Angel’s Envy (Rum) Finished Rye Whiskey
Review: Angel’s Envy (Rum) Finished Rye Whiskey (94.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 1, 2014
Angel’s Envy was founded by Lincoln Henderson (a former Brown-Forman Master Distiller) and his son Wesley in 2010. Although the company now has the facilities in place to produce their own whiskey, Lincoln and Wesley have (since opening in 2010) sourced their whiskey from another (undisclosed) distillery such that they would have finished whiskey to sell immediately.
According to Wes, when the company began to contemplate their Rum Finished Whiskey, they began by sampling over one hundred rums to find the right flavour complement for their bold style of rye whiskey. They also compared six different blends of rye which were eventually narrowed down to just one, a 95 % Rye Whiskey which (according to my emails with the distillery) was aged for 7 to 8 years in new charred American oak barrels. They chose to finish this Rye Whiskey for 18 months in ex-Plantation XO Rum Barrels.
In case you did not know, these Plantation barrels began their life as French Cognac barrels which were then were used as the finishing barrels for Plantation’s fantastic XO Anniversary Rum (See my review for Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum here). Thus these finishing barrels contained not only the compliment of a fantastic rum within their oak fibres, they also may have contained hints of cognac as well. The finished whiskey is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume.
Note: Angel’s Envy is a craft producer who blends their whiskey in small batches. The Whisky is not available in Canada; however, fortunately for me, I was given a sample bottle by the good folks at UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales in St. Albert a few weeks ago when I served as the guest host for their El Dorado Rum Tasting (thanks for your hospitality guys).
In the Bottle 4.5/5
To the left is a snapshot of my sample bottle of Angel’s Envy. I like the bottle because it is distinctively shaped (no doubt to match as closely as possible the shape of an Angel with folded wings). The story behind the name “Angel’s Envy” is that apparently when Lincoln Henderson was testing the flavour of their Bourbon Whiskey after it had been finished in a Port Wine cask, he joked that the Angel’s must be jealous of them because they had left the best whiskey in the barrel after they had removed their Angel’s share.
If you look closely at the cork closure you will see that each cork for this whiskey is labeled expression 95/5 indicating that the whisky is made up of a 95 % rye whisky. Although my picture doesn’t show it, the sides of the flat bottle are also labeled with the whiskey’s batch number and bottle number. My bottle is from batch 3c and is bottle number 1211. There is also a place on the label where the consumer can write down the date when the bottle is uncorked which I believe is a nice touch.
The only detriment to what would otherwise be a perfect display is the front label which printed in bronze letters directly upon the bottle (and the bronze angle wings on the back). I find the bronze lettering over the amber coloured whisky hard to read, and those angel wings in the back just get lost in the shuffle. As you can see, things are even harder to see and read as the fill line on the bottle is dented.
In the Glass 9.5/10
When I pour the whiskey into my glencairn glass, the whiskey shows itself as an amber colored spirit which is well on its way towards copper. When I tilt my glass and giver it a slow twirl, I see the crest which has formed releases a multitude of medium-sized legs which amble at a moderate pace back into the whiskey. The initial aroma from the glass is rich with scents of oak sap, cedar and maple.
As the glass sits we begin to notice the rye asserting itself into the air alongside rich dark brown sugar and baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and even more maple). The combined effect of the whiskey’s candied sweetness coupled with the spicy oak and cedar (and the assertive rye) is almost breathtaking. Roasted walnuts, pungent cigar tobacco, rich honeycomb, and hints of raisins and other dry fruits round out the aroma which has me completely enthralled.
In the Mouth 57/60
The whiskey is a maple and spice delight with a full flavour that rocks the palate with layers of rye and wood spice coupled with the candied sweetness of maple and brown sugar. Hot wood spices full of cinnamon and clove heat the palate while sweet maple and dark brown sugar have their way with my taste buds. Vanilla and oodles rye spice crash the party joined by port dipped cigars and old-fashioned home-made cinnamon buns stuffed with walnuts and pecans. To say that there is a lot of flavour happening is perhaps an understatement. The Whiskey is bottled at 50 % abv. and the impact of the alcohol heat is certainly apparent; however equally apparent is the thrust of concentrated flavour which tumbles through the palate.
I could keep throwing taste descriptors at the page like marmalade and marzipan which are both readily apparent or even try to describe better how the oak sap has melded into the sweet maple creating an oak sap maple syrup; but all you really need to know is that this whiskey is truly delicious!
In the Throat 14/15
The rum finished whiskey exits with a rush of rye and wood spice which leaves a trail cinnamon glowing on the palate, and gently knocks at your tonsils on the way by. Tempering the effect of that heat is a lovely washing over of a rum-like brown sugar toffee that lingers for a moment before gently fading away.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
Angel’s Envy produces not only this Rum Finished Whiskey, but also a Cask Strength Bourbon and a Port Finished Bourbon. All of these whiskeys are made in very small quantities from what must be hand selected barrels. If you have a chance to grab any of these expressions, I would suggest that you do it sooner rather than later, because once the word gets out, I suspect these gems will be gone. And as the Angel’s Envy Whiskey becomes more well-known and sought out, the distillery may be tempted to hand select more and more barrels to keep up with the demand. This means that it could be that the quality which is very apparent today may not be possible tomorrow when production levels may be forced to be increased.
However; my review is based upon what is available today (in small quantities), and what is available today, is spectacular!
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whiskey. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)