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Angel’s Envy’s First Japanese Cask Finished Bourbon Is a Stunner

It took Angel’s Envy‘s Kyle Henderson fifty percent a ten years of asking around, working the telephones, and crossing his fingers to at last get his fingers on just a handful of Japanese Mizunara oak casks. “It took a good 5 yrs from the idea to in fact finding ahold of the barrels and finding them to the U.S.,” he says, ticking off the troubles that make this coveted wooden so hard to attain. “It’s so managed, the progress of the trees is so sluggish, it does not like to increase straight, it’s porous as heck so there’s a lot of troubles with setting up [the barrels]…”

Doing the job with Mizunara oak (when you can get it) offers a selection of worries, in other words. So when Henderson, production supervisor for Angel’s Envy distillery, managed to land a several brand new Mizunara oak barrels from a cooperage in Japan, he and his colleagues—two of whom occur to be his father, Angel’s Envy Co-founder and Main Innovation Officer Wes Henderson, and his brother, Lead Distillery Operator Andrew Henderson—knew they experienced to generate some thing distinctive with it.

The resulting whiskey, effectively titled Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Completed in Japanese Mizunara Oak Casks, is a mix of four-calendar year-aged and 9-calendar year-aged bourbons concluded for two yrs in Japanese oak in advance of bottling. On its confront, that may perhaps audio unremarkable, as cask concluded whiskies—those that invest a small time in barrels that formerly held other liquids—are really a lot en vogue these days. But Mizunara oak barrels are no conventional casks, and Angel’s Envy is not in the pattern of turning out conventional whiskey.

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Japanese Mizunara Oak Casks
Courtesy picture

A ten years back Wes Henderson and his father Lincoln—an industry legend by any telling—introduced their 1st batch of bourbon into used port barrels, a apply considered not only unconventional but relatively heretical at the time. Angel’s Envy was born, and port finishing turned some thing of a signature for the brand even as it continued to push boundaries with other experimental cask regimens. This latest bottling is a tribute to equally the legacy of Lincoln Henderson (who handed absent in 2013) but also to Angel’s Envy itself, which celebrates 10 yrs to the working day due to the fact Wes and Lincoln stuffed that 1st port barrel with bourbon on August 19 and established the tone for a ten years of forward-pondering experimentation.

The use of Mizunara oak to finish this bourbon nods to a custom of undertaking what’s hard in the pursuit of good whiskey. Mizunara is really aged-progress oak—a one hundred fifty-calendar year-aged tree would be thought of young for harvesting—that is remarkably controlled by Japanese forestry authorities. As Kyle Henderson notes, it grows crooked and porous, building it frustratingly hard for coopers to craft into watertight barrels. As this kind of, Mizunara casks are rare, expensive, and notoriously hard to occur by even for Japanese distillers. You’ll be even more challenging pressed to uncover American distillers keeping Mizunara barrels in their warehouses.

More mature wooden also requires more time to impart flavor to a whiskey, even if the barrels have under no circumstances held whiskey in advance of. Ending a whiskey in European oak casks that the moment held sherry or port wine will take just a several short months. Mizunara requires a lot more time and patience. Two yrs makes for a really very long cask finish, but as the Hendersons’ perseverance in equally procuring and deploying these barrels demonstrates, good points genuinely do occur to those who wait.

Likely into the bottle at ninety seven.eight evidence, their Mizunara cask concluded bourbon comes out of the bottle with aromas of toasted sandalwood, slice pink apples, and a whiff of fruit-stuffed, frosted breakfast pastry. On the palate occur oaky notes of vanilla and spice, but also caramelized banana, cinnamon, apple, that give way to a finish that’s peppery, evenly smoky, and pleasantly very long. While rich in body and relatively decadent in flavor, there’s a specified lightness and liveliness to it, closing the loop among resource liquid and finishing vessel.

Regretably, the shortage of good Mizunara casks begets a shortage of Mizunara cask concluded whiskies, some thing that makes this limited 10th-anniversary giving from Angel’s Envy unique but also perhaps as hard to attain as the barrels by themselves. Members of the distillery’s 500 Major fan club can access a pre-sale of the one,two hundred offered bottles—which occur packaged in a crystal decanter—starting August 19 for $350. Soon after that, remaining bottles will be offered at the distillery and choose suppliers around Kentucky.

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