Staff Favorites - David Othenin-Girard

David Othenin-Girard
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Reviews

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Helios Distillery "Kura The Whisky" Japanese Rum Cask Finished Pure Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 08-08-2018
It's not often that we come across a new Japanese whisky. Yes there are new brands being developed and launched all the time, but this little whisky from the wonderful Helios distillery on Okinawa arrived as a total surprise. What's unique about the excellent new whisky from southern Japan are a couple of little words that separate it from a number of other pure malts on the market, "Distilled By". Pure malt is whisky terminology the Japanese continue to use which has been banned in Scotland for a number of reasons. It is the legal equivalent of saying, "a blend of single malts," but in Japan it is also used to refer to single malt as well. Even more confusing is the fact that Japanese Whisky must be aged in Japan but not necessarily distilled there. We're very skeptical of many new brands because they're legally allowed to import blended malt, age it in Japan and call it Japanese Whisky. That doesn't mean that the whiskies are bad, just that they don't deserve a premium over scotch in any sense. But, this technique is not only used by little upstart brands, but also the large producers. While there's been some grumbling about clarifying the rules, the potential downside for the popular blends in Japan is significant, hence the strong resistance to change. The reason they haven't been able to replicate the process for products labeled "single malt" is that Scotland prohibits the export of single malt in bulk - it must be bottled in Scotland to be considered such. So many of new brands bring in Scotch (or Canadian Malt) and sell it as Japanese Whisky thanks to the lax regulations of the Pure Malt designation. But the Helios Distillery is doing something very different. According to their importer they're not just distilling malt whisky on their old pot stills, they're using malt dried with Hokkaido peat. This is blended with an unpeated malt whisky from the distillery and aged in used American oak. This is not Rice Whisky like so many of the southern Japanese distilleries produce but made from 100% malted barley. There is a long tradition of distilling and aging rice in the south, but Helios is actually most famous for their rum internationally. They produce a coveted 21 year old Japanese Rum and finish this whisky in those exceptional barrels. The result is one of the most unique and appealing peated whisky in the shop. The nose is a mingling of dried stone fruits and round maritime smoke. The roundness continues on the palate and the sweetness of the rum casks offers opulence, but not to cloyingly so. It's gentle but interesting. Despite the peat it's seems somehow refreshing. It's hard to compare this to anything else on the market, but if you can imagine dumping some Hakushu 12 year into one of the Nikka Malts you might get close. Needless to say, I purchased every bottle the importer had in stock and plan to continue to do so for as long as they'll let me.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de Bila Haut "Occultum Lapidem" Côtes de Roussillon-Villages Latour de France
Review Date: 07-25-2018
So full disclosure, I sort of dread the arrival of the Bila-Haut each year. Yes it offers incredible value for people who like that awesome weight and depth that they can achieve, but for my palate I often find them difficult to drink because they're either too tannic or over ripe. I'm not sure what has changed with the '15 but it hasn't lost any of the intensity it's known for. Instead, it's added some gorgeous soft tannins and a more complex structure compared to previous vintages. Maybe the warm year meant picking a little closer to perfect ripeness to achieve the weight they require allowing them to retaining structure. Whatever it is this is easily the best Bila Haut we've seen in a years. Dense dark fruit, fresh ground espresso beans, wafting garrigue and something unmistakably ferrous. On the palate deep and heavy but not at all sweet. The core of dark berries is pulled through on the palate by wisps of savory smoke and deep earthiness keep it from feeling at all modern.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2014 Varner "Upper Picnic Block - Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-25-2018
Here is some big boy Pinot from one of Santa Cruz' very best! Varner has kind of made it's name producing heady wines with great expressiveness and tons of finesse. This awesome offering turns the intensity right up to 11. An aromatic monster right out of the bottle but tasting like a dream after a few hours open in the bottle. Dark wild cherry, deep savory spice, tense fresh earthiness to balance the nearly syrupy fruit on the nose. And while the weight and texture is there, the wine doesn't cross the line into the danger zone. Pulled back from the edge by a wonderful structure, supple acidity and a thoughtful use of oak. The bold pinot standing up to the new oak regime easily. Slam dunk for anyone into domestic Pinot and worthy of at least a case worth in the cellar at this price.
Price: $44.95 Add To Cart
RP 95 VN 95

2016 Mas Codina Xarel-lo Penedes
Review Date: 07-25-2018
Just totally blown away by the quality of this special little wine. Besides the astonishing fact that it's only $15 and made with great care - this wine is just FUN! The nose has incredible purity - subtle gravelly, hints of herbs, white pepper and exotic citrus. The palate is heavier than expected but not over weight. Perfect line of acidity keeps it all focused as the ripe yellow plum and pithy stone fruit softens the wild mineral quality. This could be high-end Saumur or something, but instead it's $15 flat Cava. I'm fully on board.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

Arawaks Distillery "Clairin Vaval" Single Estate Haitian Sugarcane Juice Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-11-2018
Wow the incredible Vaval is easily the equal to the other two Clairins, but a third distinctive style. Not having the vegetal intensity of the Casimir or the clean crispness of the Sajous, it might be the most versatile of the three. The nose is the most phenolic of the three as well. Pungent and bold nose of camphor, fresh soil, sweet grass, pickles, smoked meats, but then freshness behind. On the palate less phenolic but still very meaty -diesel oil, asphalt/gravel, mineral salts and touches of roasted citrus peel. The finish is dry and distinctive with a strong zesty lime note coming through. An absolutely idiosyncratic experience and something I want people to love as much as I do. This one will be extremely fun to mix with as well.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Chelo Distillery "Clairin Sajous" Single Estate Haitian Sugarcane Juice Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-11-2018
Clairin is so hard to pinpoint, but there's no question that these special spirits are the next level for real lovers of distilled spirits who crave complexity and depth. They fall squarely in a round hole. Or is that roundly in a square whole? The sum of the squares is great than the whole. Anyway, expect something in between Agave, Agricole and Islay. Sajous is a pretty different terroir than the other two Clairins and has a slightly different style type, but we're no less impressive. This one can use a bit of water just a tiny drop. Still tons of savory, but less black olive and more castelnuovo, fresh teatree bark, engine oil, sour dough, underbrush and endless bouquet of aromatics. The palate just explodes. It's so delineated and enjoyable I can't stop drinking it. Crushed rocks covered in lime juice. Sea water thrown on a smoldering fire. Mangos covered in Tajin. Just ridiculous. Unfair. Nothing else matters but this...
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Douglas Casimir Distillery "Clairin Casimir" Single Estate Haitian Sugarcane Juice Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-11-2018
The Clairin Casimir is truly one of my favorite spirits in the store of any kind. Understanding why these rums (the Clairins) are so special is as easy as pouring that first glass. But appreciating the incredible story behind these wonderful rums, true products of place, makes the sensory experience all that much more impressive. To compare the Clairins to single village mezcal is appropriate and even comparing the actual products to Agave isn't a big stretch. Instead of smoke we get a deep rancio funk in the background, but the structure and attitude of the spirit is similar. The nose on the Casimir is one of the most complex of any white spirit I've ever experienced. Deep tones of savory tomato puree, black olives, salted roasted herring and dense dried herbal characters are pointed by hints of ripe tropical fruit, citrus, sweet tea and grass. On the palate, the overwhelming savory quality takes a back seat and the gorgeous fruit aromas come through. Bright citrus peel, strong ginger and cassia notes. Not nearly as dark and brooding as the nose might imply. The whole thing stays wonderfully balanced and precise with salty citrus being the prominent quality to the end.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

El Tesoro "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel #158 Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
Visiting La Alteña distillery was truly a dream come true for me. Jalisco is one of the most interesting and dynamic places in Mexico and the drive up to Arandas was like a holy pilgrimage. What's striking about the drive from Guadalajara is how gradual the ascent to nearly 6000 is. You barely notice it. You also don't see a lot of Agave growing along the way, a sign that the agave shortage might actually be real. Once you've reach altitude, you begin to see tiny blue green dots contrasting the vibrant red earth. The tiny young agave planted in small fields near homes and around villages on any exposed patch, another sign that some locals are hoping to cash in on the current high prices of agave. Unlikely that they'll be getting the inflated price once those plants are mature, but the haphazard nature of the plantings mirrors the industry's crisis perfectly. Arriving at La Alteña, you notice the incredible security. High agave prices mean potential for agave thieves and our guide Carlos Camarenas eluded to the problem as we walked through the fields. Carlos is a wizard in the fields and his depth of knowledge is astounding. He jokes and smokes a cigarette and the green smell of cut agave wafts through the air. The striking red brick and open air distillery are exactly what you'd imagine an old tequila distillery to look like, blue agave stretches out in every direction. The old way of making great tequila isn't that complicated, but it's a lot of hard work. Simple tricks have made La Alteña more efficient, like driving the Tahona with a tractor instead of a donkey. A conveyor belt to lift the freshly cut agave to the ovens. A mesh bag to hold the bagasse in the fermenters for easy cleaning. The process is the same as it would have been when Don Felipe opened the distillery 80 years ago. We were offered 9 samples to select from when the tour was over, but they had another 40 cask samples awaiting our evaluation. IT was a race to find the best. Carlos had separated the samples into three flavor profiles going from lightest bodied to heavier. When I came across barrel 158 I knew instantly that we'd found a gem. Big bold nose of fragrant agave, steamed pumpkin, subtle mineral, deep floral and tropical fruit only accented in the most subtle way by nine months in oak. The palate was luxurious and rich, with an unexpected softness that belied the pungent qualities on the nose. The unprecedented purity of the spirit itself matched only by the purity of this most authentic of experiences.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Wathen’s Private Barrel #59 "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel Straight Kentucky Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
We've been content previously to let these wonderful Wathen's single barrels sell naturally off the shelf. It's usually those early adopters who take a chance only to let the bottle sit in the bar for a few weeks that end up coming back begging for more. I used to be able to give it to them. Those were the days. I think I erroneously referred to the last casks a "certain sleeper" meaning it might be around for a while until the real heads figure out how special it was. Talking like that has the fully intended consequence of peaking almost everyone's interest. One bottle turns into two or three at the touch of a button these days. Now I have people constantly returning asking me if I still have that awesome cask from those Medley boys, but of course we do not. The single cask program here moves pretty slow. I selected this bad boy along side the AMAZING Barrel Proof offering last year and it's just showing up now. I remember sitting across from Sam at lunch tasting the line up. He asked, "what do you look for when selecting a cask?" I hummed and hawed a bit. "We want something special. Something bigger and better than our customers can already get, not just different, but noticeably better. But in terms of the one quality that I'm looking for in determining the value of a particular cask, it would be balance." Sam lit up, "That's exactly what my Dad says!" "I like you David." I feel the same way Sam and that quality is exactly what we find in this wonderful barrel. The nose starts VERY corn driven. Corn bread baking in an old wooden house. As it aerates the fruit starts to pour out of the glass. Sticky stewed stone fruit, tart red cherries and that corn boiling behind. Then gorgeous fresh cut wood, touches of graphite and dried herbs. In the mouth, its round and medium bodied. The front end is more toward the caramel and toffee than the fruit, but in the middle the spices really take over tinged by old wood and earthy gravel. The finish is medium length and super soft with almost no burn though the obvious barrel spice dries it up leaving you with one impression - balance. Classy stuff...
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

1997 Bowmore 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
If I had to pick one distillery to drink for the rest of my life, Bowmore would definitely be in the running. They do some solid and safe stuff at the distillery, but where it truly shines are the single casks. I'm not sure why we've had such incredible luck with this distillery, but we've literally purchased every casks we've tasted distilled in the last several years (save the 1971 at Signatory, but only because it was $1000+ a bottle). While there was a weird period at the distillery from the early 80s to the mid 90s, they seem to have cycled through those casks and we're not seeing the perfume addled stuff any longer. What we have seen has been so delicious and diverse I just never get tired of them. Even more impressive is that we're able to get old Islay whisky from a blue chip distillery and not charge $300 a bottle! Even though we've done already two others this year this cask was so different and absolutely delectable we couldn't resist it. You may think you have enough Bowmore, but you're wrong. It opens with a classic Bowmore nose, medium intensity peat, sea spray, wet earth, bright citrus fruit and herbs. Crystalline and absolute purity on the palate with the sweet tropical fruit, citrus peel and smoke working together in gorgeous harmony. The first whisky for Springtime! I like this better than the last cask by a few ticks and with a drop of water it's one of the more inviting Bowmore we've ever bottled.
Price: $149.99 Add To Cart

Jefferson's "Special Wheated Mashbill" Ocean Voyage #15 Aged at Sea Very Small Batch Straight Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
We've always enjoyed the Ocean Voyage even if the slightly higher cost seemed a touch gimmicky. It's really solid bourbon with that little salty twang, but to be honest the spicy side of the rye mashbill kind of masked any serious ocean influence. Now the softer sweeter Wheated Bourbon is really suited for embracing the subtle influence of the ocean aging. They've obviously started with really solid bourbon, which is the key to the success of any of these "innovative" bourbon products. That whiskey, whose origin remains a secret, could come from any of the many high quality wheat producers, although it seems to be distilled in Kentucky. The special wheated mashbill offers a much more supple and rounded whiskey from the start and the sweetness balances out the briny background note perfectly without masking the subtle ocean influence. That influence comes from journey unlike any other in modern bourbon production. Visiting more than 30 ports and crossing the equator 4 times, the whiskey is subjected to some of the most extreme heat and humidity our planet has to offer. The resulting whiskey is one of the most lovable little whiskies Jefferson has released in years. It might not have the pedigree of the old age stated stuff, but I would challenge anyone to argue that isn't more enjoyable than any special release from this great little producer in the last several years. Like all the Ocean Voyage's a portion of the proceeds go to Ocearch for the study and preservation of shark's in the North Atlantic. So, you can drink well and do good at the same time.
Price: $82.99 Add To Cart

A. Smith Bowman "Isaac Bowman" Port Barrel Finish Virginia Straight Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
So I almost always dislike Port Finished bourbon. It’s not that they’re always bad, but often they don’t ADD much to the already wonderful whisky that went into those barrels. Indeed some work well. Angel's Envy and the tiniest kiss of sweet red fruit the port adds would be an example. But others simply over do it, adding a syrupy saccharine quality to already sweet spirit or even worse providing an overt bitterness from too much time in French oak. In general I believe it draws away from the inherent character of the a good bourbon, assuming you started with good bourbon. That said this new offering from Bowman strikes the perfect balance. It's not as mild as the Angel's, yet remains as balanced and delicious as all the Bowman Bourbons. Expect dense dark red fruit popping out from the first moment. Slight hints of candied stone fruit balanced by big sweet oaky vanilla and spice. This morphs into dense roasted nuts and cinnamon apple tart on the palate. Definitely on the sweet side, but avoiding the overtly sugary flavors with the highish proof and bold spice. A totally wonderful new addition to the Bowman line and my new go to pair for almost ANY dessert.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

1995 Glen Keith 21 Year Old "John Milroy - K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
Good old Glen Keith. It gets a bad rap from some of the old timers in this industry, but there's always been something intriguing about Chivas' oddball experimental facility behind Strathisla. I visited the rundown distillery with David on our first trip to Speyside and we'd considered trespassing, but it seemed work had already started on the new reception area and we weren't prepared to be confronted by some Scottish construction worker. This distillery, while relatively new--the first built in Speyside since the whisky crisis in the late 1890s--is actually really attractive. Like Tormore to the southwest, this distillery was a stalwart addition to the Chivas portfolio, but also produced some oddball whiskies through the years. That's given us a difficult time pinning down exactly what the distillery style is, but if we can expect anything like this special whisky I hope they keep popping up. A nose of extreme freshness, crystalline, precise pear and apple fruit. Subtle hints of heather and vanilla. The heather and fresh vanilla take charge on the palate, but the cleanliness of the spirit is paramount here. We're at a natural 45.8%, so I'm going to recommend you avoid adding any more than the tiniest drop of water, which adds a touch of broadness on the nose, but risks ruining the delicacy on the palate. This isn't the most overt or powerful whisky, but offers elegance and a certain grace that's lost in so many modern offerings.
Price: $109.99 Add To Cart

2008 Tobermory 8 Year Old "John Milroy - K&L Exclusive" Single Refill Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
I'm just totally in love with some of the stuff coming from Milroy these days. Doug McIver has great taste and although his style tends to be rather restrained, he more than makes up for it with intriguing, beguiling casks like this one. Tobermory in refill sherry sounds like a solid recipe even at this young age and nothing about this whisky disappoints. That said, it does start out a bit rough and tumble and needs a bit of coaxing to really open up. In the glass it's the perfect golden hue. The nose does start a little intense with the slightest feinty funk, pithy dried citrus peel and green woodsy herbs. On the palate, the texture is creamy. The earthy malt and bright citrus dominate. It builds toward a spicy, slightly roasty finish. Now Stop! Don't take another sip. Grab some good spring water and add a healthy few drops. Watch this whisky transmute! Now an explosion of ultra ripe yellow plums, roasted spices and flinty Riesling-like fruit. The palate broadens and softens, opening on to orchards of citrus and stone fruit trees and the honey from their bees. The structure on the palate is wonderful and we start to get hints of vanilla fudge and roast pecans which remind us that this cask did indeed hold sherry once. The finish is medium long and refreshing. It's a bit dangerous when you can't stop smelling your empty glass. Altogether an instructive and enjoyable journey down the rabbit hole and another great summer whisky from Milroy. We're very lucky to be the exclusive retailer for this product in California.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Lagavulin 16 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2018
Lagavulin is a pillar. Without a doubt one of the most important distilleries in Scotland. It is the darling of Diageo and cranks out ultra high quality smoky malt year after year. Even though some cranky critics like to lament about how the 16 year doesn't taste like it used to, I've had it along side bottlings from the last 3 decades and I have to say it continues to be one of the most special whiskies on the market. Quality, intensity of flavor, and depth are unsurpassed at this price point (and our price is pretty seriously low). The Lagavulin is an oily beast, rich and peaty, but with a profound balance that keeps you itching to get the glass back up to your lips.

2017 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina
Review Date: 06-26-2018
There is absolutely no reason to NOT have a bottle of this in your fridge ready to go at all times. It's affordable, delicious, interesting but so easy to drink. If you find yourself chugging Vinho Verde, but you're craving something slightly more adult. This is the wine for you. The zippy little stream of fizz and the bracing minerality are exactly what you need on a hot summer day. Throw some tapas at it and you'll need be reaching for another bottle before you know it.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Savage "White" Western Cape
Review Date: 06-26-2018
Another impeccable wine from Duncan Savage. It’s so easy to spend $30-50 on a bottle of wine and get something that’s just ok. Even worse is getting something that’s downright boring. I’d almost rather have something wacky or hard to drink than absolutely soulless. This wine is neither of these. It’s full of soul and life, but also extremely polished and well put together. A graceful nose of orange sherbet, tangerine peel and wild herbal quality. The mouth feel is down right lip smacking with some serious texture and a juicy tropical acidity that cuts right through the bold lemony fruit. I see connections with some of the great wines of the Loire, Rhone and Burgundy, but I think even California Chard drinkers (while not at all in the same flavor profile) could find way to appreciate the opulent qualities of this exceptional South African. An absolute treat which we’re lucky to offer at such a stupendous price.

2013 Château Peyros Madiran Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 06-26-2018
I have deep and borderline spiritual connection to the south western part of France. I love the people, the food, the brandy and although the regions dominated by the great wines of the Medoc to the northeast, the region offers an incredible array of delicious local wines. There's no question that Madiran stands at the top of the heap. Over the last two decades the Lesgourgues family (The same family making the wonderful Laubade Armagnac in Sorbet) have taken this rustic hard edged wine and turned it into a world class estate. While some technical expertise in the winery has softened the edges, there's no doubt that this full bodied dark fruited red has some classic flavors of the southwest. Chewy dense structure with plenty of spice but not so obvious on the oak. Brambly fruit tempered with subtle earthy gravel. There are few wines in the store with so much stuffing for so little money. This one will get better for 10+ years easily.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

Tobermory 21 Year Old "Manzanilla Finish" Unfiltered Cask Strength Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-23-2018
The wonderful new limited edition from Tobermory is more proof that the new South African owners are committed to producing some of the most exciting new whiskies coming out of Scotland these days. Tobermory has always been an expensive brand, the limited production and far flung locale are part of the reason the malt is so expensive, but also the gorgeous distillery little distillery has some cache. Even their entry level malts command a serious premium over some of their competitors. Here we have a well aged version of the special malt from the Isle of Mull finished for a year in dry Manzanilla Sherry casks. The nose is all roasted nuts, flamed citrus peel, cooked red fruit, dried apricot with almonds. Still the subtle earthy malty funk of Tobermory peaks through. Just absolutely rich and chewy. More dried stone and red fruits. An earthy greenness that's hard to pinpoint, green tea or walnuts? Some pithy tangerine and a long woody nuttiness to finish. A bit idiosyncratic, but not hard to love at all.
Price: $239.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine de Montbourgeau "En Banode" l'Etoile
Review Date: 04-19-2018
The wines from Montbourgeau are always such a treat and in a lot of ways this one is maybe the most interesting. We often have to steer people away from some of the weird Jura wines because they're really an acquired taste, they're not inexpensive and so there's kind of this underlying fear that the uninitiated will absolutely hate it. The En Banode bridges that gap nicely, showing enough the oxidized funk to keep any die hard fan happy for days, while softening the intense acidity of a typical voile savagnin with some pretty chardonnay fruit. The nutty quality is there but more as a frame than the most prominent flavor. Almost anyone who is interested in wine and somewhat adventurous will find something to love here. The gorgeous bouquet the wonderful texture and acidity, it's really the whole package.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

Knob Creek K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #5851 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 04-04-2018
Well here is something different! I was expecting something ultra heavy and dark when I heard we'd be trying Single Cask Knob Creek Rye, but when the samples arrived I was surprised to find something totally out of the norm for Jim Beam. High-toned, fragrant and zesty, this bold little rye isn't quiet in line with any of the other Beam Ryes. Probably the closest thing I can compare it to is an old hotter version of Old Overholt, but even so it doesn't have the classic varnish quality we might expect there. The biggest parallel is the obvious maltiness that comes out at the end of the glass, which is something I definitely got in the new Overholt bonded, but the liveliness of this whiskey has no parallel in Beam's portfolio. It's not altogether traditional Kentucky Rye, but it is absolutely delicious and certainly a welcome change from some of the other high proof ryes on the market.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart

Old Forester K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #3650 (7th Floor, Warehouse B) Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 04-04-2018
What's most striking about the three barrels we pulled out of the dark cavernous warehouses at the Brown-Forman plant in Shively, Kentucky is how strikingly different they are. Old Forester is known to be one of the most consistent and high quality distilleries, but even within a handful of casks we've experience incredible diversity. One cask was classic varnish, old wood and spice box. One was ultra woodsy and herbal. This cask is probably the most balanced and approachable of the three and shows tons of dark roasted spices balanced by a dense woodsy sweetness. Subtle aromas of caramel, tea and cooked red apples meld perfectly into the dark spice driven palate. Good texture despite being 90 proof and that baked apple quality comes back up on the finish to round out the package nicely. This isn't whiskey you need to sit around and think about. It's a joy to drink and that's what it's for. It's balanced but not boring. I have difficulty finding any faults with it as long as you don't mind the dry palate mid-palate.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2013 Bersano "Mantico" Barbaresco
Review Date: 02-07-2018
I'm absolutely in love with Nebbiolo. Am constantly on the hunt for Piedmont stuff that I can afford to drink on the regular. As with Burgundy, it can get a little dicey with the low end side of the market, so when we find an inexpensive and varietally correct Nebbiolo at an affordable price, we tend to hoard it. Typically, I'll direct people to the other end of the store, but in this case I felt the an absolute obligation to alert our customers to this special wine. For years, we've been led to believe that Barolo is the big masculine brother of the elegant and sophisticated sister, Barbaresco. Of course this over simplification does nothing but serve to confuse an already complex region. That said this little Barbaresco, fits rights pretty nicely into stereotype without sacrificing it's integrity or varietal character. All this at about half the price we'd expect to pay. Already drinking like a dream, but with the meat to last for years, the nose has the complexity and nuance of a top tier Nebbiolo. Baskets of savory treats, a touch of salumi, a dried floral and earthy spice. Behind all that a beautiful linear lifted red fruit tone. Lip smacking acidity, wonderful texture and a long satisfying finish tie the entire package up with a perfect little bow. Easily one of the most quaffable wines available in the price point. This is a must buy for me.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 JS 90

2015 Ferrero "Pepita" Rosso di Toscana
Review Date: 02-07-2018
Rarely do we come across a Tuscan wine that appeals to so many different palates while costing so little. The Pepita is exactly that. It's a juicy round dark fruited full bodied wine that any Cali drinker would pick up and be forced to investigate Tuscany further. It's got wonder acidity and the tiniest crunchy tannin to keep the foodies from calling it fruit juice and that lovely baseline earthiness that we expect from a solid Italian blend. I don't usually describe red wine as something to guzzle, but it's going to be difficult to stop yourself from opening a second bottle of this bad boy. Don't worry about it though, it's only $15 and you know you didn't really want to go out anyway...
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Stolpman "La Cuadrilla" Ballard Canyon Red Blend
Review Date: 01-12-2018
Another gorgeous and balanced offering from our dear friends at Stolpman. This is exactly what I wish California could do more often. Affordable, varietally correct syrah that's approachable but by no means neutered or dumbed down. A dark purple color with garnet around the edge. A nose of peppered plums, subtle earthy spice, rip brambly fruit and heady dried flowers/herbs. Medium plus body with an evident, but very appealing soft tannin and wonderful lifted acid. Very hard to find a better $20 from California.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine Petroni Corse Rouge (Corsica)
Review Date: 11-16-2017
Another lovely little value from the coop in Corsica that's making some of the most affordable and approachable wines in the store. This years Rouge is easily the best we've tasted from them. It does away with the brambly dried fruit of the 2014 and replaces it with a vibrant dark berry, tiny hints of fresh tobacco and evergreen. The palate is medium and wonderfully lifted, with the plummy dark fruit taking over from the subtle earthy herbal quality on the nose. Super juicy length and clean. A total joy to drink and priced to move.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #545 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 11-04-2017
This barrel #545 fits perfectly in between the other two barrels in terms of style. Not as austere and intense as #89, but not as sweet and soft as #550. The nose has wonderful pop of evergreen, roasted herbs, flambeed orange peel, and sweet oak. On the palate we've got tons of fruit up front, braised orchard fruits and dark cherry that build into a strong pepper and spice on the finish. The mid-palate is textured and bursting with roasted woods and exotic vanilla. This whisky isn't restrained by any means, but does need some teasing to really open up, maybe 15-20 min in the glass to really unleash the full potential.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #089 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 11-04-2017
Barrel 89 is easily the funkiest and most herbaceous of this new batch of wonderful Russell's Reserve single Barrels. While it doesn't enter the full on barnyard funk that sometimes exists in these barrels, it definitely has a bigger spice than the others. Big notes of varnish and antique wood, savory herbs, subtle notes of hay and fresh roasted coffee. Melted brown sugar round out those drier flavors on the nose. The palate continues the orchestra of herbaceous dark flavors. A bit of sweet maple notes on the mid palate keep it from being totally overpowering, but the pepper and spice build again on the finish. For those who like the big bold dry rye driven style WT this is definitely the move.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Fukano K&L Exclusive Single Cask #2827 Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-11-2017
There's something special about Fukano that sets it apart from the other whiskies in this category. Often times I'm worried with Rice based whisky that they're trying to sell us glorified Shochu. Some brands do indeed make products that are only a tick or two away from what you might expect a high proof sake to taste like, but Fukano is in another league. I'm not sure if its the quality or intensity of the malt that is used or the distillation or perhaps the new oak Puncheons, but the depth and aromatic power that is achieved on the Fukano is simply unparalleled. The nose is a heady mix of Cola nut, dried fruit, maple wood, and bold dark spices. A bright fresh front palate of coconut and citrus fruit devolves into an incredible spiced fruit bouquet. The finish is big bold toasted Tahitian vanilla. There's something perfectly balanced about it although it's got some wild flavors and it's hard to pinpoint which category it reminds me of most. At one point, I'm thinking, "this feels like Single Malt." The next I'm drinking brandy. The fresh oak alludes to bourbon, but some of the exotic notes are distinctly rummy. Whatever you want to compare it to Fukano is producing some of the best whisky in the world right now and we're extremely lucky to get a little bit when we can.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Tom's Foolery Bottled In Bond Single Barrel #31 Ohio Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 10-09-2017
Here's another wonderful BIB Bourbon from our friends outside of Chagrin Falls, OH. This one, much more so than the rye we've also recently acquired, is very much in the "typical" Tom's Foolery style. That means a big nose of sweet grains and toasty oak. With these pot stilled bourbons you've really got to hammer them with air to get the full experience, but once you've allowed it to mellow in the glass for a solid 30 minutes, the nuance and depth really come out. Tinctures of dark herbs, sweet corn, dark fruits (cherries?), a subtle earthy gravel notes and a deep oak spice. The palate is brighter and opens up nicely with air as well. Textured and chewy, but very much on the dry side of bourbon. Here the subtle malty tones give the impression of a roasted coffee, dried stone fruit and a long warming finish. It's definitely whiskey the old fashioned way, without all the sugary sweetness of some modern bourbons. Makes you kind of nostalgic for a time you never knew.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Cadenhead's Classic 100 Proof Caribbean Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 09-13-2017
The insanity of this product is that there's not a regularly available rum on the market today that comes anywhere close to delivering this much rummy complexity for the price or any price for that matter. There are some wonderful blended rums available, but few capture the exotic intensity of this special product. Dense nose of ultra ripe pineapple syrup, funky Caribbean pot stills, sweet Tahitian vanilla, and roasting Demerara sugar. The palate entry has tons of structure, with an obvious molasses note at the front the builds to a dry mid palate filled with tropical fruit. The medium funk from nose persists on the palate, but not to the extent of taking over the other flavors. Long and satisfying like a day on the beach. Bravo to our friends in Campbeltown!
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

A. Smith Bowman Distillery "Bowman Bros" Small Batch Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-06-2017
The wonderful Bowman Bros Bourbons are an odd thing. This is one of the only triple distilled bourbons out there and it starts with distillate from Buffalo Trace (mashbill #1 & #2) being trucked out to the Bowman facility in Virginia. It's distilled a third time (the continuous still and again on the doubler at BT should count as two) on the Bowman's pot still, which looks as though it might be a component on a space rocket built in the 1800s. The resulting distillate is rich and supple, unique, but familiar. The small batch is a great balance between the sweet Bowman's style and some nice rye spice. An easy going whiskey at a great price that hints at the potential of some of Bowman's higher-end offerings.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

Old Forester K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #2023 Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 08-29-2017
A splendid example of what this special distillery is capable of. A powerful nose of toasted vanilla, dried cherries, mellow spice, and hardwoods. With some air we start to get fresh forest floor, melted brown sugar, overripe orchard fruit and some type of peppercorn medley. Warm and mouthwatering on the entry, bold sweet grains moving toward dark pepper and spicy oak as it finishes. There are very few single barrel on the shelf that deliver such an all encompassing and overtly pleasurable drinking experience.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Te Mata "Estate" Syrah Hawke's Bay
Review Date: 08-24-2017
I'm pretty picky about my syrah. I like them fancy and cool climate. Very few under $20 suit my palate, but this exceptional offering should prove to everyone that Hawke's Bay is capable of making world class syrah for an incredible price. We already know Te Mata is the gold standard in NW, but at this price point it's also becoming one of the best value driven producers on our shelves. A nose of dense dark pepper, herbal brambly red and purple fruit and heady sandalwood. The palate is perfectly structured with evident but approachable tannins and a lovely lifted acidity. This is one to buy by the case and drink over the next 5+ years without questions one of the best values of the year.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2013 Rudi Pichler Riesling Federspiel Wachau
Review Date: 08-24-2017
Pichler is just a stellar producer and each time I taste it I realize that the glowing accolades aren't hyperbolic whatsoever. The Federspiel Riesling delivers everything you could ever want from a dry Riesling and more. A nose of incredible freshness, crushed stone, lemon oil, vibrant and piercing mineral note. Not as brooding as some, but still with a hint of petrol. Long structured and full of crunchy acidity. A world class wine from a world class name.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 08-09-2017
The Siete Leguas Blanco stands as a pillar among all spirits. Proof that agave can produce spirits unlike almost any other spirit in that they can be superlatively good without the addition of any flavoring, aging or adulteration of any kind. I'd put the 7 Leguas Blanco up at the top of my list of wonderful white spirits along with other great authentically produced tequilas like El Tesoro, Tapatio and Fortaleza. I'm not a complete purist though as this tequila is not 100% Tahona press like the Fortaleza, but the exquisite character, supreme drinkability and obvious quality sets 7 Leguas apart from only the very best competitors. The nose is strongly floral (honeysuckle and rose hips) and surprisingly less fruity than the reposado yet showing plenty of gorgeous green agave notes and easy earthy pepper. On the palate the fruit is turned up before moving back toward this earthy almost green tea flavor. This is NOT tequila for vodka drinkers, but does stand out (as it always has) as one of the most exciting spirits in the store at any price.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila
Review Date: 08-09-2017
The special 7 Leguas brand of tequila continues to be one of the most underappreciated operations in Mexico. Founded in 1952 by Ignacio Garcia Vargas in Atotonilco, this tequila stands a pillar of tradition and passion for this great spirit. Easily in my top five tequilas brands and unique in their production technique, 7 Leguas produces tequila exclusively for their own brand and no third party brands from what I can tell. Siete Leguas actually operates two distilleries in the highlands. El Centenario uses traditional Tahona, wooden fermenters, old brick ovens, the inclusion of bagazo in the mosto (wort), and tiny copper pot stills. The other is called La Vencedora and is their "modern" distillery. Here they use mechanical mills, larger steel fermenters without the bagazo included, large brick ovens and larger copper pot stills. So still pretty old school compared too many of their contemporaries. These two distillates are blended by taste and then rested in ex-bourbon barrels for 8 months to create one of the most overtly pleasurable drinking experiences on the market today. This gorgeous reposado exhibits heady agave fruit, candied pineapple, subtle oak spice and rich vanilla. The palate is very rich, but always remaining on the fresh agaveness with the oak only serving to frame the beautiful authentic quality of this special spirit. It doesn't matter how you drink this, cocktail, shots, or sipped straight, if you're drinking 7 Leagues, you're gonna have a good time.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
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Berry Bros & Rudd "No. 3" London Dry Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 08-02-2017
The wonderful Berry's No 3 Gin is a classic, but there's no better way to experience this special gin than sitting down at DUKES Bar in London's West End and having the illustrious Alessandro Palazzi mix you his famous Martini. The key isn't the way he shakes it, but instead the incredible Amalfi lemon that he uses for his for his garnish. Otherwise, his Martini consists of a vermouth rinse (of course he makes his own) and an ice cold bottle of No 3 right out of the freezer. Nothing more nothing less. You can get 98% percent of that experience by following those simple steps at home with a high quality lemon and a fine Italian dry vermouth. It's pure pleasure.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

Jensen's Old Tom Bermondsey Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 08-02-2017
Jensen's Gin is quickly becoming one of the most well liked craft gins on the market. The reason they're having such great success is their commitment to creating authentic, historically relevant and delicious of the highest gin. Their Old Tom is distinct from every other commercial Old Tom on the market today. Taken from a handwritten recipe in an 1840s distiller's manual, the Bermonsday Old Tom is the only UNSWEETENED Old Tom on the market. Intensely flavored and achieving that sweet Old Tom flavor via the heavy use of angelica root rather than the addition of sugar, this is the perfect gin to create OT Classics like the Martinez or the Ramos Fizz. The lack of sugar gives the bartender much more control over the final flavor and the big bold botanicals lends itself to use in other classics like the Negroni or the Last Word.
Price: $33.99 Add To Cart

St. George Gin 3-pack 200ml (cannot ship)
Review Date: 08-02-2017
The perfect gift for any gin drinkers. St George is California's premier craft distiller and they've exploded onto the gin scene with these three magical offerings. The cute little bottles and easy to wrap packaging make it the perfect gift for any occasion. Of course, these three unique and special gins are second to none and represent the completely different styles. Playful and full flavored each lends itself to different application and transcends the old ideas of what gin should be.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

Mulholland New World Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 08-02-2017
Mulholland Spirits is LA's newest brand. These guys are all about having fun and giving people spirits that they love to drink. This gin definitely falls into the gin for non-gin drinkers category, although I've seen plenty of London Dry drinkers come back for a second bottle. Tons of citrus, cucumber, and a distinct lavender note, this is perfect for someone who LOVES Hendricks.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

2015 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-18-2017
Another one of these awesome Rossos that's reinvigorating my interest in Montalcino. Bold savory nose of spice, slightly smokiness, and distinctly old school character without being unapproachable. This is old school in a way that almost anyone could appreciate. It very generous and lively on the palate and finishes long and quite clean considering the striking savory quality on nose. Stupendous stuff, which serious buyers should be trying to buy by the case.
Price: $26.99 Add To Waiting List
JS 92 WS 90

2015 Edi Keber Collio Bianco
Review Date: 07-18-2017
Keber is a legend in Collio. The wines are always delicious. The nose is a monsterous bouquet of musky angelica, fresh anis seed, pithy tangerine and a subtle savory white pepper. The intense bouquet doesn't interfere with the incredibly delineated palate showing tons of juicy acidity and a fabulous creamy citrus. It finishes long and dry with the savory herbs poking back out at the end. Totally in love here.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2015 Porta del Vento Catarratto Sicilia
Review Date: 07-18-2017
This wonderful expression of the often maligned catarratto grape is going to change peoples minds about the whole varietal. The perfect balance between aromatic depth (pithy exotic citrus peel) and mineral intensity (flinty rocks being smashed together). In the mouth it's dense but not flabby at all, an acidic counterpoint allowing it to remain refreshing and open. More flinty rocks, soft yellow fruits and tiny touches of fresh herbs. This is a pretty serious little wine for the price.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

Hochstadter's Family Reserve 16 Year Old Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2017
Everyone in the bourbon world always talks about the golden age of whiskey being behind us. "Remember when we could walk into the store and get Pappy Rye for $90 all day long?" Actually that era never existed, but although things have changed, if you do your homework you can still pick up gems like this one. What we have is a world class fully mature rye whiskey bottled a full strength in a tiny batch and its absolutely stunning! Sure it's from Canada, but if you need to relinquish your biases to appreciate one of the best Rye whiskey we've ever had on the shelf than modern decency OBLIGATES us to do so! Bold, rich textured, spicy and unmatched by any other product on the shelf right. The world about lost it's mind for Booker's 13 Year Rye at $300 and in my estimation this is twice the whiskey that ever was. I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd asked $400 for this bad boy. Yes it's still not cheap, but if this isn't the deal of the year then I'm going to be buying lots more whiskey this year!!!
Price: $189.99 Add To Cart

Wild Turkey "Master's Keep - Decades" Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-05-2017
The Wild Turkey Decades is distinct from your every day Wild Turkey as it contains nearly two decades of production. The concept actually seems crazy considering how much old whiskey is actually in this blend (it's likely 90%+ 15 years old) but the inclusion of both the very old 20 year and the standard 10 year add some incredible edges to the exquisite center. Expect powerful WT spice on the nose pointed with sweet burnt sugars, cedar, spearmint, cocoa and blackberry jam. The old whiskey comes forward on the palate allowing some of those mahogany and roasted walnut flavors out from behind the bold spice and sweet oak. The finish is long a pleasing, leaving you with just the right amount of Tellicherry pepper to balance the sweet fruit. For sales purposes I wish I could say this is 100% over 15 years old, but honestly the balance between young and old does wonders here and I'm certain that it would be a lesser whiskey without the inclusion of the powerful young WT.
Price: $129.99 Add To Cart
WA 94

VING "KLC" Kale, Lemon Peel, & Cucumber Infused Organic Farm Fresh Vodka (750ml)
Review Date: 06-30-2017
When Flo Vinger came into my shop to tell me that she'd been making kale vodka in her bathtub, I honestly thought it was a joke. But, when she produced a shimmering elixir moments later I was astounded. It was totally wild unlike any other I'd come across previously. And of course it wasn't just KALE because kale just doesn't taste very good. But you slice some cucumber and a squeeze of lemon and we're in business. Industry skeptics and geeks will likely scoff, but in the end Ms Vinger has produced something total unique with an integrity rarely seen in the vodka category. She cares about her product more than anything else in the entire world and she's spent four long years perfecting it. Now anyone can experience the world's first KALE vodka for themselves. While it's stupendous cold or on the rocks, ultra easy and approachable, where this stuff really sings is in the cocktails. Adding subtle nuance and structure to what would otherwise be a neutral base does wonders in the classics, but also lends itself to experimentation.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Black Cow Vodka (750ml)
Review Date: 06-28-2017
What is this sorcery? Made from 100% West Dorset milk? Nothing else. How can it be? It's just impossible. But nonetheless here we are. Pure Milk vodka. And it's delicious! Soft, supple, slightly sweet and creamy. This stuff is textured and nuanced in the perfect way. Understated yet still distinctive somehow. Distiller and dairy farmer Jason Barber came up with the plan to utilize leftover whey from his cheese making operation. This is fermented into a wheat beer and distilled before being blended (with what I can only assume is more milk) and filtered to create the utterly (sorry) unique spirit. Keep an eye out for the Black Cow Deluxe Cheddar which is also made by Mr. Barber. Should pair perfectly!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
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Tequila Fortaleza Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 06-28-2017
I go on and on about how much I like Fortaleza. They're the most authentic. No one else comes close. Most of the rest of the agave in Mexico is wasted on crap industrial production. blah blah blah...While all these things are true that's not what matters most. What matters about Fortaleza is that it's absolutely delicious. The Reposado is often the one I find myself reaching for. Their repo is the perfect balance between the gorgeous and complex agave spirit that they produce and the oxidative complexity of barrel aging in the hot Jalisco climate. The perfect showcase for this juxtaposition. But regardless of any intellectual exercise, it just tastes utterly delicious. Soft barrel influence envelopes the gorgeous peppery fruit and floral components of the spirits. Nuanced spice and touches of smoky barrel. Very few come close indeed.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Tequila Fortaleza Anejo Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 06-28-2017
I often catch myself waxing poetic about Fortaleza. How it's the most authentic and old school. How they went back when everyone else was moving forward. How their tequila represents the true soul of Jalisco and makes their competitors look kind of stupid. Of course there are other great distilleries in Jalisco, but none is more committed to producing exclusively old school single estate real deal tequila. There base spirit is so good in fact that some aficionados look down on their exquisite anejo because it doesn't taste enough like the blanco. That said, taking this product out of that context reminds us how exceptional it really is. The quality of agave is matched perfectly by the quality of the oak and the confluence of those two flavors reminds us that great tequila doesn't have to be blanco! This delectable treat is all tropical fruit (coconuts, pineapple and passionfruit), butterscotch and subtle earthy pepper. A legend deserving of every accolade it's already received.
Price: $74.99 Add To Cart

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