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Whiskey of the Week is a weekly review series on SPY. Each week, we’ll review a different bottle, from newly released small-batch bourbons to our favorite cheap well whiskies.
The Spirit: Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2021 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels
The Distillery: Angel’s Envy
Style: Bourbon finished in port casks
Proof: 120.7 proof / 60.35% ABV
Availability: Extremely limited
Price: $229.99, but often priced higher
Angel’s Envy celebrated something of a milestone this winter with the 10th release of its beloved cask-strength series of bourbon finished in port wine barrels. The Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2021 bourbon was released in October 2021, and it was one of the hottest bourbon releases of the year. According to Drizly, Angel’s Envy was “Ranked the ‘Best Spirit in the World’ by Spirit Journal in 2013, and this bottle undoubtedly deserves a spot on the top shelf of your favorite whiskey bar.
As the description indicates, this is a barrel-proof version of the core expression, meaning that it has not been cut to proof before bottling. Only 14,760 bottles were made available at select retailers just about a month ago, and unfortunately, many of these stores are going to inflate the price well beyond its already expensive SRP of $230. Whether or not it’s worth it to pay triple that amount really depends on how much you love Angel’s Envy (and there are indeed some hardcore fans), and if you have the means and the will to drop up to $750 on a bottle of whiskey. Either way, let’s dive into the details.
Reviewing Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2021 – What Does It Taste Like?
The details and strength of the bourbon vary from year to year, with the 2021 release clocking in at 120.7 proof (60.35% ABV). That’s formidable, but nothing any seasoned whiskey drinker can’t handle. And for those that find it too hot, add a bit of water to expand the flavor bit to lower the heat.
There is a definite blast of alcohol on the nose, but underneath it, you’ll notice notes of caramel and ripe raspberries. Take a sip, and more ripe berries enter the picture (blueberry in particular), along with vanilla, spice, tobacco, and a bit of tannin and leather, which is not at all unpleasant. This is a bourbon best enjoyed slowly and thoughtfully, although feel free to go ahead and make an Old Fashioned if you’d like — the best way to enjoy it is the way that brings you the most pleasure.
Read More: The Top 16 Bottles of Whiskey To Try in 2022
A few months ago, I had the good fortune to taste through all 10 expressions of Angel’s Envy Cask Strength with the father and son team behind the distillery, Wes and Kyle Henderson. This was an eye-opening, delicious, and slightly tipsy journey through the past 10 years of Angel’s Envy with two people who care deeply about whiskey and know their shit.
We went through them all, from 2012 to the present, talking about which were their favorites and which they felt perhaps didn’t meet expectations, or at least presented a different flavor profile than they expected. The age of the whiskey has usually been right around the six-year mark, but the length of time for the finishes has varied, from around one to three years. After a few more lengthy secondary maturation periods, in 2015 they decided to reign in the port influence a bit and accentuate the bourbon character. The 2019 bottle was one of my favorites, with a big honey nose and vanilla and spice on the palate.
All of these differences in details are part of the joy of tasting Angel’s Envy Cask Strength, knowing that you’ll find something a bit different with each release. For bottle hunters who take their bourbon seriously, the Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2021 is worth the investment.
Where Can You Buy Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon?
We said up top that this is a bottle of bourbon that looks like a work of art, and it’s priced accordingly. On-demand alcohol delivery service Drizly is showing bottles available for purchase here in Brooklyn for $249-$349, but prices can go as high as $750. Less rarified expressions of Angel’s Envy Kentucky Bourbon can be purchased for just $55 and are easier to find both in liquor stores and via retailers like Reserve Bar. If you’re determined to find a bottle in person, you can use Angel’s Envy bottle locator tool.
If you come across a reasonably priced bottle of the 2021 release (or any year, for that matter) in your neck of the woods, you should jump at the opportunity to try one of the finest American spirits ever produced. I’d also recommend keeping an eye out for this Kentucky bourbon at your favorite whiskey bar. No matter how you get your hands on it, give this tasty, high-octane bourbon a try.