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K&L Staff Recommendations
2013 Ao Yun, China $299.99
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Best well chilled, this classic brand has a mild sweetness that hints at marshmallow and cocoa bean, plus flares of citrus peel, cassia bark and ginger on the clean finish. (KN)" (10/2013) K&L Notes: Ketel One is made in Holland. It is a family-owned business which has been carrying on the tradition of vodka-making for eleven generations. Their focus at Ketel One is quality, tradition and personal commitment to their customers. This shows in their vodka by offering only the heart of each distillate, tasted by a member of the family before it is released. One of the b... Read More »
From the official Angustura website: "Made with the same original secret recipe since 1824, the world famous Angostura aromatic bitters remains the quintessential and definitive ingredient for classic and contemporary cocktails. Its versatility, however, stretches way beyond the bar counter as it serves as a unique flavour enhancer with the ability to marry flavours in the preparation of all food dishes. Angostura aromatic bitters also adds its unmistakable flavour and aroma to 'soft' beverages and desserts."
Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet offers integrated scents of roasted chestnut, dried tobacco leaf, maple, orange zest, brown sugar, cinnamon and egg cream. The palate entry is curiously medicinal; the midpalate improves as the taste includes bittersweet flavors of old oak, wood resin, molasses and tree sap. Concludes intensely sap- and maple-like." (5/2007) K&L Notes: *Best Premium Gold Rum - 2011 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition*
Wine & Spirits: "A classic Dickensian dissembler, Reverend Stiggins is a Pickwick Papers character who sermonized about temperance while indulging in constant sips of pineapple rum. His name graces this new rum, a project that Maison Ferrand took on, sparked by a suggestion from spirits writer David Wondrich (the two have collaborated in recent years on a Curaçao). Using a base of Plantation Original Dark Rum that’s been macerated with Queen Victoria pineapple flesh and a portion of white rum that’s been distilled with the rinds, they’ve created a barrel-aged rum that’s ...Read More »
We firmly believe that Belvedere is one of the best vodkas in the business and at this price it's a steal. An award-winning hand-crafted Polish Vodka, made according to centuries-old traditional methods, this is 100% Polish rye, distilled 4 times and charcoal filtered. The illustration on the back depicts the Belvedere House, the Polish equivalent to the White House, the official residence of the Polish president in Warsaw. Additive-free and diluted with water from Belvedere's own artesian well, it exhibits delicate aromas and flavors, with hints of vani... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "*Year's Best Spirits 2016* Some of the world’s best rums are being made by a man who cut his teeth on Cognac, Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Maison Ferrand. Not long after reviving that brandy house, Gabriel turned his attention to rum, creating Plantation and endowing it with a Cognac distiller’s sense of balance, elegance and variety. OFTD (Old-Fashioned Traditional Dark), created with input from rum specialists including cocktail historian David Wondrich and tiki expert Martin Cate, is a blockbuster. Earlier Plantation dark rums had relied exclusively on ...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 »
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 »
This is first-class Guatemalan rum is made from virgin sugar cane honey--the first press of the sugar cane that's boiled down to thicken--rather than molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar-making process. This results in a finer, sweeter, smoother rum. Aged in the solera method, like sherry, the Zacapa Centenario is very dark--mahogany with coppery tints--and has a clove, cocoa, cinnamon and orange peel-scented nose. The palate is sweet and smooth, with cocoa, orange and honey flavors and a sensuous, viscous texture. It finishes long and smooth. It ... Read More »
This spectacular single-blended rum is an example of everything that the rum industry should be doing but isn't. Foursquare is among the world's finest rum distilleries and home to one of the industry's great rum purists, Richard Seale--great great grandson of the founder Reginald Leon Seale. Richard is an important voice in rum today and, as master blender for R.L. Seale, he seems poised to be the savior that the rum category so desperately needs. He knows that rum will never attain its full potential while most of the producers rely on sugar and carame... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, it supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, and the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors. The deliciously supple 12-year- old uses medium-bodied rums from the Savalle still (a very unique column still th... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, it supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years. The Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors. The 15 year old draws its core flavor from the use of the distillery's historic wooden pot stills -- the Port Mourant... Read More »
Rhum Clement is one of Martinique's oldest and most respected distilleries. The Habitations Clement was founded in 1887, but didn't begin producing rhum in earnest until the French Alcohol shortages during World War I. The Agricole style of rum arose from several factors namely the creation by Napoleon of the sugar beet industry, which decimated sugar prices. This left sugar growers in French Territories with any extreme excess of raw sugar and very little incentive to process it. The easiest way to recoup the investment was to fresh press the cane and d... 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 »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "A sooty initial aroma; following aeration, enticing, dry notes of palm oil, unsalted butter, grain mash and slate emerge. The palate entry is bone dry as soot and slate tastes meld, then turn delightfully oily and textured. Clean, medium-weight and nicely. (PP)" (4/2006)
*Gold Medal - 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition* Gosling Brothers Ltd. imported its first barrels of Caribbean rum into Bermuda in 1860. Numerous different blends were tried until one was formulated and deemed ideal. The result was a well-aged, extremely dark rum, which the firm dubbed "Old-Rum". For over 50 years the rum was sold only by draught, with local patrons bring in their own bottles to be filled. The rum continued to be sold exclusively out of the barrel until the First World War, when the company began filling champagne bottles re... Read More »
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.
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."
From the brewery: "The Roman Empire had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ - festive food culture, extravagant architecture and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen - that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient - keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant and flamboyant. Forza Imperiale."
Inventory: Redwood City
98 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The first couple of whiffs pick up toasty notes of caramel, almond butter, cotton candy and very old oak; with aeration, more profound aromas develop including saddle leather, vanilla, Sherry and dark caramel. Palate entry is perfectly balanced and sweet; by midpalate the flavor profile is honeyed, slightly cocoa-like, buttery to the feel and utterly decadent. Finishes long, layered, creamy and dark chocolate bittersweet." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Master of rums and the flagship of the house, Santa Teresa 1796 results from a careful blend of Santa Teresa’s fine... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, and supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors along with more than seven additional stills that create more traditional ones. The El Dorado 3 year uses light to me... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The bouquet is basic but pleasing, with sweet molasses scents and some delightful cocoa and tobacco notes. The palate entry is surprisingly bittersweet and nearly dry; the flavor turns tobacco-like, almost smoky, yet appealingly sweet at midpalate. Finishes with simple, no-frills charm." (2/2008) K&L Notes: If you want a rum with pure tropical spirit, this may be it. The One Barrel rum, from the country of Belize, smells like a tropical breeze with its aromas of passion fruit, hibiscus and papaya. On the palate it is smooth and round, with just a hint of m... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet is subtle and alluring, with distant notes of buttered popcorn and escarole broth; aeration stimulates aromas of peanut butter, rye toast and damp cobblestone. Silky palate entry is slightly sweet, concentrated and grainy; at midpalate, the flavor turns drier, lightly spiced and almost fruity (as in dried fruit). Aftertaste is long and spicy. Well crafted and quality driven." (6/2004) K&L Notes: Made from 100% Polish rye, the Potocki vodka might be the best vodka we carry. It's the cleanest, most pure form of vodka I've ever had the chance to taste and I ... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This bartender-owned brand has created a light, nearly neutral rum perfect for mixing into Papa Dobles and other cocktails. Though barrel--aged for three years and blended with older rums, the appearance is nearly clear, with just a faint golden tinge. Relatively neutral on the nose and palate, this rum almost reads like vodka, with pleasant marshmallow, ginger and lime zest notes on the clean finish. (KN)" (8/2013) K&L Notes: From the newly formed 86 Company, which makes spirits specifically for bartenders, Cana Brava Rum is a re-creation of an old style of rum, and... Read More »
Originally created in 1823 by James Pimm of Kent to be served as a digestif, Pimm's Original Gin Sling was the first "House Cup" at London's popular Oyster Bar, thus the spirit's name: Pimm's No. 1 Cup. A special blend of herbs, liqueurs and quinine were steeped in gin and paired with oysters on the half shell. As the brand's reputation grew, other Pimm's Cups were developed, each based on different spirits, including vodka and brandy, but only the gin-based cup is available in the US today. The iconic cocktail, appropriately named Pimm's Cup, has been a... Read More »
Just when you think you've tasted every type of booze known to man, you discover that there are yet more regionally-specific spirits being distilled in places you've never considered. Like Bolivia, for example. South America is generally rum country, but in Bolivia they make a pisco-like spirit called Singani, distilled from Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown high in the Andes mountains. Seeing that Muscat is an aromatic varietal, known for its fruity and floral character, the Singani spirit distilled from it takes on many of the perfume-like elements fou... Read More »
From the brewery: "A few times in the history of craft beer it has happened that a highly praised beer rises beyond mortal stardom into a higher godly league. Usually the recipe to make such heavenly drops is thick fudge-like body, pitch black color, amazingly overwhelming aromas of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and muscovado sugar, obviously only made in limited amounts and most crucial of all - it must taste rare!"
A classic made from raw demerara sugar in Guyana, this bottling is historically relevant because Lemon Hart was the original supplier of rum to the British Royal Navy. It packs a hefty punch, but mix it up in an authentic punch and you'll be happy you did. Currently sold out everywhere, tiki bars like Smuggler's Cove in SF are buying dozens of cases to use as the foundation for their drinks. After this batch it may not be seen again for some time.
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 »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A top pick for tiki and tropical drinks, this practically begs for lime juice. Scented with warm honey notes, the palate shows lots of brown sugar and spice, plus an enticingly untamed, funky finish (the fabled 'hogo'). Since it’s 'Navy Strength,' you might not want to sip it straight up—the producer wisely recommends exploring the profile first in a daiquiri—though it’s smooth and interesting enough if you want to try." (8/2014) K&L Notes: The original Jamaica rum is back. It's been 80 years and true Jamaica pot still rum has lived only in the imagination of cocktai... Read More »
Rhum Barbancourt is a superior premium dark rum distilled twice in copper pot stills. It is then barrel aged in white oak barrels. Unlike other island rums, Barbancourt is made directly from sugar cane juice, pressed from hand-cut locally grown cane. Aged 8 years. A full bodied premium "Reserve Speciale" dark rum with a velvety quality. Will enhance any rum drink.
Haiti's finest rum! The Barbancourt family used to keep this spectacular rum for themselves, but fortunately for us and for other rum connoisseurs they began releasing small quantities in the 1960s. Aged for 15 years, this sipping rum enchants with a a full, rich palate brimming with pear and citrus flavors, warming spices and a little peppery kick.
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)
From the brewery: "Effortlessly cool, popping up up in a cultish fashion and constantly on a tasty mission. This is mission Gose: our take on a old-fashioned and slightly odd German style beer that is with good reason trending as the tastiest right now. It’s tart, salty, low in alcohol and probably the most refreshing beer you’ll have. Perhaps enjoy this beer in a restaurant with a mission near you. Wherever you are we made it stylishly good and exclusively well balanced just for you."
Inventory: San Francisco
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Cellar Selection* This selection is new to the U.S. market, but according to the brewery's Web site, it is the beer they are most proud to create. This is masterfully crafted and perfectly balanced. Whole cherries are added to the base lambic inside oak foudres, then fermented for six months before bottling, resulting in a complex, layered, dried- and spiced-cherry character. Cherry juice, pie filling, baking spice, rose petal, barnyard and light oak dance on the nose and mouth. It's unpasteurized, not sweetened like many of the brewery's other fruit la ...Read More »
From its origins in the tropical hills and valleys of Jamaica, the allspice berry has for generations been prized for its exceptional tastes of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg and a pepper note that dazzles the palate. The allspice liqueur, known in classic cocktails as "Pimento Dram," brings together the fine pot-still rum and classic allspice berries of Jamaica. Enjoy St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram in classic cocktails, Wassail and other punches, mulled wine, continental and island cuisine.
A delicious, dry-farmed Tannat from Canelones, Uruguay, the Deicas has rich dark fruits bolstered by an elegant tannic backbone. A great introduction to this grape variety.
This is classic Tannat from Uruguay, full of dark fruit amd damp clay aromas, with that intense, bordering on brutal (in a good way) tannin structure for which the grape is rightfully famous. That said, this Tannat is particularly well balanced, with a texture that also shows some breathability on the palate and and nicely bright flavors as well.
Special order items are not in stock and are dependent upon quantity available from distribution. All special orders are final and non-refundable.
The exceptional rums from R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd are distilled at the Foursquare Rum Distillery in St Philip Barbados. This unique distillery is one of four on the island and produces some of the Caribbean's finest rums. The Master Blender/distiller over there is Richard Seale and while Mr. Seale seems to be quite a staunch purist when it comes to the addition of flavor additives and finishing sugars that are ubiquitous throughout the rum industry, he does believe that rum is a world class product that deserves to be aged in world class casks. The idea to ... Read More »
From a revived estate with famed German winemaker Egon Müller consulting. The first vintage was 2001. Backstory from the importer: "Chateau Bela is an ancient property of the Baron Ullmann situated in Slovakia on the banks of the Danube River. The first vines were planted by the Romans and today Riesling grapes are grown on the hills below the castle and vinified by Miroslav Petrech and Egon Muller. Egon Müller has discovered the potential of wines in the Château Béla area in Slovakia and makes a dry Riesling which objective is to challenge the best Ries... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* A syrupy textured mixer comprised of liquid sucrose, lime juice, almond and clove essences and water—not to be consumed neat. Clove and lime juice on the nose. Thick and sweet on the palate, but the lime juice acts as the perfect balance for the high-octane liquid sucrose. Scores of applications in cocktails." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Velvet Falernum is a longtime staple item of resorts and bars in Barbados, and today for its use in Tropical, Tiki and Caribbean drinks such as the Rum Swizzle, Mai Tai, Zombie, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Corn n’ Oil. It is ... Read More »
It's not often I'm on the lookout for a new Cachaça, but my good friend Val brought me this absolutely delicious, strikingly labeled liter bottle of pure bargain-priced booze. Velho Barreiro Cachaca is only $15.99 and is briefly aged in Brazilian wood (I think oak?). It's full of real rum character and should make killer drinks for those looking for a new mixer. And the price...my God! (David Driscoll, K&L Spirits Buyer)
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A muted aroma of brown sugar and milk chocolate with traces of peanut and black pepper. The elegant yet assertive palate entry is firm, peppery, moderately sweet, and cane-like; at midpalate the texture turns silky, semisweet and cocoa-like to the taste, and eminently elegant and sophisticated in style. Finishes sweet, honeyed, medium-bodied, svelte and utterly yummy." (8/2005)
Produced from Tannat grown in various regions of Uruguay, sourced from a whopping 1000 parcels, this is a fine example of Urugay's prized red grape varietal. Aged for 6 months in used French oak barrels, this Tannat has round, dark cherry fruit, with a hint of savory green notes, lovely richness and solid structure.
From the same guys that first marketed the Ron Zacapa, this excellent Panamanian rum is one of the best valuees in rum. A 2010 RumXP Gold medal winner and distilled by the master of rum himself, Don Poncho, Zafra is a true 21 year old and not made using a solera system. With rich toffee, exotic fruit, and spice, the Zafra 21 year has everything you're looking for in a sipping rum. It's attractively packaged and priced to move. All rum lovers deserve to treat themselves to a bottle of this great new rum!
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 »
This is the best pisco that I have ever tasted - easily. It is creamy, clean, and beautiful. I could drink this straight out of the bottle. Made by San Francisco bartenders specifically for craft cocktails, this blows every other pisco out of the water. Paul Clarke from the Cocktail Chronicles agrees, calling it "Mind blowing stuff, absolutely the best pisco I've ever tasted." A blend of three different varietals: Quebranta (76%), Torontel (6%), and Italia (18%), Encanto Pisco is rested for nine months to refine its smooth texture, aroma and spice notes.... 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 »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America, and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. In operation since the 1600s, they've supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, produce a number of amazing flavors. In addition, they have more than seven modern stills creating layers of flavor. The 8-year-old rum is the most ubiquitous of the line-up around Guyana, offering the best combination of maturity and value in one bottl... Read More »