Winter is Coming

It's December. We're starting to feel the chill of winter in the dark morning air and the early evening sunset. We need strong drink to fortify our souls for the cold months ahead. Luckily, we've got you covered. We've got so much new booze here in the K&L spirits department that if we did an email and blog post every single day from now until Christmas, that still wouldn't cover it. Hence, I'm going to have to double-up; maybe even triple-up some of these new release announcements. Just in from Kentucky and the Four Roses warehouse are two of the best single casks we've received in years. I mean that wholeheartedly. I can't remember a time when I had two casks of Four Roses that were this distinct, rich, and completely different from one another. There have been times when we've had four casks or more simultaneously and there wasn't much of a difference between any of them, but that's not the case here. These two whiskies are night and day. I also can't remember two barrels that tasted this much like what their formulaic descriptors have spelled out on the Four Roses recipe chart. The OESK is dead-on: creamy, rich, full-boded, and full of caramel. The OBSQ is brimming with rye spice, dark cocoa, and a flutter of floral notes on the finish. They are both beasts at 59 and 60% ABV, but both mask that power with balanced richness. 

Four Roses 9 Year, 10 Month Old "K&L Exclusive" OESK Single Barrel Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon $64.99 - This barrel of Four Roses formula OESK is one of the sweetest and roundest selections we've snagged from the distillery in years. With the swirl of sweet wood and vanilla that overtakes your palate right from the first sip, never in a million years would you dream this Bourbon was 118.6 proof. The E means we're dealing with a 75% corn mashbill, with only 20% rye and 5% malted barley. The K refers to one of ten yeast strains used at Four Roses, this one happens to produce light caramel notes and a full-bodied spirit. Both are true in this case. This single cask produced a rich and round whiskey, one that glides over the tongue with gentle baking spices and accents of vanilla, caramel, and oak. Again, whereas other barrels we've selected have woodier or peppery elements and distinct notes of pencil lead, herbaceousness, or dried oak, there is absolutely zero of that savory element at play in the OESK Bourbon at hand. This Bourbon is as smooth as silk from front the back and it's a style that should appeal to any drinker of any style, especially those who normally prefer wheated Bourbons for their lack of peppery rye notes. If you're planning to mix up holiday cocktails, this particular Four Roses packs all that winter spice and warming richness inherently.

Four Roses 9 Year, 6 Month Old "K&L Exclusive" OBSQ Single Barrel Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon $64.99 - Our latest edition of OBSQ encapsulates everything Bourbon drinkers love about higher rye recipes; namely, the combination of richness and peppery spice that act as the yin and yang of a balanced American whiskey. The B in OBSK means we're dealing with a 60% corn, 35% rye Four Roses mashbill (the other 5% the standard malted barley addition), and you can taste every bit of that formula at play. The first sip brings a wave of dark cocoa and polished wood without any of the floral aromas that the Q yeast strain is known to propagate. The nose is more of the same: big toasted oak aromas, straight down the middle. The rye spice really pops on the palate and at 61% the whiskey almost tastes like a cask strength version of Blanton's or Elmer T. Lee with the character of the rye in clear focus. The finish is where you start to taste the floral elements of the yeast and they combine with the wood to create a spicy and lingering memory. Fans of rye spice and rye whiskey will want to take note of this selection. It's one of the most classically-flavored Four Roses casks we've purchased in recent memory.

We've also got a single cask of High West Double Rye aged an extra year and a half in a Manhattan cocktail barrel and bottled at 101 proof. 

High West "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel 101 Proof Double Rye Whiskey $49.99 - Our newest private selection from High West is 101 proof version of their standard Double Rye that was matured for an additional year and a half in cask previously used to marry their Barrel-Aged Manhattan formula. What you get are the remnants of the vermouth and the sweet spices of that cocktail, ever so slightly highlighting the edges of the pumped-up rye character. The nose is full of sweet baking spices like cloves and cinnamon, while the palate showcases more of the traditional rye flavors like dill and pepper. The texture is what separates this High West rye selection from other rye whiskies we carry. It's mild and mellow from front to finish with light woody notes that act as a conduit for the whiskey's shape. Those who want something easy-drinkin', creamy, and soft, this is still the whiskey for you even with the 101 proof. Those looking to make a Manhattan will find the basic core elements of that cocktail already in place and cemented into the whiskey's core.

If that's not classically rye enough for you, I just backed up the truck on what is perhaps my favorite American rye whiskey: the Russell's Reserve Single Barrel 104 proof. We've been out of stock for more than six months, but finally reserves have landed to help save the day.

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Rye Whiskey $69.99 - Finally, after almost eight years of a serious Kentucky rye shortage, Wild Turkey has finally given us whiskey fans something to get excited about that we can actually get! Introducing the new Russell's Reserve single barrel rye whiskey: a 104 proof blast of old-school Kentucky rye flavor, meandering from dill and fresh-baked German rye bread, into a sweeter kiss of toasted oak and soft vanilla. It's never boring, however. The palate is rooted in spice and a never-ending tingly sensation on your tongue that completely differentiates it from the Wild Turkey Bourbons. Real, compelling Kentucky rye whiskey is back on the shelf at K&L, available full time. No bottle limits, no raffles, no scouring the internet to track down your allocation.

We're just getting started. There's much, much more to come.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll