Many readers will probably have heard of the “angel’s share”. As an aged spirit is left to mature in wooden casks, some of the alcohol will evaporate and be lost to both the distiller and the end drinker; this is often referred to as the “angel’s share”. The volume lost can vary hugely, depending upon the location of the warehouse and thus the temperature changes experienced.
Although it’s given that the angels always will take their share, Jim Beam have decided to look at another volume of alcohol that is lost, not to the air (or angels), but to the barrel itself; a portion that they’re referring to as the “devil’s cut”. They have designed a process to extract the whiskey that has seeped into the wood of the barrel, which they then hold for a period of time before blending it with a 6 Year Old Bourbon. It’s then bottled at 45%ABV (or 90 Proof), which is notably stronger than the other varieties of Jim Beam.
In addition to trying this on its own, DTS & I thought it would be appropriate to try it in an array of suitably seasonal cocktails, in case anyone is planning a Halloween party (or just a night in with some Bourbon and horror movies!).
On its own
Nose: Rich, syrupy, traditional bourbon notes: vanilla, caramel, and hints of coffee fondant. Well-rounded, sweet and woody.
Taste: There’s an initial, intriguing, soft sweetness, especially at the front of palate. A much stronger, dryer flavour slowly builds up at the back of the mouth, which is woody, with very measured notes of vanilla and orange. Although I initially thought that this would be ideal for cocktails, with the softness at the start and straightforward, but bold flavour later on, I quickly realised that this also makes for a wonderfully easy-to-drink bourbon that nonetheless has a lot of quite weighty oak notes and grown-up dryness.
An interesting nose of liquorice leads to a soft (but by no means sugary) combination of flavours that fade from sweet liquorice, to liquorice root, to dry oak. A flash of fiery cinnamon appears in the midst of this and manages to linger on your lips for a while afterwards. The warmth of the whiskey also slowly builds, making this perfect for the current chilly climate. Delicious, but soft and not overpowering.
The wood notes seem to be much stronger in this drink, with an underlying spiciness of cinnamon and a interesting kick of chilli. The pumpkin comes through on the finish, just like pumpkin pie filling, and accompanied by spicy oak notes.
A very interesting take on a Mint Julep; this has a much creamier, sweeter mint flavour, which reminds me somewhat of mint fondant. The whiskey builds on the finish and adds a refreshing dry flavour to what is a generally sweeter version of a Julep. Although this may be too sweet for some, I think it makes for a fun alternative to a usual Julep, e.g. for a Halloween party.
[30ml Devil’s Cut, 10ml King’s Ginger Liqueur, 100ml Ginger Ale]
Another delicious, smooth and autumnal cocktail. Fresh citrus to start, with notes of both lemon and orange, followed by a sweetness that seamlessly fades into the oak of the whiskey. Ginger appears – subtly to start, but gradually building – on the finish, adding a spicy warmth to that of the whiskey base. Absolutely lovely.
[30ml Devil’s Cut, 10ml Orange Liqueur (I used Grand Gala), 10ml King’s Ginger Liqueur, 50ml Semi-Skimmed Milk] – Add to a heat proof mug and microwave for 30 seconds, garnish with flake chocolate.]
Warming and comforting, this is a milky cocktail with still a very generous helping of whiskey; the warmth comes from both the temperature and the spirit, plus a lovely hint of ginger that – like with the previous cocktail – builds on the finish. The nose has a lot of sweet orange, which appears again on the taste, with the comforting taste of warm milk in the background. Although the whiskey is less prominent in this cocktail than in those previous, I can see it filling a very specific niche.
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is excellent for drinking neat, being smooth and sound, but with strong and weighty oak notes, too. In addition, its simple, but bold flavour provides options for making a whole range of tasty cocktails, as seen above. I liked all of the ones that we tried, but my favourite two were the Frankenstein Fizz and the Bat Monster’s Manhattan.
– Mrs. B.
Jim Beam devil cut is available for around £26 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.