The Story of Angel’s Envy is, in part, also the story of Lincoln Henderson, whose signature is conveniently placed upon the bottle. Mr. Henderson used to be Master Distiller at Brown-Forman and was in part responsible for creating Woodford Reserve (personally not one of my favorites), and Gentleman Jack, as well as Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel. Since I don’t really like Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, I never was in a hurry to try the rest. I hope this Angel’s Envy will be more to my liking.
In 2004 Mr. Henderson retired from Brown-Forman and in 2006, joined his son Wes(ley) and grandson Kyle in their Louisville Distilling Corporation, experimenting with finishing Bourbons in casks that previously held other distillates. The Bourbon itself is said to be made by MPG in Indiana, which is very odd for a Kentucky Bourbon, as stated on the label. The Bourbon is around 4 to 6 years old, obviously first aged in American oak, as all Bourbons are, and finally finished for 3 to 6 months in 225 litre Ruby Port barrels made from french oak. It’s a small batch Whiskey each time made from 8 to 10 barrels only.
The first Angel’s Envy saw the light of day in 2012. Sadly, Mr. Henderson’s lights went out in September 2013, aged 75, becoming a spirit himself. Angel’s Envy itself, the legacy of Mr. Henderson, was finally sold off to Bacardi in 2015. It is said that Mr. Henderson, throughout his career, tasted some 430.000 barrels of Bourbon. Who said Bourbon is bad for you?
Color: Light copper gold.
Nose: Chewy sweet Bourbon smell with indeed an added winey note. The finish seems to be done with taste, since in no way does it dominate the profile. If tasted blind you’d still call this a “normal” Bourbon. The Bourbon part reminds me a bit of Four Roses actually, (the low rye mashbill). Nice, soft and creamy. Some worn saddle leather combined with the smell of a cold cob of corn, Give it some more time to breathe and the finish becomes more apparent as well as a different kind of oak. Honey and an appetizing fresh leafy note. I’m amazed at the wonderful balance achieved. Lovely stuff to nose.
Taste: Aiii, a bit to sweet and thin on entry. A short flash of fresh oak, with milk chocolate and honey, quickly followed by red fruit aroma. The oak returns for a moment delivering a nice balancing bitterness, Nice jammy note as well. Creamy vanilla. Again the Port finish has been done with taste and works extremely well. It is a Bourbon, but in part it has a “new” edge to it. The Finish is of medium length at best, but if you have a moment to spare you can wait for the aftertaste which leaves a nice creamy mixture of honey, and vanilla with again some hidden elements of the Port. As was the entry, the finish is a bit too sweet as well. Nevertheless, a job well done, even when reduced too much.
Probably made for a hip market, and not to scare to many people off, it has been reduced to 43.3% ABV, At this strength the Bourbon is also dangerously drinkable, which in my case would mean the bottle would be finished sooner than later. As I am based in Europe, prices here are much steeper than across the big pond. I understand the US pricing of this, but over here for such a drinkable Bourbon I find it too expensive. Pricing aside, this may look as a designer Bourbon, and it probably is, but it still carries a lot of quality and good taste from the makers. There is also a (Plantation) Rum finish, Rye with a Rum finish, as well as a cask strength edition, also finished in Port barrels. Depending on availability, these seem to be extremely expensive.