When sampling lower-priced bourbons, I generally run into what I call the “shudder factor”. Some kind of instinctive natural aversion to the taste of impure alcohol makes me shudder and emit a noise like “blechh” or “eughhh”… of course, the same thing happens when sampling the bottom-shelf Scotch blends, so don’t think I’m being un-American here. Additionally, the sticky-sweet taste of corn whiskey reminds me, generally, of the high-fructose corn syrup found in, among other things, cheap pancake syrup or… you know… rubber.
Angel’s Envy is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that is aged for an estimated 4-7 years, and then finished for an additional 3-6 months in “port pipes” – casks that previously held fortified wine from Portugal. Whatever distiller Lincoln Henderson is doing, it works. There was no shudder factor here. This stuff may be young, but it is truly a quality dram. This is the kind of whiskey that raises eyebrows, and finally gives me a bourbon to recommend in the sub-$50 range. I was beginning to think such a thing didn’t exist!
Nose: Mainly a standard bourbon nose, with some marzipan, black cherry syrup, kettle corn, sugar cookie, and a hint of blackberry jam in the background.
Palate: Medium-heavy body, with a significant amount of burn on the tongue. After the burn clears, the sweet corn and dark berries come to the fore, along with a distinct oakiness. Once the burn subsides, this is sweet and delicious, and not at all cloying, industrial, or shudder-inducing.
Finish: There’s the port. Nice and long, with eddies of ruby port, fresh berries, oak tannins, and a touch of bitter charred wood.
Overall: A very conservative take on a port finish. The port is very much in the background, letting the clean bourbon flavors take center stage. Still, it’s nice to see experimentation and successful application of aging and flavoring techniques applied to American whiskey. Maybe some day I’ll get to try a sherry finished bourbon! This one is a pleasant, easy-to-drink experience, and the price is quite reasonable.