A little over a month ago, something very special happened: a truly new bourbon came to Dallas. But before I can talk about the very tasty contents of this very stylish bottle, you need a little bit of back story.
In 1965, a kid named Lincoln Henderson strolled out of the University of Louisville with degrees in chemistry and biology. This kid went to work for Brown-Forman, one of the largest wine and spirits companies in America. Over the next 40 years, Lincoln Henderson worked his way up to Master Distiller, leaving his mark on various Brown-Forman brands such as Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, and Jack Daniels. In 2001, Lincoln Wesley Henderson was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class (along with Jim Rutledge and Bill Samuels). In 2005, after 39 years and 11 months with Brown-Forman, Lincoln Henderson retired, but he didn’t quit.
After nearly 40 years in the industry, the grateful citizens of the Bourbon Nation could have raised a glass and toasted to a long and happy retirement for the man who gave us so much. But Lincoln Henderson wasn’t done just yet. He is a Master Distiller with a passion for his work and a dream about the angels.
Five years after his retirement from Brown-Forman, Lincoln Henderson and his son Wes formed the Louisville Distilling Company. In the fall of 2010 (10/10/10, to be exact), they released their first bottles of Angel’s Envy Expression 10/10. Their distribution has been slowly growing over the past year and they finally made it to Dallas in August of 2011 (though I didn’t get my bottle until mid-September).
And did I mention what a stylish bottle it is? The Pretty Little Wife – who works in advertising and has some prior experience of her own with the spirits industry – was the one who first spotted it on the shelf at the liquor store. According to her, this is the kind of packaging you only see from small distillers who believe that their product is something truly special.
Once you get past the packaging, you’ll notice the deep copper color of the whiskey. This unique color is due, in part, to the way Angel’s Envy is produced. After aging for four to six years in the standard new charred oak barrels, the whiskey is finished for three to six months in port wine casks from Portugal.
The nose is full of the maple and vanilla with hints of dark cherry and oak. This bourbon is very light on the palette, with a complex combination of flavors and almost no alcohol burn. Flavors of sweet corn, honey, vanilla, and caramel give way to notes of darker fruits – plum and cherry from the port wine casks. The finish on this whiskey is amazing. It goes on forever. Toffee, light spice, and fruit will dance on your tongue for as long as you’ll let them.
As I am a firm believer that good bourbon should be shared, I took the opportunity to share my bottle with some friends over the weekend. The reviews were universally positive. Kurt was impressed by how smooth it was. Dallas enjoyed the extra flavors imparted by the port cask finish. Stacy was surprised by the long finish. Devin liked my fancy bourbon glasses and the Good Reverend Steve was just happy to be included in the booze ritual.
I’m going to have to get a little deeper into the bottle before I can make a definitive pronouncement, but I suspect that Angel’s Envy will soon be listed as one of my running favorites. I can’t wait to see (and taste) the whiskeys Lincoln puts out in the coming years.