Booze Review

Whiskey Review – Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon


I guess it’s true what they say. Three times really is a charm! This is the third time that we’re writing about the Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon (1st time: The Wookie, 2nd time: Yours Truly), but this time, one of us is actually going to taste it!

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Deep amber color. After giving it a swirl, thick, fast moving legs form.
  • Aroma: Brown sugar. Molasses. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Subtle hint of pipe tobacco. Adding water brings out some vanilla and caramel notes.
  • Taste: A bit thin and watery. Starts off with some cinnamon spiciness that coats the tip of your tongue. There’s a bit of brown sugar and maple syrup sweetness, but it’s overpowered by the spice. When you let it linger in your mouth, the spice factor escalates and tingles/warms the middle of your tongue. Warm and spicy medium finish. Adding water tones down the cinnamon flavors and lets some of the sweetness take hold.
  • ABV: 45%

I wasn’t expecting to like this whiskey. I don’t care for the look of the bottle or the label, and the “extracting whiskey from the wood” process sounds a bit too gimmicky. To say that I had low expectations would be an understatement.

I am happy to report that Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon is actually very good, and at an average price of around $23, it’s also a very good value. Devil’s Cut is a very smooth and very drinkable Bourbon. You can definitely taste the alcohol when you drink it neat, but it’s not harsh, and it doesn’t burn like a lower quality whiskey would. If I had to rank it against other Bourbons, I would say that it’s a notch above the standard issue Buffalo Trace, and several notches below the standard issue Knob Creek Small Batch (not nearly as complex and flavorful). It looks like Jim Beam proved me wrong and crafted a very good and affordable whiskey. Being wrong never tasted so good!

14 replies »

  1. Great tasting notes as usual. I’m all in favour of innovation and experimentation, but like you I was a bit dubious about this one – it did indeed seem gimmicky. Great that it holds its own. It would be interesting to taste this side-by-side with the closest Jim Beam in age (I believe there’s a 7yo) and assess the impact of the barrel sweating.

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    • I agree with you, Patrick, that it would be interesting to taste this next to their 7yr. I tried it last weekend at an event (note the difference in “tried” vs “tasted” …the later would have involved a tulip glass and a side of water whereas the “taste” was from a cheap plastic cup with a side of the Devil’s Cut Cocktail they were serving … and whatever that was, it wasn’t good). My first impression was that the Devil’s Cut was decent but even at 45% abv, I thought it tasted water-y. I need to try it again in a better environment, but I though it was missing depth and character.

      Thanks for starting the conversation, G-LO!

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      • Good to hear that I wasn’t the only one that found it to be a bit watery. What impressed me most was the smoothness. It had zero harshness which is what I tend to find with the lower priced whiskies. The Devil’s Cut is nowhere near as good as last year’s Eagle Rare 17 or the 2010 Parker Heritage collection, but those whiskies cost 3 and 4 times as much. And as far as the flavors go, Devil’s Cut has a narrow flavor profile, but as they say, you get what you pay for.

        Regarding the conversation, I love the comments, particularly when they take on a life of their own! FUN FUN FUN!

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    • Glad you enjoyed the review. I thought about doing a side by side, but they didn’t have a 50ML of the 7 YO in stock. I don’t usually buy the single serve bottles, but I figured this was a good way to finally try the Devil’s Cut without committing to a full bottle. Like I said, it was a good value bourbon. Perhaps a bit one dimensional, but what it did, it did well. I think it’s important to try whiskies at both ends of the pricing spectrum. How else are you going to know what’s worth the extra money and what isn’t?

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  2. I find that Devil’s Cut is pretty good, but not radically different than the rest of their lineup. Maybe I was expecting a “wood bomb” so to speak, so I was a little disappointed that it didn’t really assert itself more. I don’t find it in the same class as Buffalo Trace which is my current benchmark in the world of bourbon, especially since Devil’s Cut is a few bucks more. Maybe the innovative technique they tout is a little too much marketing speak for what is really going on.

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    • To be honest, I haven’t had the standard issue Jim Beam in a long time (actually, I don’t know if I’ve had it in the past 20 years). Once I dived into the Small Batch collection, there was no looking back. But since we wrote about the Devil’s Cut on two occasions, I thought I just HAD to try it. Would I buy a full sized bottle? Not sure. There are so many other Bourbons out there that I still have to try. It’s all about the journey at “It’s just the booze dancing…”!

      Thanks for the comment!

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  3. True, you bring up an important point, G-LO: you get what you pay for and it’s not always fair to try and compare a product in the $30 range to one in the $55+ range (unless, of course, a less expensive fairs remarkably better then a higher end!). I do agree that there was no harshness to this. I’m not sure who they’re targeting and how they want their market to drink this. For being cheap but smooth, you’d think they’d want people to drink it neat, however, at the event I attended they only served it in a mixed drink (for which we’ve already established that it’s too watery to hold it’s own against other ingredients). To be continued, I guess!

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    • Since they paired up with Maxim for their Mardi Gras promotion, I suspect that they want to target 21 to 35 year old men. I doubt many of them are drinking straight whisky. But I could be wrong. If selling more Devil’s Cut to that crowd subsidizes the cost of making their Small Batch and Single Barrel Bourbons, then I hope they sell a ton of it! And while their at it, I hope they sell a boatload of Vodka and Skinnygirl crap too. We’ll keep the good stuff for ourselves. Greed is good!

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