When you take a look at the label on the Jim Beam “Devil’s Cut,” you’ll read the following:
“As Bourbon Ages, the Angel’s Share is Lost to Evaporation. The Devil’s Cut is Trapped in the Barrel Wood – until Now.”
This bourbon hit the market in 2011. The cute name is a reference to the aging process of the whisky in the barrel. As with any liquid, part of the whisky evaporates. This lost whisky is often called the “angel’s share.” The longer a whisky ages, the greater the share that goes to the angels and not to us poor mortals. Whisky isn’t just lost to the air though; it also gets soaked into the barrel.
Jim Beam claims to have perfected an extraction process to get this absorbed whisky back out of the wood and into our glasses. After extracting the whisky from the barrel, they mix it in with some six-year-old Jim Beam bourbon and sell it at 90 proof as the Devil’s Cut. They say they use a “proprietary process,” but it isn’t particularly clear what this means. There are actually some fairly simple methods for doing this which have been in use for … well, pretty much forever, the most common being “swishing” or “Barrel sweating,” which isn’t particularly proprietary. Amusingly enough, this product came out the same year as an 86.6-proof bourbon called Angel’s Envy.
Getting along with things, the Devil’s Cut is a medium warm brown liquid in the bottle; it isn’t quite reddish enough that I would call it “amber.” Opening the bottle, I smell charred oak and some kind of nut, probably almond. There is also some sweetness, maybe brown sugar or toffee. I am also catching a hint of banana.
Now on to the tasting. The first thing I am getting on the palate tastes very sugary, almost like root beer. There is some vanilla here as well as that charred oak and some peppery spices. Something in here reminds me distinctly of fall or winter, a kind of holiday flavor—probably cinnamon or nutmeg, or both. The sweetness goes out before the long finish—and it is a long finish. The oak lingers for a good long time along with a hint of bitter toffee, if that is possible. The spices are still there too, and now I think I detect clove as well. All in all, a very nice whisky bourbon for around $20, especially if you are a fan of oak (what can you expect, with a whisky extracted from a barrel?).
Summary: Jim Beam “Devil’s Cut” Kentucky Straight
Colour: Warm, medium brown, almost amber.
Nose: Charred oak, almond, toffee or brown sugar, banana.
Palate: Charred oak, toffee or brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, clove.