An early sip of Jim Beam Devil's Cut bourbon

As a bourbon fan fortunate enough to score one of the few pre-release bottles of Jim Beam Devil's Cut floating around Chicago, I figured I should share it--especially since the name is a twist on "angel's share," which is the term of art for the bourbon that evaporates from the barrel during the aging process. So I took (most of) the bottle to a poker game at an undisclosed Ukrainian Village location last night and told my fellow players about the product's hook: It contains some bourbon (Beam won't say exactly how much per bottle) extracted from the barrel staves after they've soaked into the wood for a good long while.

As the accompanying note under the signature of Beam master distiller Fred Noe puts it (in the kind of language I've never heard Fred use in the times I've talked with him), "Through a proprietary process, we unleash this formerly lost liquid from deep inside the barrel wood and put it back into our special Bourbon."

So, what's it taste like?

Well, to me, it tastes like a smoother version of Beam. It's got a warm, spicy smell and no sharp finish. However, it doesn't taste quite as woody as I thought a product containing barrel squeezin's would. My verdict: Good stuff.

Here are what my fellow players thought of Devil's Cut:

"Super smooth, hint of cinnamon."

"Crazy smooth for 90 proof."

"Tastes like a premium."

"I would serve this at a party."

You can try it for yourself in Chicago starting later this summer (exact date TBD, I was told) at around $24 for the 750 ML bottle. Fred's letter also promises a roll out "in select states in May," but Illinois is not one of them, alas. Worth checking out when it comes around, though.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)