Admittedly, I can’t write about whiskey with nearly the grace of Romeo. Hell, when you ask for nose my only answer is, “I dunno. It smells like whiskey.” I’m not sure I’ve ever actually tasted “charcoal” or any nutty undertones in my whiskey, though I will readily admit some are quite sweeter than others. Perhaps my whiskey palate has been damaged or so trained to ignore the bad that comes from bottom shelf bourbons that it’s almost mute. Either way, I wanted to drop a few lines about a new whiskey from Jim Beam called “The Devil’s Cut“.

For those who aren’t familiar, the whiskey lost to evaporation during a whiskey’s aging process is referred to as “the angel’s share”. The Devil’s Cut is Beam’s term for the whiskey that ends up caught in the wood of the barrels it ages in, which they’ve extracted and mixed in with a special “extra-aged” 6 year Jim Beam bourbon. The results are a genuinely unique bottle of 90 proof bourbon.

A lot of legitimate spirit review sites say the nose of the Devil’s Cut is that of baking spices, oak, and nuttiness. To me, it smells like the pure octane you expect a 90 proof whiskey to smell like when it’s in the bottom of your glass. The nose has enough burn you’ll worry a little about what’s gonna happen after you swallow it but worry not, my friend in bourbon, ‘cause, at least for me, that’s where the magic begins. The Devil’s Cut may be a 90 proof whiskey, and it may smell of a 90 proof whiskey, but I can honestly say it drinks smoother than anything of the sour mash nature that I’ve ever swallowed. It goes down easier than chilled vodka and leaves an aftertaste that seems like you ate a piece of caramel.

At a mere 28 dollars a bottle, I can honestly say this is the best whiskey for the dollar you can buy and it gets my highest recommendation….if there was a section I’d deem it Essential Drinking. One thing’s for sure, while you may get drunk from drinking The Devil’s Cut, I’d say it’s not a whiskey that’s meant to be drank with the sole intent of getting drunk. Get a bottle of white label Beam for that and give The Devil’s Cut the slow sipping respect it deserves.

And God damn you if you add a mixer to it.

Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys – Shot of Bourbon
J.B. Beverley & The Wayward Drifters – Drinkin’ Bourbon
Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Bourbon Legend


Thus far, Romeo has been the only contributor to the Booze portion of the website and he’s done a fine job of it. Typically, Romeo writes about those $35+ bottles of whiskey….you know, the good shit. Well, since I’ve lived the bulk of 2011 without knowing what percentage of pay I might receive and if my company would exist at all in 2 weeks, I’ve become well versed in the sub-$15 a bottle variety of whiskey, so I figured I’d pen a quick piece about that.

Now, while most of the booze Romeo writes about needs to (and should) be drank neat, or if you insist on a mixer, over ice, the swill I am writing about needs a heavier (more sugary) mixer. Personally, I prefer ginger ale or tonic. Now, I know I typed tonic and you scrinched your nose, stuck out your tongue and went “ugh”, but trust me, tonic is a good (and lighter) whiskey mixer (especially for late morning/early afternoon drinking), so don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. I mean, until eaten, who would have thought a peanut butter and syrup sandwich was a good idea? Here are some of the better whiskeys I’ve found on the bottom shelf:

Well Whiskey: When you go to a bar it’s a simple game. “Well” is cheaper, “call” is more expensive. If you’re in a high end bar, the well might be Jim Beam but if you order a Beam and Ginger then your ass will be charged for a “call”. In a dive bar, “well” is two steps above the “call” that some rich dude pisses out of his over-abused bladder the next morning. That said, I’ve found that if you’re willing to just stick to whatever they’re serving as “well” and not drink anything else the rest of the night not only will you get drunk on the cheap, you’ll avoid the dreaded hangover.

Jim Beam: Okay, honestly, this doesn’t deserve to be in this article but I included it for one reason….most Jack Daniels drinkers don’t understand the differences between Kentucky Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. Nope, they’re all, “Wha? I got a JD shirt and Lynyrd had a JD themed shirt. It’s all brown and sour mashed and thus the same thing.” These people don’t appreciate nuance and are the type to call grilling “barbecuing”. In reality, Jim Beam is the king of the bottom shelf and while, yes, you can drink it over ice; you really don’t want to. However, the simple fact that you can means it’s earned the crown as the king of the low shelf bourbon.

However, there does come a time when even $14 for a bottle of Beam is tough to justify, and once that time comes, what do you do? You’re looking at this bottom rung of names and labels you don’t know. Some might be good, but most are probably turpentine with food coloring. Well, I’m here to help you since I’ve gone through them all. Some really are turpentine with food coloring (I’m looking at you, Old Grandad), but a lot of them are really good, albeit young, and lacking the nuance that their 7 year and older barrel-aged brethren have.

Continue reading “BOOZE: LOW SHELF BOURBON”