There’s always another road to travel when it comes to bourbon, and whiskey in general. Not that long ago, mash bills (recipes) for bourbon were fairly static and barrel aging was focused on toasted new American Oak. Then the whiskey revolution happened and now anything is possible — as a new generation endlessly toys with mash bills and boldly loads their juice into barrels from every corner of the world.
Angel’s Envy has been at the forefront of unique aging techniques for a decade now, and they just took it one step further. The latest Angel’s Envy’s release is taking their tried-and-true method of finishing their bourbons and ryes in port, sherry, tawny port, and rum casks to new heights. They’ve added the proverbial holy grail of international casks to their line up — the iconic and very rare Mizunara oak cask from Japan.
To the uninitiated, that may not sound like a big deal. But the specialness of the Mizunara cask cannot be understated. The casks are made from trees that are at least 200 years old when they’re selectively harvested. Older wood is harder to work with. So, it’s difficult for coopers to create the staves and form the casks. That rigidity of the wood affects the juice’s ability to mingle with the oak’s sugars and, well, age.
Meaning the whiskey has to spend a lot longer in the barrels. This expression spent two years in the Japanese barrels, after their time in toasted new American oak. All of which adds up to a very unique aging experience.
Overall, this is an exciting time to be a whiskey drinker. Though we haven’t tested Angel’s release (1,200 bottles are going out August 19th and you have to sign up here to get one), we were lucky enough to taste an American whiskey that was also aged in Mizunara casks recently and it was phenomenal. The expectations for Angel’s Envy’s riff on this elite aging process are through the roof with good reason.
“After the two year finishing window, I expected the whiskey to have smoky, floral and spicy notes,” Angel’s Envy Production Manager, Kyle Henderson told Forbes, “but was surprised by the unique notes of apple we ultimately ended up with.”