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Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon Review

Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut is the latest release from the Bourbon Behemoth from Clermont, KY. It’s made from pretty interesting process called “barrel sweating”. Once the barrels of whiskey are dumped, they are filled with a proportion of water and agitated (rolled, moved) in the heat to bring out the “trapped” whiskey that’s been slumbering deep in the wood.

While I personally haven’t seen this process in action, I am told that it would surprise anyone just how much liquid is left in the wood itself. Once the process concludes, this woodier juice is reintroduced to 6 year old base Jim Beam. The result is Devil’s Cut.

And what about that name? Well, that’s a clever play on the “Angel’s Share”, which is a term referring to the whiskey that is lost to evaporation during the aging process. The amount lost to the angels can be quite significant over a 4, 8, 12, etc. period of time. The folks at Beam have apparently figured out how to take the Devil’s Cut as well.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, 45% abv (90 Proof), $24

Color: Lighter Amber (A bit lighter than I would have expected)

Nose: Sweet, candy shop nose of brown sugar, toffee, big vanilla, and ripe banana before oak and wood spices pick up steam. It’s certainly sweeter than the devilish name suggests.

Palate: Pretty straight forward and lacking complexity, but with bold flavor. Caramel sweetness and vanilla dominate the front palate with oak and spices (cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg) emerging firmly from mid palate through finish.

Finish: The finish has it’s own zip code – it’s long and lingers forever. This, for me, is where I think their process for creating this whiskey makes it’s presence felt most. There’s loads of wood, barrel tannin, and spice influence backed with caramel and corn.

Overall: Devil’s Cut starts off innocent and sweetly enough, but quickly the spice and wood emerges. It’s understandable considering the process I noted in the introduction above. It’s not a very complex whiskey, but frankly I found it quite interesting. It’s a spicy bourbon for the folks that make some fairly sweet and mellow juice for the most part. I applaud the effort.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (8.5 Very Good/Excellent)

46 Comments

  1. Greg says:

    I was just about to write you and see when you would review this. You put the taste into words better than I could have. I tried it for the first time the other night, and didn’t love it. It had kind of an odd taste in the middle for me. You are right that the finish is great, though. Here’s my question–when you agitate the barrel with water, aren’t you essentially watering down the “devil’s cut,” and therefore left with a product that is not much different than the bourbon you took out of the barrel? I guess there must be something to the process–as the finish would indicate–but just wondering what you thought.

  2. Glad you reviewed this one! We haven’t bought a bottle yet. Thought the name “Devils Cut” was a clever marketing strategy….especially for “insiders” who know about the “Angels Share.” PS They are still laughing at me in Lexington for looking for Weller 12 year and Pappy anything. Oh well.

  3. MW says:

    Marketing is the word for this whiskey….I am not impressed. Yes – long finish but the rest of it? Very ordinary. I would rate it maybe 7.5 (using JP’s scale). To each his own I guess!

    Joyce: I recently bought a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 YO – It was actually in stock in more than 1 store here…I guess it’s not as popular in the Midwest as it is in KY! I think I paid @$96. OUCH but worth it.

  4. AdamC says:

    Got a bottle of this a week ago. Great nose… great finish. But it does lack in flavor. And I got a liter foe 32$. Kinda expensive in central NY. Much rather spend 21$ on George Dickel #12.

  5. MW says:

    I agree with you AdamC – Dickel is much better. I always have it in my cabinet.

  6. Adam and MW, there is no question that this whiskey dips in the middle on the sip. It’s pretty straightforward with it’s flavors, but I enjoyed the spice and while the wood flavor is very prevalent I found it to be in a good way.

    Greg – it’s really unknown how much water is added to sweat the barrel, but I don’t imagine a large amount. Plus the proof of the whiskey in the wood is going to be well over 100. When added to other barrel proof Jim Beam it certainly isn’t going to come across as watered down. Now that said, I think something closer to 100 proof would ramp up the flavor on the palate a good bit.

    Joyce – keep on looking for that Pappy. You’ll find it one day!

  7. Chimay says:

    Jason, when does Pappy usually come out? I would like to find the 15 year old.

    I just picked 4 bottles of Sazerac 18 year old for $88.00 total that was every bottle on the shelf! I know it usually sells for $65.00 in that store should I feel guilty?

  8. Chimay, I have not spoken to the folks from Van Winkle yet, and will be following up soon, but usually in the later half of fall between late Oct to November. Some still trickles in through early December. Call your local shops and get your name on a list as soon as you can. Frankly I love the 20 and I think the 23 is very good, but the 15 is nearly a perfect specimen most of the time. Looking forward to trying a batch year and seeing.

  9. Ben says:

    Hi Jason, haven’t commented in a long time but always check back when I can. I definitely want to try this one, although it’s a shame that the palate sounds a bit plain. Do you think this barrel sweating idea has a future beyond this? I wonder if there’s a way it can be incorporated into other bourbon recipes with a more memorable effect. Base Jim Beam is a pretty standard bourbon and maybe no amount of ‘devil’s cut’ added back to it will make it extraordinary. Also, I don’t know if I alone feel this, but I used to enjoy basic Beam a lot more around five years ago. I think the quality has gradually dropped, and I was quite disappointed by a recent glass I had. Just didn’t have the same nose or palate for me. Keep up the good work with the site!

  10. sam k says:

    Ha! I enjoyed basic Beam more than 30 years ago, and it was even better then. The only thing that strays the same is change!

  11. Ben says:

    Lol you’ve got me there Sam. I wasn’t even alive 30 years ago let alone sipping Beam whiskey. If you have a vintage bottle lying around anywhere though ship it to the UK for me and I’ll try to party like it’s 1981 ;)

  12. Franco M. Campanella says:

    Jason,
    I know that your a gentleman and try to see the positives in most of your reviews. I must say, this bourbon is a fail. It’s a fine line between genius and gimmick!

  13. Eric S. says:

    I finally found a bottle of this. I’m not very impressed with it. It tastes like JBW to me… just a bit bolder. I do like the finish, though.

  14. Eric and Franco, I certainly understand what you mean. I will say, for me, the nose and finish were quite quite good and it fared well for me. But that’s the beauty of this – we can all have differing opinions and be correct.

  15. Greg says:

    Jason – nice review. When I first saw this I was skeptical and still am. I do applaud Beam for doing something creative but based on your review, I’m not sure it rises to the occasion of taking $$ from my wallet. When Makers 46 came out, I pulled the trigger and got a bottle and for the most part, I liked the whiskey but to me the price point was too high. I wonder how many barrels Beam uses in the sweating process? Since barrels are sold to overseas distilleries as a secondary revenue stream, I wonder if the upside in price for Devils Cut offsets the potential loss in revenue for the barrel, assuming they sweat out a majority of the remaining bourbon.

  16. Greg, that’s a great question on the decision to pull most of the remaining bourbon out (which I’m sure they do) vs. selling the barrel. That would likely devalue that barrel. Maybe some distilleries would still want it, but who know.

    I view things like Devil’s Cut and 46 as experiments. The big distilleries are testing some things out and seeing what works. There are a lot better whiskeys out there for that dollar for sure, but it’s an interesting product to me fared well.

  17. sam k says:

    You need to keep in mind that barrels are not shipped overseas intact, but are broken down into staves and heads, and shipped as pieces to their next home. They most likely are fully dried out by the time they arrive at their destination, where they are reconfigured for assembly into a smaller cask than the 53 gallons we use here.

    I think that makes the removal of any liquid here a moot point. Beam can have their cake and eat it too…take out all the soaked-in dregs and sell the barrel for the same price!

  18. Sam, this is very true. However the way I’m approaching this is if a used (once) bourbon barrel might retrieve XX amount, what do they consider a barrel that has had water put into it to gain access to the additional bourbon there? A barrel only has so much life in it, and the second time liquid enters that barrel those flavors are being pulled from that wood. Essentially, it can’t technically be a once used bourbon barrel at that point. Is it considered a refill bourbon barrel then?

    Regardless, I am sure you are correct – it must be worth it or Beam wouldn’t do it.

  19. Ethan Smith says:

    Seems like most people think this stuff is weasel pee, but I enjoy it as an easy-to-sip, yet more-complex-than-a-bottom-shelfer drink. I’ve found friends of mine that are “American whiskey curious” really like the stuff and like it much more than Jack Daniel’s. The hardest part to swallow for me is the price tag.

  20. Ethan, you and I are in the same boat here. Certainly that price is crowded with great whiskey, however I would say it’s priced fairly at least in my area. If I am honest, I also feel sometimes folks approach Jim Beam products with an unfair defensiveness. I don’t mean to offend anyone by saying that, but when you try these whiskeys with other products available on the market, as I do each time I review them, their quality is apparent. Perhaps the flavor profile or the age or whatever isn’t quite delivered in a way some prefer, but in most cases these are well made products.

  21. sam k says:

    Agreed, Jason. Beam is looked upon by many as the Anheuser-Busch of distilling, though they make a number of very good, if not excellent whiskeys. I’m looking forward to trying the Devil’s Cut.

    I’m also interested to see what you think of the newly relabeled Jack Daniel’s. Speaking of a decline in stature, I’ve heard that the term “straight ” is being dropped, which would mean that the age of the whiskey is now declining along with the proof as of late. It’s sounding like Ten High being sold at top-shelf pricing. I remember when all their print ads boasted “90 proof by choice.” (That’s been a while!)

  22. Sam, it’s interesting you bring that up on JD. I was talking with a LONG LONG time JD No. 7 fan this past weekend. He was devoted drinker of the stuff and quickly stopped when they made that proof reduction move.

    I have a video review hitting Wednesday between Jack Single Barrel and Dickel Barrel Select. It was an, errr, interesting duel to say the least.

  23. sam k says:

    And now it seems it’s being reduced to less that the undesignated “straight” minimum of years old. Ten High, indeed, at twice the price.

    B-F has Jack Daniel spinning in his grave. Will look forward to your review.

  24. Doug Atwell says:

    Found a bottle of Devil’s cut in Louisville tonight and wanted to give it a try after reading Jason’s review. I was curious as what to expect from reading some of the comments, but overall a pretty good bourbon. Sweet, light… love the woody finish. I agree not top shelf bourbon like Pappy or Four Roses, but not one to dismiss either. Reminds me a lot of Woodford Reserve. Lots of Oak as expected but cinnamon spice too. Clearly if you like oak you will like this one. I would definitely revisit Devil’s cut in the future…a good solid sipping bourbon.

  25. Doug, thanks for the comment. I concur.

  26. scott says:

    they should have called it “the devils asshole!” because it taste like shit!

  27. AdamC says:

    I like the Devils Cut. Was good.. wasnt worth the 30$ price. Wheres that JDSB vs JDBS?

  28. Adam, the JDSB vs. JDBS is hitting by tomorrow. Had some serious technical issues, but finally got it squared away late last week.

  29. Joe Serapilio says:

    Jason,Tried this one recently&liked it a bit more than JB black.Not by much.Beam needed a 90 proof product.Nice finish,lots of wood.Joe

  30. Joe, I think it also has a little more interest as well. We seem to be in the minority. : )

  31. Jeff Stuebben says:

    I have tried the Devils cut and found it to be little bit better than standard Jim Beam. I appriciate the added flavor but think it needs more of the “cut” and less of the regular product. I recently had a chance to drink some “devils cut” of my own from a recently purchesed barrel from A. Smith Bowman. It was emptied when we bought it, when we opened it 2 days later about 10 oz of the darkest bourbon came out. We sampled this wood extracted bourbon and it was some of the greatest tasting stuff I have ever tasted.

  32. Jeff, thanks for the comment. I bet that Bowman barrel was great stuff. Must have been pretty cool to see also.

  33. CapnSpaulding says:

    It got me drunk

  34. Well I must say, I think I first heard of Devil’s Cut on an NPR short story in late August ~ early September. I was excited when they described the “complex process” but as wordy descriptions go, I expected some sort of new high quality product like Beam’s new Makers 46 line; my expectations had set me up for some disappointment. Yes, it does have some nice rich color and possibly some spice in the middle, but I found it sort of average or so- so, because I have just finished off a bottle of the new Makers 46 which I think is excellent currently at $37.95 in most Oregon Liquor Stores. It seems they took the old Maker’s and just cut it half and half with Knob Creek to produce the Makers 46. which I like the best of all the Beam products now. OK, so the Devil’s cut is not all bad for the low price it goes for here in Oregon.

    However the Devil’s Cut is only $24.95 for a fifth so I guess the prices is indicative of the lesser quality. The Beam company seems to have the largest offering of their share with their other quality offerings such as Bookers and Knob Creek but those go for about $65 and $56 respectively, so with all things considered, The Devil is not all bad for $24 bottle. And oh, yes, take it easy as it is 90 proof!

    Mark

  35. Steve says:

    I tried a bottle of this stuff, but I just could not bring myself to finish it. I didn’t like it at all. I was surprised, because I really like most of the other Beam products, i.e Knob Creek, Bakers, Bookers, Old Grand-Dad, etc. I found it substantially different in taste from other Beam products.

  36. marvin Hargett says:

    I bought some and I really think its good and will buy more of it.

  37. Paul Hart says:

    To the fellow above: Makers Mark is not a Jim Beam product! Although I do like your evaluation of 46 tasting like a mix of Makers and Knob. I love Knob Creek, and can enjoy makers just fine when it’s what’s available. Given your thought there, I think I’ll get a bottle of 46 to see if I agree.

    Now having said that… I mainly drink my bourbons mixed with Coke. I think the two are a fantastic mix, and the coke IMO brings forth the delicious wood flavors and helps tame the heat/alcohol. I always sample a new bottle neat, and compare it to my others via smell, taste, after taste, etc, but the real test to me is how it stands out in a Coke. I’m 90% about the finish. Lately I’ve been hooked on Knob Creek and KC single barrel. There is a definitive tannic woody tasty finish that the KC’s have that I absolutely love. A lot of bourbons don’t have this and the only way to understand it is to mix one up and see what I mean. (btw I’ve had people say I’m wasting good bourbon this way. That’s such BS. There is a huge difference and I can always tell which bourbon from my shelf it is in my coke. The manager at Woodford Reserve told me that there is no wrong way to enjoy it, and that a sum is the total of all parts. The better the bourbon, the better the drink. I agree completely. Why would I want to mix Ky Gentleman and a Big K cola? Yuck)
    Well, I got to try some Devils Cut last Monday night, straight and mixed with coke. Like I said I’m 90% about that tasty finish and man, that tannic woody thing that KNob has going on is there with that Devils Cut finish. It’s not QUITE as tasty, but it’s closer than any others I’ve tried. If its cheaper for a larger amount (I think it is) then I’ll be buying a bottle. I really enjoyed my drink. The same guy had some 1798 and it didn’t taste as good as the Devils did. I say if you like mixing and a bold finish, then Devils cut is a great choice. Go for it.

  38. Paul Hart says:

    Oh yeah… It was so similar to the finish of Knob Creek that I was wondering if maybe it was the KC barrels they are sweating. Seems like a good idea. I actually asked them but haven’t heard back yet. I’ll let you know.
    Someone else mentioned buying a barrel and gettin some dark yummy juice out. I live like 20 minutes from Beam. Next time I’m near I’m going to stop and ask about buying a freshly dumped KC barrel and seeig what I can get out. That might be amazing.

  39. jeoff says:

    has anyone brought devils cut bourbon 700ml and found stuff at the bottom growing

  40. Jeoff, that is char sediment and is actually harmless, though not very tasty. Just try to avoid getting it in the glass.

  41. Robert Morrow says:

    I grew up on JB, so the devils cut, for me is just another level of JB enjoyment. Different than i have imbibed with the original with an extra kick that leaves a simply enjoyable flavor that for me, is worth the increased price tag. Many Bourbon’s i have had the pleasure of meeting, the devils cut makes my list.

  42. JM says:

    I must say i did like this devil’s cut.. Tho after the sweet introduction, i do find myself lost along the path to the great peppery finish as most people have agreed. Its still a decent bourbon, but yeah it was lighter in color than i figured itd be.., but for about ten bucks less i must say, woodford reserve may just beat out this juggernaut of a whisky companies attempt at a 90 proof oaky bourbon. woodford is rock solid all the way thru, its a little more balanced i feel, less sweet than devils cut, but is way more consistent and really what i thought a wood sweated whisky would taste like.. .it has a strong peppery finish you almost taste with your whole face.. and definitely had a slow burn as i like to say at the end. It also takes a while to get used to 90 proof bourbons such as this, it may come across a bit harsh at first, but this is a 90 proof whisky, and to drink it neat as i prefer it takes a bit to break your mouth in to getting passed the numbness, but well worth the effort, and as blasphemous as this may sound mixing it, it truly makes a great manhattan, tho i like to stick to makers for mixing.

  43. Iskch1 says:

    Devil’s Cut reminds me of 100 Pipers final after taste. I will give it another try later on. Maybe in summer with Ice or mixing.

  44. Sam says:

    I generally buy JB 7 year old bourbon, so I was intrigued by the thought of this bourbon being pulled from the barrel. I bought a bottle of Devil’s Cut today, and I actually like it quite a lot. It’s full bodied, very spicy and I love the oak and the burn at the end. Unlike others’ impression, it seems to be a very dark bourbon to me, with a very nice vanilla hint. I hate sweet whiskey, and this is not a sweet whiskey — at least not overly sweet. It also leaves a clean palate. I like it so much, it may become my new favorite for a day-to-day sipping whiskey. At $22.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it is priced right, too.

  45. When I was in college in Lexington in the 90s, we would get used barrels from distilleries and fill them about a 3rd with water at the end of the Spring Semester. We’d leave them on the back patio of our fraternity house in the sun over the summer, and when we returned in the spring, VOILA! Bourbon. It wasn’t uncommon in the area, and we learned it from old folks in the area who did it regularly. Beam is just capitalizing on an old tradition by doing the same thing in a much more controlled and expeditious manner. Then they mix it with 6 year old bourbon and sell it as Devil’s Cut.

    I don’t find this to be a particularly good bourbon, but it’s an interesting approach, and is definitely working for Beam Brands, since it’s selling like hotcakes.

  46. Martin Husk says:

    Like many commenters, I was hoping for a little more pitchfork out of the Devil’s Cut. It was smooth, but definitely did not have the spice or lasting finish I was expecting. Over all, I would give it a Good/Solid on the JP scale.

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