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Staff Favorites - David Othenin-Girard

David Othenin-Girard
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Reviews

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2014 Bunnahabhain Staoisha Heavily Peated 6 Year Old "Signatory K&L Exclusive" Dechar/Rechar Cask Strength Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-27-2021
These young Staoisha's are an absolute revelation. Not only are these big boy peaters out of the norm for Bunnah, but the decharr re-charr thing is an absolute treat. For those who remember, the last barrel was absolutely delicious at 4 years old and now 50% older it's achieved an insane level of complexity. Let's have a taste. The color is deep gold. Pungent and wild with an incredible saline balanced by sweet oaky depth and an almost chocolatey note. On the palate it's got incredible weight and a gorgeous earthy coastal character. Wild stone fruit, rich sweet spice and lengthy ashy finish. This stuff just incredible well made and delicious. It took people some time to come around to buying a 4 year old malt for $70 last time we had one two years ago, but considering this is significantly better than that already delicious malt the $10 upcharge is well worth it.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

Highland Park "Cask Strength" Release #2 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-20-2021
The new cask strength release was a welcome departure from the regularly available lower proof bottlings, but also one of the few opportunities we've had to see how the blending team at the far flung distillery work across multiple release with the diverse stocks in their warehouses. It's not secret that they love a good sherry butt up there in Kirkwall, but the first batch didn't have quite the forward sherry that so many HP lovers crave. While I thought the first batch was perfectly delicious, this second release is garnering some serious hype thanks to the use of mostly sherry in the blend. Let's have a taste. The color is Chestnut. Immediately much more intensity of oak and obvious wine/sherry influence than the first release. Dense woodsy spice, dried stone fruit, tobacco leaf, pecan pie tempered with a rich vanilla and sweet toffee character. Throughout a pungent line of sweet floral smoke and tiniest hints of ocean spray and dried nori. The deftly balanced aromas on the nose lead to a rich oily texture on the palate. The tannin from the Euro oak is definitely evident and the dryness is welcome considering expectation of great sweetness. It big and spicy and totally mouth coating. Of course, a whisky at this age craves some water. With a few drops the savory sides gives way to pure orchard fruit, both fresh and dried. The savory salinity is tamed and now we just get a pinch of salt and smoke behind the absolute waterfall of fruit. One the palate, some gorgeous peppery smoke remains to balance out the almost two easy to swallow mixture of sweet maltiness, candied fruit and dark chocolate on the finish. This is about as close as we can get to the monster single casks we bottled for the store last year, but the blenders have added something extra here. If they keep the quality of these lovely batches up, it will no doubt be a staple on our shelves and should be considered a deserving deity in the pantheon of great yet relatively affordable regular cask strength releases -in a club with the likes of Laphroaig CS, Aberlour A'bunadh, Lagavulin 12 year, Springbank 12 etc.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

Wild Turkey "Rare Breed" Small Batch Barrel Proof Unchillfiltered Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-27-2021
The fabulous Wild Turkey distillery has always made a killer rye, but this is the first time we've been able to get the stuff at barrel proof and it doesn't disappoint in the slightest. It's no secret that I'm a HUGE fan of the kickin' chicken and while it's not everyone's cup of tea, Wild Turkey has slowly become the sleeper bourbon of the people. They do one or two special release every year, which of course have become extremely difficult to get, but mostly they just make great stuff and sell it for a great price. This stuff is no exception. The color is amber. The nose is expansive and overtly appealing. Huge aromas of dried spice, fresh mint, exotic woods, leather, burnt orange oil and spruce nibs. Some hints of tobacco leaf and behind something sweet and baked. On the palate it's got a wild core of tangy oak framed with fresh pepper, dried herbs, candied citrus peel, roasted nuts and warming mint on the finish. A total gem that just over delivers on every level.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2002 Linkwood 18 Year Old "Hepburn's Choice" K&L Exclusive Single Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 08-26-2021
This wild cask of Linkwood, one of the core malts in the Johnnie Walker line, is one of these easy going malt driven whiskies that won't be the most obvious right out of the gate, but grew on us as we spent time with it. The color is an odd pale gold with flecks of emerald. The nose is pure malt with hints of graham cracker, dried herbs, fresh barley and bitter bark. On the palate there's more sweetness and plenty of texture with the crystal malt character still shining through. With water it becomes very easy and round on the nose, but with some air it starts to offer sweet barley, subtle mineral note while on the palate is becomes bigger and much more peppery. This is one is low on the oak and very malt driven, with a core of bright malt. AN unusual expression of the Diageo stalwart without a doubt, but one that with some air and water becomes very appealing and approachable.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

2010 Dailuaine 10 Year Old "Sovereign" K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 08-26-2021
I'm totally in love with this Dailuaine. It doesn't have the oomph of the other two Sovereign sherry bombs, but it has so much gorgeous character I just can't put it down. The color is old gold. The nose explodes with salted caramel, baked apple, figs, fresh walnuts, exotic honey and hints of golden raisins. It doesn't feel like the sherry was Oloroso, but maybe instead a lighter fresher style - maybe even an amontillado or something of that nature, although it doesn't have any of the funk you get from Fino cask. On the palate the malt stands up nicely, offering a bit of dark roasted fruit, figgy pudding and fresh zesty spice. This guy is surprisingly balanced at the high proof and while the water softens it up, I don't think it really needs it. Deal of the year and an absolutely crushable single cask.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Prohibition Craft Spirits "NULU Reserve" California Exclusive Batch #CA1 Barrel Proof Small Batch CA1 Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-10-2021
I was really excited to see the NULU products making their way out to California, but when I found out that they'd be offering us a unique small batch, instead of the typical single barrel, I just about bought the entire batch. There's no question that we fetishize the single barrel in our industry, and while they offer unparalleled uniqueness, few single barrels can stand up to a well-crafted small batch in terms of balance and complexity. This gorgeous little batch of Indiana bourbon is the perfect example. Let's taste it. The color is yellow gold. The nose starts out a bit restrained before opening up considerably with just a few minutes in the glass. Aromas of sweet corn oil, caramel candy, toasted vanilla, and yellow fruit. Wonderfully supple on the palate, with an oily texture and some strong barrel spice coming through on the back end. It turns out to be a quite a big, spicy one with building pepper and clove heat. The richness keeps it in check, and altogether this is incredibly enjoyable bourbon!
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

Wyoming Whiskey "Private Stock" K&L Exclusive Barrel Strength Single Barrel #6113 Unchillfiltered Wyoming Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-03-2021
This is our second barrel of Wyoming Whiskey and the first under the new regime. We were delighted when we heard the new owners, The Edrington Group, planned to continue the barrel program more or less without changes. Good aged wheated bourbon distilled a la Maker's Mark and aged on the dry plains of Wyoming turns out to be pretty damned delicious at cask strength and when you come across a choice barrel, it's very difficult to argue with it. This gorgeous cask is amber in color with a twinge of red. The nose starts out a bit restrained but opens quickly offering butterscotch, barrel spice, dried mint, sage brush, honey and orange blossom. Wood is definitely the star of the show, but isn't that why we pick up the bourbon. ON the palate the sweet corn and mellow wheat come through, but not without the continued barrel spice. It turns up mid-palate, but stops short of feeling astringent at all with a long creamy finish and a wonderful warming heat. Gotta tip my hat to Mr. Whiteley on this one, I think I like this one better than my barrel pick from several years ago.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Hampden Estate "Great House - Distillery Edition 2020" Old Pure Single Jamaican Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 08-02-2021
The exemplary Hampden Estate is easily the world's most exciting rum right now. After literally centuries playing second fiddle to the big blenders in Europe, the distillery has reclaimed it's importance and it's name to the delight of rum fans across the globe. This exceptional bottling, designed exclusively for the distillery gift shop, and available only in a few selected markets across the globe represents the style of rum the distillery workers themselves drink. A blend of low and high ester rums distilled and aged completely at the special distillery in Trelawny, there should be a spirits lover on earth who isn't clamoring to taste a bottle of this. Let's see what we can expect. The color is deep copper. The nose explodes from the glass offering flavors that can only be captured by the special rums of Jamaica. If one were forced to make a comparison, you might have to say it's somewhere between the best bourbon and the finest old Islay. The nose exhibits an unending basket of ripe tropical fruits and exotic spice pointed by complex savory notes - clean ashy smoke, fresh rubber, black olive, lacquer box, salted fish, tobacco leaf, citrus oils and Tahitian vanilla. While it's impossible not to appreciate the intensity of the funk, there's something extremely approachable. It is very hot and spice neat and some might benefit from the addition of the tiniest ice cube, but depth of flavor is impressive and unending. The simple truth is this is a world class spirit. This bottling that should be considered by all to be a benchmark in the category and one of the most exciting products of any sort over the last year. If you're ever going to jump on the funky rum train, this is your chance to do it in style.
Price: $109.99 Add To Cart

Stellum "Cygnus A9" K&L Exclusive Cask Strength Single Barrel Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-02-2021
We're so excited to be able to offer the fabulous Stellum line of bourbons. While the Stellum team gets tons of accolades for its blending prowess, you cannot top tier stuff without access to exceptional stocks. Likewise they've identified a number of amazing single barrels that were simply TOO GOOD to end up in the standard Stellum blend. This distinctive barrel, selected by myself, some months ago. What's great is that the same care taken with the selection of stocks in the Barrell line is taken here, but offered at nearly half the price. This killer little barrel is old gold in color. The nose opens up with some time in the glass to offer classic flavors of wild honey, Seville orange peel, baking bread and hints of pepper. On the palate, there's plenty of yellow fruit, more honey and toasted vanilla to balance a building peppery note in the middle. Surprisingly sweet and soft on the finish, the pepper doesn't hold tight through the end allowing the sweetness of the corn to fine and leaving us with some baked apple and cinnamon character on the end. Another fabulous cask from our friends at Stellum and we couldn't be prouder partners in this exceptional brand.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Stellum "Cygnus H4" K&L Exclusive Cask Strength Single Barrel Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-02-2021
This lovely barrel from the new Stellum brand is a unique and unabashed expression of the fabulous and seemingly ubiquitous distillery in Southern Indiana. This particular barrel was selected by my colleague Andrew Whiteley and is best paired next to its sister cask "Cygnus A9" for an example of the diversity and quality of these excellent stocks. The color is amber. A wonderfully inviting nose that shows both the sweetness and bold rye spice in balance together. Obvious notes of caraway and dill that remain restrained and frame the sweet orange peel, buttered corned bread, brown sugar and black tea aromas on the nose. The palate builds on the woody elements of the nose revealing some serious wood along with some exotic spice. Lots of those tea elements come through and its drier and darker flavored than the A9. A real treat for those who love a heavy rye bourbon or those highlight some of the darker flavors that can sometimes come up in MGPi bourbons.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

LAWS Whiskey House "Barrel Select" K&L Exclusive Barrel #508 Cask Strength Single Barrel San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-29-2021
This delicious single barrel of San Luis Valley Rye is one of the very best craft ryes we've tried so far. There's a huge influx of craft distillers offering rye of various quality and character, but LAWS has found a formula that's as delicious as it is unique. Using the heirloom varietal of rye grown by farmers in south-central Colorado, their Straight Rye is derived from an equal blend of malted and unmalted rye. This semi-wild varietal now being cultivated exclusively to produce this particular whisky offers character unlike the industrial ryes grown in Canada and Germany for the rest of the industry. Expect a stupendous, complex mixture of rich salted caramel, mints, and licorice bark on the nose. On the palate, a vibrant mixture of sweet earthy oak, bold cacao, tangy green herbs, and burnt Seville orange peel. It's truly incredible what these guys have managed to achieve in such a short time, and we couldn't be prouder to be partnered with them.
Price: $74.99 Add To Cart

Isle of Harris Sugar Kelp Infused Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 07-15-2021
Never judge a book by its cover, they say, unless it’s gorgeously appointed and unrivaled in its beauty, I’d add. There is no question that in the booze business, your bottle is nearly as important as the stuff that goes in it. Indeed, it was the striking package that drew my eye to this product on the backbar of a Glasgow pub five years ago. I asked to see the bottle and realized that this was not some crass, overdesigned marketing exercise. This was a legitimate and thoughtfully crafted Scottish gin with a character unlike any other I’d tasted. One sniff out of that bottle and I knew I needed to have this stuff – EVERY DAY if possible, but for one massive hurdle. The tiny distillery on the far-flung island in the outer Hebrides was already struggling to keep up with local demand, and the incredible care in the design of the bottle meant that creating a bottle suitable for the US market, which only recently allowed the sale of spirits in 700ml bottles, was next to impossible. So, we waited. I staged a relentless campaign with emails and phone calls to the distillery to make clear our interest. And when this special product final popped up with a small distributor, I bought every single bottle they had on hand. I’ve called this the next great Scottish Gin, and I truly believe that. It offers a complex expression of flavors that are perfectly balanced and wildly appealing. The nose is an ever-evolving explosion of aromas beginning with an ocean breeze. This sensation of being near the sea is so distinct, one must experience it to understand. On second nosing, a flutter of citrus and a deep whole pepper note give way to a bright piney character before the sweet, earthy aromas of licorice, Orris, and cassia come online. The underlying sweetness balances the subtle salinity perfectly on the palate. Of course, no sugar added here, and perhaps it is psychosomatic, but the sugar kelp seems to give it a voluptuous richness that balances the savory perfectly. And while this is slightly lower proof than I usually like in a gin, the texture and balance seem to be perfectly suited for the gin's character. Altogether one of my favorite products to drink, hands down from any category. Plus, that bottle is so beautiful.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Heaven's Door 6 Year Old K&L Exclusive Barrel #230 Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-13-2021
This absolutely gorgeous barrel of nicely aged Indiana bourbon is exactly the reason I'm not so sad that Kentucky is cutting all our allocations left and right. If we can continue to get barrels like this out of MGP at this excellent price, we can all leave the Kentucky cartel in the rearview! You've seen the details—this looks pretty good on paper, but it drinks even better! The color is chestnut. The nose is a bombastic explosion of sweet tarts, rose hip syrup, dark cherry, bitter orange peel, and toasted vanilla bean. With a bit of time in the glass more spice comes forward along with some herbs—subtle dill, bright mint, cinnamon, and clove. It's definitely off the big hot spices though. On the palate, the entry is very sweet with a downright buttery texture. That dark cherry continues, and now some chocolate, exotic wood, and a balancing spice appear in the back end. It goes down altogether too easily. Everyone wants me to pick a favorite between these two casks, but honestly they're so different, despite being almost identical on paper. If you're a Four Roses fan, you'll probably like the pungent opulence of this cask. Maybe you Wild Turkey guys, looking for earthy spice, will prefer 297...You're not going to be disappointed either way.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Heaven's Door 6 Year Old K&L Exclusive Barrel #297 Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-13-2021
These two barrels from Heaven's Door are absolutely crushing the competition for me these days. It's partly the additional age and easy availability (for now) that attracts me to them, but I also love tasting these next to each other to show just how different two nearly identical barrels can be. They're obviously so similar on paper, but as soon as you drill down, you'll notice that barrel 297 has a significantly higher proof by nearly 3%! Otherwise, they share almost everything except slightly different distillation and bottling dates. Let's see how this barrel tastes. The color is chestnut. This one is a bit closed to start, offering hints of black pepper, toasted oak, and roasted herbs. With some air and maybe the tiniest drop of water, we start to see it build. Powerful aromas of fresh herbs—dill and anise—and licorice root are coupled with a rich, earthy spice and an exotic peppery note. It's all a bit brooding, and you might expect a hard edge on the palate, but it's surprisingly friendly, still highlighting those darker earthy flavors. It doesn't have the big cinnamon thing that you might expect but does have a lot more of that than the other barrel, which is very pretty and approachable. This one is more wood-driven and has that earthy warehouse thing with a distinct pepperiness that we sometimes get in Russell's picks. Either way, they're both absolutely lovely, and I still can't tell you which one is better!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2000 Scapa 20 Year Old "Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur's Choice" K&L Exclusive Cask #1098 Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Nonchillfiltered Cask Strength Orkney Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 06-17-2021
The wonderful Scapa Distillery is one of those you often hear the old guard waxing poetic about thanks to the quality and price of the old 14 year, which is no longer available, and a handful of rare independent bottlings. More recent converts of single malt likely have no experience at all with the little Orkney distiller, since it's no age statement offering is rarely available stateside and has honestly lost some of the goodwill that the 14 and 16 year had developed. But, our dear friend in Elgin, have a special relationship with the lovely little distillery. In fact, they own one of Scapa's original labels, a gorgeous restrained white Viking label, that they're not allowed to use for Cask Strength bottlings, so this one goes under the excellent Connoisseur's Choice line. The distillery is really very small with just one wash and spirit still. The wash still is very unusual looking with a boxy edges and a very wide vertical neck. Less than 1 million liters of pure alcohol are produced here each year, which is relatively small for Scotland. This refill sherry hoggie has imparted an amber color. The first nosing immediately offers deep fudge-y chocolate malt. As it opens it begins to offer dried figs, stewed plums and christmas cake. Hints of salted biscuits and candied lemon remind us that this distillery is indeed right on the sea. On the palate it's pretty punchy for the age and definitely loves some air and a drop of water to settle down. Once it does it's really pretty expansive. Powerful dark peppery malt still shines through among the rich oloroso nuttiness and sweet red fruit. Even though we're on a second fill here, the wood is still very much active offering a building spice to counterbalance the very sweet entry. The finish is long and brings back some figgy greenness and sweet candied fruit. All things considered this is one of the best Scapa one the market - wait no this is the ONLY Scapa on the market - but it's very good and a perfect introduction to this lovely underappreciated little northern distiller. DO make sure to give it some air though as it starts a bit tight and really loves to sit for a while.
Price: $179.99 Add To Cart

Four Pillars "Faultline" K&L Exclusive Australian Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 06-03-2021
The exceptional Faultline Gin is part of a long series of excellent gins we've created with our favorite distillers. This one was created by David Driscoll with the help of the boys down at Four Pillars. Our first batch was so fabulous we had to re-create it. I might notice the unique Australian botanicals even more in this batch with powerful lemon myrtle and fresh kumquat coming straight to the front. While it's citrus driven and fresh, it doesn't forget it's roots as a classic dry gin and the complex host of botanicals works perfectly on the palate to create something utterly unique yet hauntingly familiar. While I used to say this was better suited for G&Ts than Martinis and think you could sneak this little baby into just about any drink to give it some complexity without adulterating the result negatively.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Michel Couvreur "Peaty Overaged" K&L Exclusive Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-18-2021
*****This new batch of Couvreur is better than ever! They seem to have slightly upped the peaty element and it's a welcome addition. They won't tell us where it's from, but it's starting to feel very Caol Ila to me. Also, they've adjusted the wax seal which is not soft and can be opened directly via corkscrew. No need to break the wax in advance these days.***** The magnificence that is Michel Couvreur has always been clear, but it wasn't until we stepped into the special cave, carved out of the rock, in Bouze-Les-Beaune that you can full appreciate the incredible endeavor in process at this fine producer. While this is by definition NOT scotch, because it is aged outside of the country, the old school practices utilized at here are unusual back in Scotland. The fact that these guys literally drive to Jerez to pick out fresh sherry casks (from Equipos Navazos no less) is totally unique in modern times. In fact, no producer of malt whisky is getting access to fresher barrels than these guys. Despite not being able to use the famous moniker, does not preclude this from being one of the most authentic and absolutely delicious malts on the market. Stupendous depth and complexity even at 86 proof, while the sherry is toned down from the standard version a subtle fino/amontillado quality exists in the back ground. This is pointed by a fabulous smokey sweetness, which hints at the source whisky. Maybe an island somewhere, maybe a drop of Islay, wildly high-quality Highland whisky with a French sensibility. A truly unique gem.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

Bourgoin 22 Year-Old "Brut de Fut" Microbarrique Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac (375ml)
Review Date: 04-09-2021
This fabulous bottle of cognac is as cute as it is delicious. But what's interesting here isn't the way it looks. What we have here is really Cognac in the raw! Truly undiluted, unadulterated, and completely unabashed. This fabulous little house isn't in the most prestigious region, but they're making excellent cognac in a way that no one is. When the new generation took over, they deliberately moved production away from the traditional style in favor of an all-natural, additive-free product. Here they start with excellent Ugni Blanc distilled in 1994 and filled into traditional cognac barrels. It goes into barrel at 72% and over the decades is naturally reduced through evaporation. In lieu of adding sugar and caramel coloring, they take this unblended single vintage cognac and finish it in tiny, 10-liter, heavily charred new oak barrels. This contributes depth and spice without the use of additives. It's truly one of the most interesting cognacs and one of the few that we can guarantee includes no additives whatsoever. Let's have a taste! The color is a refreshing pale gold. The nose is a gorgeous mixture of sweet stone fruits, fresh green spices, and turbinado sugar, offering depth and pungency that's rarely rivaled in this category. With some air this continues to open and offers some citrus peel, baked fruit, hints of bitter herbs, and wild, earthy honey. On the palate, the high proof is extremely well hidden by sweet caramel and maple, more dried apricots, and plenty of spice. This is the perfect crossover cognac if you're a lover of Highland Single Malts. The finish is rather long and drier than most cognacs but offers some interesting, atypical flavors, exotic tea, pungent vanilla, wild bramble, and yellow fruits. I was more than happy to sell this when it was $120 for 375ml, but at nearly half price this is one of the coolest cognac buys on the market today. It might not be what the old school cognac lovers are looking for, but if you're an Armagnac lover or a malt nut, this is an easy buy if you want to expand your horizons into unadulterated brandy! Once these are gone, they'll be gone for good at this special price.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Smooth Ambler 5 Year Old "Old Scout" K&L Exclusive Barrel #23890 Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-18-2021
This gorgeous barrel of MGP bourbon is as classic as they get. The nose has surprising lift coupled with some cocoa powder, maple wood, and a big burnt Seville peel. Then come some pungent tropical fruit and a bevy of exotic spices (tons of cinnamon), plus some salted caramel. On the palate, it stays ultra-lifted and bright. The orange peel remains along with some gorgeous barrel spice and hints of white pepper and fresh herbs. This one is a bit pricklier than some of the darker, richer barrels we've had, but if you're a fan of a kick of spice and don't want something too sweet, this the barrel for you.
Price: Hidden View Price

Smooth Ambler 5 Year Old "Old Scout" K&L Exclusive Barrel #28125 Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-18-2021
This barrel shows yet another diverse set of flavors compared to its compatriots. On the nose, big sugar candies, sweet poached pears, hints of licorice, and fresh oak. On the palate, it's very creamy and rich with an almond buttery quality that doesn't exist in any of the other barrels. Round and sweet but not lacking in spice considering the high rye. There's subtle funky earthiness that kind of reminds me of Wild Turkey. If the other barrels don't sound up your alley, with their red fruit or orange peel characters, this might be the perfect choice for you. You can feel the textural richness that the additional evaporation has created, but it still has that kick that so many bourbon drinkers love.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Smooth Ambler 5 Year Old "Old Scout" K&L Exclusive Barrel #24295 Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-18-2021
In many ways, this barrel feels the most typically "MGP." The nose wafts out of the glass with plenty of caramel and spicy oak, hints of dill, and orange peel in the background. As it opens the vanilla takes along with the clove and cinnamon. On the palate, sweet brown sugar and dark cherries couple with that big vanilla continuing throughout. Clove runs through the entire thing with a rich caramel aroma balancing on the medium-long finish. Very personable and approachable. An easy one to recommend to anyone, even a bourbon novice.
Price: Hidden View Price

Hombo Shuzo Mars Shinshu Komagatake "Limited Edition 2020" Single Malt Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-02-2021
The absolutely splendid Komagatake line is finally coming online in a serious way. For the first time this last year, we've been given access to significant quantities of their limited edition offerings. While Yamazaki and Nikka get all the hype, Mars Distillery is quietly making some of the best whisky in Japan and only the real geeks are really tuned into how special these offerings are. Not only is this "real" Japanese, in that it was completely distilled at the Mars facility in Nagano, but it's also absolutely delicious and polished in a way that many other up and coming Japanese brands are not. The excellent malts from the Nagano facility are distilled on two antique copper pots that were built by hand in the 1950s. The resulting spirits tends to offer tons of depth and complexity and their access to high quality wood, with this release a mix of ex-sherry and American Oak both new and used, creates the perfect opportunity to highlight the wonderful quality coming off those stills. Let's taste it! The color is pale gold. The nose exhibits obvious dried fruit aromas, stone fruits and other orchard fruits, plus some twang of new fresh American oak - cinnamon, vanilla, creamy caramel etc. On the palate it continues in this inviting direction with dried plums, complex floral honey, roasted cacao, earthy malt and hints of menthol. The new wood is nicely balanced by the sweet flavors of the sherry here and the rich texture keeps it interesting. Extremely drinkable at 100 proof. This is just really fun to drink and while it's likely collectable with only 15,000 bottles world wide, I hope our customers take the chance to taste this special bottle while they can.
Price: $199.99 Add To Cart

Doc Swinson's "Alter Ego" Triple Cask Sherry & Cognac Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 02-11-2021
In a general sense, I'm skeptical of bourbon finishes. It's not because there's anything wrong with the idea, but simply that so many people execute it so poorly. There are so many places where the project can go wrong. Certainly, if you're using barrel finishes to improve a subpar bourbon, you're going to have a bad time. Likewise, if you take great bourbon and hammer it with wine or wood flavors, you risk having a muddled or unbalanced character that's worse than the bourbon was to start. The key is to retain all the greatness inherent in your base whiskey, while adding something new or interesting that enhances the flavors of the original product. On that count, I think the new Alter Ego has succeeded wholeheartedly. I'm already a fan of good middle-aged MGP. The careful finishing, blending, and marrying process that Doc's has developed add the perfect nuance to that already solid core. Let's taste! The color is burnished gold, not as dark as you might expect with a PX element involved. What starts rather woody at first, quickly opens up to a bevy of gorgeous stone fruits and fresh spice. Sherry notes aren’t obtrusive, but it's not your standard bourbon nose either. With more air the nose is very polished offering vanilla, toasted oak, some roasted nutty character, hints of marshmallow and candied citrus. On the palate, it's surprisingly textural and velvety. Here we start to see some of the bold spice of the French oak, but the sweetness of the bourbon (and the PX I guess) keep it at bay. Now we have some rich almond character, zingy cinnamon, sweet tarts and caramelized fruit. All this is extremely approachable and not at all heavy handed. For those who might avoid finishes, you'll be pleasantly surprised, but it also has enough there to satisfy someone who's looking for something outside the standard Indiana bourbon profile. Couldn't be happier to be supporting these little guys, they've taken some serious risks here in terms of the cost and potential for failure and honestly I think they've done an impeccable job. Another great offering from our friends in Ferndale, WA!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Tom's Foolery 8 Year Old Bottled in Bond "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel #65 Ohio Straight Applejack (750ml)
Review Date: 02-03-2021
We're so lucky to have access to such high quality and unique products from Tom's Foolery. Their Applejack was the original vision for this distillery, but the whisky boom has made it necessary to focus on those wonderful products. Nonetheless, Tom and Lianne distill this excellent Applejack from local apples. There's not a lot of the Applejack made here but the few we've had have been exceptional. Now we get to taste two barrels distilled on the same day and in almost exact opposite manner, an amazing experience t for any spirit geek. These two barrels, which I'll review in tandem were distilled on the same day in May of 2021. One, barrel 67, was aged in once used bourbon and the other in very old ex-cognac. So active American vs not so active French oak. You can immediately tell them apart from the color, 67 has a vibrant chestnut veil, while 65 is a pale gold. 67 offer rich baked apple, sweet oak and a gravelly rusticity on the nose which is for me very inviting. On the palate a creamy texture, cinnamon flecked pomme puree, poached pear, and a gorgeous long woodsy finish. 65 has a buttery nose with hints of golden delicious and granny smith, apple core with seeds and stems. Also, some non-apple fruits persimmon, quince, and subtle floral character. In general, it’s just much more subtle than barrel 67. On the palate, the apple is still tempered by slight hints of French oak and this overall buttery-ness that runs through the entire package. The finish is all apple skins and pips. A totally wild experience to see the same spirit aged in completely different ways. I've most enjoyed blending the two together in various proportions to see how they interact. Whichever one you prefer, there's no question that this is one of the most exciting apple spirits in America.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Tom's Foolery 6 Year Old Bottled In Bond Single Barrel #294 Ohio Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 02-03-2021
The Tom's Foolery Bottled in Bond Rye is arguably their most loved products. The reason I think it resonates with some many drinkers is that it delivers on the green promises of rye like few other craft distillers can. The diversity of flavors from cask to cask is significant, but there's always this underlying evergreen character that links them. As they've started to age further though, this intense pine flavors seems to have mellowed, but this stuff remains a total flavor bomb so beware. Let's have a taste! The color is an attractive orangey tawny. Fresh nutmeg and spruce nibs, lacquer box, varnish, old exotic wood, burnt orange oil. On the palate the evergreen has moved toward the mint, anis, roasted nuts, and a gorgeous black peppery quality starts to build. The wood is very much more a factor than previous bottlings, but it stays very lifted. The powerful spice just builds and builds here, so if you like a spicy meatball, this is the rye for you. Another stellar, if not slightly more mainstream, example from the excellent distiller in Chagrin Falls.
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Barrell Craft 7 Year Old Single Barrel K&L Exclusive #M221 Indiana (MGP) Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 01-18-2021
Another great single barrel of Indiana rye here. I respect Barrell's policy of pricing all single casks similarly regardless of age. While this might seem a smidge high on paper, there's very little out there of this caliber and almost none single barrel and cask strength. The color is auburn. A bit restrained on first pour but time in the glass benefits it greatly. This has some interesting nearly tropical fruit aromas coupled with roasted nuts and dark roasted arabica bean. A dusty note that's not unusual for mid-aged mgp permeates elegantly throughout. The entry drops all the fruit in favor of candied peppermint, cinnamon, vanilla, cacao nibs. It's all very nicely packaged with a long dry, but no overly spicy finish. This one goes down real easy, but doesn't let you forget that it's 112 proof. A warming menthol builds on the palate as you continue with the glass. Just delicious stuff. I'm hoping these barrels are the start of the second coming of rye. We'll just have to wait and see.
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Barrell Craft 7 Year Old Single Barrel K&L Exclusive #M225 Indiana (MGP) Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 01-18-2021
The wonderful distillery in Lawrenceberg, IN has become ubiquitous across the craft bottling scene, providing juice for countless brands throughout the country to bottle under their own label. They made their name on the modern Whiskey Scene selling gorgeous old Rye Whiskey through brands like Old Scout and High West, both of which have since exhausted their stocks as well as sold to larger alcohol conglomerates. Slowly over the last couple of years, we've seen stocks rebuild and bottlers find ways to put quality juice in the bottle. Barrell has had a good line on stocks and they've been patient with these to bottle them when they've finally turned corner maturity-wise. Barrell has a policy of bottling all single casks at the same price, which might make some old timers say this one is a bit overpriced. There is very little rye whisky of this quality on the market at any price point, however, and there's not a single cask strength single barrel in this age range under $100 from any producers in KY, TN or Indiana that comes close. The color is auburn. The nose is earthy herbal rye, fresh and dried mint, orange peel, exotic old growth wood, cinnamon. Really starting to show that age here. The powerful nose translates perfectly to the palate. Beautiful balance between the bold green rye flavors and sweet citrus liqueur to balance. Hints of black pepper, dill, licorice, black currants and a brambly leafiness. Not the dill bombs of yester year, but perfect older rye that scratches that rye itch unlike few other things on the market today.
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Barrell Craft Spirits "Armida" Bottling Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 01-18-2021
This splendid new blend is another indication that Barrell aims to be seen not only as the best Bespoke bottler in craft spirits, but also the finest blender. The art of blending is anything but simple. When blending whisky 2+2 never equals 4. At home it's fun to goof around with mixing different whiskies, but creating a blend that's whole is greater than the sum of its parts is neither art nor science - it's magic! What our friends in Louisville have done with this excellent whisky is create something that remains at its core bourbon (distilled in Tennessee, but not so distinctive as to be unmistakably Dickel), but brings an new and refreshing twist to the category. A complex mix of multiple barrel finishes -pear brandy, rum and amaro casks- creates truly new territory in terms of flavor without distancing itself so much from the category as to be unappealing to the purists. The color is deep copper. The nose bursts of redolent pears, maples syrup, stone fruit preserves, fresh herbs, and sarsaparilla. The palate bounces between an undeniable pear flavors and the big herbs and spice of the amaro. It's difficult to see exactly what the rum is doing here, but perhaps adding some dried fruit and sweetness. Despite the complex mixture it avoids going bitter and stays remarkably refreshing. No detectable chalky vitamin flavors in my sensitive estimation, which will be good news for anyone leery of the Dickel thing. Altogether a lovely example of what's possible with these small scale blending projects and a welcome addition the the Barrell Pantheon.
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Clear Creek McCarthy's "Hard Water Exclusive" Single Barrel #168 Cask Strength Oregon Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 01-14-2021
We've always had a great relationship with Clear Creek and that's not changed since Steve McCarthy handed over the reins to Hood River Distillers back in 2014. While we've consistently stocked the regular whisky and the excellent eau-de-vie, we've not been offered the opportunity to sell cask strength single barrel McCarthy in nearly a decade. So when I got a call from the distributor that one of our favorite bars in San Fran wasn't able to take their barrel due to restaurant closures, I jumped at the chance to help. Of course, we tasted the whisky before buying it and were quickly reminded of what we loved all those years ago about the cask strength version of this special distillate. At full proof, there's an added depth and weight that's simply lost when brought to proof. Operations have moved to the Hood River facility about 70 miles east of Portland and using the same techniques that Steve perfected years earlier. the wort is brewed at near by Double Mountain Brewery. Master Distiller Joe Sullivan and McCarthy's lead distiller Caitlin Bartlemay received this ultra small batch of brew on January, 4th, 2016. This was the only barrel distilled from this batch and it was put into barrel after a resting period on February, 19th 2016. The barrel in question was a once used Garryana, which seem to be particularly friendly with the heavily peated malt, since the 3 year air dried Oregon oak is extremely active new. The color is deep copper. The nose is a gorgeous mixture of sweet oak spice, mesquite smoke, espresso bean, ripe plums and hints of salinity. It's smoky but not as obviously peated as the standard release, showing a lot more oak influence in a good way. On the palate the opposite is true. A slightly bandaid-y, but much more obvious peat comes rushing straight through the center of the palate at first with the sweet oak and bold spice kicking up behind. The palate is relatively oily and round but the bold spicy is nearly as strong as the peat. With a drop of water this gorgeous spirit finally relinquishes some of the spice and the whole thing seems to open up quite perfectly. More obvious malt, some citrus and smoke earthy smoke on the nose now. A perfectly balanced peat on the palate now, with a clear line to Islay now, showing some more yellow citrus and much more salinity. This is incredibly good whisky considering the age and offers a glimpse of what American Craft distillers could be doing if they followed in the footsteps of the category's founders. Some might enjoy the overt woodiness straight out of the bottle, which is nicely balanced and not at all astringent, but with water we start to really see this thing click into gear. A great barrel and hopefully one of more to come in the future.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 01-12-2021
Perhaps our greatest triumph to date because making good whisky cheap (or should that read “cheap whisky good”) is DANG hard work. I don't know if there is a product that we sell that I've spent more time or energy on getting right. We literally went through hundreds of samples of blended whisky from multiple suppliers. I worked meticulously with the artist to create the perfect label to exemplify this special blend. Ultimately, what we chose to blend wasn't necessarily the most powerful or intense option, but instead the goddamned most drinkable thing we could find at any price. We insisted it not be colored and bottled at 100 proof because while it was tasty at 80 proof, a whole lot of this stuff was going to go into long drinks and over rocks. Nothing else on the market stands up so well in a drink -long, short, classic whatever! The added proof does wonders to improve the flavor not to mention add texture. The inclusion of the beautiful bevy of Islay, Island, and Highland single malt give it depth, but the lack of caramel coloring might be the real reason this worked so well. The color will undoubtedly scare some old school whisky drinkers–it’s really really light in color. We’ve been conditioned by the industry to think, darker is better. Producers believe (and not without reason) that consumers will taste with their eyes first and therefore the negative flavor effects of the chemical coloring are vastly outweighed by the psychological effects of the dark color – it should be noted that some believe the addition of caramel color might enhance flavor of blended whisky, I am not one of those people. It is indeed true that consumers prefer darker colored whisky even if it’s the exact same stuff. Conditioning is a powerful thing. If the light color is a problem for you, please close your eyes (figuratively) because we are indeed incredibly influenced by our visual perceptions and this whisky deserves a fair shake. I'm very happy with the final product, but we knew the true test would always be when the real whisky geeks got hold of it. You know the guys who NEVER hold their tongue, no matter how obviously important or irritating something might be to you. Love those guys. While some diehards have remarked that it was "pretty darn good for the price,” others whisky heads just about fell out of their chairs when they tasted it. "How much of this stuff do you have? I'm gonna bunker at least 2 cases…no 3 cases. Do you have enough?" Music to my ears. For now, yes we have enough, for now…
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2008 Glengoyne 11 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive PX Sherry Finished Single Cask Strength Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 01-12-2021
This fun little cask is proof that color is not important. Often we associate PX sherry with really dark color, but obviously there's a huge host of styles being made in Jerez and while many are stick and coffee dark, others are more medium colored, but of course still very sweet. We purchased this cask after tasting it during our 2019 campaign, but the bottler was unable to get it on that shipment, so it's sat for another year before arriving in California. But just because we don't have that very dark color doesn't mean you’re not getting all the gorgeous PX influence, it does nonetheless have an attractive red hue. The color is amontillado sherry. The nose pops with stewed yellow plums, dark red berries and cashew butter. The sherry is there but it's being tamed slightly by the gorgeous malt, spice and vanillas. On the palate, the reverse is true. The sherry wins the front palate with the big vanilla extract, deep red fruit and spice being pushed to the back palate. With a nice dollop of water the rolls seemed reversed again! The nuttiness dominates the nose, moving toward fresh almond, while on the palate the vibrant fruit begins to speak. This will be a huge disappointment for anyone expecting chocolate, prunes and maple syrup, but for almost everyone else this will be an absolutely awesome SCORE! Very taste-y and very well priced for the quality indeed.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

1993 Jamaica's Top Pots (Hampden) 27 Year Old "Golden Devil" Single Barrel Jamaican Rum (375ml)
Review Date: 12-17-2020
David's review: We were absolutely astonished when our friends at Golden Devil phoned up to say they'd found a few barrels of really old Hampden. Now there's new issues with the trademark so this can't be sold with that special distillery's name on the bottle, but I'm certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was distilled at the special distillery in Trelawny parish almost 30 years ago. To appreciate the rarity and uniqueness of this special cask, one must first understand why Hampden is regarded by many to be one of the best rum distillers in the world. Hampden has changed little since its creation several hundred years ago. For centuries it was more or less traded as a commodity. Its ability to produce high quality high ester spirits was prized by blenders, perfumers, confectioners etc. These high ester rums maybe never were intended to be consumed on their own, their intensity making them perfect as a tiny part of a larger flavor profile. But just like the big smoky Islays, which were once seen by the industry more as a tool of the blender than as a style to be marketed outright, these rums have developed a following among the few who have had the chance to experience them. And to further the analogy to single malt, while there are many excellent distilleries on the island where this is distilled, nothing is more highly prized than old versions of the most traditional distillers—Bowmore, Ardbeg, Laphroaig. Except all of those distilleries have updated their technology more or less to join the modern era. Hampden is still creating spirits as they might have a century ago and they were doing just that in 1993 when this special cask of rum was distilled. Back then, there was likely no market for this as a standalone cask and the fact that it has survived this long is as incredible in and of itself. And of course, the price reflects the great rarity here, but in the grand scheme of things, there will be a moment when someone realizes what an inexplicably reasonable price this ultimately was. After nearly 30 years this ultra-high ester rum has achieved a level of complexity that few drinkers will ever experience. It won't suit every palate—like Islay Scotch, you're either in the ester club or out, but for those in the club, this will likely go down as a legend. Let's taste! The color is old gold. Immediately on the massive nose fresh paint, shellac, and varnish stun the senses. Once the initial ester wave numbs the brain slightly, we begin to pick up a stunning bouquet of aromas: midrace F1 pit stop, salted lemons, green & black olives and their brine, bananas in all stages of ripeness and putrefaction. An absolutely impossible mix of intensity and near sensory overload on the palate. Simultaneously wildly rich, sour, salty and sweet. The heat is numbing and helps to temper the initial shock. Vibrant with a freshness that's undeniable but coupled with a near heart stopping power. Now this spirit is full strength and adding water is obligatory. Just a few drops and the varnish relinquishes its hold and the whole thing is taken over by the tropical fruit and the salty olives. The smoke is there still, but it's clean and linear. If you could get limestone to ignite, I'd imagine that's close to what you might smell. The texture is now downright thick—mostly on the lemons and the salt, but with a bevy of exotic herbs and botanicals added. Ardbeg lovers rejoice. Absolutely in love. I'm desperately afraid because all I want to do with my life is sit here and drink this. Very dangerous stuff.
Price: $179.99 Add To Waiting List

Belle Meade "Reserve" Small Batch Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-28-2020
I love what the Nelsons are doing over at Greenbriar Distillery in Nashville. They've got their heads screwed on and they got in at a pretty good time so their NDP bottlings are still relatively reasonable. The Nelsons got hold of some pretty serious stocks of bourbon from several distilleries, likely including MGP, maybe Dickel, and others. The whiskey is now really reaching maturity. The style easily matches great brands on quality terms and you're not looking at a stupid markup like so many craft distillers are asking on their purchased stocks. An excellent range of 7-11 year old bourbons of various mashbills are small batched to create a very even and solid drink. I especially love that the Nelsons have used their ancestor's merchant bottler brand to sell their merchant-bottled bourbon. This product is now bottled just under cask strength, which according to the distillery, will allow them to keep putting older barrels into the mix without compromising flavor. The result is one of the few high proof older bourbons on the market and the price continues to make it one of the best values in bourbon period.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Arran "The Bothy" Quarter Cask Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 08-01-2020
The Arran is an excellent distillery and each release seems to get better and better. This 3rd batch of the Bothy is the best we've had and so we snagged a bit of the old stock before the new importer took over. Here we've got the use of new American oak quarter casks, which if not done with restraint could be a problem in my view. Luckily Arran is extremely careful and knows that each batch must be just right in order to keep building their reputation. The color is deep gold. The nose is full of fresh oak, but in a lively and not obtrusive way. It's got some citrus peel, tangerines and Seville, plus plenty of vanilla and a bit of coconut. On the palate the wood takes a back seat, thankfully, and let the malt come through offering up some nice caramel candy, toasted cereal and hints of mocha. With water we really start to open up bringing some fresh spices and sweet herbs on the nose. These play nicely with the continued orange peel notes and a bit more sweetness now. On the palate it's more viscous now and loses some of the roasted quality in favor of more fruit and spice. A totally delicious example of how to properly use new oak in single malt production.
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Tweeddale "Grain of Truth" Peated Edition Highland Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-23-2020
This is surely a strange offering. A single grain composed of 50% peat dried malted barley and 50% wheat. We're heading in a whole new direction with this one. And on the nose, it's very unique indeed. We don't have a ton of details about the source or the maturation, but the experience was to unusual to pass up and in the end this is really fun whisky to drink despite it not fitting into any of the usual boxes. The color is white wine. An odd flinty kind of smoke, oyster shell, fresh paint and a feeling of brine that's for some reason not quiet ocean-y. On the palate, more of the fresh earthy peat, very distinct and with a light to medium body. With a drop of water, things start to open up a bit the nose adds some herbal qualities, a bit of wormwood and gentian. More campfire smoke now and a bit of that chemically camphor aroma. On the palate, the water has added sweetness behind the fresh smoldering peat. While not nearly as pretty and straight forward as the regular grain of truth, this is definitely a fun whisky to drink particularly for people who want to challenge themselves a bit and don't mind a bit of that old peat smacking you around a bit.
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2006 Trois Rivières 13 Year Old K&L Exclusive Cask Strength Single Barrel #23-108 Vieux Agricole Martinique Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 05-27-2020
You may ask why I'd ever buy two casks of rhum from the same distillery only a year apart. If you've read my review of the 2005 cask you'll know how I feel about these and the 13 no second hand version of the 14 yo. The reason I selected this casks in addition to the other one is because their both delicious and distinct. Also, we just can't have enough of this stuff, it's absolutely worth every dollar. Yes it's "expensive" rum, but nobody blinks an eye at spending $150 on a 12 year old rye made in Canada these days! There isn't an American whisky on the market today with as much character and depth as these special rhums. This is made from a single harvest and distilled the old way. They can't make industrial quantities of this product even if they wanted to. The fact that we're able to offer cask strength single barrels at all is shocking, as we've never had an opportunity to sell old Agricole before. The few times we get access to vintage agricole in this country it tends cost several hundred dollars even for a 10 or 15 year old expression. So that's why a bought two. Also, this one is aged in casks that previously held Cognac where as the other goes direct in to french oak, likely used previously at the distillery. And the cognac makes a big difference, adding exceptional layers of sweet and savory flavors on top of the already complex rhum. The nose is oak almost into the bourbon/armagnac territory. To be honest this is one of the best cross over rhums we've ever had. Not as briny and wild as the 2005, instead complex aromas of exotic wood, old biker jacket and the Harley engine to go along with it. Sweet stewed fruit, candied orange peel, robust and savory. On the palate, its nearly tangy, but balanced by unending exotic spices. Again it loves water and now we have extremely fancy green teas and wild honey. Subtle smokiness from the oak and hints of fresh rubber -racing tires? An unabashed powerhouse and easily one of my favorite spirits of any kind in the store. Rhum people should grab both vintages, everyone else should snag the 2006 first.
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Kaiyo "K&L Exclusive" Cask #541 Cask Strength Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-24-2020
The enigmatic and opaque Kaiyo whisky has become a staple on our shelves. It does a lot of things right in the very complicated Japanese Whisky genre while maybe skirting some of the most obvious pitfalls. And I still have no information about what is actually in these bottles, but we can assume that these have been aged in Japanese Mizunara and are likely sourced from malt distilled in Northern Japan (Hokkaido & Sendai). And while these distilleries are some of the world's finest, it is clearly the barrel who is the star of the show here. Interestingly, the two barrels we purchased (541 & 543) are pretty different despite having the same proof and specs on the bottle. This cask is the most quintessential expression of the flavors I'd expect from Mizunara. The nose is tight at first and needs a drop or two of water to open up. Now we get tons of sandalwood, ceremonial incense, plum wine, coconut husk. On the palate, tons of red cherry and big spice - cinnamon, clove, nutmeg etc. It's long bold and peppery. This one is really pretty intense designed for those who like more intense flavors. Adding water doesn't necessarily diminish that but adds some depth and sweetness.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Reserve Speciale #20 Cognac (750ml)
Review Date: 03-21-2020
The big bold character of the Ragnaud 20 is an interesting contrast to the much rounder 35 year. Here we're a few ticks up on the oak, but still with an elegance the pervades the entire Sabourin line up. The nose is chalked full of ripe exotic citrus, creamy vanilla cakes, plum jam, cinnamon, spice box, exotic wood. On the palate is weighty and wild. Powerful ginger and sweet citrus. Delicate rancio, but not quiet into the oloroso stuff. Very inviting, very delicious, pretty dry and spicy. Maybe a good one for the single malt guys to cross over on account of the balanced sweetness and wild complexity. I like this batch better than when we first tasted it 5 years ago. A real gem at this price, but not for the sweet toothed cognac lovers.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

Ragnaud-Sabourin "Fontevieille #35" K&L Exclusive Cognac (750ml)
Review Date: 03-21-2020
In many ways, I've come to consider Ragnaud Sabourin the gold standard in Grand Champagne Cognac production. Their tiny estate in the best part of Grand Champagne produces Ugni and Folle Blanche and eau-de-vie for some of the most expensive cognacs on the market today. Before I visited the legendary estate, I didn't really have a good understanding of what the quality difference in Grand Champagne was all about. I was also misunderstood why the elevage of great cognac included so called "additives". On the industial scale I understood that cognac needed to use additives to offer consistency across thousands of cases of young brandy, but I didn't see why a high quality estate would ever do that. Now after hearing from them what they exactly use to create their "boise" (additive), I much more accurately appreciate why the do this. The creation of this additive is not a short cut, but the very opposite. They cultivate and create an "extract of oak" from the ultra old under proof cognacs. So if the additives someone is using are actually 80+ year old cognac that are under proof and therefor not able to be bottled any longer as cognac, I'm all for it. So this blend is essentially 35 years old, but includes eau-de-vie much much older. The nose is surprisingly vibrant with a beautiful bouquet of ultra mature flavors: flambéed citrus peel, cocoa butter, stewed stone fruits - Mirabelle, nectarine etc. ON the palate, very forgiving and round, with tons of wild honey, orange blossom, smattered with clove and cinnamon spice. A truly delicious example of what the best cognac SHOULD taste like.
Price: $169.99 Add To Cart

Corner Creek 10 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-06-2020
I'm always astonished that we're able to secure exclusives like this one. Corner Creek is a good old brand that used to be pretty well regarded. There was a period where they were putting out stuff that was a bit austere, but the new owners have moved the brand up several notches and are now offering some real quality in the bottle. There aren't many 10 year old age stated bourbons on the market anymore. While all the big guys are taking age statements off, this little player has added one. This whisky is the perfect balance of ease of consumption and complexity. If you're looking for something to gift, but don't know someones tastes this is an easy bet. No one else in California is selling this baby and it's always great to receive a gift of bourbon you've never tried before. As for the flavor expect a soft supple nose of melted butter and brown sugar. Hints of mint and toasted vanilla offer intrigue, but don't over power the sweet aromatics. On the palate, it's medium bodied and not too dry. Sweet corn and caramel topped off with a lovely herbal finish. It's not the monster whisky that a Bookers or Elijah Craig Barrel Proof might be, but it's got plenty of complexity and drinks extremely well at 88 proof.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Icarus American Brandy (750ml)
Review Date: 12-10-2019
The totally wild small batch expression from Kurt Charron is one of the last single varietal brandies we'll ever see from the old Germain Robin distillery. His Chareau distillery in Oxnard is producing brandies and the excellent Aloe Liqueur of the same name. But, Kurt has a thing for brandy. He went up to visit our old friends in Ukiah in 2013. There he distilled high-quality Pinot Noir from the legendary Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley and placed it into traditional French oak casks. The nose is restrained but packed full of classic brandy flavors. It smells just like some of the old Single Varietal GR's that sold for $150. The palate is soft and round with tons of stone fruit and plenty of texture and depth. Hints of spice and vanilla on the finish. At this price, we're looking at one of the best values for American craft brandy on the market and a direct resonance from the wonderful lineage created by Ansley Coale and the original Germain Robin crew.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Littlemill "Old Malt Cask" 29 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-22-2019
This one is a bit unfair. Littlemill falls into two categories. Gross and great. Those two categories exist under one umbrella, impossible to find. But what we don't see is great Littlemill at a seemingly sane price. Even if this weren't a closed distillery that's impossible to find I don't think this would be an absurd price to ask for a great old nearly 30 year old malt whisky, but when the owners of the brand are selling their 25 year old version for upwards of $4000, I think we can consider a 29 year old version at less than 1/10th the price a legendary deal. Also, this one TASTES great. The nose starts with tons of toasty oak, but that doesn't overwhelm the wild tropical fruit, mango, exotic spices, hints of fancy tea, savory herbs, a slight briny quality and the tiniest whiff of almond oil. The palate is zesty, totally alive, big fruit and big spice, not at all tannic or over oaked. This one only needs the tiniest drop of water, if that, to tame the toasty oak and bring out the freshness and wild fruit. An obvious choice, but also soon to be ghost.
Price: $249.99 Add To Waiting List

Tears of Llorona Extra Añejo Tequila (1L) (Local Delivery Only - cannot ship)
Review Date: 10-22-2019
German Gonzalez has become one of the most respected and important distillers in Mexico. His work at Chinaco and his other projects have solidified him as one of the categories very best. Here he's partnered with our dear friend Enrique Fuenteseca to create the masterful product unlike anything else on the market. If German could improve his reputation anymore this was the product to do it. Originally created for his private drinking stock, ultra limited amounts of this wild elixir are now available to the public. They begin with agave at peak ripeness, hand selected by the master himself. After roasting in stone ovens and maceration, the aguamiel is fermented using German's proprietary yeast. This ultra slow fermentation allows for the deepest possible flavor. Double distillation on small copper pot stills before being put into American oak barrels for at least 3 years. After this stage, the exact aging regiment isn't totally clear, but we do know that after the initial maturation, the tequila is transferred for at least another year into the following types of wood: ex-Cognac french oak, ex-Single malt scotch barrels, ex-Sherry Butts. The final blend is a selection of those and maybe other types of wood all around 5 years bottled at 96 proof. The added proof provides richness and texture, but no additional heat. A stupendous example of what a skilled artisan can do when cost is of no object. And while it's not inexpensive, it represents a great value among the super elite and ultra premium tequila category.
Price: $229.99 Add To Cart

New Riff Bottled In Bond Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-26-2019
While everyone is talking about the New Riff bourbons, I think it's the rye that's secretly their most exciting product. New Riff bourbons are high rye already, but they follow sort of the standard Kentucky process. With the rye, New Riff is actually riffing a bit on the classic Larry Ebersold Seagram's mashbill that's made the rye from the distillery down river so famous. This is 100% rye with 5% of that being malted rye. The resulting whisky is earthy and complex. It doesn't have the obvious mint qualities of some other 100% ryes, instead replacing those with a dark underbrush aroma that's really appealing. Still, an evergreen quality and some sweet oak give this an obvious forest essence that I think will become a hallmark of New Riff's wonderful ryes. The palate is very forgiving without relinquishing the savoriness, but offering tons of flambeed citrus, roasting herbs, Manuka honey and a round creamy texture. This one loves a bit of water.
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New Riff Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-26-2019
Easily one of the most exciting new distillers in KY, and we're proud to be the partner for these incredible products. This isn't your run-of-the-mill craft distillery, this is a proper, modern Kentucky style distillery. It's not a tiny capacity, working on experiments and trying to reinvent the wheel. They're just cranking out great whisky and we're along for the ride. The flagship BIB bourbon is extremely well balanced and proof positive that craft whiskey doesn't need to be old to be delicious. I'm not sure if they're heat-cycling these warehouses, but they are rubbing all the edges of this little gem. A soft nose of sweet tea, deep oak, caramelized orange peel, and hints of earthy maltiness. On the palate it's somewhat tropical, with a strawberry candy front palate building into a strong spice toward the back. It's not a slouch and definitely has a spice backbone that's going to suit lovers of Four Roses or Wild Turkey just fine. Despite the name, New Riff isn't new school at all. Just great classic bourbon from an independent distillery that we're unbelievably lucky to be a part of.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

New Riff "Single Barrel" Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-26-2019
While the bottled in bond stuff has proved to be superlative at this new distillery in Northern Kentucky, it will surely be the wonderful single barrels that seal the deal with so many whisky fanatics. These barrels deliver so much depth and complexity, I'm always shocked that we're able to sell them for so little. So few of Kentucky's great distillers are offering us cask strength single barrel and going forward we'll be scouring New Riffs warehouses for the very best cherries. This barrel shows a very different character than the standard BIB right now. The nose explodes out of the glass with exotic aromas: sandalwood and white flowers, grilled stone fruits, and surprisingly low spice on the nose. On the palate here comes the oak spice and vanilla! Long, warming cinnamon, and slight hints of roasted corn. A pretty tidy package filled with tons of flavor and wrapped in a silk ribbon.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Gin (375ml)
Review Date: 08-26-2019
The first time I saw it we were in Scotland. I full on freaked out at a small spirits shop in Edinburgh when I noticed this quirky bottle of gin sitting on the shelf. For years, the Monkey 47 had been unobtanium, a regrettable situation for the knowledgeable and gin soaked. None of us had experienced this legendary gin yet, but thanks to the UK's lax wine shop regulations -the old "taste whatever you like" rule was in full effect. We were soon dunking our noses in a few splashes of its magnificence. I think tasting this after several other gins really put into perspective how special it really is. Created through the confluence of British aesthetics, Indian flavors, and the distinctly Teutonic natural treasure that is the Schwarzwald, The Monkey packs an enormous amount of complexity into that little bottle. It's the sort of gin that will save that cocktail you're about to ruin. You could have just as well served it straight because it sips beautifully even at room temperature. It’s quite a departure from your standard recipe gin, although some familiar elements are layered throughout. There is a strong yet soothing evergreen presence. A keynote if you will, but by no means the only focus. On the nose a dried floral aroma is accented by a twinge of spicy ginger. At the front, what seems like a citrus or chamomile quickly morphs into tea tree and sweet herbs, lemon verbena -now cucumber peel and pepper, it just keeps on going. No point in continuing to describe its flavor, its not working. It has a glorious tendency to be completely different with each sip, a true roller-coaster of flavors. Every single one of its 47 botanicals is tuned to the same perfect frequency. It's wild and utterly fabulous, but not in an awkward way. Instead, it seems to be all very deliberate, even stoic. I gladly forked over the £s the shop was asking, as did my colleagues. We nearly cried when we heard it would finally be arriving stateside.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Gin (1L)
Review Date: 08-26-2019
The first time I saw it we were in Scotland. I full on freaked out at a small spirits shop in Edinburgh when I noticed this quirky bottle of gin sitting on the shelf. For years, the Monkey 47 had been unobtanium, a regrettable situation for the knowledgeable and gin soaked. None of us had experienced this legendary gin yet, but thanks to the UK's lax wine shop regulations -the old "taste whatever you like" rule was in full effect. We were soon dunking our noses in a few splashes of its magnificence. I think tasting this after several other gins really put into perspective how special it really is. Created through the confluence of British aesthetics, Indian flavors, and the distinctly Teutonic natural treasure that is the Schwarzwald, The Monkey packs an enormous amount of complexity into that little bottle. It's the sort of gin that will save that cocktail you're about to ruin. You could have just as well served it straight because it sips beautifully even at room temperature. It’s quite a departure from your standard recipe gin, although some familiar elements are layered throughout. There is a strong yet soothing evergreen presence. A keynote if you will, but by no means the only focus. On the nose a dried floral aroma is accented by a twinge of spicy ginger. At the front, what seems like a citrus or chamomile quickly morphs into tea tree and sweet herbs, lemon verbena -now cucumber peel and pepper, it just keeps on going. No point in continuing to describe its flavor, its not working. It has a glorious tendency to be completely different with each sip, a true roller-coaster of flavors. Every single one of its 47 botanicals is tuned to the same perfect frequency. It's wild and utterly fabulous, but not in an awkward way. Instead, it seems to be all very deliberate, even stoic. I gladly forked over the £s the shop was asking, as did my colleagues. We nearly cried when we heard it would finally be arriving stateside.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch Bottled in Bond Straight Kentucky Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 02-07-2019
It's been a little while since I've sat down and evaluated this product thoroughly. A standard in my back bar when I can get it, but I tend to drink and not think this one if you know what I mean. The fact that it's recently become slightly more available (for what will certainly be a short period of time) means I get to take some time to consider this one thoroughly for once. Supposedly the same mash bill as George T Stagg I actually get a strong similarity one of the other famously hard to get Buffalo Trace Bourbons, Rock Hill Farms. Maybe it's a warehousing thing or the fact that they're both 100 proof, but the mashbills on the two should be different. The nose still has tons of sweet dark oak spice, strong Tahitian vanilla and caramel. Touches of barnyard and dried vegetation. Big sweet corn on the palate with a lovely kick thanks to the higher proof. This is the perfect whisky to go in between Eagle Rare and Blanton's and the shoe fits perfectly, figuratively speaking. Sad we don't get to sell this on the regular, but hopefully more stocks will continue to open up on this excellent brand.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List
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Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill "Tom Cat" Barrel Aged Old Tom Vermont Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 12-28-2018
Caledonia Spirits had me hooked the moment I opened a sample of the outrageous honey they use to make their gin. This veritable nectar of the gods could literally make anything delicious. Now take an ultra high quality gin, age it in good quality oak, and add just enough honey to feel it, but not enough make it particularly sweet and you've got one of the most dangerous concoctions on the market. Aromatically unique, encompassing a huge variety of complex flavors, Barr Hill has created one of the most successful barrel aged gin I've yet come across. Sip it straight or in the place of whiskey in certain spirit driven cocktails.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

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