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Kentucky's Own Angel's Envy Bourbon Plants Over 12,000 Trees

The growing popularity of bourbon is good for the craft spirits industry, but it also means producing that bourbon takes more resources. Specifically, because bourbon whiskey must be aged in a new oak barrel, more trees are needed to make more barrels. Fortunately, trees are a renewable resource and some bourbon makers are stepping up to do their part to keep both the industry and the forests growing.

As part of the distillery's sustainability program and in honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month, Angel's Envy bourbon distillery is planting over 12,000 trees this spring. The trees are part of an effort the call Toast the Trees and it's made possible by the distillery's fans.

Last day to post a photo of @Angels_Envy and tag it with #AE4THETREES to help Angels Envy plant a tree! More wood more barrels more whiskey!

Last September, the distillery asked customers to share a picture of their Angel's Envy drink or bottle with the hashtag #AE4THETREES. For each picture shared, they promised to plant a tree.

Customers and fans responded enthusiastically, posting pictures of drinks and bottles and, because it's the internet, cats with bottles.

It's the fourth year in a row the small batch distillery has partnered with The Arbor Day Foundation to plant white oak trees in the Daniel Boone National Forest; this year they were able to plant almost as many trees as the first three years of the program combined. In total, this spring they planted 12,030 white oak trees as part of their program to reforest old strip mining sites in the national forest.

Talking with NPR station WKMS, Kyle Henderson, Angel's Envy's production manager, said that the distillery bought about 16,000 barrels over the year, which equals about 8,000 trees.

"If we're going to be planting 12,000 trees we are putting more trees in the ground than we are taking out for our barrels," Henderson told WKMS.

Angel's Envy is based in Louisville, Kentucky, where it is produced by the Louisville Distilling Company which is a subsidiary of Bacardi Limited. Like all Kentucky straight bourbons, it's aged between 4 to 6 years in American white oak barrels, but unlike most bourbons, the Angel's Envy bourbon finishes aging its hand-blended batches in 60-gallon port barrels from Portugal.

Aging a spirit in sherry or port wine barrels is a technique Scotch whisky distillers use and master distiller Lincoln Henderson wondered why bourbon makers didn't try it as well. Lincoln and son Wes built their process around that idea. The story goes that the this Kentucky bourbon got its name from a comment Lincoln made about the angel's share, or the amount of spirit lost each year to evaporation during the aging process.

Lincoln tasted the finished whiskey and said that they'd finally gotten a better deal than the angels. The distillery also ages its rye whiskey in Caribbean rum barrels.

Watch: The Differences in Spirits