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K&L Staff Recommendations
The story of Monkey 47 gin is romantic: in 1951, a British man named Montgomery Collins moved to Germany's Black Forest and opened a guesthouse named "Zum wilden Affen"--the wild monkey. Now considered a renowned gin drinker, Collins's taste for the spirit was unknown until renovation work at the country guesthouse led to the discovery of a weighty old wooden box containing a bottle and a letter. The dusty bottle had been labeled and decorated by hand, showing a sketch of a monkey and the words "Max the Monkey--Schwarzwald Dry Gin." The accompanying lett... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This gin has a fierce following, in part because of its quirky brand personality (see the Monty Python-esque website) and aggressive marketing among bartenders. But it lives up to the hype. Some might expect a more concentrated rosewater-cucumber profile, but it's relatively subtle, with just a hint of cucumber mingling with juniper in the aroma, and white pepper, citrus and floral notes on the lingering finish. (KN)" (4/2012) K&L Notes: This unique, handcrafted gin has been infused with cucumber and rose petals. Very aromatic with a smooth sweet flavor and very long... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "One of a trio of new gins from this artisan distiller, this gin's claim to fame is that it was inspired by a hike on Mt. Tam, and the distiller describes it as akin to “drinking a martini in a pine forest.” Some will find the juniper essence too strong, although it also reads as clean and bracing, and it's laced with a peppery finish. Botanicals include Douglas fir, fennel, bay laurel and sage. A portion of the profits from the gin are donated to support California wilderness. (KN)" (4/2012)
The pride of Australia is now available here at K&L! After sweeping Double Gold at the San Francisco Spirits competition and wowing serious fans of gin around the world, Four Pillars is bringing its incredible gins from down under to the U.S. Utilizing "four pillars" of success (quality German copper stills, pure Yarra Yarra Valley water, unique Australian botanicals and love, of course), the team of Aussies has created what we think is the best portfolio of high-quality, serious gins we've ever tasted. The standard Rare Dry release takes a clean and pur... Read More »
Specially bottled for Berry Bros & Rudd in London, this gin was created to exemplify the classic London Dry style. Unabashedly juniper-driven, the riveting No. 3 gets its name from the historic home of Berry Bros at No. 3 St. James Street in London, where they've been operating continuously since 1698. The No. 3 pushes tradition to the extreme using a simple 3 fruit and 3 spice recipe. The nose is all citrus and piney juniper. On the palate the juniper is balanced perfectly with spicy coriander and verdant cardamom. The finish brings the earthy telltale... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "A soft, classic gin, ideal for Negronis and a wide range of other drinks. Overall, the flavor is neutral, but it has a touch of sweetness and complex underpinnings of pine, citrus and black pepper. Because it's so versatile, this workhorse is recommended for anyone starting to build a bar. (KN)" (4/2012) K&L Notes: Plymouth Gin was started in 1793. Plymouth makes their gin on an even older site, a 16th-century Dominican Friary where Miles Standish and the Pilgrims stayed the night before they set out for America. Plymouth Gin, at 82.4 proof, is a very smooth gin. It... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Although the “Botanist” name might suggest a floral gin, instead the flavor profile veers toward herbs and spices. There’s a subtle, herbal scent, with anise flavors up front, backed by coriander seed and cassia bark on the spicy finish. Made by Bruichladdich Distillery, which is renowned for its Scotch, on a pot-still named Ugly Betty. Sold in an attractive, square-shouldered, gift-worthy bottle. (KN)" (4/2012) K&L Notes: What happens when you take one of the great single malt distillers of all time, put him in a room with an old Scottish pot still and have him make... Read More »
Anchor Distillery, just down the street from our San Francisco store, crafts this classically styled in in a small copper pot still in a small distillery on Potrero Hill. The predominant flavor of this gin is, not surprisingly, juniper, with supporting notes of citrus and savory herbs. The resulting spirit is crisp, clean, and suitable for gin cocktails of all stripes.
Gin Mare is a product we discovered in Scotland, of all places, years ago while searching for single malt. The retailer across the street from our hotel in Edinburgh was featuring the gin in a tasting that evening and we went over to check it out. Distilled in Spain with olives, rosemary, basil, and thyme it's a savory and truly Mediterranean experience. The herbs never overpower the palate, however, as the balance between them is quite delicate and refined. It's definitely an ideal choice for martinis, paired with olives, of course.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* Setting the benchmark for London dry-style gins, look for a fresh, clean scent and flavors of lemon peel and juniper, accented by white pepper, ginger, cayenne and coriander before fading to zingy lemon and a mildly sweet exit. At 47% abv it reads a little hot, but it's ideal for drinks with a bit of dilution, like a classic Gin & Tonic. (KN)" (9/2016) K&L Notes: *Gold* 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. From the Beverage Testing Institute: "93 points--*Exceptional and a Best Buy*-- Vibrant aromas of citrus custard pastry, juniper and citrus blo... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Bartenders will want to experiment with this lovely, lightly floral gin for spring cocktails. It has a light touch, from the citrus scent to the sweet flavor that finishes with a bouquet of rose petals, violets and honeysuckle. One of a trio of new gins from this small-batch distiller. (KN)" (4/2012)
We just picked up an exciting new local distiller called Venus Spirits, located in nearby Santa Cruz. Sean Venus has taken over the old Sarticious space and installed his own 600 liter Spanish alembic still to make a number of interesting concoctions. It's a snappy, fresh, citrus-oriented spirit at a very good price point. The creaminess of the gin is quite lovely and the lavender comes strong on the finish. Certified organic as well, so all of the botanicals come from a good place. Easily one of the most-polished and easy-to-like small production gins w... Read More »
This lovely new gin from the Raff Distillery on Treasure Island celebrates the lives of the two most famous dogs in San Francisco history. Luckily for us, it does not take its flavors from the same story! Instead, they begin with 100% grape brandy from California. This is redistilled with a wonderful mixture of botanicals, including juniper berries, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon bark, and licorice root. The product is an fully balanced, yet full powered gin with spicy undertones and a subtle finish. J... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Made with 10 internationally sourced botanicals--Seville orange peel, Italian orris root, et al.--this gin rings with plenty of juniper and licorice upfront, followed by lavender and citrus peel. Finishes smooth and mellow. (KN)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: Sipsmith is the first new copper-distilled London gin to actually be made in London in the last 200 years--as most production has moved to Scotland for economic reasons. The boys at the distillery have awoken a new movement of pride in London distillates the term "London dry gin" is actually a type of gin that can be dist... Read More »
Across the San Francisco Bay from K&L Redwood City and San Francisco, St. George spirits makes three gins: Botanivore Gin, Terroir Gin and Dry Rye Gin. Needless to say, they are popular with K&L staff, and have scored well in Wine Enthusiast, as well. Try them all in this giftable 3-pack! Here's what Enthusiast had to say about the utterly unique, Bay Area-infused Terroir: "One of a trio of new gins from this artisan distiller, this gin's claim to fame is that it was inspired by a hike on Mt. Tam, and the distiller describes it as akin to 'drinking a mar... Read More »
We've been waiting almost a year for the third pillar of the Four Pillars empire and now it's finally here! Using the same citrus-dominated recipe as the incredible Rare Dry, that gin is transferred into a solera of nine French oak chardonnay barrels, each with its own unique flavor. The solera is tasted every six months by head distiller Cameron Mackenzie who blends a portion to his liking, creating a new expression for each batch. The vanilla tones are light adding hints of cinnamon and baking spice to the citrus. You can sip it neat like a whisky, bu... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "The scent evokes candied lemon peel, while the complex palate shows cucumber, anise and cardamom, plus a lingering rosewater note on the finish. Consider for aviations and other cocktails where a floral touch is desired. (KN)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: I'm always amazed what can be accomplished with grain neutral spirit and just a few simple botanicals. In the case of Beehive's Jack Rabbit Gin, the addition of sage and rose petals to the standard juniper recipe creates an absolutely beautiful balance of spicy, savory, and floral. Located in Salt Lake City (not exactly hard... Read More »
An old-school elixir made by an old-school distiller. Praise from Luxist: "Lucas Bols, the world's oldest distilled spirits brand originally established in 1575 in Amsterdam, has relaunched its Dutch Genever gin, a white spirit created almost two centuries ago. The word 'gin' has disappeared from the new bottle in favor of 'grain neutral spirits,' as the old world Genever bears little resemblance to the dry London gins we're familiar with these days. Bols Genever is made by blending a unique distillate called maltwine with a carefully selected secret ble... Read More »
The exceptional Ford's Gin is one of the most versatile London Dries on the market. Distilled at the exceptional Thames Distillery by master distiller Charles Maxwell and the famous Simon Ford. Starting with a base of Italian juniper and coriander seed, the recipe is expanded thoughtfully to include bitter oranges, lemon and grapefruit peel. Subtle Jasmine and Orris add a soft floral quality, while spicy Angelica root and Cassia bark give it some structure. I've always noted a smidge of cucumber, but the distiller won't cop to it. Anyway, the mixture is ... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best of 2016* Scented with juniper and lemon peel, this light, silky gin is distinctly citrusy and crisp, suggesting lemon and grapefruit peels. It finishes lightly sweet, enlivened by white pepper and candied ginger sparks. (KN)" (8/2016) K&L Notes: No. 209 Gin is the brainchild of the Rudd family, who own both the Rudd Oakville Estate Winery and the gourmet market Dean & DeLuca. A departure from traditional, juniper-heavy gins, the No. 209 is citrusy, floral and spicy, with a slight minty hint on the mid-palate. Good for cocktails--from a simple martini to the Cor... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Distinctly fruity and floral on the palate, this has notes of rosewater and raspberry, braced by pepper and ginger flecks. This smooth and well-balanced gin is a good choice for making a berry-forward cocktail like the classic bramble. (KN)" (4/2013) K&L Notes: Eleventh generation heirs, Carl Jr. and Bob Nolet collaborated with their father, Carolus Nolet Sr., tenth generation distillery owner, to create a fresh take on gin that appeals to a new generation of gin drinkers. Floral and fruit-forward, the Silver uses some unique ingredients like Turkish rose, peach and ... Read More »
This craft gin from, yes, the center of London is distilled in a copper pot still. Producer note: "City of London is a one-shot connoisseur’s London Dry Gin, flavoured with a fine balance of juniper berries, angelica, liquorice and coriander seeds – with fresh orange, lemon and pink grapefruit added also to give the gin its distinctive zesty notes."
Made with "soft" water from Lake Bolmen in southern Sweden, known for its arctic purity, neutral corn spirits five-times distilled that lends sweetness to the gin and a blend of classic botanicals including juniper, coriander leaf and cardamom. The blend creates a gin with a warm, nutty spice punctuated by the addition of citrus (lemon, bergamot, lime and bitter orange) and sarawak black pepper, for a clean, refreshing gin with no funky aftertaste or astringency. Beautiful! Skip the tonic water with this gin; it's perfect unadulterated.
Inventory: Special Order
To make this famous gin, Spanish almonds and Spanish lemon zest, Chinese licorice roots, Italian juniper berries, Italian Orris root, Angelica root, coriander seed, cassia bark, cubeb berries and grains of paradise from West Africa are processed and blended with a botanical recipe developed in 1761. Clean and light with herbaceous, earthy and light fruit qualities, Bombay Sapphire is distinctive on its own and in cocktails. Try: Berry Bombay 3 parts Bombay Sapphire 6 blueberries 2 strawberries Juice of ½ a lemon 1 tbsp sugar, plus extra for rim Chill a ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Enthusiast: "While regular-strength Plymouth is relatively neutral and cocktail friendly, this higher-octane gin, also made in England, shows loads of citrus, floral and juniper-pine notes. (KN)" (5/2015) K&L Notes: 94 points Ultimate Spirit Challenge 2015: "Excellent, Highly Recommended. Tasting Notes: Beautifully grainy and crisp with scents of pine needle, orange blossom, a dried herb melange, juniper, and dried flowers. Voluptuous on the palate while maintaining perfect balance with the juniper notes rising with each passing second."
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "A relative newcomer to the gin landscape, this is the proper gin to use for a Tom Collins cocktail. It intentionally leans sweet, but it’s balanced with the right amount of alcohol bite, a lightly piny scent, and faint herbal and citrus peel notes. If using this 19th-century style sweetened gin for other cocktails, be sure to hold off on adding sugar. (KN)" (4/2012) K&L Notes: Old Tom Gin is a botanically rich and slightly sweet version of gin that results in a balanced and mild tipple. This is ideal for a variety of classic cocktails, such as the Martinez, a San Fra... Read More »
Michael Pierce and the gang from OsCo, a new distillery on 25th Street near Telegraph in Oakland, are making some of the most interesting new gins and white spirits we've tasted in years. OsCo is part of a winery called Two Mile Wines, so all of the spirits are grape-based. This is an explosive, junipery London Dry gin.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "An invitingly herbal and woodsy initial aroma of sage, nutmeg and cassia bark; more minutes find the juniper behind the assertive spice and herb flavorings. The palate entry is round, semisweet and moderately oily; at midpalate the taste is of rosemary and coriander and pepper. Finishes elegantly, firmly and squeaky clean. Best Buy." (6/2006)
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "Light and complex, this gin, made by Cognac producer Maison Ferrand, has a restrained lemon peel aroma and gently sweet palate accented by citrus, coriander and cardamom. The finish is markedly soft and bright, with just a hint of sweetness. (KN)" (8/2016) K&L Notes: Citadelle Gin from France is filled with 19 different botanicals from all over the world. It is distilled four times and filled to the brim with flavor, this gin is clean, smooth and very refreshing. From the Beverage Testing Institute: "91 points. Layered aromas of honeyed juniper, citrus jelly, delicat... Read More »
Handcrafted, hand-bottled, hand-labeled, and hand-numbered, this small batch gin is truly unique. First, it is an American gin. Master Distiller Todd Leopold handcrafts every batch in a small 40-gallon copper still, blending uniquely American botanicals like hand-zested Florida oranges and California pummelos. These components lend citrus notes to the gin, and help distinguish this American gin from its English counterparts. Second, all the botanicals are distilled in fractions, meaning that each component of is distilled separately and then blended to c... Read More »
The newest incarnation of Tanqueray's limited edition gin series is here, a la the Malacca and Old Tom in recent years. The Bloomsbury is an homage to Charles Waugh Tanqueray, the son of founder Charles Tanqueray, and his recipe for gin dating back to the 1880s, when the distillery was located in Bloomsbury, London. Using a heavy juniper berry formula, along with coriander, angelica, winter savoury and cassia bark, the result is a delicately fragrant spirit with a lovely balance of flavor. The juniper is front and center giving the Bloomsbury a classic L... Read More »
This high-octane, full-throttle gin is loaded with herbacious character and tons of bitter citrus peel. Even at 57%, it doesn't feel overproofed, but rather in total balance. This is not the standard Leopold formula with more alcohol. It's an entirely new formula for people looking to make serious cocktails. Try it in a Tom Collins or gin and tonic and taste how wonderfully concentrated the flavor is!
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Sweet-tasting and citrusy, this has a light herbal aroma. It shows distinct cucumber and lavender notes on the palate, and it should lend itself to spring and summer cocktails."
Gin was first made by Bordiga in 1889, and this gin is made from the original Bordiga recipe. Only four main botanical flavors are used, some from the Occitan Alps, hence the name. The four are angelica, juniper, cardamom and a secret ingredient (with traces of orange and lemon peel). Occitan Gin has traditionally been made exclusively from juniper that grows wild (not cultivated) in the Maritime Alps, near Cuneo, which are some of the highest mountains in Europe. This combination of altitude and maritime influence enriches the essential oils of the juni... Read More »
This wonderful product from the wild mind of founder & beekeeper Todd Hardie, is one of the most interesting and innovative spirits I've tried this year. Using a base of grain spirit and juniper berries, this gin is intended to showcase the complexity of the Barr Hill Honey that Todd works so hard to cultivate. The honey is added just before bottling and adds a supple floral and slight earthen quality. It's absolutely not overtly sweet and really shows off the magnificent array of flavors that exist in nature's most delicious concentrated form of energy,... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "POINTS 0 Get ready, wine-lovers: this unusual rosy gin is made from a rye base, infused with gin botanicals, and then is “rested” for 18 months in casks that previously held Syrah and Grenache wines. Oddly, the end result is not particularly wine-, whiskey-, nor gin-like. It's a whole other animal, crazily hoppy and malty and oaky, with a mild effervescence and an amaro-like roots-and-herbs presence that winds into a rounded but fleeting dark-fruit quality on the finish. Try dosing with sweet vermouth for a Manhattan-like cocktail. (KN)" (7/2014) K&L Notes: St. Georg... Read More »
Distilled 6 times from 100% corn (hence, gluten-free), this Gin has a bright cucumber and juniper nose. Bursts of lime, lavender, juniper (of course), citrus and even a touch of vanilla at the end. Old World and New World collide!
Michael Pierce and the gang from OsCo, a new distillery on 25th Street near Telegraph in Oakland, are making some of the most interesting new gins and white spirits we've tasted in years. OsCo is part of a winery called Two Mile Wines, so all of the spirits are grape-based. This unaged "brandy" is really more like a gin, but since there's no juniper we can't legally call it such. It's a maceration of botanicals in neutral spirit, but a totally unique version. Umami galore! Salty, nutty, savory shiso flavor with the freshness of a gin. Cocktail night with... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Michael Pierce and the gang from OsCo, a new distillery on 25th Street near Telegraph in Oakland, are making some of the most interesting new gins and white spirits we've tasted in years. OsCo is part of a winery called Two Mile Wines, so all of the spirits are grape-based. This unaged "brandy" is really more like a gin, but since there's no juniper we can't legally call it such. It's a maceration of botanicals in neutral spirit, but a totally unique version.This is like the spirited manifestation of Vietnamese food. It's like pure, vibrant, bold lemongr... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Enthusiast: "The 55% abv blue label is one of the strongest and most expensive gins on the market. Look for the trademark faint yellowish-saffron tinge and herbal scent, with assertive pine and anise flavors and a tart lemony touch. Serve this overproof gin tamed with ice and lots of tonic." (4/2012) K&L Notes: Old Raj Gin is distinctive in that it contains a measure of saffron, the rare and costly spice derived from the crocus flower. In addition to the slightly spicy flavor, this also imparts a pale yellow color. The subtle, aristocratic botanical mix (starring, of course, juni... Read More »
Designed to emulate the great gins of the early 20th century, the Bermondsey Gin is a recreation of a long lost style of London Dry. More balanced and less juniper centric than modern London Dry, the Bermondsey gives some of the other exotic flavors a little more of a spotlight, while retaining a depth and texture few rivals are able to match. The tiny Bermondsey Distillery is located beneath a railway arch on the main line to London Bridge Station. This old industrial part of South East London captures the historical context of this special gin perfectl... Read More »
Michael Pierce and the gang from OsCo, a new distillery on 25th Street near Telegraph in Oakland, are making some of the most interesting new gins and white spirits we've tasted in years. OsCo is part of a winery called Two Mile Wines, so all of the spirits are grape-based. This gin is like a breath of fresh sea air, made with hand-foraged nori from Mendocino and sundried by "certified non-GMO hippies," as Mike said. Like an Islay gin, even more so than the Botanist from Bruichladdich.
Caledonia Spirits has a commitment to producing products that showcase their incredible reliance on and relationship to the land. These are truly agricultural products that use the highest quality locally grown inputs. This wonderful Old Tom—style gin is aged for 3-4 months in new charred oak barrels. They use the standard gin techniques to integrate honey perfectly into their spirit, and the result is a bit more sweetness and all those wonderful charred oak flavors. It's truly a special spirit. Unfortunately, the numbskulls at the TTB have decided that ... Read More »
From Evanston, Illinois, the home of the temperance movement, and named after Frances Elizabeth Willard, who was a prominent leader in the cause to ban alcohol. FEW spirits are hand crafted, small batch, and aged to perfection. This is a limited-edition release.
Batch two of Sean Venus's tremendous gin uses juniper, cardamom, orange, fennel, coriander, bay leaf, sage, peppercorns, and ages that formula in American oak for a mellow and creamier profile. The orange really gives it a lift. A Negroni is definitely calling my name.
The pride of Australia is now available here at K&L! After sweeping Double Gold at the San Francisco Spirits competition and wowing serious fans of gin around the world, Four Pillars is bringing its incredible gins from down under to the U.S. Utilizing "four pillars" of success (quality German copper stills, pure Yarra Yarra Valley water, unique Australian botanicals, and love, of course), the team of Aussies has created what we think are the best portfolio of high-quality, serious gins we've ever tasted. At a whopping 58.8%, the Navy Strength gin is a b... Read More »
The first premium gin from Argentina brings not only divine botanical flavor, but a marriage of fine herbs and spices not normally used in standard gin production. Yerba mate is an herb derived from rainforest trees, and consumed primarily in Central and South America where it's made into a beverage called "mate." It is said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one. Made at a small distillery in Mendoza, Renato Giovannoni’s new project uses the famed yerba mate, as well as peppermint, eucalyptus... Read More »
LA's newest micro distillery is finally open. Miller Duval and Morgan McLachlan have been planning and building for nearly four years and their little arts district facility is finally cranking out awesome products using 100% in house fermentation and distillation. Miller's has been farming in central California for generations and the inspiration from the distillery was that wonderful fresh California produce. So instead of grain neutral spirit at its base, the gin has a flavor full clementine spirit. The botanicals are relatively classical with some un... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "This complex, balanced gin has a citrusy, lightly sweet palate, hinting at grapefruit and delivering a faint, pleasing white floral note. The finish offers citrus and spicy zing. (KN)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: This exceptional gin distilled from eight fresh botanicals and 100% English Grain Spirit on a traditional english pot still is a modern version of the classic British style. Designed specifically for that most British of tipples, the Gin & Tonic, the freshness and balance of the botanicals is what sets this apart from the bevy of recent offerings in the category. Th... Read More »