Henderson Family Values: Angel’s Envy Bourbon Review

August 26, 2012

Angel's Envy straight bourbon whiskey

Distillery  Louisville Distilling Company (Crestwood, KY)

Type  Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV  43.3% (86.6 proof)

Age  4-6 years

My Review

Summer is nearly over and the Baron has yet to review a bourbon. Simply unacceptable. I present to you a relative newcomer to the bourbon aisle, Angel’s Envy.

This whiskey is the brainchild of bourbon paragon Lincoln Henderson, the not-even-close-to-being-a-newcomer former master distiller of Brown-Forman. To borrow a phrase from the late  great Troy McClure, “you may remember him from such bourbons as Woodford Reserve and Old Forester.” Three generations of Henderson’s are involved in the production of Angel’s Envy. They’re like the Kennedy’s, but with more booze-making and less booze-drinking.

Getting back to the actual bourbon, it spends 4 to 6 years aging in the highest level of the barrel warehouse, soaking up that oakey goodness. Lincoln Henderson then personally tastes each barrel, choosing the ones he deems ready. The whiskey in those select barrels is then aged in Port wine barrels for an additional 3 to 6 months. Sure it sounds a little “different,” and it’s unlikely to attract the stereotypical cheap bourbon and coke drinkers you’ll find at your local bar or lounge, but the process renders an incredibly smooth and exquisite bourbon.

(Click to read more about the Angel’s Envy bourbon making process)

  • Appearance  Angel’s Envy pours a subdued copper color. You can tell this isn’t a high proof bourbon, as the color would be more robust, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This has nothing to do with the actual bourbon, but I find the bottle to be very eye-catching. 8/10
  • Aroma  There is a lot going on in the nose on this one. Very sweet and enticing aroma of vanilla, caramel, maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, toasted nuts, and dark fruit. It doesn’t get much better than this. 19/20
  • Taste  Angel’s Envy has a pleasantly sweet taste, with the usual bourbon flavors of vanilla and caramel, as well as brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and spice. The Port influence is evident, but not overbearing. You can taste the notes of raisin and dark fruits, with a slight hint on mint. The finish is medium-long, with the maple and fruit lingering on the palate. I also got an odd hint of chocolate in the finish. So far, no one else I know who has tried Angel’s Envy has tasted this, so feel free to ignore that part. (UPDATE: Chocolate is actually part of Angel’s Envy tasting notes) 38/40
  • Palate  This whiskey was originally going to be called “Baby Butt Bourbon” but the marketing department felt the name didn’t accurately describe the incredible smoothness this Kentucky spirit. Angel’s Envy is liquid silk, so smooth and gentle on the palate. There is absolutely no burn whatsoever. 10/10
  • Value  Let me preface this section by saying I paid WAY too much for this. It’s not available in Virginia, so I made the mistake of buying it in DC, paying a good 20% premium over the average retail price. But I won’t punish the bourbon for my lack of price research. You should be able to purchase a 750 mL bottle of Angel’s Envy for about $45-$50, where available. That’s a decent price point for a bourbon of this quality. If I could get it for $40 in my area there would always be a bottle in my whiskey cabinet. 16/20
  • Overall  91/100

My Recommendation

If you’re a fan of bourbon or craft whiskeys, I highly recommend you try Angel’s Envy. If you’ve read any of my previous bourbon reviews, you know I like big, bold, in-your-face-like-a-starving-zombie bourbons. Angel’s Envy does not fall in that category, but it has become one of my favorite bourbons.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon’s sweet, complex flavor and aroma are excellent in their own right, but its incredible smoothness really puts this straight Kentucky bourbon over the top.  There is no need for ice, and absolutely no need for adding water. And please, for the love of God and all that is good in the world, DO NOT USE THIS FOR MIXED DRINKS. Pour it in a glass, admire it, and enjoy it.


Salud!


Jefferson’s Bourbon Review: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Whiskey

May 19, 2012

Distillery- McLain & Kyne (Clermont, KY)

Type- “Very” Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV- 41.15% (82.3 proof)

Age- 8 years

My Review

Thomas Jefferson has been credited with many accomplishments, some of them deserved, some of them he’s been credited for seemingly because no one had any other idea who invented what. We all know that he composed the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, but did you know he also invented macaroni and cheese? No? Well that’s because he didn’t, but no one really knows who did. Jefferson was a fan of mac and cheese, served it at Monticello, and BAM! Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni and cheese to the world. Flash forward to the present. Thomas Jefferson is disappointed that that their are no flying horse chariots, and wondering why McLain & Kyne Distillery has named a line of bourbons after him that has supposedly invented the phrase “very small batch.”

I imagine all of the bourbon distillers in the country gathering around like teenagers in the locker room, arguing over their “size.” Only in this case, the most bragged about size is not the one claiming to be the biggest, but the most minute.

“Mine’s small!”

“Well, mines very small!”

This particular whiskey is named Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon. It’s the first “very small” batch bourbon I’ve tried to date, so it must be the best, right? Just like most things in life, however, size doesn’t tell the whole story.

*Cues Reading Rainbow story-time music*

Bourbon is typically aged in large warehouses, with giant shelves built in so that dozens of stories of barrels can be aged. As you can imagine, there is much more volatility in the temperature near the roofs of these warehouses, as opposed to those on the floor. Large fluctuations in temperature, as well as high temperature in general, cause whiskeys to “age” faster and lose more to “the angel’s share,” or the amount of liquid lost to evaporation. To combat this, some distilleries move the barrels around to get them closer to the same “age.” But this is just a complete pain in the ass; barrels are heavy and warehouses are hot. So most distillers just say “F*ck it” and don’t bother. Why, you ask? If the bottle you’re drinking does not say “Small Batch” or “Single Barrel,” that means the bourbon is a conglomeration of every matured barrel in the distillery. They mix it to create a uniform taste, so that you, the consumer, know exactly what to expect.

The best barrels in the bourbon warehouse are, without a doubt, from the very center of the building. If your bottle says “single barrel,” then it is just what it sounds like: the contents of a choice single barrel from the center of the distiller’s warehouse. “Small batch” bourbons are in between regular and “single barrel” bourbons in terms of how they’re produced. Basically, the distillery will take all of the barrels from the center of the warehouse, sample each one, and combine them to produce their desired flavor profile. Jefferson’s Bourbon is made the same way as every other small batch bourbon, the “very” part is used just because the total amount of those prime, middle of the warehouse barrels used is smaller. Since consumers associate smaller with higher quality, it’s a great marketing tactic. But does very small make it better? Follow along as the Baron begins this noble quest.

Before we begin, here’s a video re-enactment of how the Baron drinks his bourbon:

As you can see, the whiskey goes down, and is never heard from again. Another shot is poured; it suffers a similar fate. The Baron’s belly is a whiskey graveyard.

  • Appearance Jefferson’s pours a vibrant shade of brown; not quite an amber color like most quality bourbons. Still, it looks much more palatable than Evan Williams or Jim Beam White Label. 8/10
  • Aroma Jefferson’s Bourbon smells of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar, with slight notes of peaches and berries. It’s always nice to find aromas outside the typical scent of an oak-aged spirit. Nice job, Mr. President. 17/20
  • Taste This bourbon does not have the most aggressive flavor, but it’s still very pleasing. You can pick up caramel, vanilla from the oak, corn, and a bit of cinnamon spice. It’s good, but I prefer my bourbons to be a little more ballsy. 35/40
  • Palate- Velvety smooth and delicate body that warms the palette. The finish is moderate in length, with the tiniest bit of burn going down. 9/10
  • Value At $28 for a 750mL bottle, Jefferson’s Bourbon is about the same price as the Baron’s standby, Maker’s Mark. It’s also cheaper than Baron favorites Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek. This is a pretty good price point for a spirit of Jefferson’s caliber. 18/20
  • Overall 87/100

My Recommendation

The Baron ranks Jefferson’s Bourbon just above 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, and several large notches below Baker’s Bourbon. Despite this, I think it is a very good bourbon for those beginning to test the delicious, brown and amber waters of small batch and single barrel bourbons. It’s also a good, affordable change-up for regular bourbon enthusiasts. The Baron buys a bottle every year. I’ve also been donating a case every Christmas to my local homeless shelter. I checked out their website recently to see if they wrote a thank you to the Baron and listed my site, hoping it would garner some page views. “**** Shelter would like to thank the ancestors of our Founding Father Thomas Jefferson for personally hand donating a case of their family’s bourbon to us for the last three years. Your holiday cheers have warmed our spirits.”

Thomas Jefferson: 697, World: 0

Bonus Baron Bartending

The Washingtonian

Ingredients

2.5 oz Small Batch Bourbon

0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth

Dash of bitters

Pour over 1-2 pieces of ice in an old-fashion or rocks glass, enjoy quickly.

Since the Washington Capitals entered a battle to the death with the New York Rangers a few weeks ago, the Baron has avoided anything New York related. This includes pretty much the only mixed beverage the Baron regularly drinks: the Manhattan. A traditional Manhattan is mixed in a 2:1 ratio of bourbon to sweet vermouth, with a dash of bitters. It is then shaken with ice in a cocktail mixer and poured into a martini glass with a maraschino cherry. F*ck that noise. The Baron’s version is called the Washingtonian, and has a higher bourbon to vermouth ratio because we’re using the good shit. F*ck the cherry and f*ck the martini glass, this drink is too ballsy for that. Go Caps, 2013.


Salud!


Baker’s Bourbon Review: More Proof That America Kicks Ass

November 11, 2011

Distillery- Jim Beam (Clermont, KY)

Type- Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

ABV- 53.5% (107 proof)

Age- 7 years

Commercial Description

Named after Baker Beam, grand nephew of the legendary Jim Beam, Baker’s® Bourbon is seven-years-old and hand-bottled at 107 proof. Embracing over six generations of distilling experience, Baker’s Bourbon utilizes a special strain of jug yeast that has been in the family for over 60 years. This time tested yeast provides Baker’s with a silky smooth texture and consistent taste from batch to batch. (via http://www.smallbatch.com/bakers)

My Review

Sure, I’ve been called a xenophobe, but the truth is, I’m not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and the other countries aren’t as good. That used to be called patriotism.

- Kenny Powers, Eastbound & Down

There’s no better way for the Baron to finally return to his calling than writing a review of bourbon, the quintessential American spirit, on Veteran’s Day. I love America, I love bourbon, and anyone for who thinks America sucks, or that bourbon is an uncool drink for old men, you can kiss my muscular, multiracial American ass.

That Just Happened

So for those of you who aren’t horrible excuses for human beings, allow me to introduce to you one of the Baron’s favorite bourbons: Baker’s. Baker’s Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s small batch collection, or as the Baron would have named it “Don’t Mix These with Coke or I’ll Find You” collection.

  • Appearance- Pours a fiery, aggressive shade of amber. It’s actually the Baron’s favorite amber, narrowly beating out John Hammond’s fossilized tree resin . 9/10

    "Why the hell didn't I just make bourbon?"

  • Aroma- Baker’s bourbon smells of patriotism, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, honey, and a bit of smoke and fruit. Another alcoholic beverage that the Baron would wear as a cologne, let’s make this happen, InventHelp. 18/20
  • Taste- Baker’s has a very sweet taste upon entry with notes of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. It then progresses to a more cinnamon-like spice flavor while keeping most that of delicious sweetness. There is a pleasant, medium spicy-sweet finish that leaves you wanting to drink more and more. America: F— Yeah! 37/40
  • Palate- Baker’s is incredibly smooth, with enough of a kick to let your mouth know it’s drinking bourbon. I prefer to drink it neat, but shots of Baker’s go down like water… Delicious, fiery man-water. 10/10
  • Value- This a very pricey bourbon but it’s well worth the money. A 750mL bottle of Baker’s will run between $36-45 depending on your state’s liquor tax. This is the kind of bourbon that I keep for myself and share with good friends. It goes straight to the underwear drawer when casual acquaintances come by (or to t-shirt drawer if a skeezy perv shows up). 17/20

    T-shirt drawer it is.

  • Overall- 91/100

My Recommendation

I highly recommend you try this wonderful piece of America. Bourbon is the patron spirit of America, and Baker’s is among the finest examples of it today. Anyone who enjoys whiskey will love this bourbon, and it’s also a great transition for cognac drinkers to try something a little more manly.

There are two things I expect of my readers this Veteran’s Day weekend. First, buy a bottle (even if it’s a mini) of Baker’s Bourbon. And thengive thanks to all of those who fought for our freedom. Without them, some random man wouldn’t be trying to make Jurassic Park jokes while attempting to convince you to down a glass of his favorite booze. Thank you all, this drink’s for you.


Salud!


Buffalo Trace and the Holy Grail

March 17, 2011

Display case showing a few of the enticing options offered by Buffalo Trace Distillery.

According to an article by Jason Wilson of the Washington Post, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY will soon be releasing what they deem to be the “perfect whiskey.”  Jason reports that for over 20 years Buffalo Trace has been doing research and analysis for Project Holy Grail, their title for in the Baron’s mind the most important quest in the history of mankind. Check out the article to find out the specifics of how they’re trying to produce the perfect whiskey.

Buffalo Trace is America’s oldest continually operating distillery, they were even operating during Prohibition for medicinal purposes, so you can trust them to put out a quality product.  I am personally a big fan of their Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Blanton Single Barrel Bourbon, Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve. As soon as it is released this year, I’ll be sure to let my loyal readers know where they can find it. Rest assured, the Baron will be sure to review as soon as possible in order to help you make a purchasing decision.

In the meantime here’s a picture of what I call a perfect bourbon barrel-aged stout: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.

Perfection. You find it? You buy it.

Salud!


1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon Review

January 30, 2011


Distillery- Barton Distilling Company (Bardstown, Kentucky)

Type- Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

ABV- 46.85%

Age- 8 years

Commercial Description- The Toast of Kentucky™, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve is a distinctively smooth, handcrafted small-batch bourbon, patiently aged 8 years in new charred oak barrels in Bardstown, Kentucky. This 93.7 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was named for the year Kentucky became a state. Rich and velvety, it’s the perfect bourbon for toasting any special occasion – in fact, it’s the Official Toasting Bourbon of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival™ (via http://www.bartonbrands.com/1792.html)

My Review-

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Bourbon is proof that America kicks ass.” – The Beverage Baron

Just a couple of quotes from some famous Americans that I thought you should know about. Bourbon is the sole reason that I’ve visited Kentucky. My favorite mixed drink is bourbon mixed with an old fashioned glass. Bourbon is the official spirit of the Beverage Baron’s household. In case you didn’t notice, I love bourbon. So expect to see a lot reviews on bourbon and other whiskeys in the near future.

I poured about 2.5 ounces of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve into a glass with a single piece of ice for this sample, but it honestly tastes better neat. Whenever you’re drinking a bourbon, or any liquor for that matter, only add ice if you really need to. Otherwise you’re diluting its delicious flavors. At 93.7 proof I initially thought this could use a small piece of ice, but trial and error is my friend. I won’t hold it against you if you need ice for this bourbon, but more than one piece is overkill.


  • Appearance- A beautiful shade of amber. If this bourbon could talk, it would loudly whisper “Drink me” in a rugged, manly voice. How do you whisper loudly? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the most interesting-looking bourbon in the world. 10/10

What 1792 looks like in human form.

  • Aroma- 1792 may look like a lion, but it smells like a lamb. And no, I don’t mean it smells like dirty animal and hay. It has a very light nose for a bourbon of this age. You can easily pick up the aroma of oak and vanilla, with lesser notes of orange and caramel. It’s nice, but I prefer my bourbon to be little more in-your-face. 15/20
  • Taste- The taste is much stronger than the aroma would suggest. The 8 years that 1792 spends in a barrel really let it soak up that oaky goodness. It tastes mildly sweet with a moderate amount of rye spiciness and a hint of butterscotch. Very nice. 34/40
  • Palate- 1792 is so smooth that it could pick up a dozen married women at once by simply saying “Hello,” all while foiling a bank robbery merely by giving the would-be criminal a stern look of disapproval (see picture above). I was going to give it a perfect score in this category, but 1792 was too humble to accept the accolade. Okay, I’ll stop now. 9/10
  • Value- You can find 1792 in the range of $20-34 per 750 mL bottle. It’s very affordable for a small-batch bourbon. 17/20
  • Overall- 85/100

My Recommendation- 1792 Ridgemont Reserve is a very nice offering from the Barton Distillery. It’s relatively inexpensive for a small-batch bourbon, but it also lacks the assertive aroma and bold flavors of most small batch bourbons. If you’re looking for something to mix into cola (yes, I am judging you) don’t bother dropping your money on this, just stick to cheaper offerings like Jim Beam white label. But if you’re looking for an affordable premium bourbon experience, be sure to check 1792 out. All things considered, it’s definitely worth the price tag, and I recommend it to anyone looking for introduction into the world of small batch bourbons.


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