Angel's Envy Bourbon has been generating buzz in the bourbon world for a while now, and it's finally starting to become readily available in many areas nationwide. I had a chance to taste it a while back at the Philadelphia Whiskey Festival. At the time it made a great impression, and now I've had the chance to taste a bit more and I still really like it.
The short back-story behind Angel's Envy is that it is the pet-project of bourbon-industry legend Lincoln Henderson, formerly Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve. By finishing Angel's Envy in used Port casks he brings a new flavor profile to Kentucky bourbon, and the result is a whiskey that can claim a deep-rooted link to bourbon heritage as well as a refreshingly daring modern twist. Each bottling of Angel's Envy will be unique, and therefore uniquely labeled with a batch number on the cork. While this first batch (Expression 10/10) is good, I expect the product to evolve into a truly classic bourbon as Mr. Henderson fine-tunes this ground-breaking style of bourbon.
Color: Angel's Envy doesn't have an age statement, but my guess is that it averages out to a six to eight year old bourbon. The darker color is in line with this age range, and blends some beautiful reddish notes into a pool of deep caramel brown. The shades of red hint at the time spent in Port barrels.
Nose: The initial nose when I opened the bottle was very sweet and fruity - oranges, cherries, and grapes. This aroma fades a bit in the glass though, giving way to a complex mix of marmalade, leather, and cherry. There's a bit of an ethanol burn the nose, but it comes across more like orange-scented cleaning solution, which is not such a bad thing.
Flavor: The first thing I noticed when sipping Angel's Envy was it's thickness. It's quite oily and viscous, which allows the flavors to come out slowly and gently. You get hints of rich wood, butterscotch, charred toast, marmalade, and black pepper. Since it was so thick I added a bit of water, but this quickly killed a lot of the flavors. It's definitely a bourbon that's smooth enough to drink neat, and I'd recommend enjoying it that way.
Finish: The finish is grainy, long, and slow. It's a bit like a rye in that there's a nice spiciness that hangs around for a while. There are also more toast and oak flavors that hang around through the finish.
Overall this is a very promising new bourbon, and I look forward to it being available in more places and seeing how it is accepted by folks used to drinking more traditional bourbons.
Finally, I don't usually talk about packaging, but in this case the name and the bottle are a spot on match for the whiskey within. The name Angel's Envy is slightly irreverent and a bit quirky for a bourbon, but it harks back to the time-honored bourbon legend of the Angels' Share, again tying tradition with modernity. The bottle is similarly timeless in shape and will stand out amongst more traditional whiskey bottle shapes.