"I'll never forget," says the late Lincoln Henderson, the master distiller at Angel's Envy, when referring to his days as an undergraduate student at the University of Louisville. "We were having Christmas break and I couldn't go home, so we decided to do research on bourbon. We drove down to Texas and we bought about five cases of bourbon. I think we spent our whole three weeks of Christmas break with Ancient Age." Henderson, who is now 73 years old, has studied the art of making whiskey for over 50 years.
After graduating college, Henderson joined Brown-Forman as a grain chemist and was eventually promoted to Master Distiller. During his 40-year tenure at Brown-Forman, Henderson honed his skills while developing new brands such as Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Jack Daniels' "Gentleman Jack" and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Whiskey. In addition to being responsible for the development of new products, Henderson oversaw quality control, technical distillery supervision and sensory evaluation. "I never regretted a day when I had to go to work," says Henderson, who was awarded Malt Advocate's Lifetime Achievement Award and was an inaugural member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
After retiring from Brown-Forman, Henderson decided to go rogue and launched Angel's Envy. "Angel's Envy is a lot of things," says Henderson, including the culmination of "my life's work." The name is derived from the term "angel's share" - the portion of whiskey that evaporates as it ages in wooden barrels. After tasting the whiskey, Henderson realized that the angel's might want a larger cut.
Angel's Envy Rye is made from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. After the grains are harvested, they are milled and mashed before being fermented with a proprietary strain of yeast. "The major factor in making your whiskey different from anybody else's is your yeast," says Henderson. "Yeast are like your children. You have to raise these yeast and cultivate them to keep the same profile every time. If you don't, then your whiskey is going to go all over the place." Following fermentation, the rye is distilled before being matured for six years in new, American oak casks. After its initial beauty rest, Henderson ages the rye in casks that were previously used to mature rum and cognac. "We sourced and sampled more than 100 different rums before unanimously choosing one with extraordinary richness that perfectly marries with our rye whiskey," says Henderson. This finishing process, which lasts for 18 months, gives the rye a copper-reddish hue, along with an aroma of citrus, caramel, maple and rock candy. The rye's initial notes of sherry, soft oak and cane sugar are complemented by touches of spicy rye, brown sugar and cinnamon, which lead to a warming finish.
Angel's Envy Rye was rated one of the Top 10 Whiskies in the Summer 2013 issue of Whisky Advocate as well as being named the "Editor's Pick" by John Hansell himself.
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Rye: 100 (50% ABV)
Louisville Distilling Co. Bottler
This product is not available in AL, AK, AR, CO, DE, FL, HI, IA, ID, IL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MN, MD, MS, ND, NH, PA, SD, TX, WA or WI.
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Copper-reddish hue. Aroma of citrus, caramel, maple and rock candy. Initial notes of sherry, soft oak and cane sugar are complemented by touches of spicy rye, brown sugar and cinnamon, and lead to a warming finish.