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Jim Beam Devil’s Cut

Review: Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey  88/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 13, 20113

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is produced at the Jim Beam Distillery which was founded in 1795, and has operated as a family run business for seven generations. According to the company website, after bourbon whiskey ages and is emptied from the oak barrel, a certain amount of the spirit is left behind, trapped within the wood fiber of the empty barrel. This portion of trapped whiskey is called the “devil’s cut” and is usually lost to those who make bourbon. Recently however, the folks at Jim Beam have developed what they call a proprietary process which releases the devil’s cut from these empty barrels. What Jim Beam extracts from the barrel is held for a certain length of time (which apparently allows the flavour to develop), and then blended with a 6-year-old bourbon. The mixture is bottled at 90 proof (45 % ABV) and the result is a new style of bourbon which they call Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.

Recently the Beam Global team in Alberta dropped off a bottle of this new bourbon for me to sample.

Jim Beam Devils cut1In the Bottle 4/5

The Devil’s Cut arrives in the standard medium tall square whiskey bottle shown to the left. The bottle is designed to be easy to store behind a bar, and just as important, easy for a bartender to pour out whiskey for shots and cocktails during what he hopes is a busy day. The design is fine and serves its function well; however, I would prefer something a little more exciting on the label. With a name lie Devil’s Cut, I am sure a graphic designer could do something quite original.

I also wish spirits companies would abandon those horrid pressed-on metal screw caps. They expand and contract with the heat and the cold at a different rate than the bottle they are trying to seal, and they tend to warp or strip rather easily which also affects my ability to keep my bottle sealed. When I see one of these metallic toppers upon a bottle of rum or whiskey, my first thought is “bottom shelf”.

In the Glass 9/10

In my glencairn glass, the whiskey displays as a rich golden honey coloured spirit which immediately brings forward rich smells of sweet caramel and vanilla mixing freely with scents of fresh cedar, oak and spicy tobacco. When I tilt my glass and give it a slow twirl, I see a moderately thick sheen of whiskey which releases a couple of fat legs crawling down the inside of the glass back into the bourbon.

I took some time letting the whiskey breathe, and I was rewarded with additional notes of cinnamon and cloves, maple syrup, cola and luscious dark bittersweet chocolate. When I stretch my imagination, I also sense a bit of orange peel and marmalade, and vague dabbles of dry fruit and walnut which resemble fruitcake. The breezes in the air are enticing, and I happily bring the glass to my mouth.

In the Mouth 53/60

The bourbon makes an interesting traverse across the palate. Very briefly I taste sweet impressions of caramel, marmalade and maple syrup. However, very quickly the woody flavours and the spices within the whiskey build up and overwhelm the sweetness. The heart of the Devil’s Cut is a sort of whiskey extract which is literally pulled from the inside of the wood fibers of oak barrels, and this causes strong spicy flavours of wood sap to dominate the whiskey giving it more heat than its 45 % alcohol by volume label would imply. Spicy cinnamon, peppery cloves, pungent tobacco and zesty orange peel all carve out their own niche in the spicy push of oaky flavour which travels across the palate. Because of the spiciness (and the woodiness), it is easy to miss the dry fruit, dark chocolate and nutty walnut which lies underneath. However, as I let the whiskey breathe, and my palate adjust, the dry fruit and bittersweet chocolate becomes more obvious, and I even sense a little salt and brine meandering within the flavours of the whiskey.

Despite the complexity and fullness of the flavour, I found the whisky hard to sip, as the combination of strong wood flavours, heated spice, and the high alcohol content combine to give the spirit a sense of unwanted astringency when sipped neat. However, when I mixed a few cocktails, I loved the results. This Bourbon pushes right through the flavour of cola when I mix a Buckeroo, and adds a wonderful complexity to my Mint Julep recipe.

In the Throat 13/15

The whiskey ends its journey with a rush of spice which scatters glowing coals of cinnamon and cloves alongside a trail of wood sap that clings to the mouth and throat. Touches of caramel and maple linger within the spice, and this would be absolutely wonderful but for that clinging wood sap which brings some unwanted bitterness to the finale.

The Afterburn 9/10

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon is a spice bomb in the mouth. It carries concentrated spicy heat, and a bevy of concentrated flavour. I may have found the whiskey hard to sip neat, and I may have found unwanted bitterness in the finish; but, I also found myself drawn to the full flavour experience the Devil’s Cut delivers. I found myself stealing a little nip here, and a little nip there, and suddenly my sample bottle was half gone. I guess I am saying that perhaps the whisky is better than the sum of its parts. I like it, quite a bit actually, and if you desire a full flavoured spicy whisky, then I think this one deserves a long look.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

SAM_0836 Minted brass CoolerMinted Brass

2 oz  Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon
1/2 oz Lime juice
3 drops Angostura Bitters
1/4 oz Sugar syrup
3 mint leaves
ice

ginger-ale to fill
mint sprig

Muddle 3 mint leaves and the Sugar syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass
Add the Devil’s Cut Bourbon and Angostura Bitters
Stir and fine strain into a tall glass filled with ice
Complete with ginger-ale
Garnish with a sprig of mint
Enjoy!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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