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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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 ...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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
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 long as the country's best Bourbon distillery allows us to keep buying delicious single barrels, we'll keep taking them! I know we're just getting into summer, but this cask has fall written all over it. The nose is an explosion of mulled spices and dried leaves with a blast of vanilla towards the back. The flavors on the palate are savory at first, with bits of bitter herb cloaked in charred oak. The finish is deceptive in its intensity, beginning slowly with soft accents of dark vanilla, and building methodically towards the encore. Baking spices, 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 »
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.
As long as the country's best Bourbon distillery allows us to keep buying delicious single barrels, we'll keep taking them! This is brightest and the boldest of the three new casks; the most powerful at 60%, the most vivacious with lively spice, and the most expressive. At nearly 11 years of age, there's plenty of richness, but the palate is surprisingly lean in the face of all the punch. There's a blast of cinnamon, a jolt of toasted oak, and then a dusting of fresh pencil shavings on the back end. With water, these core flavors soften and then integrat... 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 »
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 »
This bourbon, bottled in bond, was aged for seven years in the famous Colonel Taylor's warehouse built in 1881. It is the latest from the sought-after E.H. Taylor line from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Soft and subtle, this is easily the most approachable and affordable of the recent Taylor releases. The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 means that the bourbon come from barrels all produced at one distillery, in a single season, and then stored in a bonded warehouse for at least four years before being bottled at 100 proof.
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!
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 »
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 »
96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Classic/Highest Recommendation* The nosing passes pick up seductive aromatic notes of toasted walnut, dried red fruits, marzipan, black pepper, spices, cocoa and marshmallow. Entry is zesty, fruity, candied and almost Sherry-like; the midpalate bursts with flavors of cocoa, dark chocolate, chocolate covered almond, coffee, tobacco and dark caramel. Ends smooth, silky, toffee sweet and honeyed. Wow." (12/2008) K&L Notes: This is what Buffalo Trace refers to as their "Rye Recipe" Bourbon. It is not a Straight Rye Whiskey, but instead a Straight Bourbon Whiskey with a... Read More »
Another four stupendous casks of Four Roses have just arrived on the tail of the three fabulous casks that were recently released. Thank God, cause you guys ate those up, we're almost completely out. These four new casks for the most part a total contrast from the last three, with the exception of one offering which is identical to the last batch in every way except the barrel number--VERY educational to taste them side by side. This wild spicy OBSK came out of the ME warehouse. It is the youngest of the bunch, but a total no brainer in my opinion. This ... 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 »
We're back with more hand-picked K&L barrels, directly from Wild Turkey's Lawrenceburg warehouse where our spirits team visited and tasted with legendary distiller Jimmy Russell. Those looking for the bright spice and youthful vigor of the Russell's Reserve will want to go with barrel #2087. A veritable explosion of pepper, baking spices, dried herbs, and savory goodness takes off right from the first sip. While not exhibiting the power of something like Four Roses cask strength or George Stagg, the higher than normal alcohol level definitely helps bring... Read More »
Another four stupendous casks of Four Roses have just arrived on the tail of the three fabulous casks that were recently released. Thank god, cause you guys ate those up, we're almost completely out. These four new casks for the most part a total contrast from the last three, with the exception of one offering which is identical to the last batch in everyway except the barrel number - VERY educational to taste them side by side. This is a great lesson in why the single barrel is important. OESF brings a bold mouthful of rich vanilla balanced by potent oa... 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 »
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 »
Jefferson's is one of the few negotiant bottlers left that still has access to real Kentucky Bourbon. Most other second-party labels have moved on to MGP (formerly known as LDI) distillery in Indiana, which makes delicious whiskey, but is rather ubiquitous in today's market. This single barrel from Jefferson's mature stocks is one of the softest, more supple American whiskies we have in stock. The focus is clearly the creamy corn and the richness of the spirit. There's a bit of an herbaceous note on the finish, hints of dried leaves and tobacco, but it's... Read More »
Another four stupendous casks of Four Roses have just arrived on the tail of the three fabulous casks that were recently released. Thank God, cause you guys ate those up, we're almost completely out. These four new casks for the most part a total contrast from the last three, with the exception of one offering which is identical to the last batch in every way except the barrel number--VERY educational to taste them side by side. Another lucky find over 11 years old aged in warehouse US. The OBSO whiskey is an important component in the standard Small Bat... 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 »
When David and I visited Kentucky for the first time last year, we saw everyone drinking a brand called Very Old Barton. It was everywhere we went. Granted, we had heard that Sazerac's other Kentucky distillery (you know, not-Buffalo Trace) was very popular in its home state, but I was taken aback at how prevalent it was; especially considering they don't distribute it to the West Coast. It's an inexpensive local favorite that stays pretty local for that reason. As you can see in the above photo, the 90 proof 1.75L bottles sell for about $25. That's not ... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "**Best Buy** The nosing passes find scents of lanolin, textile fiber and fireplace soot following early smells of wax. The palate entry displays toasty flavors that wrap around core tastes of dried fruit and nuts; the midpalate stage reveals the waxy quality first detected in the opening bouquet." (12/2007) K&L Notes: The best deal in Tennessee Whiskey by far!
This is the Single Barrel release of the unique and special Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. line of limited release bourbons. Bottled in Bond from one single cask, this whiskey is 11 years old and extremely limited. From the Beverage Tasting Institute, likely of a different, but selected single barrel: "Deep amber color. Rich, densely layered aromas of lush brown spices, caramelized nuts and raisins, cherry cola, and maple fudge with a vibrant, fruity-yet-dry medium-full body and an oaky, drying, spice cake, grain, sassafras, spice and limestone dust finish. Ver... 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 »
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 »
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) comb ...Read More »
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 »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Though complex and flavorful, the extremely high proof of this nine-year-old small-batch Bourbon means it won’t be for everyone. Dose it with plenty of water (or your mixer of choice) to enjoy the dry character with notes of vanilla, leather, orange peel, clove, red-hot cinnamon and a long caramel finish." (9/2014) K&L Notes: Knob Creek's Single Barrel Expression is both unique and familiar. This limited release will sure to be very popular and very hard to keep in stock. If you want it get it quick.
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 »
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 »
*Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Wine & Spirits Competition* Distilled from 100% Hopi blue corn in Waco, Texas, this is one of the tastier young American whiskies to come out recently. The corn is present and the flavors are dominated by it, but there is a subtle sweetness behind it that really makes the whiskey quite pleasant. It's much softer than most other young products and is very sippable. Balcones has done well to make one of the more accessible whiskies in the burgeoning American craft whisky scene.
A fine effort for this little craft distillery out of Brooklyn. Funky, spirity, powerful and made to drink. The little bottles fit snuggly in your skinny jeans...
We're back with more hand-picked K&L barrels, directly from Wild Turkey's Lawrenceburg warehouse where our spirits team visited and tasted with legendary distiller Jimmy Russell. Barrel 2403 is a gentle whisper of a whiskey compared to many of the monsters we've secured over the years. One would never think 55% upon tasting this delicate Bourbon. The aromas are classic burnt sugar and toasted wood and those notes translate into a creamy and supple mouthfeel on the initial entry. The palate then turns into herbaceous notes of pepper and dried underbrush b... 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 »
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.
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.