Angel’s Envy Bourbon Whiskey: Roller-Coaster Ride in a Bottle.

I was recently sent a couple of samples of Bourbon from the folks at Angel’s Envy.  I tell you this in the interest of full disclosure, and because free whiskey typically tastes better than the stuff I have to shell out for myself.  All kidding aside this was a pretty interesting bourbon.

The story starts with pulling Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson out of retirement.  Lincoln Henderson was a Master Distiller at Brown-Foreman for 40 years where he worked on Jack Daniels, Gentleman Jack, Woodford Reserve, as well as other notable whiskies.  The folks at Angel’s Envy wanted Mr. Henderson so bad they gave him Carte Blanche to do what he would to create his masterpiece.  Ok, this is where it gets really interesting for me, because this is literally some guy’s soul in a bottle.  That is pretty cool to me.  Question is, do Mr. Henderson and I see eye to eye?…

Here is a pour with a full sample bottle next to it (they sent two, thank you very much!).  The first thing I noticed was the unique color of this bourbon. It is almost a copper color, and looks very good in the glass.  It has a very strong alcohol nose, which is surprising for something that is only 86.6 proof or 43.3% ABV.  This alcohol would make an appearance in the finish, and leave a lasting impression.

So beyond the alcohol there were hints of dried fruit, plumb, pineapple, and pear.  Honey and vanilla are also pronounced.  Flavor wise it was a bit of a mixed bag.  Not that it was bad, but it was so understated I found myself searching for flavors on my palate.  They were there but subtle, not at all in your face, but pleasant nonetheless.  Dried fruit, vanilla, and some grape.  Also making an appearance towards the back was a touch of honey and some toasted marshmallow.

But what really takes this bourbon up a notch is it’s long, very interesting, and pleasing finish.  It starts out small, then the burn hits like a wave crashing on the beach, then is subsides and then it does something I have never experienced before it comes back at you again, this time a little less intense, but there nonetheless, then it again subsides, and rises a third time, and finally mellows into a smooth long finish.  This is amazing for a Bourbon with this low ABV.  Very well played sir!

So there are a couple other things worth mentioning here, first this is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, even though it recasks into Port Barrels for finishing.  That’s correct, they barrel the stuff in new oak for 4 to 6 years, then rebarrel it into Port wine casks for 3 to 6 months.  This undoubtedly adds to the very distinctive coloration of the bourbon along with its unique and mellow flavor profile.  What I wondered right off was how they are able to call this Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey when our friends over at Maker’s Mark had to drop the Straight from their label for uncasking the bourbon and inserting the French oak staves and then putting the bourbon back in the barrel for finishing.  Seems like an inconsistency here.  Finally this is a very local whiskey with all the grains grown in Kentucky, as well as using Kentucky mineralized branch water.  So for you Locavores this is about as local as you can get.  That said the Port barrels are from Portugal so one thumb up, and the other down for local production.

This was a very good whiskey that is only available in Kentucky right now.  So for our readers that are there or going there this is well worth your time.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.


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19 Comments on “Angel’s Envy Bourbon Whiskey: Roller-Coaster Ride in a Bottle.”

  1. April 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    The sent you two bottles? Hmm..two brothers, two bottles. Pretty simple math, no?

    Where’s mine?!!

    • Don
      April 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      Yes, you know simple math. Lets just say when I get my Founder’s Nemesis I’ll send you the other sample 😉

      • April 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

        Hey, I PAID for the Nemesis, buddy!

        • Don
          April 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

          Quit splitting hairs! I got it, you don’t. Did you send me any of your Bison crappy organic crap? No. Get over it!

  2. johnking82
    April 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    hmmm I’ll look for it this weekend. sounds damn good.

    • Don
      April 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

      It was actually quite good John. It will set you back a little though. It retails for around $45 a fifth. Don’t let the price scare you, it is good stuff!

  3. April 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Sounds like I’m going to be making a trip to the Liquor Barn . . .

    • Don
      April 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

      Honestly Keila I would if I were you. Even if it isn’t your favorite, it is interesting and unique, and when else are you going to be able to buy a Bourbon that is essentially the culmination of a Master Distiller’s career? It is an interesting expression.

      • John Joyce
        April 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

        I bet they were probably here in Chicago for Whiskeyfest. I think next year the Beer and Whiskey Brothers (that means you too Jim) need to make a trek to Chicago. By the way just found a WL Weller this week. Really good.

        • Don
          April 20, 2011 at 10:52 am #

          We get it John, you want us in Chicago. Willing to put us up while we are there? The WL Weller is quite good, but I always pass it over for the Old Weller Antique, which I can’t seem to get enough of.

      • John Joyce
        April 22, 2011 at 10:13 am #

        You could go to whiskeyfest NY! I just want equal representation. Your both welcome to my basement and the shed. I’d finish drywalling it just for you. WL is amazing but the house whiskey is now the Antique.

    • April 19, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      Don has a liquor barn, too.

      It’s behind his house.

  4. April 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    According to CFR 27, “straight” as applied to a whiskey only means it’s been aged for a minimum of 2 years. I’m not sure it’s a mandatory term. Perhaps Maker’s simply chose to remove it from the label?

    More restrictive are the terms “bourbon whiskey” and “rye whiskey.” I believe as long as the minimum conditions to qualify are met (e.g. mash bill, max. proof off still, proof when barreled, and kind of barrel), you can continue to use these designations on your label. Maker’s 46, Big Bottom “Port Finish,” and Angel’s Envy, all of which have been re-barreled, use these terms.


    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      Not sure, but they made a big issue over Makers dropping the “Straight” moniker from the bottle, it didn’t sound voluntary. So, I’m confused why they had to drop it and Angel’s envy does not. Perhaps it is because the whiskey had to spend time out of a barrel while the French oak staves were drilled in place? Where the Angel’s Envy you can simply siphon from one barrel to the next. I don’t know but I do know that Makers was asked to remove the “Straight” from their label.

      • April 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

        Very interesting about Maker’s. I am definitely going to be asking around about that. If I learn anything useful, I’ll let you know.



      • April 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

        Well, FWIW, Cowdry, commenting on, thinks it was a marketing decision, to keep the description short and to the point.


        • Don
          April 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

          I wish I knew where I read that they were required to remove the “straight” from the label, but Cowdery would probably know best. I’ve never won an argument with that guy.

      • Kyle Henderson
        April 25, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

        Is it possible that makers is using some whiskey that is less than 2 years old in the bottle?

        • Don
          April 26, 2011 at 9:03 am #

          No, that is not a possibility. As a matter of fact all the bourbon used in the bottle must be over 4 years old in order to not have an age statement on the bottle itself. Also if they used some whiskey that was aged less than two years, they couldn’t call it bourbon at all. So my conundrum persists.

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