We’re late into the game with our review of Angel’s Envy Bourbon. After all, this now-famous bourbon entered the world of whiskey back in 2011 when Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson came out of retirement at his son’s insistence to continue sharing is distillation brilliance.
The “angel’s share” of a distillate is the amount of the spirit lost to evaporation during the barrel aging process. Henderson has played with that idea, taunting the angels with the promise that they would have wished to have a larger dram than what they may have simply tasted in passing.
And as countless other spirit and cocktail writers have discovered before us, the angel’s will truly weep to miss out on this.
It’s kind of bonkers.
Angel’s Envy is also unique in that it’s one of the few (non-experimental) distillations that finishes its aging in port barrels, giving the end product an extra layer of complexity.
Sadly, Henderson passed away in 2013 at the age of 75. His work is being carried on by his son Wes Henderson, and his grandson, Kyle Henderson.
The first whiff hits you with bright hints of vanilla with just a bit of oak on the end. It’s surprising how crisp the smell is right up front, with very little if any bits of grain alcohol on the back-end. There are definite notes of caramel and fruit.
The vanilla and chocolate of the bourbon freaking explodes across your palate. You go in expecting a heavier, perhaps more sugary type of bourbon based on the smell. However, there is absolutely no hint of sugar weighing the taste down. Angel’s Envy neat is the spirit at its strongest. It embodies the perfect balance of sweetness and spice that you’d expect from a higher-quality bourbon. It finishes clean and is, perhaps, just a bit too easy to drink.
ON THE ROCKS
After the brilliance of this bourbon neat, it seems almost like blasphemy to temper all of its complexities with ice. With the addition of ice, the bourbon loses some of its depth of sweetness, with the vanilla and fruit flavors taking a back seat to the oak. The port barrel finish becomes much more prominent with the addition of ice as well, opening up a whole new level of flavors on the back-end.
Angel’s Envy has been the go-to bourbon for a bevy of bourbon drinkers for almost four years now. This bourbon is able to pull off something wholly unique – it’s beautifully balanced enough that it could serve as an introduction to those scared to dip their toes into whiskey waters. At the same time it’s complex and layered enough that even the most cynical and dickish of bourbon snobs can fully embrace it.
While other brands may get the lion’s share of publicity, Angel’s Envy is sitting quietly in the background putting just about everyone else to shame.
Mark Vierthaler is the founder and Editor of Cocktails, 365. His work appeared in The Tasting Panel Magazine, Savvy Host, Liquor.com, and countless other websites and blogs. He is Bar Smarts certified, and works with bars and restaurants in cocktail creation and pairing. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org