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K&L Staff Recommendations
At first we couldn't believe our mouths. We knew that Cut Spike single malt had just taken Double Gold honors at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits competition (the highest possible honor), so obviously other people thought it was good, too. But after tasting so many mediocre American attempts at single malt whisky, we had become accustomed to the idea that the Scottish style of distillation would never be recreated here at home. There would be spin-offs, and experimental grasps at greatness, but that supple, malty profile would simply be something we needed... Read More »
When Brown-Forman announced an Old Forester Single Barrel program, we rejoiced! Finally, another line on awesome single cask bourbon. Forester has long been one of the great values in the store. Their 100 proof Signature (BIB) is like a high proof mini-Woodford for a fraction of the price. Now they've offered us some older stocks from their prime warehouse locations to highlight this special recipe. Unfortunately, due to extremely high demand Brown-Forman has ALREADY cancelled the single barrel program indefinitely! A fire at the visitor center in downto... 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 »
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 »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Intensely woody aromas and succulent marshmallow, bakery and lanolin scents spring forth. The fat palate entry oozes butter cream, dark caramel, and brown sugar tastes; the midpalate focuses more on the grain aspect as the flavor becomes toasty, fruity and honeyed. Ends honey sweet, decadent and maple-like. An unbelievable bargain." (4/2007) 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 spiri... Read More »
As long as the country's best bourbon distillery allows us to keep buying delicious single barrels, we'll keep taking them! This 10 year old cask of formula OBSV is remarkably soft and rich on the entry, with accents of pepper and pencil shavings towards the finish. The mouthfeel is creamy and supple, yet the flavors of the Bourbon itself are never sweet or decadent. There's a bit of burnt sugar on the finish, but most of the whiskey's core flavors are herbaceous and spicy. It's an incredibly intriguing dichotomy, and one of the more fascinating casks we... 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.
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Enthusiast: "The nose offers wave after wave of botanical and floral perfumes, with the end bouquet focused on cucumber and spring garden floral scents. The palate entry is moderately oily, semisweet and gently herbal; the midpalate stays spirity, vegetal and earthy. The aftertaste features juniper with a dry and minerally undertaste." (11/2006) K&L Notes: We love this new gin coming from Scotland. This handcrafted gin has been infused with cucumber and rose petals. Very aromatic with a smooth sweet flavor and very long length. Try it over ice with thin slices of cucumber!
From St. George distillery: Terroir Gin is our ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State. Distiller Lance Winters has a passion for exploring place and memory through distillation, and the aromas of the coastal forests on California's Mount Tam were what inspired him to start making gin in the first place. Terroir Gin has an intense earthy, woodsy nose and flavor derived from Douglas fir, California bay laurel, and California coastal sage complemented by bright, citrusy top notes. This is a unique and proudly Californian gin with a sense of place and po... 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 »
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 »
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.
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top Spirits 2013* Versatile, crisp, and an ideal match for cocktails that also include orange liqueur, as well as its namesake classic cocktail. Light aromas include vanilla and a touch of juicy citrus. Flavors run to bitter orange, dark chocolate and black tea, finishing with a pepper tingle. Velvety feel, despite the brisk alcohol." (7/2013) K&L Notes: The K & L Sazerac Cocktail: 1/2 oz Kubler absinthe, 2 oz of 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 absint... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nosing passes find generous notes of citrus zest, juniper berry, orris root, licorice, coriander and angelica. The palate entry is bittersweet, intensely grainy and speckled with licorice and orris root; at midpalate the flavor turns delightfully herbal. Finish is decidedly herbal/leafy/seed-like and, finally, bittersweet. An adult gin with an adventurous attitude." (9/2006) 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 gin... 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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This amber whiskey is made with 95% rye, which puts it on the very high-rye side of the spectrum, and gives it a spicy zip. In some ways, this evokes an ultradry version of an orange liqueur, with juicy orange notes dusted with black pepper, clove, nutmeg and a faint hoppy note." (7/2012) 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 ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Pour it, and let it sit awhile; this one opens up and gets more aromatic, rich and flavorful, like wine. It starts off with a candied sweetness and touches of coconut and tea on the nose, then opens up to deeper caramel tones. Orange and caramel flavors, mellow, smooth, linger on the finish. Light-bodied, despite the bold, luxurious flavors. And oh, that pretty bottle, like an oversized perfume flask. Add this one to your gift list." (9/2010) Wine Spectator: "Custard, pepper, orange peel and grassy rye fill the nose. In the mouth, it's a breakneck ride: an initial rush of ...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." (4/2012) K&L Notes: From St. George distillery: "Botanivore Gin (our "botanical eater") earned its name because it's loaded with botanical ingredients. We distilled 19 different botanicals to compose this spirit (no small feat!) and the resulting gin is beautifully balanced and vibran... 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 »
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 »
This is a small batch vodka made in Pennsylvania from locally grown potatoes by two guys using a copper still. The result is a softer, creamier style of vodka that is milder on the palate than most. This is vodka made by people who really care about quality and precision, and that's obvious at first sip. F. Paul Pacult's Spirits Journal ranked the Boyd & Blair Vodka the 22nd best spirit in the world, making it the Spirits Journal's top ranked Vodka, giving it five stars. In his review Pacult opines, "Wow, this aroma comes flying out of the glass in waves... 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 »
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!
Whisky Advocate: "3 year old peated malt whisky, aged in Oregon oak. Rich nose of peat—burning leaves, a touch of sweet diesel—and fresh oak. There's no stinting on the peat; it's young, it's in your face. Whiskey to stand toe-to-toe with Portland's hopped-to-blazes beers. Not just peat: creamy malt makes a solid floor and an exit that may be the most complex part of the experience. Refined for a 3 year old. Limited annual release. (Vol. 22, #4)" K&L Notes: The new Fall 2014 release of McCarthy's is here and it's the last batch that will come from the actual McCarthy era. While Steve ... Read More »
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 »
K&L was the first store to have this in stock and we took as much as we can get of it! Anchor Steam releases a Christmas Ale every year and it's always one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I've been drinking this beer with my dad every Xmas since I was 21. Last year Anchor had a few hundred bottles left over that they decided to distill secretly into a very, very, very small batch of bierschnapps, or white whiskey - depending on which title sounds more appealing to you. I got the chance to taste it this morning and, while I don't often advocat... Read More »
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 »
The no-compete clause is over!!! St. George is finally back in the vodka business. After selling off the Hangar One brand to Proximo, our local heroes over in Alameda were not allowed to create a vodka of their own for four whole years. Time has now passed, and the contract has expired. Let us now introduce you to the new St. George vodkas. Made from California jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, and both yellow and red bell peppers, each pepper is actually infused and distilled separately before being blended together. The still is also packed with cilantro... 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
It's been a long time in the making, but the first batch of 100% Willett-distilled rye is finally here and it's glorious. 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 distiller... Read More »
One of America's finest and most authentic rye whiskey. Great price for an excellent 6 year Rye.
Notes from Anchor: "Junípero Gin is made by hand in the classic "distilled dry gin" tradition, utilizing morethan a dozen botanicals in their natural state, in a small copper pot still at our little distillery on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. The history of gin goes back at least to the mid-1600's in Holland, but its true antecedents are much earlier, those first experiments in the ancient and mysterious art of distilling in the presence of herbs and spices. The predominant flavor and aroma of a modern gin will always come from juniper (dried berries of... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Although overall neutral and mild, this artisanal vodka is distinguished by a faint fruitiness and a touch of sweetness on the clean, crisp finish." (7/2011) K&L Notes: St. George Spirits are making extraordinary vodkas and some of the finest we have ever seen produced. What makes this vodka special is just a bit of floral, fruity, low-acid Viognier eau-de-vie that gets blended with the midwestern wheat spirit. Elegant and round on the palate with a nice smooth mouthfeel.
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 »
The no-compete clause is over!!! St. George is finally back in the vodka business. After selling off the Hangar One brand to Proximo, our local heroes over in Alameda were not allowed to create a vodka of their own for four whole years. Time has now passed, and the contract has expired. Let us now introduce you to the new St. George vodkas. Made from 100% American grain and fruit, the "all purpose" vodka is soft, lithe, and clean; finishing with a rounded mouthfeel that is both simultaneously refreshing and gentle. The supple weight comes from Bartlett p... Read More »
If you're a Campari fan, but have never been able to find something outside of the Italian legend that scratches that same itch, then this might be the one thing that finally captivates you. The Leopold brothers have gone back to the drawing board and created an all natural version of the bitter aperitivo that uses real cochineal (like Campari used to) to color the liquid and brings a much bolder, more bitter flavor. It mixes like a DREAM into a Negroni and works wonders in an Americano. If you think you've got the Negroni cocktail mastered, think again.... Read More »
Davorin Kuchan has been distilling spirits since his early days as a winemaker and eau-de-vie expert back in Croatia. When he established Old World Spirits here on the San Francisco Peninsula (right outside of Belmont), he brought with him the traditions and expertise of old world production methods and used them to formulate West Coast versions of his original spirits. This was right around the pre-Prohibition cocktail craze when vodka was becoming a dirty word, so Davorin instead made gin; never releasing his patented vodka formula state-side for fear ... 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 »
Wine Enthusiast: "The vodka inside the pretty rainbow-shaped bottle reads almost like a light rum. It has a sweet, marshmallow-like fragrance as well as a sweet vanilla flavor, unmitigated by ice. Very smooth. Made from organic white corn and distilled seven times." (7/2011)
St. George now has a gin made from 100% rye whiskey distillate, then put into French and American oak for a brief resting period. This always sells fast and we don't expect these to last too long. You can make a Martini or a Manhattan. The choice is yours!
The no-compete clause is over!!! St. George is finally back in the vodka business. After selling off the Hangar One brand to Proximo, our local heroes over in Alameda were not allowed to create a vodka of their own for four whole years. Time has now passed, and the contract has expired. Let us now introduce you to the new St. George vodkas. Infused with California Bergamot, Valencia, and Seville oranges, the bright citrus flavor comes from 100% Lindcove produce. All the oranges were both infused and distilled in separate batches before being blended toge... Read More »
Seattle's single malt sensation Westland Distillery is back with a new expression aged in sherry that mimics some of the finest and most beloved Speyside malts from Scotland's Highland region. In the style of Macallan or Glenfarclas, the supple, soft, fudgy, cocoa flavors are more pronounced from the sherry maturation and the richness of the palate is enhanced beyond what we've seen in the standard Westland ex pression. It's a more decadent version of what we already love about America's top single malt distillery and an exciting glimpse into what's prom... Read More »