Fred Noe On What Went Into Crafting Legent Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Fred Noe On What Went Into Crafting Legent Bourbon

By Nino Marchetti / April 8, 2019

Beam-Suntory, as you likely know by now, has a very large stable of spirits brands. Among these are a host of whisk(e)y types from around the globe, including bourbon and Japanese whisky. It makes sense, therefore, that some collaboration would go on amongst the different silos in an attempt to create some rather unique products.

One such collaboration which was recently unveiled is Legent, a bourbon crafted by Beam master distiller Fred Noe and Suntory master blender Shinji Fukuyo. The two of them put their heads together to make a whiskey that gets the usual Beam bourbon treatment – high quality grains, Kentucky limestone water and aging in newly charred white oak barrels. Where it goes from here is that it is further aged in “hand-selected” ex-red wine French oak barrels and ex-sherry casks. Much of this is done under the eye of Noe.

Once this bourbon has been deemed ready after the extra aging time, Fukuyo stepped in and blended it with other Kentucky straight bourbon for the final product. It is thus an expression that’s been put together by two true masters of the whisk(e)y trade, each using their respective skill sets as part of the production process for Legent.

To learn more about this collaboration, we recently emailed some questions over to Beam and Fred Noe. His answers are presented below for your consideration.

Beam master distiller Fred Noe and Suntory master blender Shinji Fukuyo (image via Beam-Suntory)

The Whiskey Wash (TWW): Talk a little about the backstory of Legent. How did you and Shinji come to discuss putting this whiskey together?

Fred Noe: When Beam and Suntory joined forces, it was an ideal time for Shinji and I to collaborate. While our accents might be a bit different we both speak the language of whiskey so the merger was an opportunity for us to have a little fun. We’ve been discussing and working on Legent together for several years and it was just a real honor collaborating with Shinji on what I think is different from anything out there in the bourbon world.

TWW: What was the most challenging thing about producing this bourbon?

Noe: While I’ve enjoyed Japanese whisky, I had never worked with it before and Shinji, he’s never touched bourbon. Legent was a brand new experience for both of us. Each step of the way we learned more from one another, pushing bourbon’s boundaries as well as our own.

TWW: What kind of drinker are you going after with this release?

Noe: It’s a good time for whiskey. The category has seen some strong growth in recent years so in launching Legent, we wanted to go after the folks who are into discovering new and unique offerings. We think Legent is truly a bourbon unlike anything else. Mixologists love it because they’re able have some fun and make interesting cocktails and purists enjoy it neat or over ice. I always say you should drink bourbon however you please.

TWW: When you think about the evolution of Beam Suntory in the whiskey world, how does this product play into that?

Noe: Legent marks the first true collaboration between Beam and Suntory. It brings East and West together resulting in a bourbon rich with Kentucky tradition and Japanese detail, something Beam Suntory could only do.

TWW: What do you like most about Legent?

Noe: As a bourbon distiller, I enjoy breaking rules and creating new traditions. It was fun getting to work alongside Shinji, learn more about Japanese whisky and the blending process, a technique that was taboo in bourbon country when I was growing up.