My First Favorite Bourbon (Sure it isn’t whiskey?)

When I decided to stop being the dutiful designated driver and learn to drink more, I was at a loss for where to start and how to find what I like.  On one of our many trips to Louisville, I asked a willing bartender to help me find that out.  After the second or third bourbon, he brought me a Glencairn glass of Angel’s Envy.

For starters, the liquid is the deepest amber with a smooth, shiny surface.  It reflects light and everything around back into the glass.  The color grows from lightest amber at the edges to its deepest color in the middle of the glass.  Maybe it is because it reminds me of my birthstone, golden topaz, that I love the look so much.  Wait, Citrine cannot possible be the November stone.  It is cold with little or no life.  Topaz and its companion, Angel’s Envy, are alive with color, warmth, and flavor.

I venture down to the 12 Bar Blues Bar, which is local for me in our basement, to pour a glass of Angel’s Envy to begin the writing process tonight.  I admit that it has been several months since I had picked up a glass of Angel’s Envy.  It had become my go to drink when I do not know what I really feel like drinking.

The bottle has migrated to the back of the bar for some reason.  However, the distinctive bottle with the shape of folded wings is nice to hold and fun to look at.  The Glencairn glasses are next to the arrangement of distilled spirits that my husband likes to keep on hand.  I pick one with a logo and pour the amber liquid out in a nice splash.

The color is inviting to the eyes before it makes contact with your nose.  Ah, it smells as inviting as well.  It lingers toward sweet with just enough earthy smell that seems familiar.  I personally get the touch of burnt butter with a hint of leather.  The aroma opens the sinuses and lifts to the top of your head.  It is one of my favorite bourbons for smell.

One test for a great bourbon is to watch how the legs, or residual liquid, hug the glass as you tilt it in your hands.  Just image this same action coating your mouth with flavor and texture. Not all great bourbons have legs, but those with legs will stand up to the action necessary to taste and feel the bourbon as you roll it around over your tongue and through the back of your throat.

I tilt the glass and slowly roll it around in the palm of my hand.  The amber liquid rolls with the action and leaves behind a clear sheen to show where it had started on its journey.  The legs on this bourbon are strong and leave no question as to their smooth coat.  It takes a few minutes for the legs to complete their hug of the glass and slide down to join the remaining liquid.

Now it is time to take that first sip. I notice the slight burn on the tip of my tongue. This burn is slightly sweet and the aroma starts to fill my mouth. From there, the flavor crawls up and over the tongue to give the tastebuds the same shiny coat that the legs gave the glass.  The flavor hugs in close and travels out to the cheeks.

The bourbon travels back to the edge of the tongue and up to the throat with a warm burn that reminds me of leather and a burnt butter flavor.  After the liquid passes over the back of the throat, there is the combined flavors and warmth line my cheeks and work their way over my tongue.  The burnt butter flavor fills my mouth in one last burst and dissolves into a warmth before it begins to slowly fade.

Over the years, this has become one of my favorite go to bourbons.  It compliments every gathering of friends and strangers alike.  It gives a sense of joy to your tastebuds as well as your olfactory cells.  I can simply enjoy the smell in between sips with as much pleasure every time I have a glass of it in my hand. 

I have good memories visiting south central Kentucky with my family where the sights and sounds were quite different from where I grew up.  Tobacco was king then.  I remember walking through tobacco fields and touching the velvety leaves.  When it came time for the tobacco to be hung in the barn, it was a pleasure to sneak into the barn, find an overturned basket and breath in the smells.  There was dried barnwood along with the earthy smell of the dirt floor, tobacco, and hay from the fields surrounding the barn.

When I smell tobacco or leather in a bourbon, I can find myself back in the tobacco barn sitting on that basket and breathing in deeply to enjoy the earthy smells and think of warm sunshine.  Leather in bourbon reminds me of the smell of horses, leather saddles, and hay. The experience transports me back to the barn on my grandparents’ farms every time.

Now my glass is empty, but the Angel’s Evy still tastes sweet and leathery in my mouth.  I just need to decide if I want one more glass before I call this entry complete.  Oh yes, let’s do one more.  Please.