Angel’s Envy. This new distillery, in downtown Louisville, just opened up to the public mid-November of this year. Some of you whiskey lovers may have known that Angel’s Envy was and still is a sourced whiskey. Meaning that Angel’s Envy as a company would purchase already produced spirit and age it to the maturity they saw fit. It was then completely up to the company when it was matured to their specifications, any finishing casks, blending, branding etc. Companies that do this tend to get a lot of push back from the industry since they didn’t actually produce and distill the spirit. Personally, I think in Angel’s Envy’s case, they were well ahead of their time. They claim to be the first people in the bourbon industry to “finish” their bourbon. Meaning after so many years aging in new, charred American oak, it was finished in a different kind of barrel, for example port or sherry. This is very common in Scotland and Europe, but wasn’t being played around with in America until recently.
Although they may be considered to have done this a bit backwards by opening a distillery after a successful brand presence, I think this will just give them more control and credibility for a brand they have already proved deserves to be taken seriously. Now, in saying all of these nice things, I will say that I think they could work on the backbone of their tours. Our tour guide was awesome and knowledgeable, but if I was a regular customer that had already been drinking Angel’s Envy, I would have questions into how it was made before. I think they should focus on their family ownership (besides Bacardi) and tell the true story of how they focused on blending first and now are producers. This needs to be cleared up quickly so that Angel’s Envy as a brand can portray itself in the best way possible before anyone goes home and starts googling.
Now, in regards to their new facility! They are definitely going to have a lot of visitors. The building is located right across the street from the Louisville Slugger Field. You can tell the building is still technically under construction, but the spirit is running off the stills. There is one stainless steel mash tun or as they call it in America “mash cooker” or “grain cooker”. The corn is mixed in at a very high water temperature first, then the rye and the malted barley is added at a lower temperature. They get most of their grains from Kentucky, but some of the rye and malt comes from Milwaukee. There are four stainless steel washbacks and they ferment the wash for about 70 hours. The mash and wort definitely look different from Scotch and malted barley. The grains and liquid both continue to the washbacks and it looks like milky corn in the fermenter. I tried the wash and it was very sweet. The column still is 35 feet tall, extremely shiny and is made of brand new Vendome copper. The doubler is of course new copper as well. Vendome as a manufacturer is expected, not only because they own the still market in the states, but also because Vendome HQ is just a few blocks away. According to our guide the whole distillation system cost about 2 million USD.
As we continued to walk through the facility, you could see that they are filling casks on site, but the bottling lines are not up and running yet. They are still bottling down the street. By January 2017 the hope is to have everything under one roof at this site. At the current moment they are filling about 40 barrels a day. They also utilize shared warehouses that are all within the Louisville city limits. They claim that eventually nothing will be outsourced and everything (once aging is complete) with the Angel’s Envy name will come out of this facility. These are the bottlings they currently have…
-Angel’s Envy Bourbon Port Finish- Aged 6 years in new, charred, American Oak and then 6 months in port barrels.
-Angel’s Envy Rye Rum Finish- Contains 95% Rye. Aged 7 years in new, charred, American Oak and then 18 months in rum casks. (Being owned by Bacardi, I think we can assume they have no shortage of rum casks). The picture above shows how short and stubby the rum casks are. I had never seen one before.
-Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Port Finish- Same idea as the regular bourbon, but obviously cask strength. Still aged in new, charred, American oak and then for a few months in port barrels. Only about 8,000 bottles are released of this per year.
I was able to try the flagship Angel’s Envy Bourbon Port Finish. Here are my tasting notes…
Angel’s Envy Bourbon finished in Port Wine Barrels
Holly's Tasting Notes..
Nose: Cherries, vanilla, nougat, pear, buttery and after I was told.. wowza--- banana! It was hard to put your finger on that at first since you aren’t expecting it.
Palate: Old, wet oak, maple butterscotch, fig, liquorice and quite a bite at the end.
I don’t really like liquorice. By really, I mean I hate it, but I really enjoyed the nose on this one.
I am excited to see what else Angel’s Envy has in store for us and congrats on finally becoming a producer!