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Review: Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey

Angel’s Envy Bourbon has no doubt been quite a success story. The company set themselves apart with a sourced (not distilled by Angel’s Envy but procured) bourbon finished in port barrels. This easy drinking, fruity bourbon has won over a lot of folks, including me. I rated it a 9.3, which is an extremely high rating on my site. What I appreciated most about Angel’s Envy Bourbon is the company took a pretty standard, “good” bourbon whiskey and made it FAR better than the sum of its parts through this finishing (a second aging) process.

So what does the company do for the next major release?

Angel’s Envy has just answered that question with a new Rye Whiskey finished in Caribbean Rum casks. Offered at 100 proof, Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey begins with a sourced rye from Midwest Grain Products (MGP, formerly LDI). Unless you have been sleeping under a rock, or not paying attention, you’ve likely had an MGP rye in the form of Bulleit Rye, George Dickel Rye, or many other products on the shelves. MGP has built a name for producing unique bourbon and rye whiskeys that many independent bottlers are working overtime to make less unique.

Needless to say, a whiskey geek like me certainly looks forward to trying something like this. Here are my thoughts….

Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey, 50% abv (100 Proof), $70.00/bottle
Color: Light Amber
Nose: A trip to the islands. Brown sugar, Orange and grapefruit rind, candied pineapple, coconut cream, clove, and cinnamon with the green, fresh herbal and gin botanical spice notes ever present in MGP rye whiskeys. The rum influence is heavy handed, and I’d prefer something a bit more harmonious, but it’s intriguing and completely unique. A splash of water brought out some lemon-lime soda (WTF?).
Palate: Creamy on the palate with spiced honey, brown sugar syrup, golden raisin, cinnamon, and a sweet rye notes. The rye spice is most prevalent on the palate.
Finish: The finish lingers moderately with a big return of the rum, tropical fruit sweetness, and green rye spice.
Overall: I haven’t been more confused about a whiskey in a long time. In a world of sameness (all those other MGP ryes that taste VERY similar), it’s nice to nose and sip something different. Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey certainly qualifies as “different”. More similar to rye flavored rum from a profile perspective, I cannot say I have ever tasted a whiskey that’s picked up more aroma and flavor from a finishing process. That’s good and bad because the fresh, green rye notes fought the heavy, sweet rum influence from sniff to finish. I’d have preferred something a bit more harmonious and well integrated. One interesting little note – my lips and hands (dripped a little) smelled like I’d been drinking pina coladas all day. If you love (I mean LOVE) rum, and are looking for something totally different in the American Whiskey category – this one ticks all those buttons. I predict most will either love it or hate it, but give it a try and let me know what you think. It certainly has character (and a big price tag). Ahoy me hearties!
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.2 (Very Good)

***Sample provided for this review***

33 Comments

  1. Jon says:

    Thanks for the review Jason. I think I am going to have to pass on this one. First, not a big rum fan and second mixing Rye (pungent/spicy/ bite) with the sweetness and coconut qualities of rum casks would not work for me.

  2. luther r says:

    Jason, I completely agree with your conclusions. Tonight I tried a 50/50 vatting between the AE rye and a Willett 5-year rye, and it struck a nice balance between the rye notes and the rum finish. Might be worth trying for anyone who finds this one overly sweet and has another rye in the house.

  3. sam k says:

    I just had this last week for the first time, and couldn’t agree with you more. It is SO sweet that it tastes like rum was added to the whiskey (which I assume they wouldn’t do) instead of just barrel finished. “More similar to rye flavored rum” says it all.

    I’m not sure what everyone else sees in this one…it’s been pretty highly rated. That, plus $70 a pop…yeesh!

  4. sam k says:

    P.S. Thanks also for your clarity on the “sample provided” caveat.

  5. Nate says:

    I love that you included ***Sample provided for this review***!
    In med school we were taught to take research with a grain-of-salt when it was funded by the drug companies. But hey, you disclosed it, and you didn’t give them a 9.5! In my book that means you’re doing better than many medical journals. Keep up the strong work.

  6. John says:

    I gave the bottle of Angel’s Envy I bought 9 months ago and didn’t really care for another try last night. It was worse than I remembered. I guess I’m just not a fan of finished whiskey. I liked Maker’s 46 at first, but the last time I had it I thought it tasted like pencil shavings. I also have a bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked – tastes like a damp sawmill – just God-awful. Will I dare to venture into the realm of finished whiskeys again with this one? For $70 a bottle, I might try a free sample, but I doubt I’d like it.

  7. Justin says:

    The folks at Angel’s Envy seem to have been generous with the samples sent out to whiskey bloggers. One of the other video bloggers I like to follow is Amy Douglas, the youtube “whiskey Bitch”. (her self imposed title, not mine) Often her thoughts on whiskies line up with my own. Her impression of this release was similar to yours Jason. But the most resounding comments she made were that it was all to pricey for the whiskey in the bottle.

    I need hear no more about it.

  8. DeanE says:

    Great to have your insights, as always, Jason! I’ve read a lot of buzz about this, and personally passed on it multiple times before your review, based mostly on price point. As a novelty, I might have picked up a bottle or half bottle at a more reasonable price. I’ll probably try it at a bar, but reading your review confirms ny hesitation to buy a bottle. In fairness to AE, though, kudos on carving out a niche that lets them move the product at such a high price. ;)

  9. RDK says:

    Jason, I tried the AE rye the other day and was struck, as you were, by the heavy rum “influence”. This seems more the product of blending than finishing to me. Are there any standards with regard to how much of the original spirit is allowed to remain in the finishing barrels before whiskey is introduced? When does finishing become flavoring?

  10. JeremyE says:

    It’s weird, but I find the analysis and comments about this whiskey to be spot-on, yet I find myself really liking it (not the price, though). My understanding is, the finishing casks started life as cognac casks, then held rum, then held rye. The end product to me smells and tastes like graham crackers. I wouldn’t ask this about many American whiskies, but would it be wrong to call this a dessert whiskey?

  11. Jim says:

    Thinking…….

    Angel’s Envy Rye sold in Canada

    Might have additional “soak” in oak barrels previously used to store maple syrup !

  12. gdub says:

    I thought the original Angel’s Envy had too much of a candied fruit profile (overpowering bananas), so I’m not surprised by this review. To each their own.

  13. Rich H says:

    Great review Jason, although I had a question. The rye is actually labeled as distilled in Kentucky, and I couldn’t find out if they redistilled some MGPI juice (just visited those guys, awesome distillery) in Kentucky, or if maybe somebody in Kentucky actually did it. Lincoln has a few connections with Brown Forman, lol, and I know Chris Morris ran some rye whiskey a little while back for that master’s selection a few years ago. I know nobody in Kentucky is running that high a percentage rye for their regular juice, and I was wondering what your take was on it. Thanks, and as always, great stuff sir!

  14. Rich H says:

    Also, I love this stuff for how different it is, and think that the term dessert whiskey was made for this stuff JeremyE.

  15. Scott says:

    I bought and tried this today. Paid $64 after tax, and while expensive is definitely the most unique rye I’ve had. It’s very sweet, and there is a ton of ginger bread in both the nose and the taste. Rye is the initial flavor, but it transitions to sweets, cinnamon, and then very specifically ginger bread. Adding any water amplifies this.

    At this price tag, I will probably not buy again, but its something I’m happy to add to the collection just for the sake of variety.

  16. Bmac says:

    Yeah….not just no, but HELL no! I don’t mind companies trying something different, but charging beyond the quality just because there is likely limited amounts is salt in the wound. Based on your notes, I should just be a mixologist and splash a bit of Meyers Dark Rum over a measure of Rittenhouse Rye. 70 dollars!?! I would rather save that money towards either: A) Van Winkle 12 or 10yr. B) Parker’s Heritage Collection C) GTS or William Larue Weller or any other special edition crafted and selected with more care and attention.

    Sorry to be so negative but I simply cannot understand the price point. Who are they aiming at? Certainly, not the cocktail crowd. Not when they can get Red Stag for 20 bux or a bottle.of Meyers and Rittenhouse for 40 dollars or under.

    Thank you Jason for educating us on such products. It’s.like a try and buy. :)

  17. Bob says:

    Oh, come on! -it can’t be any worse than Crown Royal Maple! (o.k., that’s a Canadian blended whiskey, alright…)

  18. Bill Harmon says:

    Jason,
    Just wanted to know if Heaven Hill Distrilleries’ new wheated whiskey “Larceny” is on your review list. Enjoy your work and have been a fan since you started your site.
    Bill

  19. Bill Harmon says:

    Just noticed you added Larceny – Thanks….

  20. Andrew says:

    I see where John Hansell actually liked this. Perhaps you might share notes to see about the disconnect.

  21. J. Walters says:

    Some friends of mine and I split a bottle yesterday — not a big hit with us rye diehards. I can see where most rye-loving types are like “mmmm… good, not great.”

    http://whiskeyreviewer.com/2013/04/angels-envy-rye-whiskey-review/

  22. Jim says:

    Jason-

    Do you currently have bottle(s) of Chicken Cock Whiskey ?

    HaHa !

  23. W. Sego says:

    Count me among the ones who hate it. My wife is a rye lover, moreso than I, but this had a finish of caramel frosting that had been slightly scorched. My brother-in-law loves ryes, so we always give him what we don’t like. He disliked it as well.
    I love rums, particularly Pyrat, but can’t get past the finish of Angel’s Envy Rye.

  24. John says:

    It’s pretty crazy how this finished whiskey fad has people paying good money for perfectly good whiskey that’s been intentionally ruined.

  25. Nick says:

    It can be done right. I agree with Jason on the Parker barrel finished. It was tremendous. I also agree that since then, these have been rather gimmicky.

  26. Bmac says:

    Finishing can be done right, you just need the right whiskey and the right barrels. It’s a matter of matching and marrying the flavor profiles. Parker definitely has a leg up on it. Of all the finished whiskeys, the cognac one is still my fav.

    I think what it is people love about rye’s is the not-overly-sweet spiciness. Finishing in rum/cognac barrels will add too much sweetness. Thoughts on that?

  27. Southron says:

    This is probably the wrong place and may not be appropriate, but nevertheless here goes! Recently I was in Lawrenceburg, KY and by chance found a quaint little shop called the Kentucky Gentlemen Cigars. Their products are hand-rolled in KY, Bourbon Barrel-aged premium tobacco cigars. Purchased a few and headed back home here in the upper south. Ms Southron has had me slaving around the house replacing shrubs, so I thought I deserved to take a day and do nothing productive. After dinner (we have dinner and supper here), I decided sit under my shade tree, sip my favorite everyday bourbon (AAA 10 year) and try one of their Kentucky Moonshine cigars. Not a regular cigar smoker but every now and then, what the heck. Maybe it was the 71 degrees, cool breeze, no himidity, but my, my what a pleasure! Tons of billowing smoke, even burn, sweet taste, and a compliment to the bourbon I haven’t experienced before. Want to try this again but afraid I can’t duplicate the experience. By the way, I’m not connected to this company in any way,so I have no dog in the hunt. Just wish all you gentleman (and I guess ladies too?) might have as good a day! http://www.Kentuckygentlemencigars.com

  28. sam k says:

    Interesting you bring that up, Southron. I was in Lawrenceburg last month and drove past the cigar place because we were running late for the last tour at Wild Turkey that day. Maybe I’d have been better off stopping for cigars, since the new WT distillery is the most soulless distillery I’ve ever visited, and our guide was clueless.

    I also find it interesting that Kentucky Gentlemen seems only to use barrels from Buffalo Trace, and not from their hometown distillery. Hmmm.

  29. Jim Listerman says:

    Rest In Peace……..

    Elmer T. Lee, Master Distiller Emeritus,
    Buffalo Trace Distillery

    Passed Away July 16, 2013

  30. Maruchi says:

    Over the top!!! A smooth and harmonious concoction of complex flavors. Rich, mellow and intriguing. Perfect to enjoy long into the night with fun friends, good cigars, and interesting conversation or to perfectly complete an outstanding meal. Rye drinkers spread your wings!

  31. Robert Muelle says:

    A terrible thing to do to rye whiskey. Awful.

  32. Josh says:

    This stuff could have been made from anything from anywhere. Really shameful and a disgrace to whiskey. Avoid it and maybe they’ll get the picture.

  33. J.L. says:

    I have to say I disagree with most of the comments. While it is a sweet rye, to my pallet most are sweet. My favorite rye willet, strikes a perfect combination of sweet and spice which is what I look for my rye whiskeys. AE rye is not a cigar whiskey, but as a few said it is a perfect shut down or desert whiskey. My collection goes from very sweet, to straight burn, and I believe each one has its time and place which is why I believe people collect, so they can have a whiskey for every mood and situation , sharing or just sipping with alone on the patio. In that vein I believe the AE rye is a perfect addition and great tasting rye

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] a few sips of this fantastic whiskey.  While I can’t disagree with reviews from the likes of Sour Mash Manifesto and Red White & Bourbon, I have to say I enjoy Angel’s Envy Rye for the same reasons […]

  2. […] a few sips of this fantastic whiskey.  While I can’t disagree with reviews from the likes of Sour Mash Manifesto and Red White & Bourbon, I really enjoyed Angel’s Envy Rye for the same reasons they […]

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