I’m Back! (and Angel’s Envy Rye Review)

Hi Everyone! First of all, yes, I still exist! I can’t believe it’s been over two months since my last blog post. Sorry for keeping you all waiting! Work really ramped up in November and December, and coupled with the holidays there just wasn’t much time left over for posting.

Don’t worry though, I’m back in force now! I’ll be traveling for the next week or so (and possibly picking up some interesting things along the way), and then I’ll be returning in 2016 with lots of new stuff. I have lots of fun ideas for the coming year, so if you keep reading, I promise you won’t be bored. In addition to the usual reviews and event recaps, I’m planning to feature some flights and comparison tastings, as well as some interesting vintage stuff (ever want to try blended whiskies from the ’60s and ’70s? Well I’m going to!). There will be lots to see here over the coming months! If you want to make sure not to miss anything, be sure to subscribe!

In the meantime, I don’t want this to be a content-less post, so I’d like to cap off the year with a review of a whiskey I’ve been loving lately – Angel’s Envy Finished Rye.

As long as the Christmas tree is still up, I'll be taking pictures under it.As long as the Christmas tree is still up,
I’ll be taking pictures under it.

Angel’s Envy is  a non-distiller-producer (NDP) in Kentucky. They currently produce three whiskies – a port-finished bourbon (which is quite tasty), a cask strength bourbon (which I’ve heard is amazing, but haven’t been able to get my hands on yet), and the rye whisky that I’m featuring today.

Angel’s Envy Rye begins with a 95% rye mashbill, which will likely sound familiar to many of my readers (and most American whiskey geeks out there). Yes, this particular rye is sourced from MGP Ingredients. Angel’s Envy was among several producers embroiled in the “scandal” about where their whiskey comes from. However, The Louisville Distilling Company (Angel’s Envy’s parent company) was always transparent about sourcing their whiskey, and furthermore, as my regular readers will know, I have a serious soft spot for MGP rye, anyway. If you’re interested, the brand has an excellent, candid statement about the situation on their website.

Politics aside, this whiskey separates itself from the pack by its finish. Angel’s Envy Rye begins its life as a roughly six-year-old MGP rye, which is then finished in Plantation XO rum casks (themselves previously used to mature French Cognac). I think it’s really cool that so many brands can start with a similar base and then put their unique spins on it, and this particular one works really well.

Angel’s Envy Finished Rye is strongly flavored, with a heavy mouthfeel, but the rum cask mutes a lot of the brash character that can be present in many ryes. In its place is a rich, creamy custard note, with lots of sweet spices. If you’re a fan of rye, you’ll find this one to be a unique riff on the flavors you love. Even if you’re not a rye fanatic, then the unusually sweet spices still make this worth a try.

Angel's Envy Rye - Side Label

Nose: Wow, this is loaded with vanilla and banana! Oh so much banana! I’ve used “bananas foster” as a whisk(e)y descriptor before, but it’s never been more apt. This really smells just like soft, ripe bananas simmering in dark rum and brown sugar. Those flavors mingle with cinnamon, bread pudding, custard, allspice, and  hint of black pepper. I also get a tiny bit of caraway and clove, though much less than I notice in many other ryes.

Adding a drop of water softens the sweetness on the nose substantially, and brings in a bit more caraway and some wintergreen, as well as a little lemon zest. Honestly, I like the nose on this one better without water – even a few drops takes away from the delicious, dessert-like aromas I love.

Taste: Wow, it tastes just like it smells, with lots of banana and vanilla (once again, like bananas foster, or a rich banana pudding). There is also a substantial amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. There’s also a slight burnt flavor, like darkly toasted wheat bread. The rye grain itself is subtle, with a bit of caraway and a tiny hint of wintergreen on the finish. Most of the finish is relatively short and dry, by the caraway lingers on the back of the palate alongside a mild and pleasant peppery heat.

A little water reduces the banana notes, but the vanilla sweetness comes through just as strongly. It’s accented by some burnt sugar, forming a creme brulee note that’s quite tasty. I also get a slight bit of toasted coconut that mingles well with the dominant vanilla. However, I still prefer it neat. That bananas foster profile is just so good.

This whiskey is only released twice a year, and it can be a little had to find (and quite pricey compared to many MGP ryes), but in my opinion, it’s definitely worth seeking out. This is a unique spin on a widespread base  spirit, and – most importantly – it’s absolutely delicious.

Cheers everyone! I’ll see you in 2016!

Yes, that is a sparkly octopus on my Christmas tree.

Questions of the Day: Have you tried Angel’s Envy Rye? What whiskies are you looking forward to trying in 2016?

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