This is a damn tasty whiskey. What I’ve always liked about Angel’s Envy is its ability to transcend the bourbon clichés and deliver both subtlety and complexity in a way that other, heavier bourbons just can’t. At cask strength, you have an iron fist in a velvet glove – those same subtle, complex elements are thrust in your face and burned onto your tongue, for better or for worse.
The maker of Beyond Barrels Aging Masts contacted me with an interesting twist on the sticks-in-bottles concept: Minimize the amount of end grain while maintaining a liquid-to-wood-surface-area ratio identical to that of a 53-gallon oak barrel, heat-treat the wood without charring it (charred wood makes spirits taste like char), and then focus on adding interesting flavors through the use of French Oak, Cherry, and even Peach wood.
Every year around mid-September, Four Roses releases the coveted Limited Editions. 2015 also marks another transition at Four Roses: Legendary Master Distiller and American whiskey celebrity Jim Rutledge will be retiring this Fall. That makes the 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch the last limited release made under Jim’s direction. If you do secure a bottle, you’re in for a treat. A mixture of 4 different bourbons, using 3 recipes (out of the 10 Four Roses recipes) at unusually high ages: 16 year-old OBSK, 11 year-old OBSV, 15 year-old OESK, and 14 year-old OESK.
Way back in 2011 … I was called out in the comments by Woodford adherents that I was doing the whiskey a disservice by reviewing it based on the sample bottle. I had an opportunity to revisit Woodford Reserve recently – this time from a full 750ml bottle – and thought it would be appropriate to review it again for National Bourbon Heritage Month. Does my review from 4 years ago hold up?
A respectable, mid-range bourbon. There are more sweet notes promised to the nose than are delivered to the palate, but on the whole it’s well balanced and non-threatening. This would make a reasonable house bourbon (it’s slightly sweeter, slightly less vegetal, and slightly less complex than my usual go-to bourbon, Buffalo Trace.
Corner Creek Reserve is summer whiskey: refreshing, almost thirst-quenching in its presentation, and arrives at a well-chosen 44% ABV which delivers sparkling flavors without overwhelming the palate.
Elijah Craig 12 is a small-batch bourbon made by prolific distiller Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky, and is named after Reverend Elijah Craig who is apocryphally credited with the invention of oak aging of corn whisky to create bourbon.
A very nicely balanced nose, with both tart and sweet notes in harmony. I could wish for some hint of rye spice and a more robust finish. Eagle Rare 10 is a very different animal than Buffalo Trace, despite being made at the same distillery from the same mash bill. While I would definitely drink this neat, with those orange and cherry notes it’s practically begging to be made into an Old Fashioned (no actual cherry and orange please, keep it subtle).
The aging-at-home industry appears to be picking up speed lately, with products such as Whisky Elements, Beyond Barrel Aging Masts, and even wooden bottles! They all promise more-or-less the same thing: Take under-matured or middling-quality whisky and quickly infuse them with a little extra oak flavor while also filtering out impurities and mellowing the spirit. As I discovered with my testing, the results are not so cut-and-dry.
On the face of it, it sounds silly. A $6 chunk of wood that promises to make your $20 whisky taste like $50 whisky? Yeah, OK, whatever. There is, however, some solid precedent behind the idea. So what’s the final word on Whiskey Elements?