A hard-to-find bourbon is back.
Louisville Distilling Company unveiled its 2017 Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels at a launch event tonight in Manhattan. The company’s annual high-proof release typically sells out fast.
This year’s version is 62.25% ABV, or 124.5 proof. Angel’s Envy will release about 4,000 bottles of its 2017 Cask Strength. This number is in line with past launches, said Angel’s Envy co-founder and chief innovation officer Wes Henderson. The suggested retail price is around $199.99 per 750-ml. bottle; each is individually numbered.
During the year, while pulling barrels for its flagship bourbon, Angel’s Envy will set aside exemplary barrels for the cask strength. These demonstrate a deep, dark richness, a “caramelization,” Henderson said. Usually they’re located towards the hotter top of the warehouse stacks.
Will Angel’s Envy’s new distillery and expanded warehouses mean more cask strength bottles available in future years? Henderson does not necessarily believe so. “When it comes to the barrels for cask strength, whatever we set aside is what we go with,” he said. “It is what it is.”
Selected barrels are finished in port casks for up to two years before blending and bottling. Beginning last year, the brand began to pull back on the port finishing. Henderson was worried that wine flavors had become too strong.
This reduced finishing resulted in a more bourbon-forward whiskey in 2017. While wine notes still shine through, they’re less prominent than in the past. The 2017 Cask Strength is smooth and rich, with dried-fruit flavors you would expect from port treatment. The 18% rye in the mash bill is also noticeable upon the palate, with a sweet spicy kick.
Bottled just a few weeks ago, this year’s release will hit shelves in mid-to-late October. Look for it in select markets: AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, TN, TX, WA and Washington D.C.
The Bacardi-owned brand first launched a cask strength in 2012. With only 800 bottles, that original release can now fetch prices as high as $4,000 online, Henderson said.
Angel’s Envy also revealed the 2017 release of its Caribbean rum-cask finished rye whiskey. Nothing has changed with this recipe: the rye still finishes in rum casks for 18 months. The 2017 rye is 100 proof.
Henderson said that brand will release more experimental whiskeys in the future. This includes mash bills with pre-prohibition grains, plus a sherry-cask finish Henderson has worked on for the past three years and believes could see release by end of 2017.
“I’m very happy with how the sherry cask is turning out,” he said. “We have a lot of experiments going on. If any of them turn into something real good, then perhaps they could become a permanent line extension.”