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Whisky Reviews

Legent Yamazaki Cask Finish Blend, 57% ABV

 

Legent Bourbon is yet another entry in the Suntory Global Spirits catalog. Drawing on the revered tradition and artistry of the Legent and Yamazaki brands, the Legent Yamazaki Cask finish, to me, is a unique expression in that it represents another facet of the Japanese concept of “Tsukuriwake” – also described as “artisanship through a diversity in making.” The production of this spirit takes Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey and imparts Japanese blending techniques, along with different cask type maturation. While Suntory Whisky is no stranger to blending whiskies from different continents – something they’ve accomplished with Ao – the ambition to push the boundaries of bourbon with Legent remained. This is where the Legent Yamazaki Cask Finish shines.

In collaboration with Suntory fifth-generation Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, and Jim Beam’s great-grandson and seventh-generation Master Distiller, Fred Noe, yet another legendary endeavor in the Suntory Global Spirits portfolio was born. The Legent Yamazaki Cask Finish takes the standard Legent bourbon, aged for eight years in charred white oak casks, on a voyage to Japan, where the bourbon is then matured in French oak wine casks and sherry casks, respectively. Those matured whiskies are then blended together by Shinji with even more of the base bourbon, with a portion of that blended spirit receiving a finishing touch in ex-Yamazaki sherry casks. I wonder, of course, which Yamazaki offerings were housed in these old casks. Will we get a taste of the Yamazaki 12? Likely. The Yamazaki 18? Perhaps. The Yamazaki 25? Something older? Highly unlikely, but that’s the intrigue behind this creation. Let’s pop the cork and find out! Although, as I have not had the Yamazaki 25, I will not be able to opine on any potential effect its cask may have had on this whiskey.

Legent Yamazaki Cask Finish: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Partially Finished in Wine, Sherry, & ex-Yamazaki Casks; 57% ABV, (114 Proof) - Review

NAS, although the base bourbon is aged for 8 years before being finished in a variety of cask types; could not locate consistent information for added color or chill-filtration status

 

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose on this dram is truly remarkable. While I haven’t consumed much bourbon over the past couple of years, I do still recognize that iconic bourbon profile. This nose has the trademarks of bourbon, but is amplified by other components. Hmm…it’s almost as if there’s multiple cask types in play here. Tangents aside, this nose presents a sweet, rich, and slightly oaky profile. The scent of grain is there as well. Also present is vanilla, caramel, and a syrupy flavor, which is joined with some raspberry, strawberry, and raisins, indicating the company of some sherry and wine cask influence. There’s also something else there, which reads as a sort of Mediterranean olive/grape note. Not sure where that comes from – perhaps more unique influence from the wine casks?

Palate: The palate on this dram also contains those signature bourbon markers. It’s warm, dense, sweet, and rich. Within, you will also find brown sugar, baking spices, and a cereal note. Joining these profiles and flavors are a slightly tannic taste and other flavors which may not be typically associated with bourbon, such as tobacco spice and ginger. Perhaps, more evidence of that multi-cask influence!

Finish: Perhaps it’s simply my palate, but I typically don’t find many long finishes on a whisk(e)y; however, this dram is one of the few exceptions! The finish is long, drawn out, and slowly tapers away. On this finish I get a slight spicy kick, and a somewhat dry and tannic feel. There’s more brown sugar, ginger, and tobacco. New to this aspect of the tasting experience is a plum note. As the finish tapers, it leads way into more strawberry and raspberry, a nice callback from the nose.

Final Thoughts

Suntory is always in the lab crafting new masterpieces. Although my palate has drifted away from bourbon since falling in love with Japanese whisky, this dram – along with the Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged – might singlehandedly be responsible for my foray back into that spirit. Having also recently tried the standard Legent bourbon, which did not spend time in ex-Yamazaki casks, I do believe that fourth cask inclusion played a role in shaping the flavor profile of this spirit. As both Legent and Yamazaki whiskies spend varying parts of their life in sherry casks, it would naturally be difficult to pinpoint where the Yamazaki influence resides; however, I believe some of the gingery, spicy aspects can be attributed to that Yamazaki cask influence. 

One thing to note is that this whiskey does not drink like a 114 proof whiskey. Despite this higher proof, nothing about this whiskey punches you in the nose or burns your palate. The flavors are more delicate, akin to what one would expect from, perhaps, a Japanese or Japanese-influenced whisky. This dram also offers much depth and complexity, and my palate may be partial to bourbons of a similar profile from this point forward. 

I can confidently recommend this whiskey; albeit, it comes with a limited availability and will demand a higher price point. I typically don’t flat out tell people to buy a bottle, mainly for cost considerations, but if you have the opportunity to try a dram – whether that be at a bar or if you do secure a bottle for yourself – I recommend you do so! Especially for those who are fans of Yamazaki whisky and bourbon, this Legent offering has combined the best of both worlds.

My Score: 88*

*A disclaimer that my scores are bound to change as I continue to taste and review a given spirit. This score was the result of several tastings.

Rating System

  • 96–100; An absolutely stellar whisky. A legend. Easily a contender for the best whisky I’ve ever had.
  • 90–95; a great whisky. One of the best whiskies I’ve had. The higher end of this spectrum is approaching legend status.
  • 80–89; This is a solid, strong whisky. There’s something missing though that’s preventing it from being great. Still good enough to have, though – anything at or above this point deserves a spot on my home bar. The higher end of this spectrum is approaching “great whisky” territory.
  • 70–79; This is a good whisky. Anything in this range and above is something I would consider having on my home bar. Something I could easily sip on every day and something I can enjoy simply for what it is. Does not blow me away, but is still enjoyable.
  • 60–69; I’ve had better whiskies. I wouldn’t turn this down if someone offered me a dram, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to grab a dram.
  • 50–59; Not all that good. Again, might not turn it down, but would certainly not go out of my way to grab a dram or find. Would not recommend to anyone.
  • 50 and below; Not worth the time.

Breakdown of Score

Tasting Experience (Each category out of 10 possible points, then totaled/weighted 50%): 44/50 points 

  • Nose (out of 10 possible points) 9
  • Palate (out of 10 possible points) 8
  • Finish (out of 10 possible points) 9
  • Balance, or how well the flavors work together (out of 10 possible points) 9
  • Complexity, or number of notes/distribution amongst them (out of 10 possible points) 9

Tasting Experience Weighted Score of 44

Bottle Aesthetics (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 20%): 9/10 points

Bottle Aesthetics Weighted Score of 18

The Craft (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 20%): 9/10 points

The Craft Weighted Score of 18

Uniqueness (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 5%): 10/10 points

Uniqueness Weighted Score of 5 

Intangibles (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 5%): 6/10 points

Uniqueness Weighted Score of 3

Total Score = 88*

A Note From Whisk(e)y & Whatnot

Here I've put the Legent Yamazaki Cask Finish through my new personal scoring system. This is the debut of my scoring system on 88 Bamboo. I’ve always found it difficult to provide grades to things without having a set criterion to use as a guide, which is why I decided to create a scoring system based off my values. There are five total categories that amount to what I value in a whisk(e)y, and each category is weighted accordingly to what I value the most. The breakdown is as follows:

  • The Tasting Experience category is weighted 50%. 50 possible points are spread evenly across five sub-categories. These sub-categories are nose; palate; finish; balance; and complexity. The rest of the categories allow a possible of 10 points each, respectively, but have varying weights.
  • The Bottle Aesthetics category is weighted 20%. In this section I factor in the visuals of the just the bottle, because bottles aren’t always sold with or presented on bar shelves with their accompanying boxes.
  • The Craft category is also weighted 20%. This section takes into account the process of making the whisk(e)y and the type(s) of maturation that was/were used.
  • The Uniqueness category is weighted at 5%. This category takes into account anything about the dram that stands out, such as whether it’s the first release of its kind or a rare limited edition – things of that nature.
  • The Intangibles category is also weighted at 5%. This category is meant to reflect some miscellaneous categories – such as, but not limited to, the versatility of a whisk(e)y and whether or not it’s easy to find – and encompass the things you can’t always see coming – such as the significance of a whisk(e)y to me personally and anytime a dram evokes a feeling of nostalgia (which truly is a thing, at least for me!).

 

Images courtesy of Whisk(e)y & Whatnot.

Whisk(e)y & Whatnot
🇯🇵 whisky lover/scotch adventurer

Read his column on 88 Bamboo here!