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K&L Staff Recommendations
Ketel One is made in Holland. It is a family-owned business which has been carrying on the tradition of vodka-making for eleven generations. They report that the focus at Ketel One is quality, tradition and personal commitment to their customer. This shows in their vodka by offering only the heart of each distilate, tasted by a member of the family before it is released. One of the best Martini vodkas available.
If you want a rum with pure island spirit, this may be it. The One Barrel rum, from the country of Belize, smells like a tropical breeze with its aromas of passion fruit, hibiscus and papaya. On the palate it is smooth and round, with just a hint of molasses flavor lingering in the background. Perfect for mixing. In June 2008 the editors at Men's Journal gave it a nod, saying: "The uncommon rum worth seeking out is Travellers 1 Barrel ($22). Made at a small distillery in Belize, it boasts a memorable flavor that's slightly sweet, slightly nutty, with som... Read More »
This is first-class Guatemalan rum is made from virgin sugar cane honey--the first press of the sugar cane that's boiled down to thicken--rather than molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar-making process. This results in a finer, sweeter, smoother rum. Aged in the solera method, like Sherry, the Zacapa Centenario is very dark--mahogony with coppery tints--and has a clove, cocoa, cinnamon and orange peel-scented nose. The palate is sweet and smooth, with cocoa, orange and honey flavors and a sensuous, viscous texture. It finishes long and smooth. It ... Read More »
Specially bottled for Berry Bros & Rudd in London, this gin was created to exemplify the classic London Dry style. Unabashedly juniper-driven, the riveting No. 3 gets its name from the historic home of Berry Bros No.3 St James Street in London, where they've been operating continuously since 1698. The No. 3 pushes tradition to the extreme using a simple 3 fruit and 3 spice recipe. The nose is all citrus and piney juniper. On the palate the juniper is balanced perfectly with spicy coriander and verdant cardamom. The finish brings the earth telltale prick... Read More »
We firmly believe that Belvedere is one of the best vodkas in the business and at this price it's a steal. An award-winning hand-crafted Polish Vodka, made according to centuries-old traditional methods, this is 100% Polish rye, distilled 4 times and charcoal filtered. The illustration on the back depicts the Belvedere House, the Polish equivalent to the White House, the official residence of the Polish president in Warsaw. Additive-free and diluted with water from Belvedere's own artesian well. It exhibits delicate aromas and flavors, with hints of van... Read More »
In 1830, one Carolus Strubbe left the trading town of Tielt to try his luck in Ichtegem, a town well known for its flax industry. He became a farmer and brewer there: in summer, he tilled the land, and in winter he worked on the malt floor with his stirring barrel. His hard work paid off, and still does today! This Red Ale has "beery" notes along with some dark cherries and a hint of vinegar. Slight tartness with a berrylike fruitness and woody notes from the oak barrels culminate in a refreshing, food-friendly finish.
Inventory: Redwood City
From the official Angustura website: "Made with the same original secret recipe since 1824, the world famous Angostura aromatic bitters remains the quintessential and definitive ingredient for classic and contemporary cocktails. Its versatility, however, stretches way beyond the bar counter as it serves as a unique flavour enhancer with the ability to marry flavours in the preparation of all food dishes. Angostura aromatic bitters also adds its unmistakable flavour and aroma to 'soft' beverages and desserts."
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, and supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries and still in operation, produce a number of amazing flavors along with more than seven additional stills that create more traditional ones. The deliciously supple 12-year- old uses ... Read More »
96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: "The first couple of whiffs pick up toasty notes of caramel, almond butter, cotton candy and very old oak; with aeration, more profound aromas develop including saddle leather, vanilla, Sherry and dark caramel. Palate entry is perfectly balanced and sweet; by midpalate the flavor profile is honeyed, slightly cocoa-like, buttery to the feel and utterly decadent. Finishes long, layered, creamy and dark chocolate bittersweet." (7/2003) K&L Notes: Master of rums and the flagship of the house, Santa Teresa 1796 results from a careful blend of Santa Teresa’s finest aged spi... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "A soft, classic gin, ideal for Negronis and a wide range of other drinks. Overall, the flavor is neutral, but it has a touch of sweetness and complex underpinnings of pine, citrus and black pepper. Because it’s so versatile, this workhorse is recommended for anyone starting to build a bar." (4/2012) K&L Notes: Plymouth Gin was started in 17933. Plymouth makes their gin on an ancient site, a 16th-century Dominican Friary where Miles Standish and the Pilgrim stayed the night before they set out for America. Plymouth Gin, at 82.4 proof, is a very smooth gin. It is trip... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A top pick for tiki and tropical drinks, this practically begs for lime juice. Scented with warm honey notes, the palate shows lots of brown sugar and spice, plus an enticingly untamed, funky finish (the fabled 'hogo'). Since it’s 'Navy Strength,' you might not want to sip it straight up—the producer wisely recommends exploring the profile first in a daiquiri—though it’s smooth and interesting enough if you want to try." (8/2014) K&L Notes: The original Jamaica rum is back. It's been 80 years and true Jamaica pot still rum has lived only in the imagination of cocktai... Read More »
Originally created in 1823 by James Pimm of Kent to be served as a digestif, Pimm's Original Gin Sling was the first "House Cup" at London's popular Oyster Bar, thus the spirit's name: Pimm's No. 1 Cup. A special blend of herbs, liqueurs and quinine were steeped in gin and paired with oysters on the half shell. As the brand's reputation grew, other Pimm's Cups were developed, each based on different spirits, including vodka and brandy, but only the gin-based cup is available in the US today. The iconic cocktail, appropriately named Pimm's Cup, has been a... Read More »
*Gold Medal - 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition* Gosling Brothers Ltd. imported its first barrels of Caribbean rum into Bermuda in 1860. Numerous different blends were tried until one was formulated and deemed ideal. The result was a well-aged, extremely dark rum, which the firm dubbed "Old-Rum". For over 50 years the rum was sold only by draught, with local patrons bring in their own bottles to be filled. The rum continued to be sold exclusively out of the barrel until the First World War, when the company began filling champagne bottles re... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, and supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries and still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors along with more than seven additional stills that create more traditional ones. The 15 year old draws its core flavor ... Read More »
Just when you think you've tasted every type of booze known to man, you discover that there are yet more regionally-specific spirits being distilled in places you've never considered. Like Bolivia, for example. South America is generally rum country, but in Bolivia they make a pisco-like spirit called Singani, distilled from Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown high in the Andes mountains. Seeing that Muscat is an aromatic varietal, known for its fruity and floral character, the Singani spirit distilled from it takes on many of the perfume-like elements fou... Read More »
Sipsmith is the first new copper-distilled London gin to actually be made in London in the last 200 years--as most production has moved to Scotland for economic reasons. The boys at the distillery have awoken a new movement of pride in London distillates the term "London dry gin" is actually a type of gin that can be distilled anywhere as long as it adheres to the rules. Sipsmith, however, is London through and through. Done in small batches on a copper alembic, the lighter, aromatic flavors shine through and the gin itself is more elegant and diminutive... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, and supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries and still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors along with more than seven additional stills that create more traditional ones. The complex and ethereal 21 year uses ... Read More »
"All of our wines at Pheasant’s Tears are fermented and aged in qvevri, a unique Georgian vessel used to ferment and store wine. Qvevri were the first vessels ever to be used for wine fermentation, with archaeological finds dating back to 6000 BC. Qvevri are clay vessels lined with beeswax and completely buried under the ground where the temperature stays even thoughout the year, allowing the wines to ferment in the natural coolness of the earth. Pheasant’s Tears qvevri vary in age but, some date back to the mid 19th C...This popular red is so dark in ... Read More »
El Dorado Rum is made by Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana, South America and is perhaps the single greatest rum producer on the planet. Having operated since the 1600s, and supplied the British Royal Navy with rum for more than 200 years, the Diamond Estate Distillery still churns out a variety of spirits today. DDL's historic stills, built in the 18th and 19th centuries and still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors along with more than seven additional stills that create more traditional ones The 8 year old rum is the most ubuitiou... Read More »
Rhum Barbancourt is a superior premium dark rum distilled twice in copper pot stills. It is then barrel aged in white oak barrels. Unlike other island rums, Barbancourt is made directly from sugar cane juice, pressed from hand-cut locally grown cane. Aged 8 years. A full bodied premium "Reserve Speciale" dark rum with a velvety quality. Will enhance any rum drink.
Wine Enthusiast: "The first sniffings unearth a soft, slightly sour and vegetal aroma; more time adds minor scents of ash and unsmoked cigarette. The bittersweet palate entry taste flashes on cocoa bean and sap; at midpalate toasty, sooty flavors of tobacco leaf, wood smoke, wood resin and vanilla are found. Ends up semisweet, succulent and roughly spirity." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Chopin Vodka, imported from Poland, is crafted from 100% hand-cultivated Stobrawa potatoes. It is four times distilled to create full flavored, smooth and clean vodka. This family owned distillery has operated ... Read More »
A collaboration between Italy's Brewfist and Oklahoma's Prairie Artisan Ales. This is an Imperial Chocolate Stout made with cocoa beans and coffee.
Inventory: Redwood City
Blonde sour ale using house yeast strain "Morpheus"
Inventory: Redwood City
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best buy. Top 50 Spirits of 2009* Initial aroma is caney, grassy and fruity. Palate entry is crisp, moderately sweet and properly bittersweet in bearing; midpalate displays excellent balance, sweetness level, medium-bodied texture, and even some background cinnamon spiciness. Finishes long, crisp, nicely sweet and caney, and delicious." (7/2009) K&L Notes: Created in 1910, its luminous, golden amber glow and distinct floral and spicy notes have pleased, ever since, the palates of connoisseurs the world over. Its subtle, balanced blend perfectly harmonizes taste and ... Read More »
From the newly formed 86 Company, who makes spirits specifically for bartenders, Cana Brava Rum is a recreation of an old style of rum, and is right now one of a kind on the market. After searching the U.S. for a distillery that could make the perfect mixing rum, Simon Ford (long time Pernod-Ricard brand ambassador and industry guru) and his partners decided to go to the source. They sought out legendary rum producer Don Pancho Fernandez in Panama. Don Pancho was the Cuban minister of rum for decades and is generally credited for creating the internation... Read More »
A new brewery building (the Monastery Brewery) was completed at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in March of 2011. The new brewery building, which currently houses a half-barrel micro-brewing system, was specifically designed for expansion to a 5 or 7 barrel brewing system. Brewing in this new, separate facility began in March 2012. The Triple is fruity and spicy with a light body, low alcohol notes and a slight crispness.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits of 2012* Hailing from Jamaica, this smooth 12-year-old rum features a sticky dark-toffee aroma accented by almond and peach notes. On the palate, look for a nice rounded caramel flavor that flashes lots of clove and cinnamon tones on the finish." (12/2012) K&L Notes: Since 1749, Appleton Estate has been located in the Nassau Valley of Jamaica, where they grow varieties of sugar cane specially suited to their rum-making. With their unique and custom-made copper stills, proprietary yeast culture, and soft water from a limestone spring on the property, A... Read More »
The Appleton V/X is the first member of the Appleton Estate family of aged rums. It is a blend of 15 different select aged rums and because of its sophisticated flavour profile, it is great for classic cocktails. Appearance: harvest gold/honey colour with remarkable clarity and brilliance. Nose: Subtle scents of brown sugar, light spice, dried fruits and orange peel. Palate: Rich flavors of toasted honey wheat bread and refined sugar. Finish: Finishes as serenely as it started
Before the Greeks, before the Romans, it was the Georgians who were making wine. Archeological evidence dates back 8,000 years, references to Georgian wines can be found in the writings of Homor and Apollonius, and even the Georgian alphabet seems to have its origins in the shapes made by the tendrils of grape vines. Pheasant's Tears is the joint effort of American John Wurdeman, Georgian Gela Patalishvili and Swedes Erik Andermo, Jakob Mörndal and Henrik Callerstrand, to preserve and promote this ancient cultural legacy. All of Pheasant's Tears wines, i... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "The 55% abv blue label is one of the strongest and most expensive gins on the market. Look for the trademark faint yellowish-saffron tinge and herbal scent, with assertive pine and anise flavors and a tart lemony touch. Serve this overproof gin tamed with ice and lots of tonic." (4/2012) K&L Notes: Old Raj Gin is distinctive in that it contains a measure of saffron, the rare and costly spice derived from the crocus flower. In addition to the slightly spicy flavor, this also imparts a pale yellow color. The subtle, aristocratic botanical mix (starring, of course, juni... Read More »
The story of Diep 9 Genever is particularly interesting. During World War I invading German armies stripped Belgian genever distilleries of copper stills and piping, melting down the metal for shell casings. This brought traditional genever production to a halt, almost ending a national tradition in Belgium. The distillery's founder, Frans De Moor, lost his life in 1914 when he refused to relinquish his copper pot still to German occupiers. He was executed in full view of the public on the town's bridge and stabbed with a bayonet to ensure his death. Aft... Read More »
This is one of the best deals in rum--period! A select group of barrels is chosen for the Clement Agricole Barrel Select and whoever is doing the selection is doing a great job. The richness is off the charts, but while its supple and round in the mouth, the flavors are never overly sweet. The hint of agricole earthiness comes in at the end, reinforcing the special agricole flavor from Martinique. This is a great segway into the agricole category and a must-have for any serious rum fan.
From the importer: "A dry white made from Tsolikouri grapes, an indigenous variety grown in the Tvishi appellation in northern Georgia’s Lechkhumi region. The wine has a light amber color and a fresh, delicate taste with a fruity aroma, It is delicious with any white meat and spicy food. JSC Teliani Valley was founded in 1997 on the site of a 19th century winery in the village of Tsinandali, 79 km east of Tbilisi. It is currently one of the top producers of quality Georgian wine. While the company follows the long standing Georgian tradition of winemakin... Read More »
Aged up to 15 years at the Famous distillery in Guatemala. The Botran name is well known through the world. This rum is aged using the Solera system and has a minimum age of 5 years. Distilled like all Guatemalan rum using the sugar cane honey rather than molasses. Instead of removing sugar crystals during processing, the freshly pressed cane juice exclusively from within Guatemala. After being crushed, it is concentrated over heat and filtered until the end result has a similar texture to high quality honey.
"Despite the crudeness it is tricky to make an effective Molotov cocktail. Despite the unruly nature of the rebel it is very tricky to resist accepted conventions. Molotov Cocktail is a tour de force in rebellious hoppiness, it's a spark for action and by far one of the most anti-authoritative beers ever made by Evil Twin Brewing."
Inventory: Redwood City
"Named after atom bomb test grounds, designed by a French car engineer - the bikini was to many a disturbing and degrading creation and fortunately for others a symbol of emancipation. This is attractively light bodied, seductively well balanced and very drinkable Sour Bikini is anything but a sissy beer."
Inventory: Redwood City
96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: "The opening aroma is marvelously beany and grassy; later, sweetish flavors of dark caramel, chimney soot, and dark, old honey make scrumptious inhaling. The palate entry is honeyed, warm, and cocoa-like; at midpalate the grassy, weedy, cane-like taste balances the honeyed sweetness. Concludes cocoa-like, intense yet smooth, and memorably sweet. Best Buy." (12/05)
Jancis Robinson: "All estate grown fruit. 45% Pinot Noir, 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay. Fermented in old oak. Much rounder and fuller than the NV brut, with a very prominent acidity thanks to very low dosage. This would be austere if it wasn't for the luscious fruit and generous complexity. Stylised and avant-garde - but delicious. 17/20 points. (RH)" (11/2014) K&L Notes: The most serious and top-notch English Sparkling producer. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment descr... Read More »
Brennivin is Iceland's most classic tipple. The stark black label and intense flavor, have given rise to the nick name "Black Death," but the traditional Icelandic "schnapps" is all about celebrating life! Distilled from grain and flavored with caraway, it does not have any sugar added after distillation and therefore is not classified as schnapps in the US. This magnificent and enchanting drink is usually used as a shooter, but it's now gaining traction as a solid base for cocktails. It's definitely a bucket list type of drink. You must try it once and ... Read More »
Beluga Vodka is made with Siberian water, malted grain, high tech fermentation, and is distilled with the utmost care and never produced in bulk. Each production run requires 3 months to complete. Bottles are individually numbered and sealed with wax. Enjoy this exclusive and austere vodka with the finest cavier you can find!
"Made with lactose, oats, wheat, and pilsner malt. The beer underwent a 12 hour sour mash to add a little tartness. Hopped with Citra and Sorachi ace. Dry hopped with Sorachi Ace and Centennial along with 1kg of fresh lemon peel."
Inventory: Redwood City
This is a special Easter beer, one of the first real Belgian Easter beers. (Slaghmuylder's paasbier being first). It has been brewed with pale malt, Golding hops, cane sugar and refermented in the bottle. It's a seasonal beer, so we suggest not to keep it eternally. The name Boskeun means rabbit of the wood and the label shows it, sampling the last brew.
Vranac is an ancient red grape varietal found almost exclusively in the newest European country, the small republic of Montenegro. With only 650,000 inhabitants it has just become independent in 2006. Montenegro is located at the Adriatic Sea on the southern tip of Croatia. While not much is known about the grape's heritage, it is widely assumed that Vranac is a relative of the Dalmatian Plavac Mali, which in turn is the ancestor of the Californian Zinfandel. With both cousins the Vranac shares its dark ruby color and a fairly full body. Vranac tends to ... Read More »
Decanter: "A blend of early-picked Chardonnay, late-picked Gewurztraminer and equally overripe Moscato Bianco, it is an unusual white, but in a very good way. Fragrant and juicy with the acidity brought by the winds off the Río de la Plata, it is a perfect summer aperitif. ("Decanter travel guide: Uruguayan coast")" (6/2014) K&L Notes: Produced from sustainably farmed Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Moscato, this is a lovely white, with pretty stonefruit aromas leading to a juicy palate that maintains its freshness while displaying a subtly creamy texture. The folks who own this... Read More »