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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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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!
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
The new release of Anchor's highly sought-after straight rye. Bottled at slightly higher proof this year, but as usual this whiskey was aged for 3.5 years in new charred oak barrels. Very limited.
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
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 »
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 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!
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 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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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)
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
This bottling from local Mendocino craft distillers Germain-Robin displays astonishing quality in the classic XO tradition. It is very deep and rich, with hints of vanilla and dark chocolate. It spent eleven years in small Limousin barrels, chosen from the brandies which are put aside for long aging. A high proportion of selections from Pinot Noir are included. The finish is astoundingly long and full.
Balcones' award-winning Texas whiskies are suddenly heavily sought-after, perhaps none more so than the single malt whisky. With a deluge of flavor, the malt shows rich malty notes with heavily-toasted char and even a bit of Burgundian red fruit on the finish. It has a basic character of traditional Scotch whisky, but then meanders into a completely unexplored realm. At 53%, the flavors are bold and brash -- not unlike Texas itself!
The modern classic returns in a new 1L bottle! The Kickin' Chicken is finally back on the shelf!