First of all…Happy New Year! Hopefully you had a wonderful holiday season, full of merriment, joy and bourbon. I most certainly did, so much so that I’m just now saying Happy New Year on the 12th of January! I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the delay in posting a blog was due to football – between my Missouri Tigers winning a New Years Day bowl and my beloved Detroit Lions losing a game to the Dallas
Referees Cowboys, I’ve been wrapped up in football fever.
One of the best things about being emotionally invested in football this time of year is gathering with friends and coping with the nervousness of a tight game by sampling a new whiskey or two. And that is exactly what we did as time ran down on the Lions-Cowboys. We opened a bottle of Angel’s Envy Rye and tried something new.
I first had Angel’s Envy Rye last year at the Bourbon Classic. I admit, by the time I sampled it, I had partaken of a few other whiskies and my palate wasn’t quite as clean as I’d like for a review. But even then, I knew there was something very different about this pour. It took a little longer for the A.E. Rye to make it to Michigan, so in May I purchased a bottle while in Maryland to have for myself. This seemed the perfect opportunity to try it.
Few bourbons have grown on me like Angel’s Envy has. When I first reviewed it last year, I thought it remarkably smooth and clean – and a little dull. And I still think that it is one of the less complex bourbons I’ve had, in that price range anyway. But given the choice between a glass of Angel’s Envy and most other readily available bourbons, I have found I will choose the Angel’s Envy consistently. That has even included Kentucky Derby day! So what of this Rye?
I remember trying it at the Bourbon Classic and thinking “this is like candy!” And why not – Angel’s Envy Rye is finished for “up to 18 months” in Plantation XO Rum casks. So they take a rye whiskey, and then age it for a year and a half in rum casks before bottling it at 100 proof. Sound interesting? It certainly tastes interesting.
Angel’s Envy Rye comes in the same style attractive bottle as its sister. It’s a little pricier ($60-80), and a little harder to find. I have read from others that it is an MGP/LDI sourced rye, so it shares characteristics with Bulleit. And let’s skip to the chase – if you like your rye whiskies tough, spicy and hot, this isn’t the one for you. But if you like something with some sweetness, read on.
This rye has a nose that’s as exotic as the trip these barrels have seen. There is little of the typical whiskey bite – rather, a sweet bouquet of orange peel, brown sugar, coconut and pear melt with a soft rye scent of clove, cinnamon and allspice. This smells sugary, much more like a rum than a whiskey, and it’s light and pleasant.
The taste has a lot going on. It has a thickness to it, creamy and buttery but with many of those same rum characteristics. Honey and cinnamon, with a touch that could even be pineapple. The toasted oak is very light, and the rye doesn’t fully blossom until the back of the palate. The higher proof also shows through, and it does have a bit of a bite in the back end (if only because it started so sweet). Make no mistake, it tastes like whiskey, not rum, but the typical pepper of rye is far offset by the sweetness that envelopes.
The finish is, admittedly, a bit confusing. The rye notes are there, with their spice and slight burn, but there is the thickness of rum as well. The sweetness, so nice in the sip, is a bit muddled in the finish.
I like sweet drinks, and I like mellower whiskies, so I rate this one with a pretty big caveat – this is not your grandfather’s rye. It may share a recipe with Bulleit or Dickel, but the finishing makes it wholly unique. This is a great whiskey for a summer night, I believe (or a winter night you want to pretend). As a taste profile, it might even be closer to the glut of “flavored” whiskeys on the market – but it has a few things none of them seem to: it’s made of a solid product to start, and the flavor is much more natural than any maple or honey additive found in one of those products. So my rating is for someone who, like me, has a sweet tooth now and again.
Dan’s Rating: 8.1