After nearly four decades as master distiller for the Brown-Forman Corporation, overseeing name-brand bourbons Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, Lincoln Henderson was looking forward to a peaceful retirement. That dream ended when his son Wesley approached him with the idea of starting up their own distillery operation.
“I told him he was stupid,” Henderson recalls in his warm Kentucky drawl. “But he went ahead with it, the whiskey became mature, we put it in port barrels for about six months, and now we have Angel’s Envy.”
Angel’s Envy, which Henderson has referred to as his “life’s work,” will be one of more than 200 spirits available for tasting at the eighth annual Philadelphia Whiskey Festival, where the distiller himself will be on hand, as will Fred Noe, great-grandson of Jim Beam, who will be signing bottles of the family business’ Devil’s Cut bourbon. There will also be a Manhattan competition involving Philly’s top bartenders, hors d’oeuvres by local restaurants and a raffle benefiting SafeHome Philadelphia.
The festival will feature tastings of scotch, tequila, gin, rum and vodka, but Henderson sticks by his own personal passion. “Bourbon is the American product,” he says. “It was born in the U.S. and can only be made in the U.S., and to me it’s the most complicated whiskey. I’ve really had a lot of pleasure working with whiskeys.”
On Wednesday night, Fred Noe stops by the Twisted Tail for a chat about Jim Beam and some sampling, plus Jim Beam barbecue pulled-pork sandwiches. Reservations are required. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., 509 S. Second St., www.thetwistedtail.com