8th October, 2019 by Edith Hancock

Spirits group Beam Suntory has launched a new collaborative American whiskey made by Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe and blended by Shinji Fukuyo chief blender of Suntory.

Beam Suntory rolls out collaboration US/Japanese whiskey in travel retail

Called Legent, the super-premium whiskey, bottled at 47% ABV starts out as a Kentucky Straight Bourbon according to the Jim Beam recipe, before it is then aged in old wine and sherry casks, then blended with more Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

It has been launched exclusively with Dufry in the travel retail sector for a 12-month trial period, before it will be rolled out across the rest of the GTR sector.

“Legent is the perfect articulation of the amazing things that can be achieved when two great cultures come together as one, sharing a unified vision to bring true innovation and best-in-class spirits to the world,” said Takeshi Niinami, chief executive of Suntory Holdings.

“This bourbon honours Fred and the Beam family’s proud traditions while showcasing Shinji’s award-winning blending capabilities. Quite simply, it’s a bourbon no one else could create.”

Noe said it was “a real honour collaborating with Shinji on what I think is different from anything out there in the bourbon world.”

“I have always been fascinated by the flavour profiles that can be achieved through innovation,” said Fukuyo. “Using the historic bourbon recipe of Fred’s family as a solid foundation, I was able to explore new taste profiles and reach a final product that reimagines what the future of bourbon can be.”

Eduardo Heusi Pereira, global category director for liquor at Dufry, said: “As part of our focus to develop the American Whiskey Category, it will be extremely well received by our discerning whiskey purchasers and those customers visiting our World Duty Free store in Heathrow Terminal 5 on 28th September will be treated to a truly memorable experience”.

Manuel Gonzalez, Beam Suntory’s marketing manager for global travel retail, said the GTR sector is a “a crucial shop window to the wider portfolio through its global footprint and diverse customer base.”

The news comes as sales of American whiskey have grown rapidly in the past year American whiskey sales rose 6.6% in 2018, or $224 million to $3.6 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council in the US. CEO Chris Swonger said the US spirits sector is “benefiting from millennials who demand diverse and authentic experiences, and desire innovative and higher-end products.”

At the same time, Japan’s distilleries have had to discontinue some brands as demand for Japanese whisky, particularly those with age statements, has reached all-time highs.

Suntory, for example, withdrew two of its aged whiskies from certain markets because of supply constraints this year: Hibiki 17 Year Old and Hakushu 12 Year Old. Overall availability of the whiskies will now be limited over the next few years.

Nikka decided to pull 14 of its age-­statement whiskies from all markets in 2015, due to pressure from consumer demand.