The Angels Took More Than Their Fair Share of Old Forester’s New Bourbon

Old Forester just added a new bourbon to its limited-edition 117 Series of whiskeys. The new release, which is actually a re-release, is called High Angels’ Share because the amount of whiskey left in the barrel was lower than expected after aging. But the flavor took a different path, according the the brand, and soared to great heights.

Angel’s share refers to the evaporation that occurs as a whiskey ages in a barrel. As the temperature and humidity fluctuate over the course of many years, the whiskey expands and contracts inside the barrel allowing it to pick up color and flavor from the wood. During this time evaporation is happening as well, and at a much higher rate in Kentucky with its hot summers and cold winters than it does in the relatively stable and cool climate of Scotland or Ireland. In Kentucky, about three to five percent of the whiskey is lost to the angels every year, so a 10-year-old barrel could only have about 50 percent of the liquid left that originally went into it.

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The 117 Series debuted in 2021, with three different expressions released each year. We’ve covered a few of those, including the excellent bottled-in-bond bourbon, a bourbon finished in scotch whisky casks, and the double-barreled Extra Extra Old. Old Forester didn’t say exactly how much whiskey the angels enjoyed from the barrels that went into the new High Angels’ Share, which is now in its third release, but let’s assume it’s more than usual.

This is the first whiskey release that new assistant master distiller Caleb Trigo had a hand in (he got the job just about a month ago). “When walking into our aging warehouses, the aroma of evaporating whiskey is immediately evident,” he said in a statement. “That smell is commonly called angels’ share–the angels taking their portion of the bourbon. Barrels with high evaporation concentrate flavors. We are pleased to bring those flavors directly to consumers through this unique bottle.” The whiskey was bottled at 110 proof and is said to have “dark flavor notes, dried fruits, and herbaceous qualities” on the palate.

The new edition of High Angels’ Share comes in smaller 375-ml bottles that are available at the distillery or the Old Forester online shop ($60 for one, $120 for a set of two), but check the secondary market as well if you’re not in the Bluegrass State and are willing to spend a little more cash.

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