Review – Angel’s Envy Bourbon
The chaps behind Angel’s Envy are pretty confident of their product; so much so that they reckoned the angels (who are allegedly responsible) for the loss of alcohol every year it sits in a wooden barrel, would want to have taken a bigger cut than usual. And so the brand Angel’s Envy was born. Produced to an unspecified mash bill using local Kentucky grains and water, the whiskey is aged for 4-6years in white oak barrels before being ‘finished’ for 3-6 months in Port barrels.
Nose: All the classic aromas of a bourbon with a distinct top note of port. Vanilla, caramel, custard, banana, maple syrup and saffron all stand out individually but also blend harmoniously to deliver a a sweet, smooth and enticing aroma.
Neat: Mildly confused upfront, with the bold bourbon flavours and sweet wine elements jostling for position. Things quickly settle down and it is the spicy and vanilla-heavy bourbon notes that first dominate the palate. With more of the maple syrup and custard notes from the nose, this is a sweet whiskey from the off, but unlike the nose there is much more by way of balance with a moderately heavy oaked chilli and cinnamon heat. The port soon gets to have its turn as it builds on the relatively short but clean finish to offer a distinctive sweet black cherry note.
Mixing: The sweetness and port notes of this whiskey do present something of a challenge when mixing. Whilst it generally performs well, and certainly rarely anything less than ‘decent’, sweeter drinks such as the Old Fashioned do lack a little sparkle. Perhaps this is best exemplified in the Manhattan where a sweet variety demands a healthy dose of bittering, a perfect Manhattan balances the sweet notes and allows some of the more subtle flavours to shine through to create a rich and rounded cocktail. Drinks making use of citrus juice both help to cut through the sweeter notes, but also slightly flatten the fruity element of this bourbon, meaning something like a New York Sour with the inclusion of a red wine float makes for a good choice to highlight the unique port flavours. The signature (recipe below) Angel’s Decree makes excellent use of ginger ale to both tease out some of the hidden flavours and pick up on the spicy notes, whilst also showing off how well this bourbon mixes with fortified wines through the inclusion of port. Perhaps most successful however are cocktails including some herbal elements such as the Benedictine in the Brainstorm. The balance of sweet, spicy, and herbal flavours makes this a must-try cocktail.
Signature Cocktail – Angel’s Decree
1.5oz Angel’s Envy, 0.5oz Port, Dash Bitters, Ginger Ale
Build first three ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Stir briefly and top with ginger ale. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Angel’s Envy is a deliciously different bourbon that takes an excellent product and turns it into something truly unique with the port barrel finish. Whilst this port finish doesn’t make it the most versatile of mixing bourbon’s, it remains one that is worth seeking out. Rating: ★★★★
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.