distiller Fred Noe and then refined by world-renowned Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo, Legent is a marriage of East and West. It’s a celebration of the craftsmanship of Kentucky Bourbon balanced with the artistry of Japanese blending.”
“From rich aromas of mature oak and lingering spice to the flavors of dried fruits pulled from wine and sherry casks, every sip of Legent is worth savoring and sharing.”
“Produced and bottled by Legent Distilling Co., Clermont, Kentucky USA”
Legent Distilling Company
Legent Distilling is a unique collaboration between two giants in the whiskey industry, Master Distiller Fred Noe at Jim Beam and Shinji Fukuyo, Master Blender for Japanese Distiller Suntory. Simply put, Noe distills the traditional Noe family bourbon recipe and ages it for at least 4 years in new American oak barrels. Some of the straight bourbon is then aged in sherry casks and some in red wine casks. It is at this point that Fukuyo brings an artistry to the process. He surgically blends distillate from the red wine, sherry, and straight bourbon barrels to craft what makes up each bottle of Legent.
On their website, Legent Distilling credits the sherry casks for adding notes of spice, raisins, and dried fruits. The red wine cask brings a different oakiness to the whiskey while adding slight hints of fruits along with some acidity to each pour. Finally, the straight bourbon barrel brings the traditional flavor profiles of caramel, vanilla, and new American oak to Legent.
Legent Distilling puts it best by stating:
Legent has brought together over 220 years of bourbon-making heritage and nearly 100 years of Japanese whisky artistry. It’s a unique collaboration between two of the world’s most revered whiskey makers. And just like a traditional bourbon, Legent starts with premium grains, like corn, rye and malted barley, and is aged in select white oak barrels.Legentbourbon.com
Fred Noe, Jim Beam Master Distiller
Frederick “Fred” Booker Noe, III is the great-grandson of Jim Beam and seventh-generation distiller of the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Noe played an integral role in development and marketing of the Jim Beam Small Batch line which includes Basil Hayden, Baker’s, Knob Creek, and Booker’s. Mr. Noe is also credited with Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut and Red Stag lines. In 2003, Jim Beam named Mr. Noe the Master Distiller of his family’s famous distillery.
Shinji Fukuyo, Suntory Master Blender
In 1984, Shinji Fukuyo began cutting his teeth in the whiskey industry when he was hired by Hakushu Distillery in Japan. Fukuyo would be quickly identified in the company as a rising star and transferred to the blending division of Yamazaki Distillery in 1992. In 1996, the company would send Fukuyo to the University of Heriot-Watt and the Morison Bowmore Distillery in Scotland to work with the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (Source).
In 2009, Fukuyo was named Master Distiller by Suntory of Japan. Earning this title was a huge honor for Fukuyo as only three other individuals have ever held this title for the company since its inception in 1899. Fukuyo brings his extensive and respected blending background to join with the iconic bourbon whiskey history of Fred Noe, III to bring a truly unique and special blended whiskey know as Legent.
Tasting Date/Vessel: June 20, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian: Instantly pick up wine notes of grapes. Sweet bits of fruit with a bit of floral aromas present. Bright and sweet smelling. In addition, subtle hints of vanilla bean, oak, apple cinnamon, and rye grain are all detectable. Adding water brings even more sweetness to forefront. Fruit steps up and takes place of the wine’s presence. Catch some pear or green apple – a lot like the sweet and sour of a green apple Jolly Ranchers candy.
Mike: Subtle notes of golden raisins and light ethanol that succumb to hints of sweet fruit wine. Nosing in deeper then pulling back brings about pleasant brown sugar notes and soft leather.
Christian: Velvety consistency on tongue, but it certainly does drink quite hot! Grapes come through on tip of tongue giving way to the taste of fresh biscuits, caramel, and cloves as it moves towards back of mouth. Taste is still greatly influenced by the wine and sherry. Water seems to lighten the mouth feel and makes it almost buttery. Apple, almost like candied apple, continues to come through and dominate the flavor. Slight hints of cinnamon and oatmeal become more pronounced. Still makes gums tingle, however, it is not as hot.
Mike: Sipping delicately and breathing in through my nose, there is a southern sweet tea aroma that is very satisfying. There is a silky sweetness on the tip of my tongue that yields immediately to spicy rye flavor and a sharp bitterness that dissipates quickly. Light hints of apple and a black peppery kick on the back end. The bitterness is reminiscent of coffee beans.
Christian: The finish here is long and dry. Lots of black pepper spice, rye, and cloves on the finish. Kentucky hug is pronounced. Hints of red wine, apples, and dare I say rosemary are present. Water tones down the heat factor and intensity of the Kentucky hug. Sherry still present. Sweetness almost reminds me more of Red Hots then the peppery kick before adding water.
Mike: Very long with an intense burn down into the chest. Faint hints of apple and pears linger in the mouth momentarily then a delicate bitterness of muscadine grapes emerges.
Christian: The first time we tried this one we were cooking outside in the North Carolina heat around a barbecue smoker. To be completely transparent, I didn’t enjoy the pour in that environment. It is for this reason that why we try each product at least twice before writing. I really enjoyed this pour the second go round. The sweet aromatics and hints of apples, wine, and sherry all bring a unique tasting experience that I found to be pleasurable on my palate. The price is great as well. A lot of times we see the prices become rather high with different cask options on the market. Not the case with this offering. I would recommend picking up a bottle when you can and giving it a try. I believe you will find an enjoyable experience awaits.
Rating: 3.25 Rickhouses
Mike: There is a lot that I like about this bourbon and a couple minor things I don’t particularly care for. The nose is intriguing and agreeable. The bitterness in the mouth surprises and isn’t always consistent; the size of the sip and where it hits on the tongue while tasting, all play a role in this slight inconsistency. The burn in the finish is intense but very satisfying.
For clarity, I’ve developed a habit of doing the initial tasting with Christian and taking notes, then writing my review with another pour (or three) to see how my notes compare to my current palate. This particular bottle was purchased by Christian so he poured off approximately 6 oz. for me to enjoy for the review write-up. I’ve downed every last drop, but I’m still slightly conflicted. I don’t love or hate this bourbon. Would I buy this for myself? Maybe. Would I pay to drink it at a bar? Probably not. Would I drink this again? Yes!
This is a dubious pour for me. I can’t pinpoint what I really like or dislike about this bourbon and for that reason I can’t justify giving it 3 Rickhouses or higher. A slight nudge to 2.75 because I felt I liked it more than I didn’t.
Rating: 2.75 Rickhouses
Conclusion: There is little doubt that in Legent, Fred Noe III and Shinji Fukuyo are bringing elegantly blended and uniquely positioned whiskey to the market. Legent offers a complex whiskey with layers of flavor and influence that come through differently in the nose, mouth, and finish. A true aromatic and taste journey for the discerning whiskey drinker. Wine drinkers may love the notes left behind by the red wine casks whilst bourbon drinkers will notice that strong bourbon finish. As can be the case with many different whiskey offerings, the flavor profiles are ones that will be appealing to some but not to others. Legent is a premium offering, at a great price point, distilled and blended by two industry legends. This whiskey probably isn’t appropriate for all occasions, however, it does bring delightful characteristics with that traditional warm Kentucky hug to the experience. Give this whiskey a try, neat or with a cube or splash of water. Enjoy the experience and the mastery that went into its production. Is it for everyone? Probably not. Is it a good whiskey worth your time? We believe you won’t be disappointed.