Kentucky Rye – Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye 50%

We all know about the angel’s share…. the portion of whisky that evaporates while quietly maturing in barrels – typically 5% a year in the case of Kentucky bourbon.

The brand “Angel’s Envy” is a multigenerational affair – Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson came out out retirement from a lifetime in the whiskey industry to collaborate with his son, Wes, on a bourbon finished in Port barrels. Wes’s son Kyle then also joined the family business.

The story goes that after tasting their inaugural whiskey, Lincoln joked that they’d “finally gotten a better deal than the angels.” Hence Angel’s Envy brand was created by Louisville Distilling Company, now a subsidiary of Bacardi Limited.

After Bourbon finished in Port, they turned to Rye finished in Rum casks and Cask strength series finished in Port. Our host selected the Rye finished Rum… and this is what we found…

Angel’s Envy Rum Barrel Finished Rye 50% Batch I0T, Bottle 291

  • Nose – A very strong unmistakable burnt caramel, treacle, maple syrup, bananas and cream, some salted caramel, coca cola, rich, sugary and creamy
  • Palate – Like a fine rum… it was one of those drams we can call “desert in a glass”, bread pudding, nutmeg, coconut cream
  • Finish – Sweet spice that lingers

There was zero question the rum had a strong influence here. And no ordinary rum – this was clearly quality stuff. We thought of rums like Criterion and others Lucas has introduced to the world such as Long Pond.

I have to admit this was unlike any rye I’ve ever tried. It was simply sinfully sweet… and yet when it came to the cigar, wasn’t happening. The very elements that made it so unique, were the same elements that prompted us to steer clear of pairing with a cigar. This Rye demands to fly solo, no accompaniment.

I stumbled across this insight from the folks at Flaviar:

Angel’s Envy Rye starts life as a quality, but rather traditional mix of 95% Rye and 5% malted barley. Bulleit, Dickle… a lot of the top guys use this mix because it works well. This is where Angel’s Envy works their magic. First, they age it a full six years in medium-char American oak. Then they finish it for an additional 18 months in Rum casks, but not just “any” Rum casks. These are “THE” Rum casks from Plantation Rum… the ones that started as Cognac casks from Maison Ferrand. So Angel’s Envy Rye is third in a line of super-premium awesomeness in those casks, emerging 7 1/2 years old. No more sales pitch, you just think about that for a minute and get back to us.

What the makers of Angel’s Envy share as their tasting notes?

  • Appearance – Crystal clear quality with a rich, reddish amber color
  • Nose – Aromas of citrus, caramel candy, maple sugar, vanilla, oak, hazelnut, spice, and sherry wood
  • Palate – Sweet rum, sherry wood, and soft oak
  • Finish – Both sweet and dry, as well as quick and easy

What else did we try in our Kentucky Rye evening?

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Kentucky Rye – Wilderness Trail Single Barrel 56.5%

Our host set himself a very clear goal – to bring together a quartet of Kentucky Rye that reflects the range of possibilities…

Next up was a single barrel from Wilderness Trail at full cask strength… Spoiler alert! This was simply exceedingly drinkable, pairing perfectly with a cigar!

In this case the magic lies in a few things these folks are doing a bit differently….  They talk of their unique yeast strains, proprietary Infusion Mashing Process, chemical free steam, largely locally sourced grains from nearby farms (except barley from the northern US)… but what is truly unique is the use of sweet rather than sour mash.

Sour mash uses spent mash from the previous batch in the new one, reducing bacterial infestations and the preferred method since the 1800s. Sweet mash is ‘fresh’ each time and considered ‘risky’ due to potential for contamination. Hence the guys at Wilderness Trail designed their whole approach around a highly sanitized process that enabled them produce spirit that is “softer” and “more flavorful”. You can read more about this in Fred Minnick’s Forbes’ article.

As always, what matters most is what we found in our tasting….

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel 15017 Kentucky Straight Rye 56.5%

  • Nose – What a nose! Toffee, caramel, juicy
  • Palate – Fabulous! Sweet desert, soft and sooo smooth, quite chewy… and while certainly was from the Rye family, there were other things going on that blended together rather well, some sweet spices, tobacco leaf and caramel
  • Finish – Long, sweet with a lovely spice

We quite enjoyed this one. You could hear appreciative words around the room “Fabulous” “Wow what a finish!” “Zero burn” In short, it went down rather well with the most balanced character – sweet but not too sweet, spice but not too much spice, quite delightful on the nose, substance on the palate with a terrific finish.

As usual, we set it aside to try the last one – Angel’s Envy – which was pure burnt caramel and treacle. When we returned to this one, what stood out was how everything simply worked together – each element adding its bit but none too much. It was no surprise when the Gurkha Seduction cigar was paired with the Wilderness Trail.

I was curious about this one as it clearly held its own… It was sweet, well rounded with a a lovely balance… again it was only when I sat down to write my tasting notes that I learned this combines corn and barley from a sweet rather than sour mash – clearly accounting for its character.

Definitely one to watch out for!

What did the folks at Wilderness Trail have to say?

Our Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskeys are offered as a Cask Strength release. We have the lowest entry proof we know of in Kentucky. We barrel at 100 proof to highlight the balance of the grains and alternate solubility expression from the barrel. Our three-grain recipe is 56 percent rye, 33 percent corn and 11 percent malted barley. Our rye mash bill is one we created for a broader balance of flavor to offset the typical high ryes commonly found. We use Kentucky-grown Heritage rye from our local KY Proud farm. We enter the new, air-dried #4 char, 53-gallon barrels at 100 proof for our Rye Whiskey and age until maturity in our barrelhouse. We age our Rye Whiskeys on the upper floors of our Rickhouses A & B, arguably one reason for their vibrant expression at 3 + years. We plan to age our Ryes as long as our Bourbons — in the 6-8 year age range — but we do plan to introduce some 3 and 4 year old Rye Whiskeys as Cask Strength releases. We just keep finding wonderful honey-barrels with great expressions that need to be explored.

What else was on our Kentucky Rye menu?

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Kentucky Rye – New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye 50%

Our host started our evening by asking if we were familiar with the quartet of Kentucky Rye we were about to try? Most of us had heard of Basil Hayden’s – more for their Bourbon than Rye – however I simply had to admit I had never heard of New Riff distillery before.

We can be forgiven for that living in India as this is a new entry into the Kentucky whiskey world – having started only in 2014 as a small, independent, family owned distillery. This bottle was picked up from the distillery and likely one of their initial batches from Spring 2019.

The idea of “New Riff” is to build on Kentucky bourbon and rye making traditions… They use 95% rye and 5% malted rye, aged for at least four years in 53 gallon toasted and charred new oak barrels, no chill filtration and “bottled in bond.”

Just in case you are curious, “bottled in bond” is a label for an American-made distilled beverage that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal regulations contained in the United States government’s Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.

So what did we find?

New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye (Spring 2019) 50%

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Started a bit soft, hint of tobacco – perhaps charred oak? Fruits, tart and sweet candy, has a nice hint of spice, back to the candy…
  • Palate – Banana, that distinctive rye spice, then became sweet and syrupy
  • Finish – VERY dry, sour mash, dry dust rag…
  • Water – Rather than add water, we first took a good swig of cold water then sipped the rye… Ugh! No no no no no no! Very bitter, all that dry element accentuated further…. for us at least, having this neat is perfection!

Overall most found it quite nice though not complex. The nose and palate were the strongest with the finish almost a bit TOO dry.

There was something almost rustic about this one. There was no question this was a rye however it was not in the least bit harsh… even at 50%. Perhaps its age or other elements accounts for the happy absence of “kick” found in some rye that cry out for a mix! And I also had a sneaking suspicion this rye would easily hold its own in a quality cocktail.

We set it aside to continue our journey through Kentucky ryes… on the revisit we found the spice remained… again one that made me wonder, what would it be like in a cocktail?

What did the folks at New Riff have to say?

  • Appearance: Extra rich, unfiltered deep amber color.
  • Nose: Spicy and detailed, showing mint, black pepper, and vanilla with hints of orange and oak.
  • Taste: Cinnamon spice, vanilla and sweet toffee moving into a bold mouth feel with rich Rye spice, caramel and toasted oak. Complex flavors drink older than four-year-old.
  • Finish: Bold Rye spice with vanilla buttercream and lingering brown sugar, plus a mineral-grassy Rye tone that fades slowly.

What else did we try in our journey through Kentucky Rye?

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Kentucky Rye – Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 40%

Our host shared he wanted to start with the Basil Hayden’s one as it was an ‘outlier’ in flavour profile and approach. He also shared the reason he wanted to focus on Rye is the ‘liberties’ that can be taken to explore a range of combinations without any major restrictions.

Hence this was not simply matured in a Port cask…. it actually had Port simply blended with the Kentucky Straight Rye and Alberta Rye!

Which I somehow hadn’t clued into until after our tasting… no wonder our notes keep coming back to cherries and port!

Here is what we thought…

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 40%

  • Colour – Such a vibrant ruby red it was unreal! (the photo does NOT do justice to the colour!)
  • Nose – Started off a bit peculiar – like it was whiskey at all! Then shifted into orange, cloves, a bit musty and metallic, old wood polish, then increasingly the black cherries of the port became more and more pronounced, peaking behind was some vanilla custard… after the 1st sip, it took a sour almost sharp quality, lots of wood, vanilla and above all cherries
  • Palate – Sour fruits, dark cherries, spice comes in from behind… better on the 2nd sip, oily, sweet… while quite linear had different dimensions, becoming sweeter and sweeter with each sip, the port element remains strong, wood and even a bit of whey
  • Finish – Definitely there

Fresh out of the bottle it was a good place to start – while the three elements were not melding together cohesively, it did make for an interesting interplay. Unlike most where port is an accent from being matured in ex-port pipes, this was full on port… which clearly is due to it literally being added to the mix!

We set it aside and when we returned? It was like coconut water that has gone a bit off… after the cask strength and diverse other ryes, this one at 40% seemed watered down… back to being slightly queer or different.

While it may not be for everyone, it was certainly interesting to try! After later reading the notes it might go well on the rocks, perhaps with a twist of orange or as a cocktail such a Sazerac of Whisky Sour.

What did the folks at Basil Hayden’s have to say?

Blending is an art form, and our Dark Rye is your chance to own what might very well be a masterpiece.

It all begins with Kentucky Rye, providing a firm foundation of spice, oak, dried fruit and subtle molasses undertones for this release to build upon. From there, Canadian Rye from our award-winning Alberta Distillery is skillfully layered in. A touch of California Port, and its complementary notes of ripe fruit, provides the third and final layer to a whiskey just as at home on the rocks as it is in a cocktail.

Full in flavor, yet delicately nuanced, you’d be wise to grab a bottle of our Dark Rye to experience this magical blend for yourself.

  • Color – Deep, rich amber with ruby undertones
  • Aroma – Oaky notes balanced with dark berries and molasses
  • Taste – Complex blend of caramel, dried fruit, and oak with back notes of spice and a rounded mouth feel
  • Finish – Lingering dried fruit with a hint of sweetness and rye spice.

What else was on our Kentucky Rye menu?

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Kentucky Rye – Basil Hayden’s, New Riff, Wilderness Trail, Angel’s Envy

Once upon a time, our Bombay Malt & Cigar lads stuck to their mature Scottish single malts. No more! If anything this Mumbai based tasting group’s quest to expand our horizons has taken on the world in style – Australia, Canada, EuropeIreland, Japan and USA!

With our globe trotting explorations, we have gone far beyond malts too… We’ve taken on grain, lots of different blends, bourbons (a few times!), even rums!

Yet with all this, not once has this group sat down together and cracked open Rye whiskies!

Our recent session rectified this gap and how! We meandered through a carefully curated quartet designed to introduce us to a distinctly different range of Rye – playing with various elements from a Kentucky Rye base.

  • Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 40% – A blend of Kentucky straight rye, Canadian rye and California Port… not that’s not a finish! That is directly blending port with rye… and it shows with strong port influence with dark cherries
  • New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye 50% – New kid on the block with one of their early batches, aged at least 4 years, following the traditions of Bottled in Bond with a recipe of 95% rye and 5% malted rye
  • Wilderness Trail Single Barrel 56.5% – Not just from a single barrel but also a small batch that produced only 203 bottles at cask strength! This one uses a sweet rather than sour mash with a recipe of 53% rye, 33% corn and 11% malted barley… which likely accounts for the soft, smooth and flavourful experience with terrific  balance
  • Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye 50% – Clearly the ‘premium’ end of the spectrum finished in Plantation Caribbean rum barrels (which were earlier used for Cognac)… this was pure desert in a glass bursting with treacle

Our host was completely successful in bringing to us a range of styles with different dimensions…

As for the cigar for our evening? Gurkha’s Seduction… in a ridiculous box but quite enjoyable from start to finish… Medium bodied blend with Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Columbian Corojo long-fillers, secured by a Dominican Olor binder.

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Whisky Tales – Gerston Vintage (2013) Batch 1, 46%

Before we dove into our journey of discovery, our Whisky Lady shared the tale of two distilleries… enthusiastically outlining their background, differences and styles.

Gerston One (1796-1882) – A small farm to house scale Swanson family owned distillery that produced small quantity but high quality spirit that appealed to customers from London to Brazil and – most interesting for us in Bombay – in India as well.

Gerston Two (1886-1914) – Couldn’t be more of a contrast! Industrial scale, 10 times the capacity of the original, innovative and modern yet never quite captured the success of its predecessor.

The folks over at Lost Distillery took it upon themselves to reconstruct as close as they could to the original style…

And what did our Whisky Ladies think?

Gerston Vintage (2013) Batch 1, 46% Bottle 0838/1000

  • Colour – Vivid
  • Nose – Wow! Quite pronounced… then it started to settle down… Lot of saline, moss, reminded us a bit of compost, apples, then the peat crept in, caramel, still quite vegetable, hot floral, herbal
  • Palate – Multi sweet peat, cinnamon, slightly fruity
  • Finish – Salty spicy tingle, mineral
  • Water – Makes it milder, dampens the nose, however remains strong on the palate

One to just relax and enjoy… Not so complicated but nonetheless interesting.

What do the folks over at Lost Distillery have to say?

  • Appearance: Pale amber.
  • Aroma: A relatively closed nose; clean and fresh, with traces of linen and herbal fabric freshener. Laura Ashley? After a while a light, spicy prickle emerges, topping a fruity/doughy note: apple dumpling, made with suet and dusted with nutmeg. 
    With a drop of water the paper note advances, joined by warm leatherette and a trace of steam.
  • Taste: Smooth texture, sweet taste and a surprising amount of smoke in the finish – more coal smoke/steam engine than peat smoke. An unusual, antique taste, which holds up well with a drop of water, although the smoky element is reduced.
  • Comment: Interesting and vaguely ‘old fashioned’, especially without water.

I scored this whisky for another Whisky Lady from Dubai’s Le Clos Whisky Store for AED 360. It was certainly interesting and a great addition to our trio of whiskies with stories to tell:

Lost Distillery whiskies:

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Whisky Tales – Sild “Crannog” 3 Year Single Malt 48%

On one of many trips to Munich, I wandered into Tara Whisky Shop on a mission to find something distinctive – preferably at least one whisky from Germany.

When the Sild “Crannog” edition single malt was suggested, it had the hallmark of a gimmick… new make spirit from Slyrs, matured in barrels stored on a clipper “Angel’s Share”, but would it actually be any good?

And that’s when I was given a sample and was surprised… not bad… not bad at all. And so impulsively I picked it up and have no regrets!

In this case, the story has a few layers…  According to their website, 60 years ago, Rainer Heiliger, a wine dealer, purchased the production site of the Holsten-Brewery in Westerland, Bötticher Street 7 on Sylt to store his fine wines. Then along came Alexander Sievers, son-in-law and current owner of the Heiliger wine shop, is a passionate whiskey connoisseur. An encounter with Floria Stetter, founder of the Slyrs distillery, joined by Anton Stetter, co-owner of Slyrs, and Hans Kemenater, a master distiller from Bavaria led to the creation of the SILD brand.

It turns out that storage space for the whiskey casks was expensive on the island. The solution? As Alexander Sievers shared If we can’t store it on land, we’ll just have to store them on the water. We need a ship where we can store our whiskey on”.
The historic cutter “The Angel’s Share” was acquired, restored and made seaworthy, anchored in List, with its cargo of whisky.

Stories aside, what did we think of the whisky?

Sild “Crannog” 3 year Single Malt 48%

  • Colour – Dark honey
  • Nose – Caramel sweet and salty popcorn, havan smoke, cherries, plums, simply delicious, a hint of tobacco leaves
  • Palate – Spice, initially sharp, some brine, a bit oily, sweet spice, had real substance and terrific character, growing more enjoyable sip by sip
  • Finish – Definitely there, smooth, sweet with the warmth remaining, ending with a bit of copper or metallic note
  • Water – We wouldn’t recommend… while it makes it fruitier, spicier it somehow loses something too

Overall we were rather impressed. For many, this was the favourite of the evening. It reminded us of settling into a comfortable leather chair… or a shipwreck whisky, washed ashore…

Another thought it channeled the spirit of “Ernest Hemingway” with his iceberg style, understated yet adventurous.

We set it aside and revisited to discover a delicious banana split parfait, loads of fruits… yum!

There was no doubt this was a whisky worth trying, kicking back to enjoy!

And what do the folks over at Sild have to say?

An absolute rarity, the CRANNOG edition from the SILD distillery is the only whiskey worldwide that is stored at sea on board of a ship – “The Angel’s Share”. 2700 entire bottles will be produced. It’s a sought-after collector’s item for international whiskey enthusiasts.

But why store it at sea? For the simple reason that it gives the whiskey a unique taste. SILD Crannog undergoes an incomparable ageing process like no other whiskey. The natural course of the tides, the continuous and gentle rocking of the waves, but also the brute force of the swell during storms, shape the taste of the SILD Crannog. Even inside the port, the sea can get so rough during strong east winds that not even experienced captains will head into port during a storm. Add to that the salty sea air and the varying temperature conditions over the course of three years. Such development gives the Crannog an enormous range in flavor: strong, peppery, and pleasantly salty with a full-bodied taste of malt. In the glass, it shines like dark amber and has a spicy, sweetish and slightly smoky aroma.

  • Appearance: deep amber
  • Aroma: smoky – leathery, light vanilla notes, malty, cool – salty, iodine, seaweed, white pepper, appears light in the nose and yet complex
  • Taste: creamy soft and round, salty in the mouth, iodine and a sea breeze, distinct malt character, interesting play of sweetness, saltiness and spicy
  • Finish: in the finish very long and complex

I purchased this whisky at Tara Whisky Store, Munich in December 2018 for EUR 90 plus tax, however can now only find it on auction sites for EUR 170.

What else did we sample in our evening of Whisky Tales?

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Whisky Tales – Sild, Shackleton, Gerston

Whisky and story telling naturally go hand-in-hand. So what better theme for a Whisky Ladies session than whiskies? We tracked down three distinctly different drams that each had a tale to tell.

Here is what we explored and discovered…

Whisky story telling drams featured:

  • Sild “Crannog” 3 year Single Malt 48% – From Slyrs distillery, matured in the gentle rocking of the Angel’s Share cutter
  • Shackleton “The Journey” 47.3% – Inspired by reconstructing the whiskies lost in the ill fated Shackleton journey, based on a few precious drops
  • Gerston Vintage (2013) Batch 1, 46% – A distillery that opened, closed, was reinvented and closed, to be reconstructed at the hands of the folks over at Lost Distilleries

Curious to know more? Just click on the Whisky links above for all our detailed tasting notes and more…

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Whisky Lady – June 2019

June brings much needed relief from the heat with monsoon showers. This particular June  also included a jaunt to Germany with a bonus weekend in Berlin where I met up with a fabulous Sharing Angel! Plus a quick pitstop in Istanbul before returning home to Bombay…

And on the whisky tasting front?

Our original group explored a Compass Box Trilogy:

The Whisky Ladies discovered whiskies with tales to tell:

In Berlin, thanks to a Sharing Angel, I enjoyed a rather marvellous whisky haunt – The Union Jack Pub – with quite a terrific array of unique whiskies. We chose:

  • North Star’s Royal Brackla 11 year 55.2%, Series 004
  • Spirit Shop Selection Speyside
  • Mannochmore 25 year (1990/2015) 53.4%, bottle 0251

While our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents took a hiatus, I had the pleasure to sample a quintet of Marvellous Minis featuring:

Stay tuned for what’s coming next…

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Compass Box – Whisky de Table 40%

We closed with a Compass Box blend created specifically for La Maison du Whisky – something to capture an easy drinking experience like having a chilled glass of white wine with dinner.

Naturally our host followed the serving suggested serving instructions to chill the bottle… first in the fridge and then a bit of time in the freezer to ensure the whisky was properly cooled before sampling.

And then we sampled blind before the reveal…

Whisky de Table 40%

  • Colour – More like a pale white wine than whisky
  • Nose – Intense bubblegum fruit, dates, raisins, strawberry confectionary, lots of musk melon… the after the 1st sip, rose, wine fruit and sweet
  • Palate – Wow! The peat was so pronounced! Then it settled into a lovely honey – a balance of peat and sweet in perfect harmony.
  • Finish – Pure peat

It was such a contrast between the aromas and palate. Yet still such a people pleaser – easy to settle back and quaff.

What do the folks at Compass Box have to say? We suspect we tried the 2017 Whisky de Table No. 2:

The second edition of our Scotch whisky made to be shared and enjoyed like a traditional Vin de Table. The effusive distillery characters leap from the glass, unobscured by the heavier effects of maturation, providing a drink that is full of energy, versatile and beguiling. Serve chilled straight from the fridge like you would a white wine. This batch was made for the French market and released exclusively through La Maison du Whisky.

I found it quite different than my experience with the 1st edition. In case you are curious? Here are notes from my earlier brushes with this whisky:

Before Whisky de Table we tried :

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