Sales of American whiskey are on fire here and abroad. Their global success has helped whiskey sales in this country grow at a faster rate than those of light liquors, this according to Technomic's 2014 Spirits TAB Report. This is big news as it's the first time in over 10 years that has the case. Certainly one explanation for this shift in consumers' preference must in part be attributed to the efforts of maser distiller Lincoln Henderson.
The late Henderson is a legend among American distillers. He devoted his entire career to mastering the art and science of distillation and the nuances of maturing whiskey. He helped create such iconic brands as Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel. He was also a key player in the launch of the George Washington Distillery reconstruction project and an inaugural member of the Distillers Hall of Fame.
The crowning achievement of his illustrious career is Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This ultra-luxurious whiskey is distilled in Kentucky using locally sourced grain and mineral-rich, limestone spring water. The handcrafted bourbon is typically aged on the upper floors of the warehouse for up to 6 years and blended in small batches of 8 to 10 barrels. Afterwards, the whiskey is finished between 3-6 months in 60-gallon, ruby port barrels made from French Limousin oak and imported directly from Portugal. The bourbon is bottled at 43.3% alcohol (86.6 proof).
Angel's Envy is a fitting tribute to Lincoln Henderson's illustrious career. It has a golden/amber hue, a medium-weight, satiny textured body and a generous bouquet of vanilla, cinnamon, cherries, dark chocolate and roasted nuts. Give this whiskey plenty of time to breathe. Its alluring aromatics continue to develop for an impressively long time and they contribute mightily to the overall experience.
Whiskey aficionados will swoon over Angel Envy's lavish palate, a sumptuous offering of plump raisins, maple syrup, orange zest, dark chocolate, vanilla, toffee, cinnamon and toasted oak. It's a veritable flavor extravaganza. The finish is long and thoroughly satisfying.
As it turned out, Henderson's last whiskey opus was Angel's Envy Finished Rye Whiskey. Made from a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, this Kentucky gemstone is aged for 6 years in charred, American white oak barrels. It is then finished for up to 18 months in small-batch cognac barrels, which were used previously to age Plantation XO Rum. The whiskey is bottled at 50% alcohol (100 proof).
Angel's Envy Rye has a reddish/amber hue, a medium-weight, velvety textured body and a brilliant bouquet of spice, maple sugar, citrus, vanilla and nuts. The aromatics do a marvelous job setting the stage for the palate. It has a gentle entry—especially for a 100-proof whiskey—that immediately fills the mouth with the flavors of brown sugar, banana, caramel, vanilla and maple syrup. The finish is laced with cinnamon, honey, tropical fruit and spicy rye. It's a bona fide pleasure from start to lingering finish.
Both expressions of Angel's Envy are triumphs in their own right and underscore how dearly Lincoln Henderson will be missed. That he was a good, kind and generous man makes his loss even more poignant.