Angel’s Envy Bourbon
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels
Batch 10B (or 103, I can’t read the writing), Bottle 201
Angel’s Envy is the product of former Brown-Forman Master Distiller, Lincoln Henderson, and really it’s the product of his retirement from Brown-Forman. After retiring in 2006, he joined forces with his son and grandson and started experimenting with finishing whiskey in barrels that previously contained port, sherry, brandy, rum, and even tequila. The idea took off and Angel’s Envy hit the shelves in 2010, receiving some seriously positive critical acclaim.
I wanted to hate this whiskey. I hate the bottle, the font, the name, the art, all of it. It doesn’t look or feel at all like a whiskey bottle should look and feel…it looks too modern, too kitschy, too marketed towards the new whiskey drinker. Even the website bothers me a little bit, it’s really slick and modern, and full of lots of the company harping on how they are malcontents and perfectionists (reminds me of in job interviews when people say their biggest weakness is how much of a perfectionist they are!) and how they only make the best of the best, etc.
All that being said, what I have in my hand right now smells and tastes flipping great. There, I said it. And as for the website…well, as someone who writes about whiskey, the Angel’s Envy site makes my job really easy. They put a lot of detailed info about their products on their site, and I appreciate that. The only thing they don’t mention on their site is where their juice is coming from, but that’s the same old story of all the Non-Distiller Producers. I also respect that they are actually making this in small batches and they even tell you the number of barrels used in their batches (8 to 12), which is extremely rare info to get. Small batch has no definition, so a company batching 1,000 barrels for a bottling could call it a small batch, and this probably happens a lot.
I’m not surprised that the whiskey itself is so good. Lincoln Henderson tasted more than 430,000 barrels of whiskey while Master Distiller at Brown-Forman. I can’t even imagine what that much training would do to your palate. He can probably tell you what a whiskey is going to taste like just by looking at the barrel! But for Angel’s Envy he knew exactly what he was going for–sweet and smooth, yet complex. He hit the mark pretty dead on.
Nosing this I get vanilla up front, not quite as subtle as advertised, but I love vanilla so that’s ok with me. Then I get caramel, Sun-Maid red raisins, and candied walnuts. A very sweet nose. I often like the way a bourbon smells better than it tastes, this is not the case here, the palate is where this bourbon really shines. Vanilla is present, but it’s not the vanilla bomb you get in the nose, it’s more subtle, and it’s paired with a fruity, woody, flavor, like if you ate a Fruit Roll-Up that had been in a wooden box for a while. There is also a nice dark chocolate note that brings some bitterness to balance out the sweet–it is totally key and rounds out the whiskey perfectly. Remember this bourbon is finished (they say from 3-6 months depending on when it achieves to the perfect taste) in port barrels (port being a sweet, typically dessert wine from Portugal), and I think it’s from those barrels that we get the fruit notes that are really complimenting the vanilla and caramel of the pre-finished bourbon, plus that bitter chocolate which carries to the finish, finally ending with sweet vermouth notes. A real joy to drink, insanely smooth, rivaling Maker’s Mark in smoothness really. Don’t know the mash bill, but it must have a good amount of wheat in it.
So Angel’s Envy, even though I think you are a little cheesy, you guys are putting out some awesome bourbon and I look forward to your future. By the way, Louisville Distilling Company (creators of Angel’s Envy) is setting up an actually distillery in downtown Louisville, so a few years from now we may be drinking Angel’s Envy that is distilled and bottled on site. Hope it’s as good as this!
It should be noted that Lincoln Henderson died in Lexington last year at the age of 75, but his legacy absolutely lives on with the Angel’s Envy brand, and his son Wes carries on as COO of the company.
Rating: 8.6 / 10
This bottle was purchased at an ABC Store in Woodfin, NC for $44.99