Angel’s Envy Finished Rye
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, cask choice can have a huge impact on the flavor a whiskey. Many of the single malt whiskies we’ve reviewed thus far have been aged in multiple casks. Sometimes master distillers and blenders will take several fully matured casks of different types and blend them; other times, whiskey is taken from one cask and transferred to age longer in a different type of wood. We discovered with last week’s review, the master distiller at Balvenie was one of the pioneers in using finishing casks. But cask finishing is not unique to single malts. This week, we’ll look at a rye whiskey that uses this technique to create a unique dram.
Angel’s Envy was founded by a group that included Lincoln Henderson, a master distiller who formerly worked on brands including Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniels and was interested in a creating a bourbon finished in port barrels. The whiskey quickly became a success and the company grew and was eventually purchased by Bacardi Spirits. Today, the company is still family operated and maintains a focus on producing whiskey finished in non-traditional casks.
We first came across Angel’s Envy several years ago at the Whisky Advocate Whiskyfest in Chicago. The brand representative was eagerly sharing the story of this up-and-coming distillery and described how the whiskey was named. For those that are are not familiar with the term “Angel’s Share”, it refers to the whiskey (about 1-2% per year) that is evaporated from the barrel during the ageing process. Since the whiskey evaporates “to the heavens,” it is dubbed the Angel’s Share. The story goes that the first batches of whiskey the company produced were so good, the head distiller remarked that the angels must have been envious that it was not theirs - hence Angel’s Envy.
Angel’s Envy Finished Rye
The Finished Rye is one of the three core expressions from Angel’s Envy. From what we’ve been able to discover, the mash bill is made up predominantly of rye and a small portion of malted barley. After spending some time in new charred American oak, the rye is aged 18 months in Caribbean rum casks.
Eyes: The whiskey is a ruby copper color, with a lighter texture in the glass.
Nose: Our initial impressions were unlike any rye we’ve experienced. Aromas of caramel candies, butterscotch (just like a Werther’s candy), and a hint of pepper beneath all the sweeter scents.
Taste: The flavors evoked cinnamon raisin bread mixed with a bit of fresh mint and plenty of caramel. The peppery spiciness we usually associate with rye was almost non-existent.
Finish: The sweetness fades into vanilla and toffee flavors that linger for a while.
As the notes indicate, this was a rye unlike any we had tasted before. The rum cask finish has a huge impact on the flavor and texture. While the Finished Rye is a departure from the classic rye flavor profile, the sweetness is neither overpowering nor one dimensional. We were also shocked to see the bottle was filled at 50% ABV. Overall, we were very surprised by the Angel’s Envy Finished rye and already consider it among our favorites.