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K&L Staff Recommendations
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A versatile must-have for mixing cocktails, look for pleasing vanilla, maple and a hint of dried cherry. The finish is long and drying, with plenty of baking spice notes. (KN)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: Named North American Whiskey of the Year at the 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Best Buy of the Year at the 2006 WhiskeyFest. Rye was the first Colonial American whiskey, and was the most popular spirit in the US for more than a century until it fell out of favor. Made in a classic Pennsylvania style at the Heaven Hill distillery in Kentucky, this has been ... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* Ideal for Manhattans and other cocktails, this 95% rye has a malty profile that mixes vanilla, crème brûlée, and a fleeting citrusy zing on the drying, cinnamon-accented finish. (KN)" (7/2016) Whisky Advocate: "No age statement, but it includes 4 to 7 year old whiskeys. The mashbill is 95% rye - much higher than most standard rye whiskeys out there. It’s brisk, vibrant, and loaded with spice (crisp mint, warming cinnamon, cocoa, hint of anise). Fruit - ripe nectarine, apricot, golden raisin - drizzled with maple syrup. Dry oak rounds out the finish. Bold enough f ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The aroma entices with bold caramel and vanilla. The palate is brisk and relatively dry, despite the succulent aroma, showing vanilla and oak up front, and rounding into nutmeg, almond, vanilla and bitter orange on the finish. Versatile for cocktails, including its namesake Sazerac. (KN)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: The K&L Sazerac Cocktail: 1/2 oz Kubler absinthe, 2 oz Sazerac Straight Rye, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 2 dashes of Peychaud bitters, Lemon - twist as garnish. Fill an old fashioned glass with ice. Add the absinthe to the glass. Combine all other in a s... Read More »
97 points Wine Enthusiast: "This full-bodied blended whisky hits all the right notes, starting with plenty of rich caramel and oak tones on the nose and palate, plus touches of butterscotch, spicy cinnamon and clove. It finishes long, slightly oily and mouthfilling. Sip it straight or add a splash of sweet vermouth." (11/2015) K&L Notes: Voted Canadian Whisky of the Year by the Whisky Advocate, Lot 40 is considered by many to be the quintessential Canadian rye whisky, garnering heaps of praise and a cult-like following. Distilled by Hiram Walker, now run by Pernod Ricard, it was briefly discont... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Crazy-sweet aroma, full of caramel, vanilla and a slight floral touch. The bite comes first (and lingers awhile), followed by vanilla, caramel, coconut flavors. It mellows considerably with ice, and becomes quite likeable, drinkable and mild. (KN)" (11/2010) K&L Notes: The Michter's name has been synonymous with great whisky since the 1950s. That famous whisky is no longer distilled at the famous Schaefferstown Distillery in PA, but the legacy lives on. Current owners Chatham Imports bottles under this historic name and have been doing so since the 1990s! One of the ... Read More »
Whistle Pig's new Farmstock release is the Vermont distillery's first expression to contain whiskey from its own stocks, giving fans of the brand a chance to taste something homegrown. The blend uses 20% one year old rye from Whistle Pig, 49% five year old Canadian rye from Alberta, and 31% twelve year old rye from Indiana to create a blend that wonderfully balances the spice and the pure rye flavor of the youth with the richness and texture of matuirty. Both the Whistle Pig and Canadian rye whiskies were aged in Vermont oak as well, adding an extra dime... Read More »
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "First, a warning: this is only for those who like their rye big and brawny. It starts off innocuously with a maple-syrup color, and a pretty, complex and subtle scent: honey, vanilla, a slight medicinal tinge and faint clover notes. It feels silky on the tongue and at first, the flavors reflect caramel, burnt orange and a whisper of smoke, but then a mouth-warming wave of tannic bite sweeps over all and lingers for a good long time. Straight up or on the rocks. (KN)" (11/2010) Whisky Advocate: "Imported from Canada (which suggests that maybe this whiskey was originally int ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The warm and fruity scent is reminiscent of fresh apples drizzled with caramel. On the palate, spicy cinnamon leads, softening to caramel midpalate and finishing with sizzling cinnamon, clove and cayenne pepper. Adjusted with water, a saline note emerges, creating a pleasing salted caramel-like sipper. (KN)" (7/2015) K&L Notes: One of America's finest and most authentic rye whiskey. Great price for an excellent 6 year Rye.
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "Strong but intriguing. Medium color and body, with rich aromas of burnt orange and caramel. The flavors also reflected burnt orange and caramel, plus a spicy tinge reminiscent of cassia bark or Red-Hot candies. The finish lingers, pleasant, inviting and warm. Might be good for Manhattans--a touch of fruit or sweetness would go well with this rye." (11/2010) 95 points Whisky Advocate: "A blend of two whiskeys; a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye. These are very high percentages; a straight rye whiskey only needs to contain 51% rye to meet the definition ...Read More »
For years, Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, run by the Kulsveen family, has been bottling fantastic whiskey under their numerous labels; Willett being just one of the expressions (along with Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, Johnny Drum, etc.). Willett Distillery was actually founded in the 1930s by former Bernheim superintendent Thompson Willett, but subsequent generations of the family would become disinterested in bourbon until the distillery finally closed. Evan Kulsveen, who married Willett's daughter, purchased the abandoned site in 1984 with plans to reopen... Read More »
90 points Whisky Advocate: "A blend of two straight whiskeys: a very young 2 year old high rye content whiskey and a 16 year old rye whiskey with a lower rye content. Perhaps the spiciest American whiskey I have ever tasted, yet at the same time, quite tame and mellow. Complex notes of mint, clove, cinnamon, licorice root, pine nuts, and dark chocolate, with a surprising dose of gin botanicals throughout. A soft underbelly of caramel, sweet corn, and soothing vanilla provides an interesting counterpoint. Very easy-drinking, too (hard to believe it’s 46%). Intriguing, and a must-try ...Read More »
One of the more interesting and intriguing independent bottlings of bourbon since Black Maple Hill went out of production, Lost Republic whiskey is made of three different bourbons from three different states: Indiana, Tennessee and California. Matt Weese and his team in Healdsburg are contracting spirits and aging the barrels separately in their Napa warehouse, using them to create a fruity, grainy and gritty style of American whiskey. The fruity, young whiskey aromas are potent on the nose, but the woody, vanilla notes balance out the youth on the pala... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Medium-amber color, citrusy aromas opening up to caramel scent. Big flavors of tobacco, oak, and leather lead to a lingering, tannic, alcoholic and slightly bitter finish. Cocktail purists will love the label showing old-time gentlemen in hats tippling at the bar." (11/2010) K&L Notes: The most talked about little rye is finally available to the general public. This is a spice monster! It almost feels like they've steeped it in spices after distillation. Big, rich, clove, cinnamon, very intense, very delicious. Now available online after months of in-store only! Dis... Read More »
Lock Stock & Barrel 16 Year Straight Rye Whiskey is double distilled from a rare mash bill of 100 percent rye grain in copper pot stills with a “robust cut” selected by master distillers, unfiltered, then aged in cold weather for 16 years in newly charred American oak barrels. Explosively flavorful and intense, yet perfectly balanced, Lock Stock & Barrel is a tightly woven fabric of aromatics, with notes that suggest roasted acorns, sour grass, wild cherries, stewed blackberry, dried pear and sassafras.
When you think about Utah you probably think about great skiing, stunning National Parks, maybe great mountain biking. But did you know that Utah also cast the deciding vote that ended Prohibition? This barrel aged Manhattan, made from two parts High West Double Rye whiskey, one part sweet red vermouth and two dashes of Angostura bitters (per every 2.5 ounce serving), was all left to rest for 120 days in a two-year-old rye whiskey barrel. The results are stunning, harmonious and a great homage to that key vote, the 36th Vote, that allows us to freely enj... Read More »
The new release of Anchor's highly sought-after straight rye. Bottled at slightly higher proof this year, but, as usual, this whiskey was aged for 3.5 years in new charred oak barrels. Very limited.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Look for bold vanilla aroma, a drying feel and loads of vanilla, brown sugar and even touches of butterscotch on the exceedingly long finish. It's surprisingly smooth for a 101-proof product, although the alcohol indeed makes its presence known. It stands up well to dilution, which blunts the alcohol edge and coaxes out more vanilla." (7/2015) K&L Notes: The modern classic returns in a new 1L bottle! The Kickin' Chicken is finally back on the shelf!
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This is burnished gold in color, with a sweet vanilla-almond aroma and bold, rounded flavors that suggest oak, vanilla and almond. The finish is slightly hot, with cinnamon and orange peel notes rounding it out. Made in Indiana, bottled in Kentucky. (KN)" (7/2016) Whisky Advocate: "The back label of this whiskey describes it as 'feisty,' and feisty it is! Brandishing 95% rye (another Canadian flavoring whisky that was diverted?), bottled at 46%, and at a relatively young age (around two years old), this whiskey lets you know you are alive. It’s very spicy, with ...Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "Unlike the Knob Creek bourbons (which are 9 years old), there’s no age statement with this new rye, which tastes relatively younger. It’s bracing, vibrant, and spicy. (The rye contribution is unmistakable.) Cinnamon spice and crisp mint dominate, with charcoal, botanicals, ginger, nutmeg, honeyed fruit, vanilla, and caramel. Warming spice finish. Its dynamic personality should shine in cocktails, but from a sipping, drinking neat perspective, I wish it was a little older like its siblings. (Summer 2012)" Wine Enthusiast: "Look for a dry, distinctly oaky, toasty profile, wit ...Read More »
Finally, after almost eight years of a serious Kentucky rye shortage, Wild Turkey has given us whiskey fans something to get excited about that we can actually get! Introducing the new Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Rye Whiskey: a 104 proof blast of old-school Kentucky rye flavor, meandering from dill and fresh-baked German rye bread, into a sweeter kiss of toasted oak and soft vanilla. It's never boring. The palate is rooted in spice and a never-ending tingly sensation on your tongue that completely differentiates it from the Wild Turkey Bourbons. Real... Read More »
Corbin is a farm located in Atwater, California (just south of Modesto) that grows sweet potatoes. A few years back, David Souza, whose family has farmed in the region for a hundred years, decided to add a still to preserve the unused harvest (just like farmers have been doing for hundreds of years) and Corbin Sweet Potato Vodka was born. It turns out that Corbin hasn't only been distilling sweet potato vodka over the past few years; they've also been growing, harvesting, fermenting and distilling their own rye, purchasing custom-charred, 53 gallon white... Read More »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits 2013 & Best Buy* Despite a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, this golden-bright, small-batch rye is smooth and not as spicy as other rye whiskies. It has a surprising freshness, with bold vanilla, nut, fresh apple and white-flower aromas leaping out of the glass. While charred-oak flavors hit the palate first (it’s matured in charred oak barrels for at least five years), it finishes downright buttery, touched with ginger and maple sweetness." (7/2013) K&L Notes: Here we have the venerated Tennessee distillery, dipping its toes into the hot a... Read More »
Our first single barrel with the exceptional Ohio craft distillery also happens to be their second ever batch of Bottled in Bond Rye. This special little cask of rye was distilled on Monday May 21st, 2012 from a mash bill of 64% Rye, 11% Malted Rye, 22% Yellow Dent, and 3% Malted 2 Row Barley. Fermented without the addition of any enzymes on the grains in their old Cypress fermenter, it was distilled to 108.9 proof before barreling. During those four long years of aging nearly 20% of the barrel evaporated and the proof rose to 112. We decided that it tas... Read More »
Whistle Pig's experimental project is one of the most exciting barrel-finished American whiskeys on the market. This is a blend of cask-finished rye at 12 years. It contains 63% Madeira cask, 30% Sauternes cask and 7% port pipe.
Old Overholt is amongst the oldest more-or-less-continuously available distilled products in America. (They've operated for at least 150 years.) When one speaks of rye, others are most likely to think of this product, if they think of anything. Their Straight Rye is readily available at a moderate price. Overholt has a subtle nose with hints of raisin, fruit (orange perhaps), and almond. Overholt's taste is light, with slightly medicinal and bitter hints.
Another independently-bottled Canadian 10 year old rye, a la the Jefferson's and the Whistlepig. This one from 35 Maple St. bottlers is much richer than the Jefferson's, but more rye like than the Whistlepig. Nice, supple flavors of vanilla and molasses combine with rye grain spice and subtle herbal notes. This makes a nice sipping rye and is thoroughly enjoyable.
The fascinating spirit represents Anchor Brewing Company's attempt to re-create the original whiskey of America. This release was distilled in a small copper pot still at Anchor's distillery on San Francisco's Potrero Hill, from a mash of 100% rye malt. Rye was the grain of choice for America's first distillers, and using a mash of 100% rye malt produces a uniquely American whiskey. Aging in handmade oak barrels--lightly toasted in the traditional manner--imparts a wonderfully subtle flavor to this 18th-century-style American whiskey. (In the 18th centur... Read More »
90 points Whisky Advocate: "More Canadian core rye from WhistlePig, this time at full-bore. It’s strong with rye, sweet with melon and dark chocolate notes, but with a wood character like the unfinished inside of an antique oak wardrobe. The antique wood is strong in the mouth, an oddly elegant note, but afterward comes the melon and chocolate, and oily, coiling rye. Interestingly complicated; a bit hard to make friends, but worth the time and effort. (LB, Spring 2015)" K&L Notes: The Boss Hog is Whistle Pig's ultra-limited, full proof, no-nonsense rye whiskey expression, one that packs a punch... Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "The old Beam rye never got a lot of respect from aficionados. It’s been pulled, reformulated, and repackaged. Let’s try it. Smell: sweet grass and pepper. Taste: hot, flashy, sweet on top, with rye oiliness underneath, a tickling bitterness that blends well with oak into the finish. The higher proof plays well, giving this a punch of flavor the old yellow label didn’t have, and at a good price. It’s Manhattan time! Value Pick. (Summer 2015)" K&L Notes: The beast is awakening! Finally, Kentucky's largest bourbon distillery is using its size and scale to create a fanta... Read More »
Another independent bottling of LDI rye (a la Bulleit, Templeton, Redemption, etc) except that this one offers an outstanding price. Very much in the style of Bulleit, light and peppery with soft vanilla notes. Quite drinkable on its own but nice for mixing as well. A good overall value.
Whisky Advocate: "The U.S.-released Dark Batch is, if not the same whisky as the Canadian-released Dark Horse (both from Alberta Distillers), a very close cousin. It is dark; it’s 1% sherry, which brings the intense dried fruit notes along with cedar and a bright, pleasantly musky note. More Canadians should break the 80 proof barrier: this booms into the mouth, throwing wood, cereal, fruit, and sunshine around. Good to sip, bold in a cocktail, holds its own on ice, nice price. (Summer 2015)" K&L Notes: The Dark Batch Alberta rye whiskey from Beam Suntory is here at last, utilizing st... Read More »
The first new product released by Templeton in over ten years, this rye was aged since 2010 in new American oak barrels.
Inventory: San Francisco
First produced in Maryland in the 1890s, this brand moved to Kentucky after Prohibition and is now operated by Heaven Hill, honored as "Distillery of the Year" and "at the spearhead of the rye resurgence" by Whisky Advocate in 2011. Tasting notes from the producer: "Dusty cocoa notes with oaky smoke underneath. Dry and spicy, with honeyed rye and cloves. Soft vanilla and baking spices."
Well here we have another one of these fabolously mysterious new ryes. This was bottled in San Francisco, but it's been confirmed that the product has Canadian roots, of course. When I asked why they weren't talking about it's origins, the owners made it very clear that the reason that they weren't disclosing the supplier is that they're affraid to loose the tiny amount of rye they're getting from this distiller to someone else. Apparently, this isn't the same old Canadian Straight Rye! When they say small batch, they really mean it. These guys are secur... Read More »
The Pepper Barrel proof is one of the best values in Rye today. Cask strength LDI for less than $40. Sure it's only 3-4 years old, but several others sell the exact same stuff for twice the price. Isn't that nice.
This limited release from Tuthilltown Spirits is unique as they get. In a joint venture with Vermont maple syrup company, Wood's, Tuthuilltown has created something totally wonderful. The classic Hudson Manhattan Rye aged in ex-maple syrup barrels you say? It's not a liqueur, but it certainly develops a ton of character from this additional aging. They're not the first to mix whiskey and maple, but it's certainly the most interesting. Totally wacky and totally wonderful.
Pennsylvania used to be known for its rye whiskey and Bourbon. Today, it's known more for the old Michter's distillery that once produced legendary American booze. Mountain Laurel Spirits are hoping to change that with their new Dad's Hat rye whiskey, made from Pennsylvania-grown rye and distilled in Bristol. Aged in white oak, quarter cask barrels for at least six months, the Dad's Hat drinks very much in the style of Old World Spirits Gold Run, or the aged whiskies from 1512 Spirits here in SF. However, you get an entire 750ml bottle for $50, which mak... Read More »
Inventory: Special Order
This rye whisky by Alberta Distillers showcases the value proposition that unblended Canadian whisky can offer real whisky drinkers. Whereas previous Canadian releases masquerading as American whiskies (WhistlePig, Masterson's, etc.) have been rather expensive and geared toward the high-end market, Beam has retooled its Canadian partnership and focused on the economical option. There's plenty of richness, weight, and texture on the palate with lovely oak and rye spice. The CC 100 should give Bulleit some serious competition in the $20 category.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This remarkably complex sipper leads with caramel and vanilla, then reverberates with rounded dried fruit, sherry and almond, fading into a long, gentle baking spice finish. Made with 100% rye sourced from Canada, this is finished in barrels made from Vermont oak and bottled in Vermont. (KN)" (7/2016)
In 2001, following years of tough love and training, Booker Noe passed the torch of Knob Creek to his son Fred who carried on the tradition ever since. The 2001 Limited Edition Knob Creek series is a tribute to that transition and the relationship between the father and son distillers. One of three 14 year old batches released by Beam, batch one is higher in its sweet notes with vanilla and caramel all the way through.