A Master Distiller Unretired To Help Create Angel's Envy

They say that if you choose a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life. While this might be too much for most folks to hope for, it certainly proved true for Lincoln Henderson. Henderson spent more than four decades in the spirits industry and eventually went on to become a Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee and Malt Advocate's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. The master distiller made a name for himself working at Brown-Forman, one of America's largest spirits and wine companies, where he created the iconic whiskey brands Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack. After he retired from Brown-Forman in 2004, he returned to work just two years later, tempted by his long-time dream and labor of love-to-be, Angel's Envy bourbon.

Angel's Envy is a high-end bourbon finished in port barrels, and its name comes from the term "angel's share," which refers to the liquid that evaporates from a barrel of liquor as it ages. When Lincoln first tasted the finished bourbon, he thought it was so good that the angels would be upset they hadn't taken more. But it wasn't Lincoln alone who was dead set on making this unusual and beloved bourbon. He had a little help from someone very close to him.

A family affair

According to the company, Angel's Envy bourbon was the product of a father-son partnership between Lincoln and his son, Wes Henderson. It was Wes who convinced his father to return to the industry two years into his retirement in order to take a stab at one of Lincoln's virtuosic ideas. He'd thought for a long time about aging bourbon in port barrels but never had the chance. After spending the bulk of his career at a major spirits company, Lincoln was attracted to the idea of producing small-batch bourbon independently, which would offer him more creative freedom. Angel's Envy became the culmination of a long career spent collecting various ideas from the greatest experts in the field. The bourbon was an immediate smash hit after its 2011 release, even earning the title "Best Spirit in the World" in 2013 by Spirit Journal.

Lincoln later mentored his grandson, Kyle Henderson, who went on to join the company officially as a Bottling Manager in 2010. Lincoln Henderson passed away in 2013, and Wes Henderson stepped down from the company in 2022 after joining his father in the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Today, Angel's Envy is made by the Louisville Distilling Company, a Bacardi subsidiary, and Kyle Henderson still works for the Louisville Distilling Company to this day as a Production Manager.