Aging barrels of bourbon
Food - Drink
What 'Devil's Cut' Really Means During Bourbon Processing
In a bourbon's first year of aging, some of its volume is lost to evaporation, and this portion is called the Angel's Share. This "share" even has a counterpart, the Devil's Cut.
The Devil's Cut refers to a portion of bourbon that soaks into the barrel. Combined with the Angel's Share, up to 10% of the bourbon's volume may be lost during aging.
In 2011, Jim Beam discovered a way to salvage some of this lost liquor and launched his own Devil's Cut bourbon, a unique blend including bourbon extracted from barrels themselves.
Jim Beam's Devil's Cut was more than clever marketing. Barrels do absorb enough bourbon to make a recovery worthwhile, but it's the quality of it that makes this product special.
Bourbon gets a substantial part of its flavor from the barrel in which it's aged, and what is absorbed directly into the staves is particularly rich in oak-based flavor compounds.
The way Jim Beam removes the wood-trapped bourbon is a secret, but when Devil's Cut was first released, they noted a proprietary technique involving "agitation."
The extracted whiskey is then given time to regain its balance before it's added to extra-aged bourbon and bottled at 90 proof to finish.