Run by the same people who brought us the impenetrably fey Courvoisier “Institute of Grand Cocktails” in 2012, this particular “immersive experience” proved to be much more down-to-earth. There were just the three rooms, erected from partitions within a space at the Old Truman Brewery, on Brick Lane in Shoreditch, connected by corridors plated with the ends of barrels, to make you feel like a termite creeping through a cavernous warehouse filled with slumbering whiskey. The first was the Heritage Room, where we were met by none other than Fred Noe (Frederick Booker Noe III, to give him his full honorific), seventh generation master distiller and great grandson of Jim Beam himself, who built the distillery upon the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
|Fred Noe addresses us, safe in the knowledge that|
there is a bottle of Jim Beam to hand on the porch roof
We had all been issued with “passports” and before leaving the Heritage Room we had to ours stamped. I’m not sure why we needed a passport to move from one room to another in a mocked up stillhouse in Kentucky (especially ironic given the huge proportion of Americans who don’t have passports because they have never left the country). But at least I can prove to US immigration authorities that I have tasted both Jim Beam regular and Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.
|Attendant journalists relax, which is probably more than Fred can|
do with a giant effigy of his father looking down on him
The Devil’s Cut is a product launched about a year ago. Deriving from the term “the angels’ share”, referring to the spirit that evaporates from the barrel during the years of ageing, the name Devil’s Cut represents the opposite—spirit that is left in the barrel at the end.
|Whom should I bump into but vintage blogger and|
pin-up Fleur de Guerre, seen here signing the barrel
|The Mixology room proves stinting of its fruits|
We have a final treat in store: there is a big barrel in the lobby, which we are all invited to sign. Apparently it will be taken back to Kentucky and filled with bourbon, and when it is emptied in four years’ time—assuming cirrhosis hasn’t finished us off in the interim—we each get a bottle from the barrel.