Fall and whisky – perhaps two of my favorite words. Autumn brings new colors to the Earth as well as most of our favorite releases of the year, one of which includes this lovely, rather new expression from Angel’s Envy. I say “rather new” because Cask Strength was only first released in 2012 as Louisville Distilling Company’s second expression, which has since been followed up with their Rum Finished Rye – another interesting treat if you have yet to give it a try.
When I first encountered Angel’s Envy Cask Strength my expectations of a deeper Port influence were met with a palate-pleasing whiskey lined with lovely chocolate and dark fruit characteristics built on a foundation of Bourbon that only brought about more layers of sweetness and spice. Needless to say, I enjoyed the whiskey quite a bit.
Luckily for us all, this Bourbon seems to improve upon itself each year, and this year is of course no different. Unfortunately, the big difference this year is that Bourbon legend Lincoln Henderson is no longer with us and no longer a part of the barrel selection process, passing away at the age of 75 just before last year’s Cask Strength release. Wes Henderson, Lincoln’s son and Brand Ambassador for the brand, along with his son, Kyle, is still helping to make waves with the company. Currently, a new distillery is under development at the old Vermont American building in downtown Louisville.
Up for tasting this evening we are diving into this year’s release of Cask Strength and comparing it to last year’s batch, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After a quick taste of this 3rd batch, I do believe we are in for quite a treat…
Price: Approx $150/750ml
Nose: Very rich and fruity this one, with a nose that hides its proof quite well. Right off the bat there’s a wonderful vanilla, sugar icing and port aroma you can’t help but enjoy – big on sweet and dark dried fruits and toffee candy. Behind that there are aromas of chocolate, Bourbon-soaked cherries, clove and cinnamon, oak, butterscotch and even some hints of rose hips in the background.
Palate: Big, rich and coating, just like last year’s batch – very syrupy. It is very aligned with the nose, too, with those Bourbon-soaked cherries, prune, raisin, chocolate, vanilla, again toffee candy, toasted oak, tingling spices – cinnamon, clove and pepper – honey and some buttery brown sugar. The proof shows itself more here as well.
Finish: The finish is Bourbon all the way – long and lingering with oak and wood spice, vanilla, caramel and even some rich honey.
w/ Water: On the nose, and as expected, the port is still lively but it’s much more on Bourbon now, with those dark fruits and chocolate sitting in the background. This is mimicked with the palate as well. The port influence really shines at cask strength, so that’s how I recommend enjoying this whiskey.
Side-by-side Comparison with Batch 2 (2013)
In comparison, the first noticeable difference is in color – there’s no mistaking that this year’s Batch is darker. On the nose, this year’s batch also has more of a dark sweetness and port influence to it, which makes sense given its color. It’s still there with last year’s batch but in comparison last year’s is much more Bourbon-esque. It’s the same for the palate, too – think more caramel, spice and Bourbon sweetness in Batch 2, while Batch 3 is more on that dark sweetness, port, cherry, dark toffee and vanilla cream. I really enjoyed last year’s batch but the folks at Angel’s Envy really managed to top it. Lovely.
Overall, this is another fantastic limited edition release by Angel’s Envy. With even more of a port influence compared to last year, the depth, richness and complexity is sure to please even the most curious of palates. That being said, the one obstacle to this Bourbon is of course its price. Like a couple other limited expressions, it is a little steep when it comes to how much you have to shell out for a bottle. That will not stop it from flying off the shelves, however. So, if you’re interested in a bottle, search for it now. Oh, and I hope you brought your sweet tooth. (A-)