Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Angel’s Envy. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Cask finishing has been in Angel’s Envy’s repertoire from the outset. Company lore has it that master distiller Lincoln Henderson (of Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack notoriety) was convinced to come out of retirement by his son Wes’ suggestion that they explore his long standing interest in developing a port-finished bourbon. Angel’s Envy has released a number of creatively finished expressions over the years, aging this release for a full year in ice-cider casks from Eden Specialty Ciders of Vermont.
While Port wine finishes have become higher profile over time, the exact nature of ice-cider, on the other hand, may not be as widely known. First practiced in Quebec, the process of making ice cider parallels that of ice wine. The natural sugars of the fruit, grapes or apples, are concentrated by either cryoextraction (allowing fruit to freeze in place on the tree or vine) or cryoconcentration (pressed juices are frozen). In either case extraneous water is separated from fermentable sugars through freezing, resulting in a more markedly sweet, dessert appropriate flavor and a higher alcohol content by volume due to the concentration of sugars.
This bottle is the first cask-finished rye released under Angel’s Envy’s label in nearly a decade which makes it an object of enthusiastic curiosity!
Tasting Notes: Angel’s Envy Ice Cider Finish
Vital Stats: 107 proof. Aged 7 years, finished for 1. MSRP $250, but bottles currently selling for over $650.
Appearance: Deep, clear amber color with a nice, moderate density.
Nose: Caramel apple with hints of wood and spice.
Palate: The nose doesn’t lie- strong apple flavors continue, beginning with the buttery, savory flavor of sautéed apples and black pepper then pivoting to vanilla flavors that fade out into a sweet but deep finish with strong caramel and earthy brown sugar notes.
Angel's Envy Ice Cider Finish
If someone complained to me that the caramel-apple impression this gives throughout amounts to a one-note pour, I guess I’d understand their point. But I’d also pity their joylessness. The cider cask finish compliments classic rye notes nearly perfectly, with the spice of the rye serving mostly to accent the sweet apple and caramel flavors that dominate the palate. The straightforwardness of the rye’s personality is not a lack of complexity, as there are plenty of subtleties to savor.
I hope that the folks at Angel’s Envy are as pleased as I am with the results of this creative experiment because I’d love to try more bottles with a similar finish. Limited quantities (only 6,000 bottles) will drive up the price on available bottles, but it is seriously delicious.