Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson always knew that he wanted to explore finishing techniques and how they could be used to enhance bourbon’s flavor. But a lot of work went into finding the right barrels to match Angel’s Envy’s profile. Lincoln’s son and Angel’s Envy’s Co-Founder, Wes Henderson, discussed the port barrel selection process with us.

Wes Henderson, Master Ambassador and Chief Innovations Officer
Wes Henderson, Co-Founder and Chief Innovations Officer

“When Dad and I decided that we would finish the first Angel’s Envy release in port casks, the job then became which type of port complemented the bourbon and which type of port would allow for a steady supply of barrels. In the beginning, the type of port cask we were going to pick was critical. The taste profile would set the tone for our flagship release.”

“There were a number of obvious choices for finishes, especially if we were going to use a fortified wine type of barrel. We looked at several different options. The port we were looking for also had to be single-barrel aged, which isn’t the case for all ports. There were lots of fabulous finish options available, but it was about tonality and picking the one we wanted to use first. I’m thrilled with the port barrels and glad we chose them. There are still many great things possible for the future, but for our first release, these particular port barrels were the right choice.”

While it sounded fairly straightforward, Wes explained how his initial expectations changed over the course of the selection process. “I think that at the very beginning, I personally wanted to find a port that was a little more on the exotic side or very rare, something with sizzle. At the end of the day, however, from a taste profile standpoint, the ruby port barrels we chose worked for our needs better than any of the others. One of the exciting things about the experimentation is that we were able to try a number of different port barrels and varieties.”

“It definitely took a few months to find the right one. The process drew a bead on where we wanted to be, but we had a pretty good idea of what we were looking for and where able to identify pretty quickly that we were going down the right rabbit hole.”