What do you get a dad that has everything? How about a bourbon that not only tastes great and is made with impeccable craftsmanship, but also has a great father-son-grandson legacy behind it?
Now there’s a thoughtful Father’s Day gift!
Angel’s Envy is the culmination of the late Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson’s storied career. He was one of the original pioneers of premium bourbons and whiskeys, and came out of retirement to create a whiskey masterpiece on his own terms, which ended up being Angel’s Envy.
The company was co-founded and is now run by his son, Wes Henderson, and Lincoln’s grandson Kyle is following in his grandfather’s footsteps, training to become a master distiller.
History and heritage are words we usually think of when thinking of great bourbons. Striving for perfection—by virtue of an independent, master craftsman—is not a bad thing either. And that is what you get with Angel’s Envy—plenty of history, but also a sense of perfectionism in every step of their process. I recently met with Angel’s Envy “Whiskey Guardian” Chris Corbin at the Baccarat Hotel in New York City and tried their flagship bourbon (finished in port barrels) as well as their rye (finished in rum barrels) and finally their high-end “Cask Strength” bourbon. All of them were utterly delicious. So what makes them perfectionists and why are their bourbons (and rye) so good?
Well, for starters, their master distiller personally tastes every barrel throughout each step of the aging process to ensure that the spirits meet their perfectionist standards. This would be enough for any other premium bourbon, but Angel’s Envy goes a step further, finishing every one of their whiskeys in hand-selected finishing barrels. For an added layer of flavor and complexity, their bourbons are finished in ruby port casks (only a handful of barrels make the cut for their “Cask Strength”), while their rye is finished in rum barrels. There’s no set time for this process.
Having trouble deciding which one sounds best for your dad on his special day? Here are some additional notes to help you decide.
Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels—$47.99
Their most popular—and modestly priced—bourbon is aged for 4-6 years in American white oak barrels and finished in hand-selected port casks for an incremental 3-6 months. The final result is exceptionally smooth and nuanced with in incomparable finish.
Once it’s deemed ready, the bourbon is “finished” in ruby port wine casks, which adds subtly distinct flavors that enhance the whiskey without challenging it. The port finishing process lasts between three to six months, depending on taste.
AE uses 60-gallon ruby port barrels made from French oak and imported directly from Portugal. This helps create their signature smoothness, sweetness and impeccable balance.
Angel’s Envy Rye Finished in Rum Barrels—$79.99
So what actually is the difference between bourbon and rye? We know that bourbon has to be produced in the United States from a grain mixture that’s at least 51% corn, and must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. It can be distilled to no more than 160 proof, and it has to enter into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof. When it’s bottled, the spirit has to be at least 80 proof. Also, bourbon can’t contain any added flavors or coloring. But most bourbon fans know all of that. Rye’s legal requirements are identical, with one exception: its grain mixture must be at least 51% rye. And that’s it.
Angel’s Envy starts with a spicy mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley and ages the whiskey for a minimum of six years in new American, charred oak barrels. Next, the rye is finished in hand-selected Caribbean rum casks, which began as small French cognac barrels, for up to 18 months. The mingling of raw, spicy and earthy rye notes paired with the sweetness imparted by rum finishing, results in an exceptionally smooth—even at 100 proof—and accessible ultra-rye whiskey.
Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels—$179.99
Want to really step it up for dad this Father’s Day? While their flagship port finish bourbon and rum finished rye are both fantastic and perfect for everyday sipping, Angel’s Envy also makes a higher end bourbon that is a true prize.
Ranked the “Best Spirit in the World” by Spirit Journal in 2013 and given 98/100 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine—their highest-ever rating for a bourbon, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels is a gem of a whiskey. Like a fine Bordeaux wine, it can take years for a barrel of bourbon to reach Cask Strength standards, and even then only a few barrels make the final cut. Angel’s Envy released a limited number of bottles of their award-winning Cask Strength this year, so don’t miss your chance to pick up a bottle of this rare and delicious spirit for your dad this Father’s Day—if your budget allows. It is only worth giving to a dad who truly appreciates some really high-end “brown water.”