Kentucky Bourbon Trail Part 17: Angel’s Envy

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After church I needed something to do, so naturally I looked for a tour to occupy my time. I’ve been trying to finish the Bourbon Trial passport so I figured i’d give Angel’s Envy another shot. I stopped in and “purchased” a complimentary veteran’s ticket (usually $14). The next tour was an hour and a half from starting so I headed down the street to a pub that had caught my eye.


Louisville Slugger Field
On Main Sreet

Downtown Louisville has undergone a resurgence in recent years. It’s clear they’ve tried to keep the original look but most buildings have been rebuilt and are in great shape.

Old Forester Distillery

Old Forester is promising to open in 2017. They have a lot of work to do. Someday I’ll figure out where they’re distilled now prior to opening the downtown location. They’re currently on shelves, so there has to be another site…

KFC Yum! Center
Aptly Named Troll Pub
Look at that door!
Whiskey Row

It’s hard to imagine how many distilleries have come and gone along this street. Many are commemorated by these tiles in the sidewalk.

Murphy Elevator Co and Four Roses – remember this photo
Angel’s Envy

Time to head to the distillery for the tour.

In case you forgot where I was
Gift Shop
That fridge is full of water offered to guests
Free water
2nd Floor of Distillery

The building has been rebuilt as a distillery with an eye for aesthetics. You can see the fermenting tanks, the column still, and the doubler all in one photo. It’s pretty impressive, actually.

Mash Bill
That looks like a crane but where does it go?

That question was answered by the tour guide. This building held part of the Murphy Elevator Company at one time, and there were overhead cranes that moved material blocks away to that building pictured above. Cool!

Fermenting tank
Column Still
Artistic Try Box
Try Box

The “cork” at the top of the stylistic try box is the knob from a genuine Louisville Slugger baseball bat, an homage the manufacturing site down the street who is involved in America’s second pastime. Booze being the first.

The local source of all that beautiful copper
Doubler still
Head, heart, and tail
All that copper…
Barrels – sign the barrel for an inclusive touch

Angel’s Envy only fills around 38 barrels a day, in contrast to Jim Beam’s 4500 barrels each day. Not a huge producer. Something to remember is that the fluctuating weather patterns in Kentucky make aging whiskey for 8 years equivalent to around 23 years in Scotland in terms of flavor cycles.

What are those strange looking barrels?

The unique twist Angel’s Envy has is that they finish their bourbon in port barrels. What that means is that once the whiskey is fully aged, they empty a number of barrels into a holding tank to mix them. Then they fill french white oak barrels that have previously been used to age port wine in Portugal. The bourbon ages for about six months and can be used five to six times. The barrels are slightly larger than the 53 gallon barrels that have been the standard for American whiskey forever, so they can’t store them in traditional rick houses.

The smaller, squat barrels were originally Barbados rum. Now they’re used to age Angel’s Envy rye for six months. They’re smaller and can only be used twice before they’re sold off to the secondary barrel market. That’s part of the reason Angel’s Envy Rye is hared to find. They don’t make much of it because they’re wedded to a finishing process that doesn’t yield much whiskey.

Port Barrels

The barrels above demonstrate the number of times they’ve been used.

Bottling Line
Impressive hallway

At one time this was an abandoned building, and the biggest struggle was to evict the squatters. The most difficult was a guy who had lived here for free for 18 years. He had tapped into the city water and would watch the baseball games from the roof. Naturally he didn’t want a good thing to end. I have no idea how they got rid of him, but I didn’t see him around.

Tasting table

No giveaways, other than a chocolate and two pours. It always amazes me to see the “flavor profile” and realize none of those flavors are added to the bourbon. They can’t add anything by law, but somehow you taste a variety of things that aren’t there. Our guide explained it as the way our minds try to categorize something we don’t really understand so we can have a chance to wrap our heads around it. Pretty philosophical but it’s probably true.

Louisville Distilling Co

Angel’s Envy Distillery
500 E Main St
Louisville, KY 40202

Part 16 is here.


~ Freddy

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I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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