I used to have this impression of Angel’s Envy that it was a non-bourbon drinker’s bourbon. I’m not sure where that came from. Maybe it was the exquisitely designed bottle with angel wings on the back and on the bottom of the cork. Maybe it was the angel-winged ladies I saw working in an Angel’s Envy popup bar at BourbonFest. Maybe it was that the first time I had it, it was so light and sweet that it didn’t really taste like bourbon.
Of course, I’d tried it after a full plate of barbecue so…yeah.
In the intervening time since my first taste of the product, I’ve come to respect the company more than my first impressions would have hinted at. The Hendersons are active on forums and blogs and seem like stand-up guys. Never claiming to have made the whiskey just letting you know that they finished it in other barrels and blended it. On top of that I’ve had a few more glasses of the whisky and ended up with a different impression than that first one with the burned out palate.
Now you might ask why I would go back to try again when I was a bit turned off by it to begin with. I’d like to say that it was due to fairness and such. But to be honest, in an indirect way it was that oh-so-pretty bottle that brought it back into my life. My mother-in-law likes to buy me bourbon. But she doesn’t know anything about bourbon so she grabs the prettiest bottle she can find. Twice that has been Angel’s Envy. The first bottle she gave us wasn’t to my tastes. My wife liked it well enough that when I saw that a store just across the Wisconsin border from us had a private selection, I picked it up for her.
I liked that one. A lot. So when mom-in-law got us another bottle this year, I was kind of excited. Then I tasted it…suddenly less excited. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I looked and it turns out to be the exact same batch as the first one she got us. That got me to thinking. I needed to find another batch and see what’s up here. And that brings us to today.
Angel’s Envy Head-to-Head-to-Head Review
These are listed in the order I was exposed to them.
Purchase Info: A gift from my mother-in-law.
Details: 43.3% ABV. Batch 7N, bottle 2331. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels.
Nose: Banana Bread, oak, caramel, faint nutmeg.
Mouth: Sweet. Oak, mint, cinnamon, green pea pods.
Finish: Gentle. Lingering bitterness, mint and more pea pods.
Thoughts: Not a ton of flavor, delicate. I’m not a huge fan of this one. The pea pod thing just isn’t for me. If this were my only exposure to the brand my main thought would be vegetal and not good.
Purchase Info: $41.99 for a 750 mL from Chicone’s Liquor Mart, Hudson, WI
Details: 43.3% ABV. Batch C1 (Chicone’s Private Selection). Bottle 86. Blend Percentages 20% A, 50% B, 30% C. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels.
Nose: Sweet apple, anise, cinnamon, oak
Mouth: Mint, cinnamon, baked apple, nutmeg.
Finish: Warm. Long. Lingering baking spices and bitterness.
Thoughts: This is nice. It’s fruity warm and spicy. I’d buy a second bottle if I went back and they still had one.
Purchase Info: $44.99 for a 750 mL at Viking Liquor Barrel, Prior Lake, MN
Details: 43.3% ABV. Batch 8S, bottle 1071. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels.
Nose: Floral, caramel, red berries, clove, spearmint leaves.
Mouth: Nice tingle, peppery. Cloves, cayenne, whole grain bread, mint and a touch of caramel.
Finish: Mint, black pepper, cloves and more floral notes which transition to a lingering bitterness.
Thoughts: Nice full flavor. Good balance between spice and mint with neither being dominant. Just a hint of sweetness. This is a good batch. I like it.
Comparison Thoughts: The store pick (C1) is my favorite of the bunch with Batch 8S coming in a close second. C1 has a fuller mouth feel and a baking spice focus. 8S continues on the spice train but has a bit more mint. 7N is kind of a train wreck. It tastes vegetal. Not a flavor I care for.
Batch variation aside, I think I like Angel’s Envy more than other wine-finished whiskies. The port influence is subtler and better integrated into the bourbon than the others I’ve had.