New Four Roses Single Barrel

Part of my selections from my last trip to Kentucky the wonderful Four Roses distillery has sent us yet another stellar cask bottled exclusively for K&L. This special high rye bourbon (the "B" mashbill has 35% Rye grain) uses the spicy and delicately fruity "V" yeast strain was aged for 8 years and 7 months in the coveted M warehouse. Located on the 4th tier on the western side of this large low lying dunnage style warehouse means this cask has seen more intense heat than the majority of the casks being aged at the Coxs Creek facility on the road between Louisville and Bardstown. The result is one of the highest proof 4Rs we've seen yet, but a tiny drop of water mellows the intense spice while retaining the bold creamy texture of this special whiskey.  

Four Roses "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel OBSV (Aged 8 Years & 7 Months) Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey $64.99 - Two decades ago Kentucky bourboners were struggling to stay in business. Today, nobody can keep up with demand, and the bourbon distilleries are producing at full blast. It's true that we might not see the great old whiskeys of yesteryear for some time, but that doesn't negate the fact that absolutely stunning whiskey is coming out of Kentucky. Distillers are more collectively focused on the quality of their straight bourbons than ever. Back in January 2009, when Mr. Rutledge was distilling this very cask of whiskey, Kentucky's fortunes had already begun to turn. Many decades of decline for the country's most quintessential tipple were subsiding and the Bluegrass state had entered its current renaissance period. Things changed during this period for the consumer. No longer could ultra-aged bourbons be procured without ordeal, but those same distilleries were still producing some of American history's best whiskey day after day across Kentucky. Today we reap those benefits. This special bourbon, distilled from the flagship V yeast strain and the extra high rye mash bill, is the perfect example of how special the production at this Lawrenceburg facility was during the period. A nose of incredible power and spice, bold notes of fresh mint and sweet stewed stone fruit, exotic honey and baking spice. The palate is bold and spice driven replacing the grace of a typical cask with intensity and power.

-David Othenin-Girard


A Shocker From Deanston

While Deanston has never been a house hold name in the whisky world, even with the genre's most knowledgeable fans, it's long been a part of the Bunnahabhain/Tobermorey company portfolio now owned by the Distell group and a large chunk of the Highland whisky goes into the blend Scottish Leader, which sells quite well outside the states. Deanston has never been all that successful at K&L. I've carried it from time to time when there's room, but it's never put out anything exciting that I've tasted. Most of the time the whiskies I've experienced are dependable, but forgettable. 

However, that all changed earlier this week when I tasted Deanston's new 10 and 20 year old sherry-aged malts. 

I was downright floored by the new 10 year old PX sherry cask finished edition, bottled at a whopping 57.5% ABV with a sweet sherry note that is simply gorgeous. There's no doubt about which of their competitors they have in their sights with this new release. It's priced and crafted perfectly to square off with the Aberlour A'Bunadh, one of the boldest, sherry-matured whiskies on the market and one that we plow through here at K&L on a regular basis. That being said, Deanston has the advantage here for a number of reasons: the PX sherry butts give it a fruitier, sweeter edge than the Aberlour and the 10 year age statement is a huge bonus for whisky fans who like knowing exactly how old their malt is. Full of caramel and sticky toffee pudding on the nose, the palate explodes with dried figs and rancio notes, but the core flavors of the vanilla from the malt are never lost. This was a total shocker for our spirits department and we responded by loading up on our inventory. It's a bold step forward for one of Scotland's most overlooked distilleries.

Deaston's new 20 year Oloroso sherry-aged release, however, will draw comparisons to Glenfarclas and Aberlour with its concentrated caramel and rancio sherry notes and supreme decadence. More savory on the finish than sweet, it's one of the best new releases from the distillery that I've ever tasted (I still give the nod to the 10 year). Bottled at 55.5%, it's got plenty of heft, but it carries that power surprisingly well. If you want something more saturated with sherry, go with this. But if you want that sweet, fruity PX sherry note, the 10 will really surprise you.

I absolutely love it when something like this happens. I love seeing underachievers over-achieve!! Maybe it's the former elementary school teacher in me.

Deanston 10 Year Old PX Sherry Finish Highland Single Malt Whisky $59.99

Deanston 20 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Aged Highland Single Malt Whisky $159.99

-David Driscoll


New Fukano Editions

As the Fukano brand continues to develop, the whiskies from the Kumamoto Prefecture are not only getting more precise in their balance and concentration of flavor, but they're also getting older. We've got our first ever Fukano single barrel with an age statement—12 years old—as well as another sensational sherry cask that should make sweet Oloroso chasers very happy. Both are distilled from rice as is the case with all the Fukano editions. I thought both made welcome additions to our Japanese spirits shelf.

Fukano "Sherry Cask" Japanese Whisky $89.99 - Fukano's rice whiskies continue to populate our shelves here at K&L and the latest Sherry Cask release gives Oloroso fans heaps of what they love: rich, saturated, sweet sherry goodness with a textural mouthfeel and plenty of raisined richness on the finish. While the rice component of the spirit gets lost under all that decadence, fans of the genre won't care. It's a perfect vehicle for those who love opulence!

Fukano 12 Year Old Single Cask Japanese Whisky $99.99 - Fukano's first rice whisky with an age statement is another impressive addition to a line-up that has been a big success thus far at K&L. Full of oak flavor and plenty of vanilla from the extended time in wood, this doesn't have the sweetness or the extra heft that some of Fukano sherry matured editions have exhibited, but the balance is much more in line with what one would expect from a classic malt whisky. It's another fun and curious look into the future of rice spirits from Japan.

-David Driscoll


The Real McCoy

It's funny to watch how the term "the real McCoy" has evolved over the last century because I never knew it had anything to do with rum until I started working in the spirits business, despite the fact that I had definitely used it over the course of my life in reference to something genuine. Bill McCoy was a rum runner during the Prohibition years and his secret stash was known for its high quality, never adulterated with chemicals or various other substitutes to stretch or disguise the quality of the hooch. Hence the term: "the real McCoy." It therefore makes sense that a rum company would want to use that famous name and reputation with their own label, and it makes even more sense that said company would want to work with Foursquare distillery on the island of Barbados, a facility praised both for its transparency and pureness when it comes to rum. 

The Real McCoy 12 year old is one of the best new value rums I've tasted over the last year because, unlike some of the beefier Foursquare editions I've tasted in 2017, this is session rum—as in you could have three or four glasses in a single sitting and still get up the next morning for work. I'm definitely a fan of cask strength rums, single barrel editions, and oddball pot distillates when we get them, but the simple truth is that I'll probably drink ten bottles of the Real McCoy 12 year before I ever finish the one bottle of Foursquare Criterion I bought simply due to its price and practicality. While the big, bold, barrel strength flavors dominate the geekier end of the rum and whiskey spectrum, the majority of people I know who shop specifically for rum at K&L ask me the same question over and over: is it smooth? When it comes to the Real McCoy 12 year, not only is it as smooth as silk, it achieves that soft and silky texture naturally, without the use of added sugar or sweeteners. Aged entirely in American oak ex-Bourbon barrels, it drinks much like an older version of the Mount Gay XO with extra weight and richness from the wood. There are gobs of barrel spices, orange peel, cloves, and molasses notes on the finish. 

And the price is definitely a fair one. I'd add this to your short list of every day drinkers. If you're looking for the rarest, most exotic rum on the market to impress your tiki buddies, this isn't the bottle. But if you're in search of a delicious, real deal, affordable, unadulterated bottle of classically-flavored rum, this is one of the best new additions to the shelf. As someone who wants to cut back on my sugar intake, it will likely replace the El Dorado 12 year as my new house rum. 

Foursquare Distillery Real McCoy 12 Year Old Single Blended Barbados Rum $39.99

-David Driscoll


Who Do You Think We Are, Ted Danson?

Recognize this store? Ironically, we don't have any Smirnoff!

-David Driscoll