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K&L Staff Recommendations
We've been doing gin and single malt for years, and now rum, so why not throw our hat in the bourbon pool? One of the obstacles that kept us from making a Faultline bourbon earlier was availability: the current demand has made the extra barrel a thing of the past. One of the only distilleries that would sell us a cask for a private label was the old LDI distillery in Indiana, but with the already overcrowded LDI market (Bulleit Rye, Templeton Rye, High West, etc) we didn't think our product would be different enough, or of the quality we desired, for the... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* A good workhorse for all manner of cocktails, this bright amber Bourbon has a butterscotch aroma and oaky, relatively dry flavors that elongate into a rich caramel finish." (7/2013)90 points Whisky Advocate: "Light bronze color. Thick, mature aromas, with notes of subtle spice (vanilla, mint), toffee, light molasses and leather. Adding a little water revealing notes of teaberry, anise, and dark candied fruit. Pleasantly sweet at first in flavor, with notes of brown sugar and spice (vanilla, mint), becoming dry with enveloping flavors of oak and leather. With a little wa ...Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet features smells of new car leather, breakfast cereal, cornmeal, pepper and hemp. Entry is nicely sweet and intensely grainy; the midpalate is the high point as the taste profile expands to include semisweet flavors of caramel corn, toasted marshmallow, dried fruit and chocolate covered cherry. Concludes oaky sweet and chewy." (12/2008) K&L Notes: You know it, you love it; it's ten years old, bottled in bond, single cask, 100 proof, old school Kentucky Bourbon from Heaven Hill. Incredible value by any measure.
Finding an age statement in today's bourbon market is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Finding one that's above ten years of age is like finding a needle in a haystack. Because of the current state of affairs, the prices for American whiskey are going bananas. So how is it that Wild Turkey can come in and drop a 17 year old gem of a bourbon for the same price as some non-age statement MGP-bottled mystery? We weren't sure, so we headed on down to the distillery recently to try ourselves a pour. Soft, round, and rich on the palate, thi... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits 2013 & Best Buy* Golden and bright, this straight bourbon whiskey is one of the most versatile around. Though it starts with a sweet flavor profile with hints of vanilla and cookie dough, it finishes supple and dry, with notes of leather, black tea and cinnamon. Bracing alcohol levels." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "Soft, elegant, and nicely rounded, with honeyed orchard fruit and gentle spice on a bed of vanilla and caramel. Very versatile; a pleasing, unchallenging bourbon to suit most moods and situations. I actually like it better than the new, older 10 ye ...Read More »
As the Bourbon market continues to capture the interest of spirits consumers, one distillery has completely changed its game, shed its more conservative skin, and upgraded its image to meet the desires of this new demand. Wild Turkey continues to impress us as a company and we've found that some of the best single casks we've tasted over the past few years (as well as some of the most delicious whiskies in general) have been coming from Jimmy Russell and the gang over in Lawrenceburg. Barrel 2054, bottled at 55% ABV, is the total package for American Bou... Read More »
Finally, after almost eight years of a serious Kentucky rye shortage, Wild Turkey has finally 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, however. The palate is rooted in spice and a never-ending tingly sensation on your tongue that completely differentiates it from the Wild Turk... Read More »
As the Bourbon market continues to capture the interest of spirits consumers, one distillery has completely changed its game, shed its more conservative skin, and upgraded its image to meet the desires of this new demand. Wild Turkey continues to impress us as a company and we've found that some of the best single casks we've tasted over the past few years (as well as some of the most delicious whiskies in general) have been coming from Jimmy Russell and the gang over in Lawrenceburg. Barrel 531 is the brighter of the two recent arrivals, bursting with c... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The first sniffs detect restrained, lightly roasted kernel/bean-like scents; bouquet opens up as aromas of saddle leather, tobacco leaf and walnut come to the fore. Palate entry is semisweet, candied and creamy; by midpalate, the taste includes pepper, welcome spirity heat, oak resin and caramel corn. Ends showing the delicate side of Bourbon." (6/2006) Wine Spectator: "The dry, spicy, almost austere nose has a promising note of corn, and it delivers on the palate: sweet corn, berries and apricot, a touch of leather and cinnamon, with a bright, spicy finish. A mix of pot-s ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Deep color, medium-to-heavy feel. Strong, sweet fragrance with wood and spice tones. Butterscotch candy flavors, so strong I almost hear cellophane unwrapping, are echoed by some oak, caramel and vanilla. Smooth, not too much alcohol fire. Mellow, long finish with a touch of herbal and anise notes" (10/2010) K&L Notes: Coming from the great master distiller Parker Beam, the Elijah Craig 12 year old Bourbon has to be one of the best 12 year old bourbons on the market! Great balance of sweetness and spice. Also, at 94 proof, it has just the right amount of kick.
One of the more interesting and intriguing independent bottlings of bourbon since Black Maple Hill went out of production, the 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 spirit 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... Read More »
Buffalo Trace was named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine in 2005 and 2007 and by the Wine Enthusiast in 2006. Paul Pacult of the The Spirit Journal gave it four stars and said: "Easily one of the most tactile yet assertive and expressive bourbons I've tasted in the last two years; fasten your seatbelts." Honey-colored, with aromas of toasted wheat bread and hints of tobacco, opening up to almond butter, melon and lanolin. On the palate it is oily and toasty with flavors of cereal grains and oak. The finish is long and corn sweet with a little spi... Read More »
Finally, cask strength Jack. Not sure how long this will last, but at least we've got some serious juice coming out of Lynchburg. Critics, even the ones who discount the brand outright, are widely in agreement that this is some serious juice. Enjoy the massive intensity that 120-140 proof Tennessee Whiskey offers, while retaining that soft smooth body and finish.
98 points Wine Enthusiast: "A beautiful, mouthwatering newcomer to the whiskey scene. Named for the “angel’s share,” the portion that evaporates from the barrel during the aging process, this golden amber spirit is finished in Port barrels, which explains those juicy red-fruit notes that slide into the long finish. Look for orange peel, vanilla and roasted nut flavors, too." (7/2012)93 points Whisky Advocate: "Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey finished in a port pipe. This is veteran master distiller Lincoln Henderson’s newest creation, and it's a beauty. Richly textured, silky, and well-rounded, with ripe ber ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Pour this single-barrel bourbon some time in advance to allow it to open up and reveal crème caramel aromatics while you eye the rich topaz color in the glass. Sweet and smooth, this whiskey finishes with dry espresso, dark chocolate and black-tea notes. Mix into classic cocktails." (7/2013)92 points Whisky Advocate: "A fuller-bodied, sweeter encounter than Barrel #55-6F reviewed below. More rounded and even-keeled throughout, too! Chewy toffee, rummy molasses, and nougat, with underlying notes of dark, berried fruit, accentuating spice, and supple leather. The heavyweight of the gr ...Read More »
Basil Hayden's Bourbon dates back to 1796 when Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. created a new bourbon recipe using a traditional corn base, but adding small grains into his mash. The results showcased the spicy flavors of rye, which complemented the sweetness of corn. Today Basil Hayden's is aged for eight years at a relatively mild 80 proof, and glints like liquid gold in the glass. Its spicy-sweet perfume shows hints of peppermint and black tea and its flavors are spicy, peppery and honeyed, with a light body and a gentle bite. According to Patterson'... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Superb/Highly Recommended* The bouquet has a dry, grainy aroma which is accented by peppery/spicy scents. The palate entry is surprisingly sweet and corny, considering how dry the aroma is; the midpalate point is deep, corny sweet, sap-like and a bit syrupy. Ends up well and balanced, with a backnote of dried red fruit (raisins, prunes)." (12/2007) K&L Notes: Four Stars/Highly Recommended F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal: "The rich bronze color sparkles under the lamp; perfect purity. The initial whiffs uncover dry notes of stone-milled grist and dried fruit; follow... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This blended Bourbon starts smooth and sweet, with sasparilla and maple sugar, then explodes with bold cassia, cinnamon and cayenne razzle-dazzle." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "A soft, delicate bourbon -- especially when compared to its single barrel siblings here. Subtle notes of candied fruit and creamy sweet notes (vanilla, coconut, light toffee, and caramel corn) are nicely interwoven. Some integrated, gently-dried spice dances throughout and lingers on the finish. An easy-to-embrace bourbon with nice balance. (Vol. 16, #4)" K&L Notes: Named American Whiskey Distiller of the Year 2010... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "This uncut, barrel-strength Bourbon is bold and flavorful. The caramel aroma is rich and luxe. On the palate, it’s quite tannic and drying, but the flavor shines through, showing toffee, caramel and dried cherry, with a spicy finish of clove, dried fig and date. The alcohol feels remarkably balanced despite the high proof. It needs no adornment: just add a chunk of ice and enjoy." (9/2014) Whisky Advocate: "Aged 7 years, 1 month, and 7 days. Big and chewy, with nutty toffee, molasses, nougat, tobacco, pencil shavings, subtle fruit, and dried spice (cinnamon, vanilla). Leath ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This small-batch bourbon uses wheat in place of rye to create a soft, rounded character. The mild crème brulee aroma leads into sasparilla and creamy caramel flavors. At 92 proof, it’s a wonder that the alcohol feels so moderate, but it makes its presence known in the cinnamon-firework finish. Attractive bottle design with clever keyhole label." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "A new wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill, using wheat instead of rye in the mashbill, resulting in a smooth, easygoing whiskey. Layers of sweetness (creamy vanilla, maple syrup, marzipan) combin ...Read More »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "**Top 50 Spirits 2013 & Best Buy** Consider this blended Bourbon for dessert pairings or a fruit-spiked Old Fashioned. Look for caramel and dried-cherry aromas and a flavor akin to dark chocolate-covered cherries. The long, mouthwatering finish is dark and decadent, evoking chocolate, espresso, Port, leather, nutmeg and clove." (7/2013) Wine Spectator: "The nose is standard Bourbon: corn, vanilla, with notes of mint and oak dryness. On the palate, there's more corn, vanilla and a bit of cocoa; the mint is more pronounced. The finish shows off the oak. Simple, straightforw ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "From Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell, this tawny and full-bodied whiskey evolves on the palate. At first, it features orange peel, vanilla and caramel, then dry leather and cocoa notes midpalate, and finishes long and lean with clove and allspice accents. Dilute to taste, sip slowly and consider all the complex flavors." (7/2013) K&L Notes: The Russell's Reserve Small Batch Bourbon was developed by Wild Turkey Distillery's Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie. Initially a limited edition release, the Russell's Reserve is now a 10-... Read More »
The Willett Distilling Company, which has been family, owned and operated since 1935, is now the home of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. The Pot Still Reserve is KBD's flagship single barrel product and while it doesn't carry an age statement, it is of the highest quality. Because it is bottled in single barrel format, the precise flavors change from cask to cask. However, the general style of this bourbon, despite the single cask nature, is one of great elegance. It is bottled in a lovely glass pot still decanter. A very graceful bourbon. It's very su... Read More »
If high-quality, unique whiskies are your bag, don't put off getting your hands on a bottle of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey; Colorado's first small batch, hand-crafted whiskey that uses top-notch ingredients. The barley for Stranahan's is grown in the Northern Rockies and the water comes from the State's pure mountain streams. The distillery contracts with neighboring Flying Dog Brewery for its four-barley fermented mash, which then goes through a unique filtration program. Twice distilled in a custom Vendome Copper Co. pot still, aged in charred America... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "A fiery oak nose eventually yields sweet corn, herbal grass notes and light vanilla. Laser-intense flavors of mint, rye and eau-de-vie-purity corn spirit heat up the mouth. Break it with a bit of water and you'll get corn pudding, boozy vanilla and a drying oak finish. It's a great example of deep flavor hidden in overproof whiskey." (2/2012) K&L Notes: Noah's Mill is a handmade, small-batch Kentucky Bourbon with unique character and a smoothness rarely found in young whiskies. Awarded a Gold Medal at the 2005 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This received 91... Read More »
Kentucky's most popular wheated bourbon that isn't called "Pappy," Maker's Mark has long been famous for using winter wheat as the flavor grain (along with the majority of corn) instead of the ubiquitous rye. The only thing that ever kept Maker's Mark from capturing the hearts of serious bourbon aficionados everywhere was the low proof. In 2014, however, they released a tiny amount of cask strength whiskey to Kentucky residents and people went bananas. Seeing that landing a bottle of Pappy today is like winning the lottery, the Maker's Mark Cask Strength... Read More »
Made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The base aroma is buttered corn-on-the-cob with aeration bringing additional scents of vanilla and cinnamon. The palate entry showcases sweet breakfast cereal grain; at midpalate the corn dominates so thoroughly that you know that this could only be one of the best straight bourbons from Kentucky. Ends spirity and heated. One of America’s benchmark spirits." (12/2007) Wine Spectator: "It's a doughnut nose: a sweet dusting of cinnamon and corn, with a touch of vanilla. Maker's is a bright, delicate balance of corn and cinnamon, with just enough oaky spice coming along in th ...Read More »
This special cask from Chicago's premier craft distillery is one of the best craft bourbons we've come across. While we typically avoid smaller casks due to their tendency to go cardboardy or over tannin the whiskey, but this wonderful little cask shakes off all the negative expectations. The nose starts a bit boozy with rich sweet grains and soft oak. The palate though is rich and textured with sweet roasted grain and soft spice. Add a drop of water and the oak spice comes forward with the rich vanilla, soft sweet stewed fruit and dark savory notes (gra... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "An unexpectedly wonderful pairing with a sweet chocolate or a sticky caramel dessert, Campfire blends straight rye whiskey, straight Bourbon and blended Scotch. Altogether, it’s big and smoky, with lots of iodine, but doesn’t completely overwhelm, settling into a pleasing mix of toffee and peat. Gift a bottle to a Scotch lover to introduce the joys of American whiskeys." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "A blend of bourbon, rye, and peated single malt Scotch whiskies. This is an adaptation of the original release that spent additional time in Hungarian and French oak barrels. The ...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 »
The magnicent Bourye is back. This ultra limited blend of Bourbon and Rye whisky is one of the High West's best. This is the second batch of this whisky and it included a 9 year old Bourbon and two Ryes at 10 and 16 years old. The result is incredibly deep and complex with the rich sweetness of the bourbon not overpowering the intensity of the rye spice. The 16 year old bring is all together with a mellow old whisky flavor that you can't get anywhere else for less than $80, heck, good luck finding that flavor for less than $300. I think this might be eve... Read More »
High West is dedicated to preserving and promoting the American West, that's why they've created a whiskey dedicated to one of the greatest land preservation projects of our time: the American Prairie Reserve in Montana, a 5000 square mile land tract the size of Connecticut restored to what Lewis and Clark would have seen. High West will donate 10% of after tax profits from each bottle to the American Prairie Foundation. This blend of straight bourbons from Kentucky and Indian continue to showcase High West's exceptional blending abilities. The base whis... Read More »
This vintage Kentucky bourbon is incredibly easy to drink. It's a honeyed gold hue, with aromas of caramel, vanilla, spice and smoke that are plush and honeyed on the palate. Undertones of apple, orange zest and spice fill in the palate and continue onto the finish. It remains an incredible value after many years at the top of the pile. This is the 2006 vintage.
Woodford Reserve's Double Oak is exactly what it sounds like: the classic Woodford Reserve Bourbon put back into new charred oak barrels for a double maturation. Not only are the barrels charred in this case, but they're charred to the blackest possible level (any further and the wood would simply disintegrate). The result is a Bourbon with big richness and tons of new oak flavor. You can even catch that little note of blackened oak spice on the finish.
Inventory: San Francisco
This is one of the great bourbon deals that K&L has to offer. It is a soft, creamy, rich, and semi-sweet whiskey that drinks far above its price point. For all of those who long for Black Maple Hill, the Hirsch might be just a bit better. Always a top-seller and a customer favorite, we just need to keep it in stock!
The classic Jim Beam expression - big spice, lots of cinnamon and clove notes, with great richness cutting through the high proof.
This wonderful little experiment packs maximum hipster into the minimum amount of space. They start with the moonshine, made from a mash of 80% Organic New York Corn and 20% Scottish Malted Barley. This is then infused with ground cocoa husks from the preeminent Williamsburg Chocolatier Mast Brothers. Mast Brothers is renowned for using the highest quality fair trade cocoa to make their famous chocolate. The result is something utterly wild. Bitter and intense cocoa flavors transform the white whiskey into a kind of ethereal ghost of the finest dark choc... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits 2013* Finished in the barrel with specially seared oak staves, this Bourbon is a new classic. In the glass, it sports a bright maple color, and lively, spicy aromas and flavors of oaky vanilla and tropical fruit touched with clove, ginger and allspice." (7/2013)90 points Whisky Advocate: "This is original 'red wax' Maker's Mark that received additional aging in barrels containing internal "seared" French oak staves. The original Maker's Mark, being a wheated bourbon (instead of rye, which is typically used), is rather mellow and easy-to-drink.The French oak staves i ...Read More »
This is Wild Turkey's super-premium Bourbon, bottled at 101-proof. It has a soft nose for such a high proof Bourbon, with scents of dates and vanilla and oranges, which continue onto the honeyed palate. Rich and powerful.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Rich and creamy, this small-batch bourbon offers butterscotch laced with bitter chocolate and orange peel, edged with a clove and cinnamon finish. Muscular alcohol feel." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "The new, elder sibling to the standard Bulleit. It shows the Bulleit personality, but it’s deeper and drier on the nose and palate (as would be expected), with more oak, dried orchard fruit, and dark berried fruit, along with a hint of barrel char, leather, vanilla powder, and a dusting of cinnamon. I’d save this as a postprandial bourbon, and opt for the standard Bulleit as an a ...Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "The whiskey’s formula has been improved, and now consists of a higher percentage of older whiskies (into the high teens) than the original release (which I rated 81). Nicely balanced, with candied fruit, blackberry jam, soft vanilla, kettle corn, and a kiss of mint. Pleasant, unpretentious, and uncomplicated. (Vol. 20, #3)" K&L Notes: A delicate, small batch Kentucky bourbon with stone fruit, vanilla and oak notes on the nose. It is smooth and sweet on the palate with a kiss of orange, wood smoke and a mulled berry flavors.
Distilled three times on a pot still like an Irish whiskey, Bowman Distillery in Virginia has been quietly churning out elegant Bourbon whiskey for years. Purchased by Sazerac in 2003, the operation has slowly been revamped to accommidate the drinking desires of the entire country, which is why we're finally seeing some Bowman whiskey here on the west coast. The Single Barrel expression is richer and more intense than the Small Batch release and offers a spicier experience at 100 proof. Ultimately, however, the delicacy and lightness of the pot distilled... Read More »
The beast is awakening! Finally, Kentucky's largest Bourbon distillery is using its size and scale to create a fantastic, value-oriented, high-quality whiskey that anyone can enjoy. For less than $20, this is my new go-to for mixing cocktails and making rocks drinks. It's Beam flavor through and through-creamy corn, sweet vanilla, and that spicy, grainy finish-just turned up to 100 proof. It's a no-brainer for the money.
Whisky Advocate: "The base bottling of the 'new' I.W. Harper from Diageo. Source is 'new' Bernheim; no age given. Nose is simple: hard candy and corn. A fairly simple and somewhat thin mouth as well: sweet, with hints of ripe melon and apple, and an edge of oak dryness. Finishes well, with a cleanly sweet spiciness. Table bourbon, though a bit pricey for that. (Summer 2015)"
Sazerac's other distillery, the Barton facility in Bardstown, is not nearly as well-known as the Buffalo Trace side of things. Ken Pierce, not Harlan Wheatley, is distilling over in Bardstown, making a high-rye bourbon called 1792 Ridgemont, a softer, smoother, yet more peppery version of bourbon than what we're used to from BT. Lots of tasty oak integration and a wonderful mix of spice and richness make this another feather in the cap of America's top bourbon producer.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Though this new offering meets the technical criteria for rye (a mash bill of at least 51% rye), the sweet, caramelly flavors suggest a high-rye Bourbon—which makes sense considering that Knob Creek is best known for its Bourbon. Expect bold almond, oak, brown butter and pecan pie flavors. The drying baking-spice finish is more characteristic of rye, and has less bite than might be expected of a 100-proof spirit." (9/2013) 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 ...Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "Distilled from a relatively low-rye mash of 53% rye, 33% corn, 14% malt; true to Woodford Reserve form, a mingling of whiskeys distilled at Woodford and at Brown-Forman in Louisville. Nose of leather, cinnamon, rye snappiness, and hints of red raspberry. Hot and lean on the palate, spicy/sweet until rye’s bitter layering floats in, making for a dry finish as the oak comes on stronger. Balances drinkable and elegant quite nicely, and it’s real Woodford. (Summer 2015)" K&L Notes: Woodford Reserve's new rye whiskey is not only delicious, it's one of the most interesting... Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "The whiskey's formula has been improved, and now consists of a higher percentage of older whiskies (into the high teens) than the original release...Nicely balanced, with candied fruit, blackberry jam, soft vanilla, kettle corn, and a kiss of mint. Pleasant, unpretentious, and uncomplicated. (Vol. 20, #3)" K&L Notes: A medium-weight, small batch, aged bourbon that delivers richness and elegance. Aromas of peaches, vanilla, raisins and butterscotch carry through to the palate, which also shows flavors suggestive of dates, orange and blackberry. Sweet, and warm through... Read More »