By Richard Thomas
We’ve been covering Angel’s Envy Cask Strength from the beginning here at The Whiskey Reviewer, and it’s not like there is a complicated story behind this fan favorite whiskey. That said, it is a bit more than just a cask strength batch of the flagship Angel’s Envy Port-finished bourbon. The barrels are specially chosen for the stronger release, but they come from the same general source material.
That wasn’t always the case. They used to finish the bourbon for two years before bottling a batch of Cask Strength, but that changed several years ago. Wes Henderson decided the two year finish was creating too deep of a Port influence, this compared to the 3 to 6 months the standard Angel’s Envy gets, and that needed to be rolled back. However, whenever I have asked this in the half dozen years since the change was made, I’ve been told the finishing period for Angel’s Envy Cask Strength is still always longer than for the normal product.
So, contrary to what some folks have written, alcohol strength isn’t the only thing that varies from year to year when it comes to Angel’s Envy Cask Strength. Speaking of which, this batch came out at 119.8 proof.
The amber coloring of the whiskey has a nut brown tint to it in the glass. Seeing as how the bourbon was almost 60% ABV, I defaulted to putting a splash of water in.
The nose leads with a dry and toasty oak quality, lightly dusted with cinnamon, with a fruity vanilla current following behind. The flavor flips that order, with the red berries, raisins and vanilla coming on first, and the tannic and spicy notes bringing up the rear, the latter carrying over into the finish. It’s a full-bodied, balanced and moderately dry bourbon, very much in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from Angel’s Envy each year.
A bottle of this is now officially placed at $230. Looking at what the online retailers are asking, that actually is right on the money vis-a-vis market value, with many prices ranging from $200 to $260.
However, some retailers are treating past years as collector’s items, asking as much as $700 for a bottle. Given that the main difference between batches of Angel’s Envy Cask Strength isn’t from year to year, but between before 2016 and after (that year being when they dialed down the finishing period), it’s unjustifiable to ask almost triple the official price for a “vintage” bottle. Post-2016, the difference from year to year is really rather small.