Time for a sample from the magic whiskey drawer! This port wine finished pour comes courtesy of @ra1nmannn, who also provided me with a bottle of the 2021 release to benchmark against as well. See the bottom of the page for a bonus head to head ranking of 2018, 2020 and 2021 releases. There's something about cold, snowy weather that always beckons me towards port wine finished whiskey; whether it be A Midwinter Night's Dram, Isaac Bowman, or this tasty treat - there's something to the mix of snow and the comforting respite of a well-finished whiskey in the warmth of your own home. I've previously reviewed the 2020 release already and am just coming off a Bardstown Bourbon "The Prisoner" review as well. I'm glad to be getting into these today - let's see how the 2018 tastes first!
Company on Label: Louisville Spirits Group
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Age: NAS (supposedly up to 7 years)
Further identification: This years release is also port wine finished - though other finishes have been used in the past
Nose: Milk chocolate, toffee and a creamy raisin bread come up first. Dusty plum is right there immediately - certainly an offspring of the marriage between bourbon and port wine. More bread-like tones keep coming up mixed with plenty of berry notes; it reminds me of something like Stollen (German Christmas bread). There's plenty of level oak in this glass; it feels well-tempered like it has been properly stored at all the right conditions to not deteriorate. Surprisingly easy on the nose for the proof. Time for a sip!
Yum. Some really nice caramel and butterscotch aromas have built well in this glass. Deeper inhales shows off a flavorful vanilla profile. I'm liking the creamy characteristics that are building now as it cuts through some of the dry dustiness and spices. Coming back after a long rest I get more dusty caramel and a touch of molasses. There seems to be surprisingly little depth here. The empty glass smells of earthy, dry dirt notes, cherry skins, red grapes and fig newtons.
Palate: Wow. This is quite punchy from the get-go. I get aromatic bitters, cherry Garcia ice cream, plum, raisin, fig jam, and an intense cinnamon slap to the throat. Whew! The nose was deceiving! Another sip is less surprising with loads of dark red berry notes bellowing out. This is definitely a spice-forward release with allspice and nutmeg charging forward before settling into a plum base with cinnamon hots coating the edges of my mouth. The linger is short with chocolate, earthy funk and raisin. The sweet flavors are definitely there, but I'm finding them to be quite hidden under an undulating wave of heat that obfuscates the flavors. My last sip is pleasantly vanilla forward with Nerds candy, raspberry and maraschino cherry juice.
The 2018 was a surprising bit of a let down for me tonight. There were certainly some fleeting moments of greatness, but overall the whiskey drank a little too hot for me.
Head to Head Rankings: Angel's Envy Cask Strength 2018 vs 2020 vs 2021
As I nose into the 2020 release I'm greeted with a lot of the same dusty sweetness but it feels much more well-kempt. There's a lovely paper note I always enjoy which is likely an oak artifact. It's much more leadingly sweet and has a buttery nose-feel. This one drinks malt-forward with surprising pear and apple notes. All the same lovely fruit you'd expect. Really... Wow.. This one definitely feels on-par with a good Midwinter Night's Dram Act. Yeah, wow, this one drinks like silk compared to the 2018. Lovely port wine influence that just checks the box while still remaining predominantly a whiskey for me. I might be getting a little soft in my whiskey preferences; I feel like I used to be the barrel proof king and now I find myself targeting a lot of the sweeter profiles. This one fits that bill. Delicious!
The second time going into a half-glass of this I get something really strange; it's like a fruit fluoride, or something that reminds me of my old dentist's office. That note passes and returns to the chocolate and breadiness I was expecting. Back to a sip of this my proof pain point has certainly been diminished as I'm getting into a higher volume of whiskey. This reveals some nice citrus notes I didn't get in my initial review, but the flashy linger is still quite stinging and tingling on the mouth.
Well, this feels somewhere in between the other two with nothing prominently jumping out as different at first glance. There's much more dry oak to this and something like powdered nitrile rubber gloves that is subtle yet quite confusing on this nose. It drinks much softer and sweeter than the 2018 release with a lovely grape-forward profile. The linger is much, much longer than the 2018 was giving me and I'm impressed with the delivery of strawberry and aprium. Returning to the nose on this, I feel like this one might be the most complex and a touch on the darker side compared to the very, very sweet profile of the 2020. It drinks easily and certainly earns a spot in the ATW study.
Final Ranking: 2020 > 2021 > 2018
Though 2020 and 2021 are very close but for different reasons.