Category Archives: Angel’s Envy

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Bourbon – the OU Kosher certified version!

Kentucky Bourbon finished in OU Kosher certified Port casks from the Kedem Winery – $48

Well, after what was a fine celebration of Rosh Hashanah 5773 (for you gentle Gentile readers out there, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year and according to how the rabbis count the years, it’s year 5773), I decided to take a look at what I should review and I personally thought that the OU (Orthodox Union) certified version of Angel’s Envy would be a good candidate.  Truthfully, I reviewed this a a short time ago but am just now posting my thoughts to you, the whisk(e)y hungry public.

As I write this, I decided to revisit this whiskey and am so happy that i did!  It truly is a fine one and one that is quite different from what you might come to know as a bourbon. The port cask finishing makes for such a difference!

This version of Angel’s Envy is different from the Angel’s Evny I previously reviewed, the initial launch of the product.  What’s different?  Well, the good folks from Angel’s Envy decided to use OU certified port casks to finish this version.  Also, being that this whiskey is from different stock/different casks, one should expect it to taste a slightly different anyway.

Let’s have a taste, shall we?

On the nose — Intensely sweet.  It actually almost noses like some 1st fill/fresh bourbon casks of single malt Scotch whiskies I’ve had (thinking Arran or Aberlour here – both distilleries seems to use some very active casks, at least in my experience).

Loads of butterscotch combined with a rock candy sweetness.

Sweet pepper relish.

Some wood spice and pencil shavings as well as unsalted corn nuts (this was a difficult one to pull out based on the sweetness of this whisky).

This is whacky, just whacky whiskey.  (Whacky good, that is!)

On the mouth — Much softer and shy than expected (given the somewhat aggressive and flamboyant qualities on the nose).

Still quite sweet with a focus on creamed corn topped with Rainier cherries.

Now some of the more bourbon-standard notes kick in. (nutmeg, vanilla, pencil shavings, etc…).

A soft cereal influence here, too.  All the flavors are playing quite nicely together.

Finish — A medium butterscotched finish.

In sum —  The nose showed amazing promise mainly as, for a bourbon, it revealed true character and individuality in the bourbon category.

While still interesting and highly enjoyable to taste, I wonder if a slightly higher ABV would have given it the kick I was expecting/hoping for; it ended up being a bit more shy and soft than expected.

While I do prefer the initial launch of Angel’s Envy, I enjoyed this greatly and find it just amazing that a bourbon bottler that cares enough to pay attention to the kosher keepers out there that they made a special bottling just for them.  Kudos and thank you!!

Special thanks to WH for the ample sample!

The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society’s favorite whiskies of 2010

This is quite possibly one of the toughest posts I’ll do this year.  Being that in 2010 alone I reviewed over 200 whiskies; I’d say the choosing of the 11 whiskies below was uber-hard.  Thankfully it’s the first post of the year so it’s nice to get the hard schtuff out of the way 😉

The following list is not meant to be a shopping guide for you though I highly suggest that you seek out the whiskies on this list – they really are the best of the best of all the whiskies I reviewed in 2010.  Just in case you do wish to use this list as a shopping guide, I’ve included links (where applicable) to online shops so you can purchase a bottle if you wish.

Being that I don’t currently use a rating system, you might wonder how I chose the whiskies below.  Good question.  I basically read through all of my reviews and scoured my memory banks to try and remember the experience.  Once I made my choices, if I still had some of the whisky left, I tasted it again just to make sure I’ve chosen well.

And just so you know, this is not a list of best whiskies released in 2010.  Rather, it’s a list of best whiskies I tasted in 2010.

So, what are the categories?  They are as follows:

  • Best Bourbon
  • Best Rye
  • Best American Single Malt
  • Best Scotch sherrybomb
  • Best Scotch peated whisky
  • Best Scotch Non, or lightly peated whisky
  • Best Scotch blend
  • Best Japanese blend
  • Best Japanese single malt
  • Best every (or any) day drinker
  • Best whisky of 2010 (taking ALL whisk(e)ys reviewed into consideration)

Best Bourbon – Angel’s Envy

Noses quite different than your standard bourbon.

This bourbon was extra matured in ex-port barrels.

While yet to be released, we should see this on the shelves in 2011 – expect to pay around $45 per bottle.

This was easily my favorite bourbon this year – kudos goes out to the Louisville Distilling Company for taking chances in making the first release an experimental one.

You can read the full review here.

Best Rye – Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof

I’m not sure what’s best about this rye…

Is it great because it’s always released at full proof (50% ABV)?

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that it’s less than $20 per bottle?

Could it be that, flavor-wise, it’s damned robust and lip-smacking?

At $20 a bottle (or £25 in the UK), go find out for yourself.

You can read my full review here.

Best American Single Malt – Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

If you thought America was unable to produce a kick-ass single malt, think again.

While Hudson has a solid 2nd runner up, the Stranahan’s Single Malt Colorado Whiskey is, well, amazingly balanced and damned delicious!

You can read my full review here.

You can get a bottle for $57 in the USA here or a bottle for £64 in the UK here.

Best Scotch sherrybomb – Bruichladdich, 1986, “Blacker Still”

I never formally reviewed this whisky on the blog so I’m going to do that here and now (sans pictures – to save space).

On the nose Massive amounts of chocolate, prunes and dirty, dirty smoke.  Some soapiness and sea breeze.  Balsamic vinaigrette.  Pine wreathes (welcome to the Christmas aisle at your local department store).  Think pine embers from a recently dead fire.  Wet dog.  Fresh towels.

On the mouth This dram does not believe that size doesn’t matter.  Luizianne coffee.  Bitter cherries.  Generous amounts of rich sherry.  Raisins and more cherries (the dry type).  All of the pure licorice chews from the All Sorts bag (oh, I want some All Sorts now!).  Rubber fishing boots with sea salt on them.  Toffee, more coffee, more… simply more of everything I mentioned.  Like I said, this is massive!  Did I mention the mouth feel is oily and num-num-nummy?

FinishChocolate sauce and lasting notes of prunes and pines.

In sum Man, this whisky shines like a black star! Balanced – all the flavors are perfectly integrated.  If you’re not a sherry head, this would not be up your alley.  If you are into the sherried whiskies and have the cash for a bottle, welcome to yumsville!  For holidays and all things celebratory.  Good luck finding some of this whisky though… It’s been sold out for a good long while.  You may be able to find a bottle here on occasion.

Special thanks to Rick C for the sample (yes, THE Rick from the Blind Tasting series I did earlier this year)!!

Best Scotch peated whisky – Port Ellen 1978, 24yo, 2nd release

Sadly, most people will not have a chance to taste this whisky.  In fact, this release of Port Ellen is no longer available.  You may be able to find a bottle here on occasion but be prepared to spend a few hundred Euros.

Port Ellen is a distillery located on Islay that has been moth-balled (closed & not in operation) for decades now so any whisky you find from them is going to be old & expensive.

A big thanks to Keith of Whisky Emporium for the sample!

This whisky was a pure treat to taste – You can read my full review here.

Best Scotch Single Malt  – Non or lightly peated – Glenmorangie Quarter Century

Glenmorangie Quarter Century can easily be an over looked and understated whisky.  I think the biggest issue is, because it costs so damn much($559 – $799 in the US or £190 in the UK), people will save this whisky until the end of an evening or served as the last whisky in a tasting.  That’s a BIG no-no.  The Quarter Century is way too delicate for that.  I would lead off with this whisky in a tasting or have it before dinner.  It’s a total power house in a settings such as those.

Liquid gold.

You can read my full review here.

Best Scotch blend – Compass Box Hedonism

Sadly, I did not taste or review enough blends this year.  Luckily for me, I got the chance to taste & review a few Compass Box whiskies.

Hedonism is a blend of premium grain whiskies – no malted barley whatsoever.

Complex as all heck – a joy to nose.  Buttery smooth mouth feel with notes of gingerbread and an interesting nuttiness to it.  A wonderful whisky that would also go brilliantly in a mint julep.  But, unless you’ve got money to burn, you’d be dumb to do so.  Expect to pay $89 in the US or £47 in the UK.

You can read my full review here.

Best Japanese blend – Suntory Hibiki 21yo

I was, to put it lightly, blown away by this Japanese blend.

You can read my full review here but I’ll tell you right here and now – this is an expertly crafted whisky.

A whisky that’s VERY hard to come by, the Suntory Hibiki 21 has won three gold metals, three years in a row and has just won the title of “World’s Best Blended Whisky” in 2010 by the WWA.

This is not available in the US, expect to pay £103.40 | ¥13,700 for a bottle.

Big thanks, again, goes out to Yoshi at Suntory for the sample!

Best Japanese single malt – Nikka Yoichi, 20yo, 1988 vintage

A massive, big, huge, immense THANK YOU goes out to Christopher Jew of  The Whisky Wall for a sample of this nectar.

I’ve enjoyed Japanese whiskies for a while now but it was this particular whisky that sort of stopped me in my tracks and told me that Japan is capable of pure genius when it comes to the craft of whisky making (among other things).

While this 1988 vintage is no longer available, you can get the standard 20yo Nikka Yoichi for £185 here and the 1989 vintage for £180 here.

You can read my full review here.


Best every (or any) day drinker – Glenmorangie Original 10yo

You’d think choosing THE BEST every day whisky would be easy to do but no, it isn’t.

Lot’s of factors to consider – taste, complexity, ease of drinking, ease of getting your non-whisky drinkers to appreciate it (without adding a shit ton of ice or just knocking it back) and, of course, price.

For me, my favorite every day drinker is the Glenmorangie Original 10yo.

For just under $40 in the US or £25 in the UK you can’t go wrong.

There were a few runners up, however.  All of them could have fit the bill of “Best every (or any) day drinker” but, I had to choose only one.

The runners up are:

You can read the full Glenmorangie review here (though please know that this review is a combined review of me and a few members of my society)

Best whisky of 2010 (taking ALL whisk(e)ys reviewed into consideration) – Suntory Hibiki 21yo

A lot of hemming and hawing on my part but after much consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that this whisky, the Suntory Hibiki 21yo, is the best whisky I tasted in 2010.

It truly is brilliance in a glass!  So well composed, perfectly balanced and perfectly delicious.

As mentioned above, you can read my full review here.

This is not available in the US, expect to pay £103.40 | ¥13,700 for a bottle.

Angel’s Envy – Release 10/10 – Port Finished – Straight Kentucky Bourbon

Kentucky Straight Bourbon – finished in ex-port barrels – 43.3%ABV – 750ml – $49.99 (yet to be released)

So, yesterday I posted up my interview with Wesley Henderson, COO of Louisville Distilling Co., producers of what I am about to review – Angel’s Envy Bourbon.

I’ve been in contact with Wes for the past few months, tracking the progress of Angel’s Envy.  Initially, Angel’s Envy was to be released on October 10, 2010 (10.10.10).  I’m sure many dollars were spent on marketing which included this cool and unusual release date.  However, the whiskey was not released on time.  Was this because balls were dropped or because deadlines were missed sourcing bottles, corks, etc…?  No.  And actually, they didn’t miss the deadline – they passed on it.  As Wes explained to me, Lincoln Henderson (Wesley’s dad and creator of this whiskey) felt the whiskey was just not ready to be bottled.

This is not just a whiskey expression, this is an expression of Lincoln Henderson.  If he’s says the whiskey isn’t ready, it’s not ready.

Well, earlier this week I received a finalized sample from Wes (thanks again!).  Let’s see if this whiskey is ready for mass bottling and mass consumption…

On the nose Noses quite different than your standard bourbon.  What I’m initially grabbed by is the softness to this whisky.

If I could compare smelling this to a feel, I’d say it’s like squeezing a marshmallow (with your nostrils).

Is it the lower ABV or the port finish?

Let’s go back to it – raisin scented wax candles, paraffin smooth.

Orange brandy or, brandy soaked oranges.

Cinnamon Drakes brand coffee cakes!!

A joy to nose, very elegant.

Perhaps a little dark chocolate, too?

On the mouth Wow, interesting mouth feel – juicy yet a bit thin.

Spicy raisin notes.

More dark chocolate – more pronounced here as compared to the nose.

Very decedent.

Getting some golden delicious apple notes (albeit with a good amount of cinnamon and perhaps slightly baked).

Finish Medium in length filled with spiced berried (you name it, red & blue, they’re in there).

In sum A really well designed expression.  All of the parts fit quite nicely.  Well balanced and with every sip I sort of felt like I was treating myself to something special.  Like I said – decedent.

Quite the celebratory whiskey but, at the price point, you can treat yourself perhaps more often than you should.

Thankfully, I have another dram’s worth of this nectar which I will enjoy tonight for Shabbat, and will then wait patiently until I can buy a bottle from my local bottle shop.

A day in the life of… Wesley Henderson, COO of Louisville Distilling Co. (AKA, makers of Angel’s Envy Bourbon)

And now for the sixth installment to my interview series.

As you hopefully know by now, I’ve started series of interviews to help demystify some of the many aspects of the whisk(e)y industry.  Who makes it, how they do it, how they got into it, how to they sell, promote it, market it, etc…  While this series is called “A Day in the Life”, it will focus on more than on just a single day in the life of a Cooper, Sales Person, Ambassador, Master Blender, Independent reviewer/critic, etc…  I try to get a full picture of what they do from day to day.  Also, I will try to get a little personal (without making said person or people blush).

For previous interviews I’ve done, please see the links below (at the end of this interview).

I am honored to have had the opportunity to talk with and interview Wesley Henderson, COO of the Louisville Distilling Company and son of Lincoln Henderson, creator of the new Angel’s Envy Bourbon.

Joshua: Wesley, please explain who you are and what you do for The Louisville Distilling Company – on a day-to-day basis (or week to week, month to month if that makes it easier).

Wesley: My title is Chief Operating Officer.  At the moment, my life is consumed with all of the logistics required to bring a new consumer product to market.  We have bourbon produced in Kentucky, port barrels from Portugal, glass production from Italy, corks from Portugal, glass decoration in Canada, paper package elements from Ohio, cardboard cases from Indiana, marketing Managing Partner in Colorado, finance Managing Partner in Illinois, and distribution Managing Partner in Florida.  My job is to have all of these elements converge at the same time to bring Angel’s Envy Bourbon to the shelves.  I am also actively working on plans for our distillery, which will most likely be located in the downtown Louisville area next year.

Joshua: As you had mentioned in our phone conversation, Angel’s Envy bourbon is the brainchild Lincoln Henderson, your father.  Can you explain, to those people who may not know, who Lincoln is and what he has done with and for the American Whiskey market?

Wesley: To me, Lincoln is just “Dad”, but I am always in awe of what he has accomplished and what he has contributed to the history of distilled spirits in general, and whiskies in specific.  While he is probably best known as the creator of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, which has been a huge commercial success, Lincoln spent the better part of 40 years at Brown-Forman, where he was responsible for their whiskies worldwide.  Wine and Spirits has described him as a “living legend”, and he was inaugural member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Joshua: How is Angel’s Envy different from other bourbons out on the market today?  Is there a different process you use in distilling and/or maturation?

Wesley: The big difference with our first expression will be the port barrel finish.  The bourbon Lincoln has sourced for Angel’s Envy was selected with the finishing process in mind, and the profile, while done in the traditional Kentucky bourbon methodology, is most conducive to what we set out to accomplish with the final product.

Joshua: Do you have a target demographic (or better yet, type of drinker) for your bourbon?  In other words, how would you feel about people using your product in a mint julip, whiskey sour or any other type of mixed drink?

Wesley: The demographics for premium bourbons are changing.  Ten years ago, the premium bourbon consumer was closely aligned with the demographics of single malt consumers.  In general terms, this would have been a white male, 45+.  Over the last few years, the average age has dropped to what I would categorize as 35+, with more and more younger folks appreciating bourbon.  With the recent cocktail revivals, and popularity of bourbon in cooking, we are seeing more females turning to premium bourbons.

Up until recently, as a purist, I would cringe when I saw a good bourbon mixed in any drink.  I am now growing to appreciate the complexity of bourbon as it translates to cocktails, and even enjoying some of these creations.

As a Kentucky boy…I always appreciate a mint julep…

Joshua: As sort of a follow up question to Angel’s Envy being used as a mixer — what will the price point for your whiskey?

Wesley: The price point is $45.99 per 750ml.

Joshua: How many bottles did you produce for this first batch of whiskey and how long do you expect it to last?  Additionally, what are your plans for your 2nd, 3rd & 4th releases?  Different finishes?  Change to the mash bill?  Limited expressions?

Wesley: We are bottling only 8000 6-bottle cases in the first round, and are working right now on how to allocate.  There are a number of different finishes planned, a cask strength bottling, along with some other interesting twists.  As we get our own production facility online, the possibilities are unlimited.  We have also been exploring historic recipes, varying grain bills, enhanced maturation, and varying barrel entry proofs.

Joshua: Being that your bourbon is one that is finished in non-newly charred oak barrels, who chooses the finishing barrels and could you explain that process?

Wesley: The port barrels for finishing are hand-selected by Lincoln, and are sent to the US from Portugal.  The barrels are filled with bourbon, placed on the top floor of the warehouse, and are dumped when Lincoln is satisfied with the finish.  This can take 4-6 months.

Joshua: As you’ve explained to me on the phone, you are currently getting your spirit distilled off site.  When do you plan on distilling on property and how do you feel the whiskey will change, if at all, by the change in location, water source and stills?

Wesley: This is a real challenge.  Since Angel’s Envy Bourbon will be well established in the marketplace by the time we are online with our own facility, it is very important that our core product remains consistent.  By releasing “expressions”, we have given ourselves some latitude and creative “wiggle room”.  To this end, I am embracing subtle changes in our product, and we will actually draw attention to these subtleties.

Joshua: I’ve got to say, from all I’ve seen of the Angel’s Envy product shots, that is one sexy bottle!  Who came up with that design and where/how are these being produced?

Wesley: One of our business partners, and our Chief Creative, is Alex Bogusky, and his team is responsible for the package design.   Alex is the former Chairman of Crispin Porter+Bogusky, one of the world’s most awarded agencies, and agency of record for brands such as Microsoft, Volkswagen, Dominoes Pizza, Burger King, Coke Zero and Old Navy.  Under Alex’s leadership, CP+B has over 1,000 employees, and offices in Miami, Boulder, Los Angeles, Canada, London and Sweden.  Our glass production, and related design elements, have all been coordinated by Saxco International, in Louisville.  The glass is produced in Italy.

Joshua: One thing I try to focus on with my blog is what dram to drink for a particular mood or season.  Being that Angel’s Envy is being released in Autumn, would you say it’s more of a cooler weather whiskey?  Do you approach personal consumption in this manner?

Wesley: Personally, I don’t approach spirits in this way.  One of the great things about bourbon is that it is so versatile, and there are ways to enjoy the spirit year-round.

Now to get a bit personal…

Joshua: How did you get into whiskies?  Did you have a gateway whisky?  Do you have a story that goes with it?

Wesley: Since my father spent his entire career at Brown-Forman, since I was a child, I remember the smell of grains cooking and fermentation, as I would often go to work with Dad on Saturdays.  I had the entire R&D lab at my disposal, and remember a particular interest in the yeast strains.

Joshua: What passions, other than whisk(e)y do you have?

Wesley: Most of my free time is spent with my six children.  I am pretty active as a football and basketball coach.  I also hold a pilot’s license, and love to fly, when my wife lets me.

Joshua: Do you have a list of Top Drams or perhaps some Desert Island Drams you’d like to share?

Wesley: Yamazaki 1984

Joshua: Without giving out names & places (basically, without getting yourself into any trouble), do you have any funny, interesting or bizarre stories from any of your events/travels that you wish to share?

Wesley: Sadly, I don’t have many exciting stories from the industry. Working in radio and the entertainment industry in a previous life has armed me with a number of tales, none of which are appropriate for mixed company.

I am blessed to spend time with some of the true masters of whiskey, and I am always amazed with the rich history of our industry.  As an example, I spent some time with Jimmy Russell in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and I was thinking about how one day I would like to be remembered for my contributions to the industry.

Of course, Lincoln is my true role model, and if I can manage to absorb 1/3 of his knowledge, then I will be grateful.

Joshua: Lastly, if you had a message or lesson to give people who are just getting into whiskies, what would that be?

Wesley: Spend some time learning the basics.  Learn about production and history of whiskies, and embrace the wide range of opportunities.  Try EVERYTHING, and settle into what you find to be the most pleasing.

Tomorrow I will be featuring my tasting notes on the new Angel’s Envy bourbon.  As a slight preview and in a word: decadence.

My previous interviewees are:

Serge Valentin of Whisky Fun! and Malt Maniacs

Sam Simmons of The Balvenie

Stuart Nickerson of Glenglassaugh (Part one and Part two)

Alan Shayne of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) of America

The good folks from Master of Malt