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K&L Staff Recommendations
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet features smells of new car leather, breakfast cereal, cornmeal, pepper and hemp. Entry is nicely sweet and intensely grainy; the midpalate is the high point as the taste profile expands to include semisweet flavors of caramel corn, toasted marshmallow, dried fruit and chocolate covered cherry. Concludes oaky sweet and chewy." (12/2008) K&L Notes: You know it, you love it; it's ten years old, bottled in bond, single cask, 100 proof, old school Kentucky Bourbon from Heaven Hill. Incredible value by any measure.
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 »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* A good workhorse for all manner of cocktails, this bright amber Bourbon has a butterscotch aroma and oaky, relatively dry flavors that elongate into a rich caramel finish." (7/2013)90 points Whisky Advocate: "Light bronze color. Thick, mature aromas, with notes of subtle spice (vanilla, mint), toffee, light molasses and leather. Adding a little water revealing notes of teaberry, anise, and dark candied fruit. Pleasantly sweet at first in flavor, with notes of brown sugar and spice (vanilla, mint), becoming dry with enveloping flavors of oak and leather. With a little wa ...Read More »
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 »
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.
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 »
Buffalo Trace was named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine in 2005 and 2007 and by the Wine Enthusiast in 2006. Paul Pacult of the The Spirit Journal gave it four stars and said: "Easily one of the most tactile yet assertive and expressive bourbons I've tasted in the last two years; fasten your seatbelts." Honey-colored, with aromas of toasted wheat bread and hints of tobacco, opening up to almond butter, melon and lanolin. On the palate it is oily and toasty with flavors of cereal grains and oak. The finish is long and corn sweet with a little spi... Read More »
Basil Hayden's Bourbon dates back to 1796 when Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. created a new bourbon recipe using a traditional corn base, but adding small grains into his mash. The results showcased the spicy flavors of rye, which complemented the sweetness of corn. Today Basil Hayden's is aged for eight years at a relatively mild 80 proof, and glints like liquid gold in the glass. Its spicy-sweet perfume shows hints of peppermint and black tea and its flavors are spicy, peppery and honeyed, with a light body and a gentle bite. According to Patterson'... Read More »
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.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Pour this single-barrel bourbon some time in advance to allow it to open up and reveal crème caramel aromatics while you eye the rich topaz color in the glass. Sweet and smooth, this whiskey finishes with dry espresso, dark chocolate and black-tea notes. Mix into classic cocktails." (7/2013)92 points Whisky Advocate: "A fuller-bodied, sweeter encounter than Barrel #55-6F reviewed below. More rounded and even-keeled throughout, too! Chewy toffee, rummy molasses, and nougat, with underlying notes of dark, berried fruit, accentuating spice, and supple leather. The heavyweight of the gr ...Read More »
98 points Wine Enthusiast: "A beautiful, mouthwatering newcomer to the whiskey scene. Named for the “angel’s share,” the portion that evaporates from the barrel during the aging process, this golden amber spirit is finished in Port barrels, which explains those juicy red-fruit notes that slide into the long finish. Look for orange peel, vanilla and roasted nut flavors, too." (7/2012)93 points Whisky Advocate: "Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey finished in a port pipe. This is veteran master distiller Lincoln Henderson’s newest creation, and it's a beauty. Richly textured, silky, and well-rounded, with ripe ber ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This small-batch bourbon uses wheat in place of rye to create a soft, rounded character. The mild crème brulee aroma leads into sasparilla and creamy caramel flavors. At 92 proof, it’s a wonder that the alcohol feels so moderate, but it makes its presence known in the cinnamon-firework finish. Attractive bottle design with clever keyhole label." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "A new wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill, using wheat instead of rye in the mashbill, resulting in a smooth, easygoing whiskey. Layers of sweetness (creamy vanilla, maple syrup, marzipan) combin ...Read More »
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 »
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 »
High West is dedicated to preserving and promoting the American West, that's why they've created a whiskey dedicated to one of the greatest land preservation projects of our time: the American Prairie Reserve in Montana, a 5000 square mile land tract the size of Connecticut restored to what Lewis and Clark would have seen. High West will donate 10% of after tax profits from each bottle to the American Prairie Foundation. This blend of straight bourbons from Kentucky and Indian continue to showcase High West's exceptional blending abilities. The base whis... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "From Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell, this tawny and full-bodied whiskey evolves on the palate. At first, it features orange peel, vanilla and caramel, then dry leather and cocoa notes midpalate, and finishes long and lean with clove and allspice accents. Dilute to taste, sip slowly and consider all the complex flavors." (7/2013) K&L Notes: The Russell's Reserve Small Batch Bourbon was developed by Wild Turkey Distillery's Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie. Initially a limited edition release, the Russell's Reserve is now a 10-... Read More »
If high-quality, unique whiskies are your bag, don't put off getting your hands on a bottle of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey; Colorado's first small batch, hand-crafted whiskey that uses top-notch ingredients. The barley for Stranahan's is grown in the Northern Rockies and the water comes from the State's pure mountain streams. The distillery contracts with neighboring Flying Dog Brewery for its four-barley fermented mash, which then goes through a unique filtration program. Twice distilled in a custom Vendome Copper Co. pot still, aged in charred America... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "A fiery oak nose eventually yields sweet corn, herbal grass notes and light vanilla. Laser-intense flavors of mint, rye and eau-de-vie-purity corn spirit heat up the mouth. Break it with a bit of water and you'll get corn pudding, boozy vanilla and a drying oak finish. It's a great example of deep flavor hidden in overproof whiskey." (2/2012) K&L Notes: Noah's Mill is a handmade, small-batch Kentucky Bourbon with unique character and a smoothness rarely found in young whiskies. Awarded a Gold Medal at the 2005 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This received 91... Read More »
The Willett Distilling Company, which has been family, owned and operated since 1935, is now the home of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. The Pot Still Reserve is KBD's flagship single barrel product and while it doesn't carry an age statement, it is of the highest quality. Because it is bottled in single barrel format, the precise flavors change from cask to cask. However, the general style of this bourbon, despite the single cask nature, is one of great elegance. It is bottled in a lovely glass pot still decanter. A very graceful bourbon. It's very su... Read More »
The classic Jim Beam expression - big spice, lots of cinnamon and clove notes, with great richness cutting through the high proof.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Though this new offering meets the technical criteria for rye (a mash bill of at least 51% rye), the sweet, caramelly flavors suggest a high-rye Bourbon—which makes sense considering that Knob Creek is best known for its Bourbon. Expect bold almond, oak, brown butter and pecan pie flavors. The drying baking-spice finish is more characteristic of rye, and has less bite than might be expected of a 100-proof spirit." (9/2013) Whisky Advocate: "Unlike the Knob Creek bourbons (which are 9 years old), there’s no age statement with this new rye, which tastes relatively younger. It ...Read More »
95 points from Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. The Old Bardstown Estate is one of KBD's premium offerings and bottled at 101 proof. It's a high corn recipe, so less spice and more round rich flavors than some of KBD's other highend offerings. For all those missing Black Maple Hill's juice, this might be a solid subsitute.
Made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits 2013* Finished in the barrel with specially seared oak staves, this Bourbon is a new classic. In the glass, it sports a bright maple color, and lively, spicy aromas and flavors of oaky vanilla and tropical fruit touched with clove, ginger and allspice." (7/2013)90 points Whisky Advocate: "This is original 'red wax' Maker's Mark that received additional aging in barrels containing internal "seared" French oak staves. The original Maker's Mark, being a wheated bourbon (instead of rye, which is typically used), is rather mellow and easy-to-drink.The French oak staves i ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "This amber-hued, six-year-old Bourbon has a bright, honeyed, slightly peachy scent. On the palate, it has a sweet creaminess, very smooth and light, finishing dry and lovely with just a bit of spicy rye-like sparkle. A fine choice for Manhattans and other Bourbon-based cocktails." (7/2012) K&L Notes: Remember that wonderful 14-year-old marriage of various LDI casks our friend John Little released a while back? The latest version of that small batch is finally here. The Old Scout 10 year old is another vatting of whiskies (all 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley - the... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
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 »
*Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Wine & Spirits Competition* Distilled from 100% Hopi blue corn in Waco, Texas, this is one of the tastier young American whiskies to come out recently. The corn is present and the flavors are dominated by it, but there is a subtle sweetness behind it that really makes the whiskey quite pleasant. It's much softer than most other young products and is very sippable. Balcones has done well to make one of the more accessible whiskies in the burgeoning American craft whisky scene.
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... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Beam's limited edition whiskies for the Fall 2014 season have arrived, substituting the rye for a different experimental flavor grain. Using brown rice instead of rye as the flavor grain in this 11 year old has only enhanced the sweetness of the corn and the intensity of the vanilla. It's a big bold wave of barrel spice and rich Beam flavor. The finish does have a different sort of note, however; a bit of a grainy, maybe "ricey" character that I can't quite put my finger on, but integrates beautifully into the wood. I was really impressed with this. A ve... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Rich and creamy, this small-batch bourbon offers butterscotch laced with bitter chocolate and orange peel, edged with a clove and cinnamon finish. Muscular alcohol feel." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "The new, elder sibling to the standard Bulleit. It shows the Bulleit personality, but it’s deeper and drier on the nose and palate (as would be expected), with more oak, dried orchard fruit, and dark berried fruit, along with a hint of barrel char, leather, vanilla powder, and a dusting of cinnamon. I’d save this as a postprandial bourbon, and opt for the standard Bulleit as an a ...Read More »
Sazerac's other distillery, the Barton facility in Bardstown, is not nearly as well-known as the Buffalo Trace side of things. Ken Pierce, not Harlan Wheatley, is distilling over in Bardstown, making a high-rye bourbon called 1792 Ridgemont, a softer, smoother, yet more peppery version of bourbon than what we're used to from BT. Lots of tasty oak integration and a wonderful mix of spice and richness make this another feather in the cap of America's top bourbon producer.
Rowan’s Creek bourbon is stored in charred oak barrels and is hand-bottled at 50% alc./vol. (100 proof). This boutique bourbon is still made in small lots, batch-by-batch. Rowan's Creek takes its namesake from the creek that runs directly through the distillery. This creek still carries the best limestone spring water that is essential for making good bourbon.
Wine Enthusiast: "**Best Buy** The nosing passes find scents of lanolin, textile fiber and fireplace soot following early smells of wax. The palate entry displays toasty flavors that wrap around core tastes of dried fruit and nuts; the midpalate stage reveals the waxy quality first detected in the opening bouquet." (12/2007) K&L Notes: The best deal in Tennessee Whiskey by far!
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "An unexpectedly wonderful pairing with a sweet chocolate or a sticky caramel dessert, Campfire blends straight rye whiskey, straight Bourbon and blended Scotch. Altogether, it’s big and smoky, with lots of iodine, but doesn’t completely overwhelm, settling into a pleasing mix of toffee and peat. Gift a bottle to a Scotch lover to introduce the joys of American whiskeys." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "A blend of bourbon, rye, and peated single malt Scotch whiskies. This is an adaptation of the original release that spent additional time in Hungarian and French oak barrels. The ...Read More »
The secret is out. Old Bardstown Black Label is one of the best deals in Bourbon. Close your eyes, forget the label, and taste what $20 can really get you out of Kentucky. You don't need to drink slop to save money. What a deal!
This is Wild Turkey's super-premium Bourbon, bottled at 101-proof. It has a soft nose for such a high proof Bourbon, with scents of dates and vanilla and oranges, which continue onto the honeyed palate. Rich and powerful.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Fragrant with cinnamon, floral clover honey, and sweet dried fruit notes. Flavorful: lots of oak, a generous dose of toffee, toasty nutmeg and allspice, finishing with a big bite. Reminiscent of dark gingerbread. Medium body, pleasant, a touch astringent." (09/10)
Here is one of the few straight bourbon whiskey available from a craft distillery. Many of the new distilleries cannot afford to let their bourbon wait a full two years to achieve the coveted distinction. Peach Street Bourbon is produced in truly small batches of less than 200 barrels. Highly aromatic, vibrant and bright it definitely stands apart from what we're used to out of Kentucky. Of course, we're going to pay a premium for this small production juice, but many people will find this one is truly worth a little extra dough.
Whisky Advocate: "The whiskey’s formula has been improved, and now consists of a higher percentage of older whiskies (into the high teens) than the original release (which I rated 81). Nicely balanced, with candied fruit, blackberry jam, soft vanilla, kettle corn, and a kiss of mint. Pleasant, unpretentious, and uncomplicated. (Vol. 20, #3)" K&L Notes: A delicate, small batch Kentucky bourbon with stone fruit, vanilla and oak notes on the nose. It is smooth and sweet on the palate with a kiss of orange, wood smoke and a mulled berry flavors.