Anyone who has travelled along Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail has visited the state’s major distilleries and seen warehouses containing hundreds of thousands of barrels. Those casks are made of American white oak, and the whiskey inside is aging patiently on the way to becoming Bourbon. The number of barrels in Kentucky warehouses has increased dramatically in recent years to keep pace with Bourbon’s exploding popularity.
This situation leads to a natural question: Is there enough American white oak to go around? Despite efforts by large spirits companies to replant trees, last winter’s harsh weather led to a lumber shortfall. Experts predict that the shortage may last for another two years.
September is Bourbon Heritage Month, and the Louisville Distilling Co. (producers of Angel’s Envy) has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to sponsor their Toast The Trees initiative. The idea is simple: Every time Bourbon enthusiasts consume Angel’s Envy—whether neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail—they take a picture of the drink. When they post the picture to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #AE4THETREES, the company will plant a new white oak tree.
Angel’s Envy was created by the late, legendary master distiller Lincoln Henderson. His resume was formidable: during nearly 40 years with Brown-Forman, he created many of the most popular whiskies on the market, including Woodford Reserve, Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniels Single Barrel. Henderson came out of retirement in 2006 to create Angel’s Envy, which met with universal critical acclaim.
So what’s all the fuss about? On the nose, Angel’s Envy exudes aromas of toffee, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and clove. The whiskey is rich and sweet on the palate, almost unctuous, but with enough alcohol (86.6 proof, or 43.3%) to bring it into balance. While the website lists several dozen cocktail recipes in various categories (simple, complex and seasonal), this Bourbon is so satisfying and delicious that it is best consumed in a snifter, or simply on the rocks. It’s an experience you won’t easily forget.
Even better, you get to plant a tree without getting your hands dirty.
Mark spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012); his second book, Moonshine Nation, was recently released by Lyons Press. For more information, go to amazon.com