Photo: Alex Blackwood

Metro Recommends: Legent Bourbon whiskey

Meet Legent Bourbon. A whisky drinker’s bourbon, if you will.

People who like whisky do so partially because it's a drink to sip slowly. It's a beverage to consider, taste and enjoy in a world of shots, RTDs and session beer. It isn’t unusual to spend an hour on single tiny glass of whisky because you want to tease out all the flavours.

And that is something you can do because each whisky is so chock-full of notes to taste. Which is why, when I first sipped Legent Bourbon whiskey, Hannah Montana’s classic and haunting melody Best of Both Worlds played in my head. (The lack of an ‘e’ generally connotes Scottish whisky or whisky in the Scottish style. Whiskey with an e refers to Irish-style whiskey, from which American whiskey is descended.)

A glass of Legent Bourbon with, frankly, too much ice in it.

Legent, having been brewed in sherry casks, red wine casks and charred white oak barrels, tastes like the woody, complex amber liquid I love. It’s a whisky drinker’s whiskey, if you will. You can taste the smokiness of the charred oak and the bittersweet sherry and plenty of others to be lovingly detected as you sip away.

Legent is a collaboration between Fred Noe, Jim Beam's great-grandson, and Shinji Fukuyo; the Chief Blender of Japanese whisky house Suntory. The base is Kentucky Bourbon, which will evidently be good news here in New Zealand because per capita, we apparently drink the most Jim Beam in the world (colour me surprised). 

It makes me feel silly for ignoring bourbon all my life. I’ve not liked it in the past usually because what I have tried have been sweet and simple. When I sip them, I can taste the sticky, cola flavoured RTDs to which my brother is partial (sorry, Kit). But this bourbon, bless it, doesn’t taste like corn or sugar or Billy Mavs. It isn't light-bodied or cloying like I've found bourbon in the past. 

I don’t mean to say that bourbons don’t have notes, or that they aren’t complex, I just mean to say that as a whisky drinker, this is the first bourbon that has turned my head enough to get me to really taste it. Legent has opened my eyes to bourbon being as enjoyable and has earned a place on my whisky shelf (though now I might have to start calling it a whisky/whiskey shelf).

I can now, with Legent holding my hand, proudly say I am ready to wade into the world of bourbon.

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