By Richard Thomas
A shift has been taking place in how Angel’s Envy Cask Strength is made. Some of the better barrels picked out for dumping, up to seven years old, were set aside for use in this release. These were often from the upper tiers of the warehouse. Those who know their Bourbon aging dynamics know that is the hotter part of the building, where the whiskey gets more from the wood faster.
Usually the Bourbon from these barrels is transferred to Port casks for approximately two years of finishing. Starting last year, Angel’s Envy co-founder Wes Henderson began pulling back on the Port finishing, thinking the Port-driven flavoring was becoming too strong.
Good news for fans of this expression, and there are many of them, is that the production run has reportedly expanded from 8,000 in 2016 to 10,000 this year. This year, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength weighs in at 124.5 proof.
The color of the liquid is dark amber, roughly akin to a dark brew of tea. It’s quite viscous, with the coat of the glass dropping just a few reluctant, molasses-like legs.
The nose was a touch too hot, so right from the start I splashed my dram with water. That done, the scent was heavy with melted brown sugar, caramel and woody spices, accented by berry wine. It’s a big, heavy aroma, something that has so much body that while finding it is easy, it also doesn’t want to rise very far above the rim of the glass.
The flavor is a jam of black grapes and currants, woody spices plus a current of oak tannins, coated in vanilla syrup. Once again, it’s a big and ballsy Bourbon. By contrast, the finish was much lighter, just brushing you with a little spiciness and some nuttiness.
Here is the problem. The price of Angel’s Envy Cask Strength has risen steadily, and now sits at $199. Of course, it’s popular enough that I know of stories of fans ditching work and driving across three states to reach the gift shop and pick up a bottle or two upon hearing of its release. Some will say that is too expensive, and for some that is absolutely true. Others are not only willing to pay it, but to go to some trouble for the privilege of doing so.