Islay Value

We bought this Bunnahabhain barrel when the Pound/Dollar ratio was a bit stronger than it is currently, hence why we can offer something from Islay at 12 years old, full proof, for a hair under fifty. Those looking for something smoky or out of the ordinary, this one's not for you. There's nothing more than classic Scotch whisky goodness to be had in this bottle, lots of creamy vanilla, fruity malt notes, and a lot of pop on the finish due to the bolder proof. The deal is what makes it so compelling. The regular Bunnahabhain 12 is over $50 when it's watered down, so to get a full throttle, single cask version for less is a rare treat indeed!

2005 Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky $49.99 - Islay's mysterious unpeated whisky (although peated versions do exist) is Bunnahabhain, the oft overlooked and underappreciated distillery just north of Caol Ila near Port Askaig. Having changed hands once again recently, now owned by the South African group Distell, Bunnahabhain has been long overdue for a makeover, but it appears that time is here with excited new releases like the 13 year old PX edition coming down the pike in 2018. We're always on the hunt for a good cask of fruity, salty, easy-to-drink Bunnahabhain and when we can get 12 years of maturity at full proof for fifty bucks, we're going to take that deal over and over again. Brimming with fresh stone fruit on the nose, pears and peaches, this light and airy malt packs plenty of punch on the palate at 58.4% ABV. The oak spices come through on the malty finish, bookending a classically flavored malt from front to back. The price and provenance should be enough for most malt lovers to take the plunge, but if you still need reassurance, let us help you: it's really good!

-David Driscoll


Barrel Aged For Modern Times

This is Jim Boyce, K&L's beer buyer, doing a little guest blog on the spirits page today. Andrew Steven’s “Lifecycle of a Barrel” article from last week gave a fantastic rundown of the lifecycle of a whiskey barrel at K&L, highlighting our program that over the last few years has used our empty whiskey casks (including those Whistle Pig barrels from the recent post) in conjunction with local breweries like Hop Dogma, Freewheel, Cellador, Shady Oak, Good Beer Company, Alpha Acid, and Highland Park. Many of these barrels are currently filled and tucked away, letting beer and oak harmonize for months to come. If you sign up for beer emails via your K&L account you can keep an eye out for these bottles to arrive, some in the very near future!

This program really gained steam in late 2014 when David OG from K&L hooked up his childhood friend Jacob McKean (whose brewery Modern Times was just barely a year old) with three Four Roses barrels. He aged their decadent Monster’s Park Imperial Stout in these barrels for nine months, at the time three months longer than any other BA beers they had made. The bottles, sent to us with a smaller run of Elijah Craig casks (at the time, the last barrels that were sent out via the discontinued Single Barrel program), became the first K&L Barrel Aged Beer releases, available only at K&L and through the small Modern Times Membership. Classic bourbon traits of caramel, vanilla, oak spice, cinnamon, and toasted bread interwoven with rich chocolate and coffee notes from the Imperial Stout made them an instant hit, selling out within a few hours.

The most recent drop from Modern Times includes the three barrels listed below. The base beer is Devils Teeth, an Old Ale – Stout hybrid with robust maltiness and rich chocolate and caramel notes that the team developed to play perfectly with the character of these barrels. They aged the beer for 12-14 months, now by far the longest of their barrel aged releases, in casks from Wild Turkey (Russell’s Reserve), Four Roses, and Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. Production maxed out at 30 cases for the Four Roses down to 20 cases for the Wild Turkey, lending half or less to exclusively hit the shelves here at K&L.

This Thursday (TODAY!), 3/22, in Redwood City and Friday, 3/23 in San Francisco, we will be hosting Modern Times from 5-6:30pm to taste through these three Barrel Aged releases along with many of their other core, seasonal, and small batch beers! The full lineups are listed under the local events page

Modern Times "Devil's Teeth - Feral Gobbler (Wild Turkey / Russell's Reserve) Single K&L Barrel" Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels, California (22oz) $29.99

Modern Times "Devil's Teeth - Quadruple Flowers (Four Roses) K&L Barrel" Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels, California (22oz) $29.99

Modern Times "Devil's Teeth - Schmernheim Durum'd (Bernheim Wheat Whiskey) 7 Year Old K&L Barrel" Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels, California (22oz) $29.99

-Jim Boyce


Groovy Gravy

We've sold more than 60 bottles of this baby in the last hour with no press, no email, and just an empty link on our web page (with a 1 bottle limit), so don't wait too much longer if you want the Committee Release edition of the new Ardbeg "Grooves." Bottled at 51.6% ABV, this groovy little number was matured in "intensely charred" wine casks, producing "heavy grooves" on the surface of the wood. 

Ardbeg "Grooves - Committee Release" Islay Single Malt Whisky $139.99

-David Driscoll


The Fourth and Final Winter Pig

For the last day of winter, I bring you the final installment of the four cask Whistle Pig cycle: the 118.2 proof beast from the North. This 59.1% ABV expression is the biggest, boldest, and most complex of the bunch. There's an equal amount of big sweet vanilla, dill, and peppery herbaceous character in full effect. The near 120 proof heat makes this whiskey a powerful beast to deal with and there's a lot to unlock with a few drops of water. There's a graham cracker finish that bolsters the clean rye flavor with beautiful balance, making this easily the best rye whiskey in the store right now. It's quite special. I hope you all love it, as I'm sending all my best Bourbon/rye customers right now in this direction.

Whistle Pig 10 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel 118.2 Proof Cask Strength Rye Whiskey $89.99 - This is the fourth and final cask from our Winter edition single barrels of Whistle Pig 10 year and this particular cask comes in at over 118 proof and packs a big dollop of both sweet and savory spices in addition to all the rich oak flavors and vanilla. With dill, pepper, and sweet baking spices on the finish, this 59.1% beast of a whiskey brings the power and the punch for those who like their rye potent. It starts with rich and decadent aromas of vanilla and sweet oak, but it ends with a fireworks display of savory and herbaceous splendor.

-David Driscoll


One, Two, Three...Four Roses

Few distilleries offer a more satisfying and successful single barrel program than the exceptional Four Roses Distillery. This brand has been on fire, not only because of the amazing pricing we offer on their flagship products, but because they've committed to producing the highest quality bourbon no matter what. It seemed for a while that stocks had become dangerously tight. The little distillery outside Lawrenceburg was cranking at full steam, but there isn’t enough juice to go around. The program has blocked new applicants and participants are now required to visit their Cox's Creek facility to select their barrels. This is the sort of restrictions that we LOVE because it means we get to visit our great friends in KY and enjoy the whiskey straight out of the casks with a side of salty tortilla chips. 

Since those dark days, it seems things have regulated somewhat. The distillery is expanding and the barrels that they've been rolling out have been absolutely delicious. I'm convinced their just giving us the good ones cause they like us so much, but maybe it's simple coincidence. This last batch was EXTREMELY hard to pick. At least four of the eight barrels were absolutely delicious. Two were classic solid Four Roses, two were very odd ball outliers. Ultimately, I had to let go of a bizarre young 8.5 year old whiskey that tasted just like Armagnac in favor of the other outlier an ultra woodsy, borderline herbaceous OESV from a leaking barrel. It won't be everybody's cup of tea, but certainly will speak to a select few hardcore heads. Either way, we won't be getting back to KY until at least May so this is it for 4Rs Single Barrels until summer. Grab ‘em while you can.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OBSV (10 Years Old, 10 Months) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $64.99

This was the oldest whisky in the batch which I was sure would make it to 11 years before we bottled it, but it was bottled 1 month and one day early so it sits a reasonable 10 years and 10 months. This cask was aged on the east side of warehouse G and is bottled at a seriously powerful 127.2 proof. This is REAL high for Four Roses since the whiskies entry proof is lower proof than most distillers in Kentucky and likely the result of a particularly hot and dry position in the warehouse. The whiskey itself is filled with tension and depth, but shows lovely nuance of dried stone fruit and exotic spice on the nose. The high proof is not obvious on the plate, but the chewy texture reminds us that this is some serious stuff. The flag ship OBSV whiskey from Four Roses offers a wonderful balanced experience combining the intense rye spice and sweet fruit that Four Roses is renowned for.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OESV (10 Years Old) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $64.99

I'm a huge fan of the V yeast strain so when I noticed this cask, right around ten years old, I knew it would be right in my sweet spot. The usual soft fruit and subtle spice this cask was totally out of the profile. I should have known seeing the funky weathered and warped barrel. The color in the glass was an immediate give away as well. Two or three ticks darker than the other nine casks and much woodsier, the nose is full of pepper and bitter herbs—thujone, gentian and exotic roots. Cigar box, old leather and burnt sugar continue in full force. The palate is rightfully intense and downright spicy with a building cinnamon and clove quality that's nearly overpowering. This is one for those who like them dry and spicy. The dark bitters aromas on the nose don't translate to the palate however and it keeps from feeling astringent by some brown sugar and honey notes. With such an odd ball flavor profile and ugly gnarled barrel, I should have known that this barrel was a leaker, but I was nonetheless astonished when I found out that this barrel on turned out 108 bottles.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OESK (9 Years Old, 7 Months) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $64.99

This great little OESK is the most familiar of this round of casks. This recipe is almost always one of my favorites and shows up in the standard Small Batch in a big way. The nose on this one reminded me a lot of this year’s Limited Edition Small Batch with tons of orange liqueur, stone fruits, sweet corn, menthol and oak spice. After the high proof of the other two this one starts easy and hints that it will be sweet and easy, thanks to the opulent nose and the easy entry. But the finish goes in a different direction completely, building a big warming spice on the back palate and finishing with a deep fudgy note at the end. Not the most exciting on paper, but a real star in the glass. 

-David Othenin-Girard