September is National Bourbon Heritage Month.
Sounds like a marketing ploy, no?
Bourbon, however, is one of the true American spirits. It is also one of the few American wine or spirits that sports a bonafide 'designation,' as many fine European wine or spirits do. Bourbon must be 51% corn and must be aged in charred New Oak barrels.
'New Oak' means in a barrel made of oak wood that has not been previously used. Oak trees are generally 50+ years of age when harvested; less than a handful of barrels can be made from a single oak. Each barrel holds about 200 bottles after dilution for bottling.
Do the math. With bourbon exports alone heading northwards of $1B a lot of barrels are being made and a lot of oak trees are being used.
Enter Angels Envy. With a fairly cool marketing ploy.
Angel's Envy Bourbon is the brainchild of Lincoln Henderson. Henderson (d. 2013) was the master distiller at Brown-Forman where he and his co-workers developed Gentleman Jack and Woodford Reserve.
Angel's Envy was founded post-retirement by Henderson. The idea was to place aged bourbon in casks previously used for sherry, rum, or port. This process, called 'finishing,' is fairly common to higher end Scotch labels and it generally adds another layer of flavor to the spirit.
Henderson was no dummy. The growing popularity of bourbon developed new aficionados.True aficionados seek knowledge and experience. The result was that premium and super-premium brands' sales soared. Angel's Envy Cask Strength is one of the stars in that galaxy.
So, where's the marketing?
Angel's Envy is working with The Arbor Day Foundation to plant a white oak tree for every Angel's Envy drink or bottle purchased this September. Post a picture of your AE to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account with #AE4TheTrees hashtag and there you go. Angel's Envy has $10K behind the project. So post away.
Need a drink? Here's something from Yardbird with a good level of complexity to sip and savor. It's a variation of a manhattan with the addition of an amaro and a bitter apertif. Don't substitute for the Carpano vermouth. Buy a bottle. You will thank me later. I'm approximating proportions- experiment to your taste.
Experimenting is fun and educational. It is even more fun with friends.
Angel in Manhattan
2 oz. Angel's Envy Port Barrel-Finished
1 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
Aperol to taste
.5 oz Averna Amaro
Add a Dash of Bitters, if desired.
Stir ingredients with ice until mixture becomes glassy (about 45 sec)
Strain into chilled glass.
Add dash of bitters, if desired.
Garnish with Maraschino cherry (use Luxardo, Amarena or similar. Trust me.)
Use orange peel, in a pinch.
Photos by Te Ann Lakeotes. @tmlphotolv