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.
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 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…
It’s hard to imagine how many distilleries have come and gone along this street. Many are commemorated by these tiles in the sidewalk.
Time to head to the distillery for the tour.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The barrels above demonstrate the number of times they’ve been used.
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.
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.
Angel’s Envy Distillery
500 E Main St
Louisville, KY 40202