In 2013, Angel’s Envy came out with a rye whiskey finished in Caribbean rum casks that was — and still is — phenomenal. There truly is nothing at all like it in the marketplace today, so it’s no wonder the Hendersons didn’t mess with the rye for nine years.
Of course they know better than to tweak a product beloved by many, so instead, they’ve taken their rye whiskey surplus and experimented with a new finished product that will be the next bottle in the highly coveted Angel’s Envy Cellar Collection. For the fourth iteration of this collection, behold the Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey Finished in Ice Cider Casks.
The late Lincoln Henderson, who founded Angel’s Envy with his son Wes Henderson, was passionate about innovation, so to honor him, they started the Cellar Collection to produce one-time releases that showcase both experimentation and unique flavor profiles. Wes recently announced his retirement from Angel’s Envy, so now his sons Kyle, Andrew and Connor run the operations at the Louisville distillery.
This newest concept features 7-year-old, 95% rye whiskey that has been aged for 364 days in ice cider casks from the Vermont-based Eden Specialty Ciders. Ice cider is a dessert-style cider that is produced primarily in the northern United States and Canada.
“The flavor profile of this whiskey is very unique — the spiciness of the rye is balanced by the fruity sweetness from the ice cider casks, and there’s a crispness that is really distinct,” said Kyle Henderson, distillery production manager, in a news release. “We’ve never seen a whiskey finished in ice cider casks before, so we’re excited to introduce this finish as part of our Cellar Collection.”
Kyle explained that it was Andrew who first suggested the ice cider finish, and after they took a deep dive into the world of cider-making, “we fell in love with the product and the process and knew these special casks would be an excellent match for our rye,” he said.
The whiskey is bottled at 107 proof and will be sold for a suggested price of $249.99. There will be 6,000 bottles as part of this limited-edition release, and it’ll officially hit store shelves around Feb. 25 in Kentucky, New York, California, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois and Texas. If you’re a 500 Main member, keep an eye out for an email on Feb. 15 where you can enter to win a chance to purchase a bottle.
So how does it taste?
I was fortunate to receive an extravagant media package this week that included a sample of the finished whiskey, plus all the ingredients and tools to make cheese fondue, complete with Vermont apples, Kenny’s cheese, a cutting board, Blue Dog Bakery bread and much more. I plan on trying my hand at fondue tonight, but for now I’ll just focus on the whiskey, since that is what we’re here for.
(If you’re curious to see how the fondue unfolds, I’ll post something to my Instagram later.)
Color: Since this rye whiskey is seven years old, it’s got a decent amount of amber hue to it, but in comparison to some of the other Cellar Collection releases, like the Sherry or Tawny finish, it’s much lighter since the finishing spirit is light in color. You’re probably like, “No duh,” but whatever.
Aroma: You definitely get that apple right up front, and if I close my eyes and inhale, I feel like there’s a late-season Northern Spy apple under my nose that I’m about to sink my teeth into. OK, so I don’t know my apples that well — I pulled “late-season Northern Spy” from the news release — but you get the point. On top of the apple, I get light caramel and roasted cashew notes.
Taste: If you took an apple, cut it into pieces and sprinkled black pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon over it, as well as a light drizzle of hot caramel, that is exactly what I taste here. The rye doesn’t soften at all. You get a little of that ice cider sweetness on the tip of the tongue, and then the fury of the rye quickly warms things up as it moves to the back. The finish is quite pleasant as the spice shapeshifts back into sweet.
Thoughts: This is definitely a great experiment with rye whiskey and ice cider, and it certainly is a one-of-a-kind product. Would I swap it out permanently for the regular Angel’s Envy Rye? No. But nobody’s asking me to. Am I going to shell out $250 for a bottle? I suppose I should do my taxes first and then make that decision later. (Ahh, the benefits of freelancing.)
Bravo, Angel’s Envy, for always pushing the envelope of innovation. This is a great pairing, and I look forward to whatever else is up your sleeve.