The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
January 18, 2012
My friend Katie DeVito sent me an email the other day. She’s in the public relations business here in NJ and Lincoln Henderson’s name with his new product Angel’s Envy crossed her desk. Since she knows my desire to cover issues regarding the spirits industry- it was my great pleasure to receive an email from her introducing me to the new brand. Thanks Katie! (I’ve included her contact information at the bottom).
I’m passionate about the liquor known as Bourbon Whiskey. I think it’s in my blood. It wasn’t until after my grandfather passed away that I realized that I had Bourbon deeply entrenched in my soul. But how?
How does Bourbon become a part of a person- even before they enjoy a sip? Is it in my genes?
My grandfather had a liquid collection of Old Forester, Old Grand Dad, Jim Beam and Ancient Age Bourbon. Some of these mid-century modern styled bottles date back to the late 1940’s and others to the late 1950’s.
This priceless collection, (albeit a bit less in the bottle now) still graces my bar and occasionally my glass. (Without ice or water, I might add.)
I used to say that these spirits were made by men- long gone. That was until I became more knowledgeable about Bourbon and the men who craft this truly American spirit. Maybe there is something in the spirit itself that contributes to long life.
I’m not sure about the fountain of youth in a bottle, but my grandmother turns 100 on February 14th this year. She still takes a nip of the brown spirit at bed-time. Perhaps Bourbon is the key to her longevity?
It just might be true about drinking Bourbon and old age. As I said, I have Bourbon in my blood!
Tasting notes: Angel’s Envy
Soft in the mouth- not rough in any way. This is part of the new style of Bourbon. The older style was rougher- rough and tumble- speaking of fire and burn. This “Expression” as Mr. Henderson describes his brand, is elegant and pure. The barrels were sourced in Portugal, used Port Casks – again, this Expression is a signature mark on the palate. Port casks give a unique and subtle sweetness to the finish- a long one at that!
Flavors of vanilla, charred Hoe Cakes (made from toasted corn) and caramelized fruits reveal themselves along with the brooding heat- but not too much heat! I did the tasting in a highly unscientific fashion- under less than ideal conditions. I just opened the 200ml bottle, poured myself a little tasting glass, inhaled and sipped. That was it! Yes! I like it.
Without further delay- may I present, Lincoln Henderson– Master Distiller.
1. WRR: Where are you from? When did you realize you had a passion for Brown liquor?
a. Born at Ft. Sill, OK. While on a college Christmas break in OK we took a trip to Texas (OK was dry) to buy spirits and came back with a case of Ancient Age Bourbon. Was hooked thereafter.
2. WRR: Do you cook? If so, is there anything you prepare that has a history to it? Who taught you about food? Mother? Father? Grandparents?
a. Cooked a great deal in past years. Loved to make ravioli from scratch. Also croissants (which took 2 days to make). Now the only thing I manage to cook is corn, rye and barley. However my mother taught us 3 boys to fend for ourselves including cooking.
3. WRR: What is in your refrigerator right now? Any cocktail ingredients you’d like to tell us about?
a. Leftovers. Cocktail ingredients are ice and water. Although the young creative bartenders and mixologists are starting to change my feelings on how bourbon can be used.
4. WRR: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be? When you sourced your barrels from Portugal, did you hand select them?
We did hand source the ex-Port barrels. One cannot take chances on where your barrels come from and what was in the barrel.
(Editor’s note: Angel’s Envy Bourbon uses hand-selected wood barrels from Portugal that formerly held Port Wine)
5. WRR: Is there anything that you drink or eat that brings a tear to your eye when you (eat/drink) it? Why?
a. Coffee is definitely my first choice of drink after bourbon and mussels and more mussels are my first love in foods.
Master Distiller – Lincoln Henderson
Described by Wine and Spirits magazine as a “Living Legend” in the distilled spirits industry, Mr. Henderson is one of the world’s leading spirits experts, and an inaugural member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. As the master distiller of Brown-Forman Corporation for 40 years, he developed or assisted with the development and supervision of products such as: Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s “Gentleman Jack,” Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Don Eduardo Tequila, Old Forester, in addition to several other brands. He was also directly responsible for the quality of all new and maturing whiskeys, in addition to technical distillery supervision, sensory evaluation, and exploratory product development. Other honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Malt Advocate, and a judge position for the International Wine and Spirit Competition in the UK. Lincoln is a graduate of the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in biology and holds a master’s degree from Webster University. A resident of Lexington Kentucky, he is married with two children and ten grandchildren.
LIVING LEGEND SET TO LAUNCH ANGEL’S ENVY IN NEW JERSEY
Garden State Among the First Markets to Experience World’s Premier Super-Premium Bourbon
Louisville, Kentucky (January, 2012) – Louisville Distilling Company announced that it has chosen New Jersey among the first launch markets for Angel’s Envy, a super-premium bourbon of uncompromising character and quality.
The highly anticipated small batch artisan bourbon is the culmination of Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson’s storied career. One of the original pioneers of the premium bourbon and whiskey categories in the U.S., Lincoln came out of retirement to create the world’s finest bourbon on his own terms – with a simple desire to enjoy the art of making whiskey. The Master Distiller, which many have called a living legend, brings with him more than 40 years of experience, having worked on world-class brands, such as Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniels.
The Louisville Distilling Company gave Lincoln complete creative freedom to create his bourbon, his own way. He chose to return to the original way of producing whiskey – making decisions based on the specific taste profile he wants to achieve. He will use locally sourced, non-GMO grains, Kentucky limestone water and hand-chosen port barrels shipped directly from Portugal.
Each batch—or Expression, as Lincoln calls it—will be guided by his hand and allowed to develop naturally, creating nuances in the bourbon from year to year. This year’s release is Expression 10/10, which possesses a warm spirit, lacking any hint of edginess with ephemeral hints of port wine and a rich amber hue.
The Expression is distilled for an unparalleled smoothness, aged for 4-6 years in new charred white oak barrels and finished in port barrels for an incremental 5-7 months. The final result is exceptionally smooth, nuanced and refined bourbon.
“Angel’s Envy is a lot of things,” says Lincoln Henderson, Master Distiller, Angel’s Envy. “It’s my life’s work. It’s a whiskey of incomparable smoothness. It takes into account over 200 years of bourbon heritage and mingles it with over 400 years of port wine heritage. And it’s something I’m going to let develop each year so every batch will be a natural expression of the distiller’s craft.”
The bottle will be as iconic as the bourbon inside. Made from perfume-grade glass in Italy and ceramic stamped with our iconic wings, the bottle is hand-filled, corked and crated in Louisville, Kentucky.
As far as the name, it’s well accepted in bourbon circles that each distillery owes a percentage of the bourbon in their barrels to the angels – known as the Angel’s Share. But, Lincoln sat the angels down and got them to agree that they could take a larger share if they agreed to leave behind something even better. The result is Angel’s Envy.
In addition to New Jersey, Angel’s Envy will be available in the following markets: Louisville, New York, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Dallas, Nashville, Portland, Washington, DC, and Boulder/Denver.
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
Apothecary Cocktails: Mexican Sleep Cure
Billy Reid: Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore
Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature
The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana