The Mysterious Process of ‘Devil’s Cut’ in Bourbon Production

The Mysterious Process of ‘Devil’s Cut’ in Bourbon Production

The Art of Bourbon Processing: Understanding the Meaning of Devil’s Cut


Bourbon is an iconic American whiskey that boasts several distinct features. The production of bourbon is a stringent process that requires patience, time, and skill. From the types of grains used to the aging process, every step in the making of bourbon is vital. One term that often comes up during the processing of bourbon is the “devil’s cut.” It’s a term that many people have heard of, but few understand. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of the devil’s cut and why it’s so crucial in the bourbon-making process.

What is Devil’s Cut?

The devil’s cut is a term used to describe the amount of bourbon that gets absorbed into the barrels during the aging process. When bourbon is aged in oak barrels, a portion of the liquid evaporates, further absorbed by the wood. This process is known as the angel’s share, and it’s where the bourbon gets its distinct flavors from. However, some of the bourbon gets trapped inside the wood, unable to evaporate or be extracted during the bottling process. This trapped bourbon is what’s referred to as the devil’s cut.

The Significance of Devil’s Cut

Many bourbon enthusiasts believe that the devil’s cut is a crucial aspect of the bourbon-making process. It’s because this trapped bourbon contains some of the most potent flavors and aromas that give the whiskey its distinct character. The devil’s cut also balances the angel’s share, which can sometimes lead to a loss of flavor in the final product. The devil’s cut is what gives bourbon its rich, complex, and robust taste.

How is Devil’s Cut Extracted?

Extracting the devil’s cut is a complicated process that requires skill and experience. The process involves taking a piece of the stave, the plank of wood that forms the sides of the barrel, and roasting it until it’s charred. This process heats up the wood, releasing the trapped bourbon inside. The barrel master then shaves off the charred layer to reveal the soaked wood layers underneath. The wet, bourbon-soaked wood is then removed and mixed with newly distilled bourbon. This process is what gives the whiskey its unique flavor profile.


In conclusion, the devil’s cut is a vital aspect of the bourbon-making process that adds depth, complexity, and richness to the final product. Though the process of extracting the devil’s cut is tricky, the results are well worth the effort. Bourbon enthusiasts around the world appreciate the distinct flavors and aromas that come from the devil’s cut. It’s yet another example of the meticulous care and attention to detail that goes into the production of this iconic whiskey.

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Written by Dustin Gandoff

Dustin Gandoff is a news reporter and bourbon enthusiast. He has been writing about bourbon for the past five years, and has become an expert in the field. He has traveled to distilleries all over the world to learn more about the craft and to sample some of the finest bourbons available. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience with others, and is always looking for new ways to explore the world of bourbon.

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