I thank @Maddie for the reviewed sample. I've known this bottle for the 4 years it has been open. The bottle is 65% full. Angel's Envy is approximately 6 yo bourbon which was then 'finished' for a few months in Port Pipes. Angel's Envy was created by former Brown-Forman and Four Roses Distiller Lincoln Henderson
Nose: pleasant, light, sweet port wine steals the show from what is probably a first-rate bourbon underneath. Water added raises the pitch, bundles the flavours and increases the sweetness. Score: 22/25 (1 extra point for the water added)
Taste: rye and wine flavours frequently clash, if people choose to combine them. They clash here in spades. The bourbon complexities are lost, as Jim Murray attests whenever he engages the subject of mixing wine with bourbon. This doesn't work at all. Water added lessens the clash by giving total domination to the sweet port wine. Score: 19/25
(At @newreverie's suggestion I tried this with ice cubes. With ice I get a nice enough winey nose and a generic bourbon mouth reminiscent of 80 proof Wild Turkey bourbon over ice.)
Finish: moderately long; continues the palate without water; with water added this goes sour into the death. Score: 18/25
Balance: nice in the nose, horrible in the mouth. Score: 13/25
Total Sequential Score: 72 points
Strength: moderately strong flavours. Score: 22.5/25
Quality: very nice bourbon which you cannot much taste together with an OK-quality sweet Port dominant overlay. Score: 20/25
Variety: port dominates and destroys the variety/complexity. Score: 18/25
Harmony: good in the nose; horrible in the mouth. Score: 14/25
Total Non-Sequential Score: 74.5 points
Comment: 73 is a critic's score for me for Angel's Envy. My enjoyment score for Angel's Envy is more like 60 points. I never like to drink this whiskey
So, what is My Biggest Whiskey Regret? About 3 years ago, approximately 12-18 months before his death, my sister @Maddie called me up and told me that if I drove up to Baltimore that I could meet Lincoln Henderson at a tasting at a liquor store. I decided not to go because I didn't like his Angel's Envy and didn't want to put myself into the position of either having to tell him I didn't like his whiskey or pretend that I did when I did not like it at all. As it turns out @Maddie wound up having Lincoln Henderson all to herself for about 45 minutes of chat and tales of whiskey distilling. Boy I would do that one differently if I had that decision to make again!
A rough day for Angel's Envy. I actually enjoy the 80 proof stuff as a social drink I can carry around at a party, but i do agree with your assessment of 80 proof wild turkey with a winey nose. I don't consider this to be a bad thing. Score wise I think we are close to the same page. I don't see a way AE breaks past 80 points. It is all nose and not much else. Maybe I should add to your regrets and send you a sample bottle of my AECS.
On the subject of finishes do you have your tasting notes of the port (high west midwinter night dram) and caracao (willet xcf 1.0) finished ryes or the last of the sherry finished Jim Beam masterpiece that I brought to the whiskey summit?
Perhaps there is a reason that "finished" bourbons are so taboo. I've yet to find one where I consider the finish to be an improvement. I've avoided the new $100? Jefferson's rum finished bourbon for the same reason.
If distilleries want to experiment, maybe we could get some different barrel charring methods. Barrels charred by burning peat inside of them, or smoked corn? If EH Taylor Cured Oak is any indication, some extra effort put into the barrels themselves could make a huge difference.
@newreverie, thanks for joining in. I wish I did have detailed tasting notes on those three whiskeys which you mentioned among the many whiskies of yours which we tried in Albuquerque. Those three were certainly each very interesting and unusual.
Whiskey experimentation in the US is proceeding at a rather feverish pace, both by the small distillers and by the large ones. The small distillers are looking for any hook to make their products different, distinctive, and, hopefully, competitive in the marketplace. The bigs are pressured by the smalls to keep on their toes, and keep in the vanguard of product development.
And then there is someone like Darek Bell of Corsair Artisan Distillery who pretty much lives in the creative experimental lane. He has systematically broadened the range of the whiskey world. Happily, in the US there are not the same strangling restrictions on what one does in the name of whisk(e)y as exist in the UK.
As we know well, with experiments, some work well, some work a little, and some do not work at all. I don't care for every one of the new products I encounter, but I am very happy that all of this product development and experimentation is taking place.