Navigation
Search This Blog

Return to KLWines.com

Spirits Journal Podcast Archive

Spirits Journal Twitter Feed

K&L Uncorked Blog

K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

9/24 - San Francisco: Monkey 47 w/Christoph Keller!

9/24 - Redwood City: Germain Robin K&L Exclusive Brandy!

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #344 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #345 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


Glenfarclas "The Faultline Casks" K&L Exclusive First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


1997 Bunnahabhain Heavily Peated 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1998 Laphroaig 15 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1983 Caol Ila 30 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW


1992 Bruichladdich 21 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1988 Balmenach 25 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Dailuaine 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glen Elgin 18 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!!


1981 Glenlivet 32 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1996 Bowmore 16 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Bladnoch "Young" K&L Exclusive Heavily Peated Single Barrel #57 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glengoyne 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #172 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #74 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2013 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky Still Available

2005 Island Distillery 7 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Royal Lochnagar 10 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glendronach 18 Year Old Single PX Barrel Cask Strength Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1994 Benriach 19 Year Old Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1992 Longmorn 21 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1987 Mortlach 25 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Thursday
Jul222010

Maker's 46 - It's Good

I don't normally do reviews of new products, I realized today (unless it's something exclusive to us), but the Maker's 46 is a whiskey that people all over the world have been wildly anticipating.  If you didn't know, Maker's Mark was the only whiskey that MM made.  It had been their only product since they opened in 1959 - that's fifty years of the same thing over and over again.  Just the idea that they were toying with a new bourbon had people buzzing all over the blogosphere, and now that it's come to fruition there are many curious customers.  We simply couldn't wait for a sample to show up so we just popped one and poured ourselves a glass.  I was impressed - I expected it to be sweeter.

Maker's 46 is called "46" because of the catalog number given to the type of French oak used in the barrel stave aging process.  The whiskey is essentially the same as the normal MM, just aged addtionally with charred #46 planks added into the barrel.  The extra wood gives extra flavoring, much like John Glaser did recently with Compass Box's Spice Tree, and in this case it is to the benefit of the bourbon.  The flavors are rich and fat on the entry with a good load of vanilla and oak, but the higher proof (94) kicks in to help balance that out.  The whiskey is smooth, but not soft, and the wood flavor really jacks itself up on the finish where the complexity really hits you.  I got some faint banana flavors a few minutes after tasting.  

So, the point here is that Maker's 46 is good.  In fact, it's really good.  I'm happy that they succeeded with this project because I'm getting tired of the marketing blitz without the substance to justify it.  This is a bourbon I would happily recommend to our customers.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jul212010

New Club Whisky - Another Fantastic Murray McDavid

Well here we are again - another new Murray McDavid deal!  It's probably hard to keep getting excited about these, but they are such a consistant product and people really like them.  This is going to be my favorite of the bunch, but also the most controversial.  There's already a small disagreement brewing in the Redwood City store, however, I should say that the people who liked it are the people who really drink a lot of whisky.  Those who didn't like it are the more every other month, Speyside selection fans.  What that tells me so far is that this is for experienced drinkers only.  Here are my tasting notes:

Highland Park 14 Year Old, Murray McDavid, Chateau Lafite Cask Single Malt Whiskey $75.99 (CLUB PRICE $65.99) - Once again, Bruichladdich's Jim McEwan brings us another masterful bottling, blending legendary names from both the wine and whisky worlds.  This peach colored Highland Park expression has more smoke than the distillery bottlings do and when married with the exquisite claret influence of the Chateau Lafite barrels, the enhancement is truly marvelous.  Subtle hints of peat mark the entry before giving way to dried cherries and red fruits.  The mid-palate shows honey and then an earthy note before finishing rich and long, yet completely dry.  There is no kiss of sweetness to be found, only the classic campfire of the Island malts melded effortlessly with the flavor of Bordeaux's finest wine.  This is perhaps the most interesting and well-made of all the red wine enhanced whiskies we've seen so far.  An amazing whisky at a fantastic price.

I'm really curious to see how this one goes over.  I've tasted it four times now and each time I've liked it more than the previous one.  It keeps changing from peaty, to oily, to dried fruits, to earth and honey, to petrol and beyond.  It's the least obvious of the three MMc club whiskies, with the Springbank Yquem being universal and simple and the Bowmore rich and smoky.  This Highland Park is unlike any other HP I've ever tasted and that is the point of these bottlings, in my opinion: to bring something new to the table.  I have a feeling I'm going to get some flack for once from some of you, but I stand by my decision to go deep on this one.  I hope you all feel the same!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jul202010

Yet Another New Fantastic Gin...From The Shetlands!

Great bottle, great label, great reviews, great gin.  I'm not sure how much more gin we can sell, but who am I to decide when enough's enough? I'll leave that up to our cocktail-crazy customers, and in the mean time I'll keep supplying numbers and info.  I just got back from the distribution office down the street and got my first taste of the brand new Blackwood's Small Batch Gin $34.99.  Made on the Shetland Islands of the coast of Scotland, this vibrant and spicy gin is macerated in botanicals that are all indiginous to its home: elderflower, wild water mint, sea pink, juniper, meadow sweet, coriander, and violets.  It is also bottled at a whopping 95 proof so it is much more intense than your normal everyday gin.  The nose and palate are alive with pepper and juniper.  Gone are the citrus peel and lavender of the modern style, and in full effect is the kick.  This is a gin lover's gin for sure.  Double Gold Medal at the 2009 SF Spirits Festival.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jul202010

Maker's 46 - In Stores Tomorrow

I know there's been a big hoopla about this, so I thought I'd pass the word along that I just ordered it this morning and it should be delivered early tomorrow.  Maker's 46 is the first new product from Maker's Mark since their first bottling in 1958.  In that time they have created an exeptional new whiskey through innovative aging techniques once again.  This bourbon features a secondary aging using barrels containing "seared" french oak staves.  Adding a depth that is not matched by the original Maker's Mark.  John Hansell says, "This is original "Red Wax" Maker’s Mark bourbon 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 in addition to the majority of corn), is a rather mellow, easy-to-drink bourbon. The French Oak staves in "46" add firm, complex, dry spices (lead by warming cinnamon, followed by nutmeg and clove), herb (a suggestion of Green Chartreuse liqueur, perhaps?), and some polished leather "grip", which dovetails well with Maker’s trademark layered sweetness (caramel, vanilla, a hint of honey). I’m also picking up some dried fruit in the background.  The seared oak stave influence is somewhat aggressive but never to the point of being excessive. (Note: that this is a pre-release sample with a smaller batch size than the ultimate final bottled product. There could be a slight variation in the flavor profile with the final product. If there is, I will adjust my tasting notes and rating.)" 90 pts - Advanced Malt Advocate Score.

David Driscoll

 

Monday
Jul192010

Is The Best Tequila Blanco Really From Charbay?

I hold traditional white tequila as the last bastion of the fight against liquor gentrification.  Why does everything have to be smooth, and soft, and gentle instead of flavorful?  Camper English wrote a fantastic article a while back on his website Alcademics about tequila being the new vodka, and after tasting some of the "hot" new products today it's so clear that this is the case.  Tequila is becoming a lifestyle product for rich guys with big egos who want to make more money, so they decide to start up their own brand of alcohol.  It used to be flashy designer vodka (remember the Donald Trump vodka?) but now it's all about Mexico - likely due to the cheaper labor and the success of Patron.  Tequila must be made in Jalisco, Mexico so these guys don't actually do any of the producing, but rather just the label designing.  They hire workers at a co-op to make a tequila and then buy it from them, slap a label on it, and send it over to marketing to start the advertising blitz.  I'm so tired of this trend I could honestly scream, mostly because I love Mexico, mexicans (my wife included), tequila, and cultural tradition, but also because these guys don't care about booze.  You can tell because their tequila tastes like watered down agave with vanilla and cream.

Just when I thought I'd never see another fantastic blanco again (besides Los Osuna which isn't technically tequila), in walks my Southern rep with a sample bottle of Charbay's take on silver tequila.  Even though I recognize Marko's talent as a distiller, the Charbay products (mostly fruit injected vodkas and liqueurs) have never been my thing.  I think they are all well made and they never seem to cut any corners, but I just don't drink vanilla Tahitian rum or green tea vodka.  However, Marko has a passion for doing things all the way, so when I heard that he travels to Mexico once a year to make a batch of tradtional blanco tequila, my ears perked up.  This spirit is personally double-distilled in Arandas, Mexico, by Miles and Marko, in small Copper Alambiques Tequilano Pot Stills, the Blue Agave is hand selected by Jimadoras, baked for four days to transform the fresh Agave into fermented "Mosto," which is then crushed and pressed and ready for fermentation in small wood fermenters. Once the Mosto ferments into a dry Mosto Muerte, it is ready to be distilled.

The result is simply fantastic.  The balance achieved in almost surreal - the pepper, agave, citrus, and spice all dance on the palate with plenty of heat and lots of tang!  The nose is a tequila fan's dream - plenty of floral elements in play with the agave never losing itself in the barrage of aromas.  I had to take three tastes to really believe what I was tasting.  Not everyone here thought it was a great as I did, but that's because I am prejudiced.  I know exactly what I am looking for with tequila and Charbay has hit the nail squarely on the head.  Tequila should be an extension of authentic mexican cuisine - it should be spicy, flavorful, and expressive!  Like my wife always says, "who wants to eat bland meat and potatoes when you could be eating carnitas tacos?" 

To drink a new world tequila with gobs of oak, vanilla, and soft textures is to eat at Chevy's.  I'd rather be at the taco truck on the corner of Middlefield in Redwood City.  Thank the lord that Charbay feels the same way because I now what I'm buying for the fiesta from now on.

-David Driscoll