The Best of Both (Whiskey) Worlds- Weekend #Wordpour
This week has provided a lot of food for thought about being a solopreneur/small business owner. In a couple Master Mind rooms on Clubhouse, the moderators asked us if there was a benefit to "staying in your lane." Was it better to find your niche or branch out in a lot of different directions? We wondered if it was possible to create something new and valuable while staying true to your craft. One of the best ideas was to collaborate on a project. Both sides bring their specific skills to the project, but it's the teamwork that makes it shine. You work through the differences to create something worth having. I recently did this with a business consulting team for a blog post blending our copywriting styles.
Teaming up to create a better idea or product is what drew me to this weekend's #wordpour selection. Okay, the bourbon might have had a little something to do with my choice too. I wouldn't be enjoying any of it without the teamwork of the two whiskey legends who created Legent.
You couldn't ask for more of a difference in styles with the making of Legent. First you have Fred Noe, Bourbon royalty and 7th generation Master Distiller for Jim Beam. 220 years of family whiskey running through his Kentucky veins. On the other side of the spectrum, you have Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender for House Suntory. He is only the 5th to hold such a prestigious title in the Founding House of Japanese Whisky. Both are rock stars in the world of whiskey, so when East met West and decided to work together, it was a huge deal. Imagine Elvis and David Bowie teaming up to write a song. That's how big it is, but it also showcases how different the styles are. Kentucky bourbons are all about relying on the quality of a single whiskey. The variations in taste come from the mash bills and the stave charring in the oak barrels. Not so with Japanese whisky. There, much like the rest of the world, blending is king. Being able to mix the right whiskies to create different aromas and flavors is the secret to success.
Both Noe and Fukuyo are visionaries striving to create something even better. Neither one finds satisfaction in the status quo. But they chose to change the whiskey game by each sticking to what they do best. Noe produced three different barrels of Jim Beam Bourbon. Two of the barrels had secondary cask finishes: a sherry cask and a red wine cask. The third was finished in a regular bourbon barrel. That's where Fukuyo stepped in. The sherry cask imparts flavors of spice, dried fruit and raisins. The French oak red wine casks provide milder flavors of fresh fruit. Traditional charred, new American oak bourbon barrels give flavors of vanilla and caramel. Marrying these flavors together to redefine what a bourbon can be is the trick; and a risky one at that.
So what do you get when you blend these different styles together? I'll be honest, my first couple of sips I wasn't sure I was a fan. I am a fan of Beam products. I am a fan of Suntory. But to blend these two styles was tough for me to wrap my head (and tastebuds around) at first.
Let's start with the nose. There is a lot going on here. Scents of almond, brown sugar, crushed orange peel, and sweet spice. A hint of chocolate, perhaps? It seems to change over time. Floral notes show up. Red fruit. It's like stepping into a bakery, or my Grandma's house. Definitely not unpleasant, but it's a lot to take in.
And it's every bit as much of a wild ride on the tastebuds. Sweeter style, but not the typical corn sweetness you get from bourbon mashes. This is much more to do with the barrel finishes and blending. This is some serious creative content in the bottle. Dark fruits of currant, plum and raisin dance with floral notes. Brown sugar, baking spice, luscious caramel and vanilla hug it out with crushed pecan shells. The finish is warm and long. The more I drink, the more I want to drink of it to discover more and more flavors. The flavors continue to change as it opens up, then change more with the addition of water. If whiskey were words, this would be a copywriter's delight. It's interesting, it's fun, and it keeps you coming back for more. My empty bottle is a testament to that!
Had Noe and Fukuyo decided not to step out of their comfort zones to collaborate, this gem would never exist. And that would be a shame because it redefines the expectation for both styles of whiskey. Had they both not "stayed in their lane" at the same time, we also wouldn't have such an enjoyable product. It's a story with a lesson that all business owners can learn from. You can continue to improve and innovate while sticking to the core of what you do. You can also achieve greater success by teaming up with people outside the box. Give it a try...both the collaboration and the bourbon. I think you'll find both to be very satisfying.