Even though the category of American single malt is about to get its own legal definition and could be poised to take off, it looks like bourbon is still king. Case in point is the announcement that Owen Martin has moved on from a three-year stint making malt at Denver’s Stranahan’s distillery to become the new master distiller for Angel’s Envy in Louisville, KY.
Angel’s Envy has not had an official master distiller with all the rigamarole which that title holds since the passing of Lincoln Henderson in 2013. Henderson co-founded the brand with his son Wes in 2006, and held the master distiller title for Angel’s Envy after a long career working for companies like Brown-Forman (Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve). Wes held the title of chief innovation office until this year when he stepped down, but the family tradition lives on as his sons Connor and Kyle continue to hold important roles at the distillery. And now Martin is stepping in with a more traditional bourbon role that starts on October 17.
Martin will oversee all aspects of production and innovation for Angel’s Envy, including the wildly popular annual cask strength release, the Cellar Collection and the Founder’s Collection. “Angel’s Envy has been a trailblazer in redefining the finished whiskey category in the US, and the chance to be a part of the next chapter for a young brand that has already made such a large impact on the industry is truly the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to bringing my knowledge of secondary cask finishing and unique perspective of European and American production techniques, as well as my expertise in product development and passion for experimentation, to the foremost secondary-finished bourbon and rye producer in the country.”
Cask finishing is indeed the bread and butter of Angel’s Envy, with a core lineup of bourbon finished in port barrels and rye finished in rum casks. The Louisville distillery, which opened in 2016, just completed an $8.2 million expansion of its facilities. According to a rep for the brand, the current whiskey is a blend of in-house distilled (about 75%) and sourced (about 25%), with plans to increase the percentage distilled onsite over the coming years. The new cask strength bourbon launch is arriving soon, so fans of the brand will surely be interested in what Martin brings to the bourbon in his new role.