Bourbon Review: Angel’s Envy

Angel's Envy Bourbon

Last month I reviewed a bourbon by Jim Beam called “Devil’s Cut” Kentucky Straight Bourbon. I thought I’d stick with the theme and review Angel’s Envy Bourbon, which hit the market the same year. Angel’s Envy is brewed by Lincoln Henderson, a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. This whisky is aged for five years in the rickhouse, and then spends another six months aging in a port barrel. A couple other versions have since been released, including Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon and Angel’s Envy Rye Whisky.

Angel’s Envy sells in an eye-catching bottle with a sleek shape designed to complement the drawing of angel’s wings adorning the front. The liquid inside is a warm, bright golden color which is immediately inviting. When I open the bottle, I detect vanilla with a maple syrup sweetness. There is also a toasted scent lingering in the backdrop, maybe toasted nuts.

Taking a sip, I pick up the vanilla first and foremost. What I thought was maple may actually be caramel or toffee, but I’m not really sure. There is also something fruity, which may be raisin or something in that vein. This note along with the vanilla definitely come from the six months aging in the port casks. There’s a subtle hint of spice as well. One thing I really love about this bourbon is that it isn’t harsh or astringent in any way. There’s almost no detectable burn at all. It’s just incredibly smooth and pleasant. The finish is long and dry, with the raisin and vanilla lingering on the palate.

At around $40, this isn’t the cheapest bourbon around, but it’s definitely in an affordable price range, particularly for the excellent quality you’re getting. Because it’s such a smooth drink, I can see why this whisky has such widespread appeal. It was an instant classic the year it came out, and remains very popular. If you enjoy port flavors, you won’t want to miss this one.

Summary: Angel's Envy Bourbon

Colour: Warm, bright gold.

Nose: Vanilla, maple, toasted nuts.

Palate: Vanilla, raisins, caramel, spices. Classic port flavors, no harshness.

Bourbon Review: Jim Beam “Devil’s Cut”

Jim Beam "Devil's Cut"

When you take a look at the label on the Jim Beam “Devil’s Cut,” you’ll read the following:

“As Bourbon Ages, the Angel’s Share is Lost to Evaporation. The Devil’s Cut is Trapped in the Barrel Wood – until Now.”

This bourbon hit the market in 2011. The cute name is a reference to the aging process of the whisky in the barrel. As with any liquid, part of the whisky evaporates. This lost whisky is often called the “angel’s share.” The longer a whisky ages, the greater the share that goes to the angels and not to us poor mortals. Whisky isn’t just lost to the air though; it also gets soaked into the barrel.

Jim Beam claims to have perfected an extraction process to get this absorbed whisky back out of the wood and into our glasses. After extracting the whisky from the barrel, they mix it in with some six-year-old Jim Beam bourbon and sell it at 90 proof as the Devil’s Cut. They say they use a “proprietary process,” but it isn’t particularly clear what this means. There are actually some fairly simple methods for doing this which have been in use for … well, pretty much forever, the most common being “swishing” or “Barrel sweating,” which isn’t particularly proprietary. Amusingly enough, this product came out the same year as an 86.6-proof bourbon called Angel’s Envy.

Getting along with things, the Devil’s Cut is a medium warm brown liquid in the bottle; it isn’t quite reddish enough that I would call it “amber.” Opening the bottle, I smell charred oak and some kind of nut, probably almond. There is also some sweetness, maybe brown sugar or toffee. I am also catching a hint of banana.

Now on to the tasting. The first thing I am getting on the palate tastes very sugary, almost like root beer. There is some vanilla here as well as that charred oak and some peppery spices. Something in here reminds me distinctly of fall or winter, a kind of holiday flavor—probably cinnamon or nutmeg, or both. The sweetness goes out before the long finish—and it is a long finish. The oak lingers for a good long time along with a hint of bitter toffee, if that is possible. The spices are still there too, and now I think I detect clove as well. All in all, a very nice whisky bourbon for around $20, especially if you are a fan of oak (what can you expect, with a whisky extracted from a barrel?).

Summary: Jim Beam “Devil’s Cut” Kentucky Straight

Colour: Warm, medium brown, almost amber.

Nose: Charred oak, almond, toffee or brown sugar, banana.

Palate: Charred oak, toffee or brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, clove.

Whisky Review: Glenmorangie “The Original” 10 Years Old

Glenmorangie The Original 10 Years Old

When you think Scotch whisky, you usually think “peat.” The Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt “The Original” Ten Years Old is a nice alternative if you are not a big fan of peat, and has the perfect set of fresh, light flavors for the summer. This Scotch whisky has been aged for ten years in designer casks brought in from Missouri. When you see the bright golden liquid in the bottle, it even looks light and refreshing.

Opening the bottle, I half-expected peat just out of habit, but the aroma is largely citrus and a hint of peach. There is also a slight creaminess which I think is coming from vanilla. On the palate, vanilla is the first thing I taste. The body of the whisky is very light, just as I had guessed when I swirled the bottle. The next thing I taste seems to be either peach or pear juice with a hint of citrus (not as strong as I’d expected from the aroma), and something that reminds me of dessert, possibly cake. There is just a dash of salt which mellows out the sweetness and rounds out the flavour profile.

On the long, malty finish, the citrus emerges again—grapefruit or possibly lemon. There is a slight tingle on the tongue that almost makes me think of mineral water or champagne or something else with a bit of a sparkle to it. All in all, very satisfying and again, just what I had hoped for on a hot summer day. Can’t complain about the price either—I paid around $40 for my bottle. I wish I’d discovered it earlier in the year!

Summary: Glenmorangie “The Original” 10 Years Old

Colour: Warm, bright gold.

Nose: Grapefruit, nutmeg, peach, vanilla, almonds, something floral.

Palate: Pear, vanilla, cream, cake, wheat, hint of salt.

Whisky Review: Tullamore Dew 12 y.o. Sherry Cask Finish

Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old Sherry Finish

The Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish is a Limited Edition whisky sold only in Heinemann airport duty free shops in Germany, Austria, Norway, Hungary, and Slovakia. Speaking about the release in the duty free shops, William Grant & Sons Europe Regional Director Andre De Almeida said, “The combination of highly trained, consumer-focused staff and the attraction of outstanding visual display and a commitment to consumer interaction makes us very confident that Heinemann is the perfect partner in this case.”

Of course, the exclusive release makes this whisky a bit hard to get a hold of if you’re not located near one of Heinemann’s shops. The whisky runs around $50.00 a bottle. Brewed at Bushmills distillery, this particular version of the 12 Year Old spent six months maturing in sherry casks in the Tullamore Dew warehouse located in Clonmel. The 12 Year Old Special Reserve has won a number of awards, including two Gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2006, 2007, and 2008. I finally got my chance to try the 12 Year Old, and I was not disappointed.

The whisky is a rich amber gold in the bottle. When I open the cap, I am greeted with a delicious nutty aroma with hints of toasted wood, vanilla, and something that reminds me of pastry or cake. There is also just a trace of citrus, possibly lemon or orange. Spices come through as well, adding a pleasant edge to the rest of the notes.

On the first sip, I get toasted wood with almonds. Vanilla rounds out the flavor, along with that taste of cake and orange or lemon. There may be a couple of other fruity notes present as well, but it the whisky is so well blended that it is a challenge to distinguish them. Spices layered across the top add a little something extra. And of course the wood notes from the aging in the sherry cask come through beautifully. This is a very smooth whisky with a rich, lingering, elegant finish. Sweetness balances out the spices nicely, and the lemon note hangs on at the end, a satisfying concluding note to a beautiful symphony of flavors. The aroma of the whisky is a solid preview of the flavors.

I am sure that the Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish would be great mixed into other beverages, but it seems almost a shame to water it down in any way. It is a very delicious whisky, entirely deserving of the merits it has received, and I enjoy it very much on its own. If you get a chance to pick up one of these, go for it. Fifty bucks is not cheap, but the experience is well worth every penny. This is one to enjoy on special occasions and make last as long as you can—though that may be a challenge!


Color: Medium amber.

Nose: Almond, toasted wood, vanilla, cake, citrus, spice.

Taste: Almond, toasted wood, vanilla, cake, orange, lemon, spice. Sweet, smooth, lingering taste.

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 1995 Distillers Edition

Lagavulin 1995 Distillers Edition

The Lagavulin 1995 Distillers Edition is a premium single malt Scotch whisky produced by the Lagavulin distillery in Islay. The history of the distillery opens up in the year 1816, and at that time there were actually two distilleries on the site, operated by John Jonston and Archibald Campbell. The 1995 Distillers Edition is one of the best-known drams produced by the Lagavulin distillery. In this case, “Distillers Edition” means something special; it refers to the special Pedro Ximénez sherry casks in which the whisky is distilled.

The liquid inside the bottle is a rich amber brown in colour and has a thick, syrupy quality. Opening the bottle, I can tell right from the start this is going to be a perfect dram for dessert. I smell peat, as expected, but also something sweet, possibly caramel. This is probably the result of the sherry casks. There is something fruity in here too, possibly raisins. There are also woody notes.

Peat is the most prominent flavor, but it is nicely balanced out by the sweet notes of raisin and caramel mentioned earlier. It is thick, syrupy, and quite decadent. The finish on the palate has the richness of cocoa. I can easily see why this dram has received so many accolades, and why the price tag was as high as it was.

A bottle of Lagavulin 1995 Distillers Edition is likely to run you around $100, but it is definitely worth the purchase if you ever get the opportunity. This whiskey sells out fast, and for good reason. I recommend taking your time with it and savoring every drop though. It’s excellent for pairing with chocolates or a fine cigar. If you really want to treat yourself, then this is the whisky to purchase. It’d also make a wonderful gift.

Whisky Review: Caol Ila 18 Year Old

Caol Ila 18 Year Old

The Caol Ila 18 Year Old is a smooth, warm, well-balanced Islay single malt. The Caol Ila distillery is located near Port Askaig and was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson. Initially the Caol Ila struggled, and changed hands a couple of times before it was acquired by Bulloch Lade & Co. By the late 19th century, Caol Ila’s fortunes had changed, and the distillery was producing more than a hundred thousand gallons of whisky every year. The Caol Ila 18 Year Old is evocative of the scenic cove where the distillery is located, overlooking the water, with beautiful green hills in the backdrop.

In the bottle, the Caol Ila 18 Year Old is warm gold in colour. When I uncapped the bottle, I was greeted by a nicely blended, warm aroma of peat, flowers, lemon, and apricot, with overtones of burnt oak. There’s something herbal in here too, or maybe that comes from those floral notes I can detect.

The Caol Ila 18 Year Old tastes as smooth as it looks, and despite the presence of peat, it is very well balanced and quite mellow. Beginning whisky drinkers sometimes have difficulty with peat (in fact, some veteran whisky drinkers find it overpowering). Personally, I enjoy peat, but I also like when it doesn’t take over a dram. I can also taste that burnt wood, but I don’t taste the flowers and fruits very clearly. They are probably part of what is balancing out the peat, but they are so well blended it is hard to detect individual notes. There is a sea-like saltiness adding even more flavour.

It’s a very balanced dram featuring a lot of different elements which interact to form a delicious, warm, comforting whole. I think the Caol Ila 18 y.o. would appeal to a lot of different palates, including those who love peat and those who enjoy it, but in moderation only. A great drink for new or veteran whisky connoisseurs. The only drawback is the price, which can range around $100.


Colour: Warm gold.

Nose: Burnt wood, flowers, lemon, apricot, peat.

Palate: Burnt wood, peat, salt, subdued notes of flowers and fruits.

Whisky Review: Talisker 10 Year Old

Talisker 10 Year Old

The Talisker 10 Year Old is a classic Scotch whisky with a peaty flavour; if you do some research, you’ll find a ton of excellent reviews for it online. It isn’t cheap — expect to shell out around $50.00 for a bottle. But it’s worth every penny. The Talisker Distillery is based in Carbost on the Isle of Skye, and specializes in premium single malt whisky. The distillery has quite a history, going back to 1830. The original distillery was lost in a fire and was rebuilt in 1960. If you enjoy something bold and flavorful with a lot of distinction, then you will probably enjoy the Talisker 10 Year Old.

In the bottle, the Talisker 10 y.o. has a rich, warm golden hue. The aroma from the whisky smells of brine, seaweed, smoky peat, and fresh fruit — probably apples, pears, and some kind of citrus, maybe orange. There is also something spicy going on as well. The flavours are very smoky and briny, immediately bringing to mind the Isle of Skye where the distillery is located, classic Scotland. Pepper and cinnamon add some spice, while the fruit flavours add in a hint of sweetness, balancing everything out. There is also some kind of wood flavour here as well, possibly oak.

All in all, the Talisker 10 Year Old is a wonderful dram with a rich, complex range of flavours and aromas, and makes for a memorable and delightful experience—one I hope to repeat often. I can see why this is a favorite for so many whisky fans. One word of warning, however; if you are new to whisky, you may find this one a bit overpowering. And if you don’t like peat, you’ll probably want to steer clear. Otherwise, if you love the flavour of classic Scotch whisky, enhanced by rich, delicious fruits and spices, you will love the Talisker 10 Year Old.


Colour: Warm, bright gold.

Nose: Smoke, peat, seaweed, cinnamon, fruit.

Palate: Smoke, peat, seaweed, orange, apple, pear, cinnamon, pepper, oak.

Whisky Review: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Stranahans Colorado WhiskeyStranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is a distillery named after one of its founders, George Stranahan, who founded it together with (then) volunteer fire fighter Jess Graber, and Jake Graber – who still serves as production manager and Head distiller today, though the company has been sold to Proximo Beverage Corporation. According to the company history available on their website, George and Jess met when the Jess was one of the firemen to respond to a fire in George’s barn. The two got talking, and as it turned out they both had a passion for the Colorado nature and a tipple of fine whiskey – and that’s where it all started.
Interesting, George Stranahan also owns the Flying Dog brewery – which just happens to be one of my favourite American breweries. If you haven’t tried their Gonzo Imperial Porter or Double Dog Double Pale Ale yet, I would highly recommend them both. Needless to say, then, my hopes are once again set high! Now, let’s get back to Stranahan’s Colorado Malt, which (to my knowledge, at least) is the only whiskey they make.

It pours a beautifully dark, mahogany-gold, which is very inviting indeed. The nose is thick, warm, and packed with fresh vanilla – when it comes to getting vanilla right, trust the Americans to know how. Regular readers will perhaps have noticed that there is one particular note that will always increase my liking of a whiskey markedly: banana. In the case of Stranahan’s, there’s a fair bit of it, and it’s joined by another favourite of my – cinnamon. They go together absolutely beautifully, and add complexity to the sweetness of the vanilla. There is also a definite bit of fresh fruit crisp that breaks off the thick syrupiness beautifully, consisting of apples and just a touch citrus. A true stunner, this one.

The palate starts out where the nose ended, with a bit of apple, but this is soon replaced by a very healthy serving of vanilla – once again very thick, creamy and lovingly warm – and that seductive banana from the nose. The citrus is slightly more pronounced and a bit less sweet, sugared grapefruit perhaps? All of it is balanced out by a pinch of spice that does nothing if not make you long for your next sip.

Priced around £60 in the UK it’s not a cheap whiskey, but if you ask me it’s worth every single penny. A true masterpiece, I would warmly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Oh and I nearly forgot- as some of you will know already, I’m a sucker for a well-designed bottle, and by god this one’s a beaut! From the shape of the bottle to the thin, hand-written wrap-around label, to the quirky cap, it’s one for the bar globe.


Colour: Mahogany/Gold.

Nose: Warm, thick, fresh vanilla, banana, cinnamon, apple and a touch of citrus.

Palate: Apple, lots of vanilla, banana, sweet grapefruit, pinch of spice.

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