Whisky Advocate

My initial thoughts on the new Angel’s Envy bourbon

October 18th, 2010

I was fortunate to receive a “pre-release” sample of the new Angel’s Envy bourbon two weeks ago before WhiskyFest San Francisco from Lincoln Henderson and his son Wes.

Many of you will know Lincoln for the days when he was instrumental making Woodfords Reserve and Old Forester bourbon. You also might have seen him recently at on of our WhiskyFests, conducting seminars for Suntory Yamazaki whiskies.

Now, he’s going to be starting up his own distillery in Louisville, KY, with his son Wes. In the interim, they have purchased some bourbon stocks which they are just now bottling. A portion of the whiskey was finished in Port Pipes. (I think they told me it was about 40%.). Contrary to the indication on the bottle, the whiskey is being bottled at 86.6 proof, not 90.

My thoughts on the whiskey? My review sample was very good. It’s very rich, creamy and fruity, with good weight to it (all thanks to the port pipe finishing). Indeed, the port finishing has enhanced the whiskey’s traditional bourbon flavors without dominating.

I don’t know the age of the whiskey. It tastes like it’s less than 10 years old, but nicely matured. My only criticism at this point: I would like to have seen the whiskey bottled at 90 proof (or even higher) rather than the 86.8. I can always add water, but it’s pretty hard to take the water back out.

I’m holding off reviewing it formally here, because I think Lincoln told me that my sample was from a smaller-scale hand bottling and could indeed differ slightly from the final bottling that is put out on the market. And my sample may not have been chill-filtered. (Lincoln or Wes, if you are reading this, perhaps you could clarify?)

However, if the final commercially released version tastes as good as this one, I’d be scoring it a solid 90. That’s how much I liked it!

When the I do get a sample of the final, fully dressed product, I’ll review it and post it up here.

22 Responses to “My initial thoughts on the new Angel’s Envy bourbon”

  1. Gary says:

    Sounds like an interesting whiskey.

  2. Erik M says:

    The bottle looks sweet too. I’ve never heard of a bourbon being finished in a different wood, let alone port pipes. Are there any others out there or is this the first one?

  3. Thank you John for the kind words about Angel’s Envy Bourbon.

    I will be passing on your comments to Lincoln as we are working towards bottling, and your suggestion about bottling proof is well taken. We made a decision to reduce the proof as an effort to retain as much of the port influence as possible, and found the “sweet spot” to be around the 86 proof mark. The increased abv seemed to mask the port finishing, and the color was a little more rosy than what we desired. Filtration experiments are ongoing, as this can also affect these decisions.

    The preview sample was unfiltered, and was blended by Lincoln from our stock. We cannot wait to submit the commercially finished product for your review.

    • John Hansell says:

      The less filtration, the better. My guess is that if you bottled it at 90-95 proof without chill-filtration, it will taste better than 86 and filtered. I know you are concerned about appearance too. But, in the end, it’s taste that matters most.

  4. sam k says:

    Sound good all around! Any idea what the price point will be? Looking forward to trying it at WhiskyFest NY.

  5. Price point is $44-45.99 per 750ml bottle.


  6. Louis says:

    I’d love to know what was behind the decision to go with port finishing. This is fairly new territory for bourbon.

    • Erik M says:

      I’m curious too. Maybe they got a good deal, or maybe they just wanted to experiment. Whatever the case, it’s things like this that tell me American made spirits are headed in the right direction!

  7. DukeB says:

    I’m very excited to see this bottle in the marketplace!! Good luck guys.

  8. Ryan says:

    Sounds intriguing. Noticed the bottle pictured lacks any info concerning the portion finished in port pipes. Aesthetic choice? Or might that info appear on the final bottling?

    • Thanks for the comments.

      The bourbon is aged as required by the Standards of Identity. We then dumped a portion of the inventory and filled empty used port barrels with the bourbon. The finishing period is determined by Lincoln, and should be anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

      Federal labeling requirements require the label to reflect that the bourbon is finished in port barrels, and our final bottle contains this label.

      Regarding the PA question, we were asked to present to the PA liquor control board, and if all goes well, we should be in PA around the first of 2011.

      Hope this helps!


  9. JohnM says:

    Port-finished Bourbon – sounds worth a try to me.

  10. Henry says:

    The same question I always have regarding good new whiskeys… how do I get me some in PA?

  11. Gary says:

    I look forward to trying this at Whisky Fest NY.

  12. Mark Davis says:

    what is a port pipe? is it somethign that goes in the middle of an oak barrel?

    Is it still legally a bourbon?

    • sam k says:

      Mark, a port pipe is a barrel of about 110 gallons in size that previously held port wine. If the bourbon was aged according to the standard definition of bourbon, then aged additionally in a port pipe (barrel), it would be bourbon whiskey finished in port wood…I think.

  13. Guy says:

    I tasted this at the New York WhiskeyFest and was very impressed. I asked what it would retail for and the lady who served me said around $25. I was surprised to read here stated here the price point of Price point is $44-45.99 per 750ml bottle.

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