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Back in the 1970's we went by the name "K&L Liquors" and while some things have changed, our dedication to bringing you the finest spirits remains the same. We have the familiar names at great prices, but do yourself a favor and try some of the interesting and unique top picks we've located. Inventory listings are updated in real time. Find out why Time Magazine said we provide "good value and selection."
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K&L Staff Recommendations
The magnificent Casa Dragones has been blowing it up in the high-end tequila market. They've finally made their exquisite low-land tequila available to the masses. This surprisingly approachable blanco has all the finesse and structure of the Joven, but without the sweet vanilla and spice oak. Those shows tons of apple and pear, with slight whiffs of the minerally vegetable that we expect from a lowland. On the palate it's clean and bright with lovely sweet fruit and only a slight cracked pepper quality. Ultimately, a fine follow up to a very difficult t... Read More »
93 points Whisky Advocate: "This is what I wish the standard Maker’s Mark would be: more mature, spicier, more complex, and with a richer finish. Caramel kissed with honey provides a base for marzipan, cotton candy, cinnamon, clove, and a balancing leather dryness on the finish. (JH, Winter 2014)" K&L Notes: Kentucky's most popular wheated bourbon that isn't called "Pappy," Maker's Mark has long been famous for using winter wheat as the flavor grain (along with the majority of corn) instead of the ubiquitous rye. The only thing that ever kept Maker's Mark from capturing the hearts of serious bo... Read More »
93 points Whisky Advocate: "The 120 year old sherry house Lustau originally operated as an almacenista, but now produces a broad portfolio of wine styles in Jerez. The nose is intensely fragrant, bursting with fat dates and squidgy prunes, red apple and Battenburg cake. It’s fruity, yet bone dry, with oak, walnut, and spices. This is full-bodied yet refined Redbreast: the Spanish oak sherry butts shaping the red berry fruits, apples, marzipan, and creamy yet oily consistency. Clean, sweet oloroso finish. Qué delicioso! (JM, Winter 2016)" K&L Notes: Winner of the Whisky Advocates 2016 "Irish Whi... Read More »
While the market for mature casks of single malt Islay whisky has dried up over the last year, there are a number of value barrels like this 6 year sherry hogshead release from Old Malt Cask that emphasizes the youthful fruit and smoke of the famed island stalwart rather than richness of age. The refill sherry hogshead accents the inherent roundness of Caol Ila quite splendidly and at 100 proof there's enough potency to push the peat and the salt through all that creaminess. Those looking for a concentrated and unique single barrel experience will be ple... Read More »
Codigo 1530 is private recipe tequila that has been contracted by a family in Los Cabos for almost a decade, before finally becoming a commercial product in the U.S. Made at NOM 1500 by Tequileria las Juntas, the product was nameless for many years, exisiting solely as the house brand for family members and friends. Now availalble for the first time in retailers, Codigo brings an exciting and diverse line up of unique tequilas to a market that's long been saturated by similar products. The Codigo rosa is an expressive and flavorful tequila just like the ... Read More »
Pernod's distinctive flavor comes from the distillation of star anise with a number of aromatic herbs and plants. The original Pernod was an absinthe, though because of the controversy that surrounded the drink of Picasso, Baudelaire and Van Gogh, the ingredient responsible for the drink's hallucinatory effect was banned. Now absinthe free, this legendary product has become one of the best-known digestifs available today.
This blanco is wonderfully supple with butterscotch flavors that come from the five day fermentation of the agave. There is no barrel aging yet it tastes so rich! Guillermo Erickson Sauza, a fifth-generation family member, produces Tequila Fortaleza, using traditional techniques. This is a beautifully hand-crafted, stone-milled tequila. Tequila Fortaleza is produced entirely within the walls of their estate, using centuries-old traditional methods which, although very labor intensive, create a tequila which is unequaled in taste and smoothness. Using an ... Read More »
Using a wine base of Piemonte Moscato, this secret family recipe was developed over the last century by the Bosca Family. Using cardoon, Blessed thistle and several other botanicals, the Cardamaro is one of the most unique and interesting amaro currently available. An absolutely fantastic price for a high quality, delicious amaro and a fantastic gateway into this world of Italian bitters.
Here we have the Reposado offering from this new brand released by heavy hitters George Clooney, Rande Gerber, and Michael Meldman. These guys have definitely brought something more to the table than your average celebrity spirits brand. Clearly someone involved has some decent taste, because the juice is solid. NOM 1416 is well known to produce high quality distillate. This repo hits all the right notes, agave aromatics on the nose, with subtle exotic spices. On the palate, wisps of vanilla and a creamy oakiness are front and center, but not to the poin... Read More »
"Tapatio" is a word that refers to a man from Jalisco, the Tequila-producing state in Mexico. In this case, it refers to Don Felipe Camarena, who opened the La Alteña distillery in 1937 where his grandchildren now make Tapatio tequila. The family has roots of making tequila that reach back to the 1800s, but the family's destillery was destroyed during the Mexican Revolution. The blanco is wonderfully vibrant with plenty of spice and a clean finish. Wonderful for sipping or for a killer margarita.
Bryan Davis from Lost Spirits is back again; this time with a new navy-style rum at 61%. Distilled on his brand new copper still from Grade A molasses, then aged in new American oak treated with sherry, the spirit offers a classic rum profile with that trademark hint of funkiness that we've come to depend on from Mr. Davis and of course utilizes his special aging techniques. It's familiar and likeable, yet unique and out-of-the-ordinary. It's everything we've seen from Bryan in the past, but improved upon and cleaner than ever. Imagine the Smith & Cross ... Read More »
Our friends at Douglas Laing in Glasgow, with whom we do the Old Particular bottlings, have put together a series of regional malt blends that wonderfully showcase the stylistic flavor profiles of Scotlands main whisky producing sectors. Not only are the whiskies accurate reflections of a dying era in Scotch whisky production, they're some of the tastiest and most enjoyable whiskies we've discovered in ages. The Scallywag is the Speyside entry in the series and uses whiskies from Macallan, Mortlach, and Glenrothes to create a sherry-matured delight. It's... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The base aroma is buttered corn-on-the-cob with aeration bringing additional scents of vanilla and cinnamon. The palate entry showcases sweet breakfast cereal grain; at midpalate the corn dominates so thoroughly that you know that this could only be one of the best straight bourbons from Kentucky. Ends spirity and heated. One of America’s benchmark spirits." (12/2007) Wine Spectator: "It's a doughnut nose: a sweet dusting of cinnamon and corn, with a touch of vanilla. Maker's is a bright, delicate balance of corn and cinnamon, with just enough oaky spice coming along in th ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "After regular maturation, this Scotch is “extra matured” in former rum casks. The end result layers rich, mouth-coating dried apricot, honey and Sherry notes on top of Balvenie's usual caramel and light peat profile. It finishes flavorful, though with a distinct burst of alcohol warmth. (KN)" (12/2015) Whisky Advocate: "A new addition to the permanent Balvenie range. Lovely bright gold color. Layers of sweetness (the characteristic Balvenie honey, along with vanilla fudge, nougat, and rich toffee) peppered with dried spice and a hint of tropical fruit (papaya, guava, tanger ...Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The first aromatic blast is seductively anise-like, then it mellows, turning softer, more herbal, and plumper. At palate entry the intensely bitter taste of anise both enlivens and cleanses the palate; at midpalate the pleasant sting of alcohol and the zest of rooty/woodsy botanicals make for memorable imbibing. Finishes elegant and smooth." (10/2005) K&L Notes: While the prohibition of absinthe in 1915 put a damper on wormwood spirits, it created a market for anise-flavored liqueurs like Ricard. With its characteristic licorice flavor, Ricard is a light and refreshi... Read More »
This tequila is aged two to three years in oak barrels and has a beautiful silky smooth character that does anejo right: rich, but not cloyingly sweet. Guillermo Erickson Sauza, a fifth-generation family member, produces Tequila Fortaleza, using traditional techniques. This is a beautiful artisan hand-crafted, stone milled tequila. Tequila Fortaleza is produced entirely within the walls of their estate, using centuries old traditional methods which, although are very labor intensive, create a tequila which is unequaled in taste and smoothness. Using an o... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The warm and fruity scent is reminiscent of fresh apples drizzled with caramel. On the palate, spicy cinnamon leads, softening to caramel midpalate and finishing with sizzling cinnamon, clove and cayenne pepper. Adjusted with water, a saline note emerges, creating a pleasing salted caramel-like sipper. (KN)" (7/2015) K&L Notes: One of America's finest and most authentic rye whiskey. Great price for an excellent 6 year Rye.
90 points Whisky Advocate: "This straddles the existing Sherry Oak and Fine Oak ranges by being a mix of spirit matured in both European and American oak sherry casks. Earthy sherry and old leather on the nose, with toffee, polished oak, and cherry blossom. Medium to full-bodied, with sherry, orange, cocoa, nutty vanilla, and developing wood spices on the honeyed palate. The finish is creamy, with insistent spices, cocoa, and tangy oak. (GS, Spring 2017)" K&L Notes: Macallan's latest release is a 12-year-old "double cask" malt, meaning the whisky spent time in both sherry-seasoned new American ... Read More »
Suze Gentiane Liqueur is a bitter aperitif that has been produced in France since 1889, but we're just getting it at K&L now! Lightly sweet with plenty of gentian bitterness, this is the perfect ingredient for a white negroni, or just plain soda water.
La Gritona is the brain child of prolific hardcore guitarist Andy Coronado. It's a big leap from hardcore punk to old school tequila, but what Andy did right was focus on authenticity at a reasonable price. Then he put it in one of the most distinctive bottles you'll ever see and began hawking it out of the back of his van. He searched for the perfect partner and eventually settled on the small Vinos y Licoreras Azteca to produce this special reposado. They start with mature highland agave and slow roast in traditional clay and brick ovens. After crushin... Read More »
The magical and rustic Domaine de Baraillon returns with two new vintages that remind us once again why this tiny farm in the town of Lannemaignan should be considered one of the world's finest producers of Armagnac. Monsieur Claverie cultivates his tiny vineyards by hand and distilling on his own still just as his father did before him. The Domaine is run by Monsieur Claverie and his daughter both of whom spend time in the vineyards, but equally so tending to the ducks, pigs and other produce. The Claverie family has been situated on this site since 174... Read More »
The Springbank 10 year old is the perfect whisky to introduce you to this distiller's range. Matured in Sherry and Bourbon casks, this is a richly balanced expression. Pear scents are accented by notes of cereal, vanilla and smoky peat. The palate is malty, with baking spice and vanilla flavors, ending with a hint of salinity.
Hot on the heels of the tremendous success from the Doublewood 12, Balvenie is reaching further into its wonderful aged stock and releasing a double-matured single malt from 17 year old casks. First aged in ex-Bourbon casks then finished for another spell in ex-sherry casks, this is the richest and smoothest expression from Balvenie we've seen in a while. Big flavors of cakebread, cinnamon, fresh baking spices, and butterscotch that move over the palate at a slow crawl, but it's never overtly sweet or cloying. The flavors are very much grounded in single... Read More »
This most recent batch of Springbank's fan favorite 12 year old cask strength is right in line with what the distillery does best: hints of amontillado sherry on the nose with savory almond notes and accents of caramelized fruit. The richness and the viscosity of the malt make this a standout on the shelf. While Springbank's whisky always demands a premium price, it's easy to see why people are willing to pay it. That faint whisper of smoke on the finish with the phenolic, oily finale is absolutely delicious.
The Ohishi distillery is located on the banks of the Kuma River, one Japan's fastest flowing rivers. The distillery was founded in 1872 and produces some of the most exciting whisky coming out of Japan. Ohishi grows at least 30% of the rice that they distill, and the fertile soils and exceptional growing climate make for some of the finest base ingredients available. The strain of rice is called "gohyakumanishi" (meaning "five million stones"), and an organic method of cultivation is utilized that requires the use of koi carp for weed control. The rest o... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Grand Marnier—or “GrandMa,” as some cocktail geeks gleefully shorthand it—remains one of the classics. Although it’s Cognac-based, it’s a versatile match for other spirits, too. The liqueur is extremely aromatic, with lots of sweet and bitter orange notes exploding out of the glass. Look for a warm, honeyed flavor and a nice burst of orange peel and spicy cinnamon and ginger on the long finish. (KN)" (2/2012) K&L Notes: The original. Grand Marnier was created in 1880 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle (and the Lapostolle family still owns the company) as a blend o... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This potato-based vodka from a small-scale Pennsylvania producer provides a versatile canvas for a wide array of drinks. With its lightly fruity aromas and flavors and a clean finish, it's also lovely neat. (KN)" (11/2012) K&L Notes: This is a small batch vodka made in Pennsylvania from locally grown potatoes by two guys using a copper still. The result is a softer, creamier style of vodka that is milder on the palate than most. This is vodka made by people who really care about quality and precision, and that's obvious at first sip. F. Paul Pacult's Spirits Journal ... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This is burnished gold in color, with a sweet vanilla-almond aroma and bold, rounded flavors that suggest oak, vanilla and almond. The finish is slightly hot, with cinnamon and orange peel notes rounding it out. Made in Indiana, bottled in Kentucky. (KN)" (7/2016) Whisky Advocate: "The back label of this whiskey describes it as 'feisty,' and feisty it is! Brandishing 95% rye (another Canadian flavoring whisky that was diverted?), bottled at 46%, and at a relatively young age (around two years old), this whiskey lets you know you are alive. It’s very spicy, with ...Read More »
We just picked up an exciting new local distiller called Venus Spirits, located in nearby Santa Cruz. Sean Venus has taken over the old Sarticious space and installed his own 600 liter Spanish alembic still to make a number of interesting concoctions. It's a snappy, fresh, citrus-oriented spirit at a very good price point. The creaminess of the gin is quite lovely and the lavender comes strong on the finish. Certified organic as well, so all of the botanicals come from a good place. Easily one of the most-polished and easy-to-like small production gins w... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Visually appealing pale flax color. Bouquet offers seductive aromas of almonds, crushed violets, truffles and dark caramel at all nosing stages. Palate entry taste is focused on the fruit, which is more tropical (pineapple) than grape-like; midpalate experience is extraordinarily complex as flavors of black pepper, old oak, spirit, lead pencil and red fruit disarm the taste buds. Finishes dense, multilayered and medium-long. A textbook Cognac. Best Buy." (7/2006) K&L Notes: Delamain is perhaps the most British of all the great Cognac houses. They are known for their ... Read More »
Ocho's tequilas are made by Felipe Camarena, a third-generation Tequilero, and each vintage--yes, these are vintage designated tequilas--comes from a single estate with its own mesoclimate, making these the most terroir-driven tequilas on the market.
From the people who brought you Cocchi Americano and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, comes the brand new rose colored, quinine-flavored, aperitif wine you've been anxiously waiting for. The Cocchi Americano Rosa has the lush mouthfeel and weight of a sweet vermouth, the fruit of a sangria, and the spice of a mulled wine, finishing with a tingle of bitterness on the tongue. It's absolutely delicious. Time to make a rose-colored gin martini!
Whisky Advocate: "Unlike the Knob Creek bourbons (which are 9 years old), there’s no age statement with this new rye, which tastes relatively younger. It’s bracing, vibrant, and spicy. (The rye contribution is unmistakable.) Cinnamon spice and crisp mint dominate, with charcoal, botanicals, ginger, nutmeg, honeyed fruit, vanilla, and caramel. Warming spice finish. Its dynamic personality should shine in cocktails, but from a sipping, drinking neat perspective, I wish it was a little older like its siblings. (Summer 2012)" Wine Enthusiast: "Look for a dry, distinctly oaky, toasty profile, wit ...Read More »
This lovely new gin from the Raff Distillery on Treasure Island celebrates the lives of the two most famous dogs in San Francisco history. Luckily for us, it does not take its flavors from the same story! Instead, they begin with 100% grape brandy from California. This is redistilled with a wonderful mixture of botanicals, including juniper berries, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon bark, and licorice root. The product is an fully balanced, yet full powered gin with spicy undertones and a subtle finish. J... Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "Plenty of color, and the nose says it ain’t lying. Sharp warehouse oak aroma puts an edge on an authoritative nose of honey, Indian pudding, spicy hard candy, and old-fashioned root beer, the not-too-sugary kind. Fiery and bold on the tongue as oak roars from start to finish, but the sweetness builds sip-by-sip: cornbread, buckwheat honey, King syrup, and a teasy bit of citrus peel. Long finish as the oak dies down. At this price, let’s keep it our secret. Sourced whiskey. (Fall 2015)" K&L Notes: Made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd, which run by the Kulsveen fam... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Despite the mild licorice scent, this clear, thick liqueur is surprisingly bold on the palate, showing lots of candy-like black licorice. It feels quite fiery, especially with repeated sips. (KN)" (4/2014)
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Whisky Advocate: "Using barley grown on Rockside Farm, this is fresh, sweet (agave syrup), delicate, and lightly buttery, with touches of lily of the valley and lemon sponge cake mix. The cereal character is restrained, with a charred hint on the palate along with banana, mandarin, cassia, and pink marshmallows (untoasted). The Laddie’s floral notes emerge late, and the whiff of white pepper on the end is all there is to remind you of its youth. A classy young whisky. (DB, Winter 2013)" K&L Notes: Named for the famous distillery in the town of the same name, the new Islay Barley versi... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The name says it all: this Scotch is blended from 'a shovelful' of Islay single malts, including Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen—producers of some of the peatiest Scotches around. The bold iodine aroma is like breathing salt air at the seashore, and is just subtly smoky. On the palate, expect fleeting vanilla sweetness followed by a huge rush of peat smoke, which pulls back to finish with campfire s’mores and bitter chocolate notes." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Our friends at Douglas Laing in Glasgow, with whom we do the Old Particular bottlings, have put together ... Read More »
From the producer: "Starting with a California white wine base, we fortify the wine using neutral grape spirits. Then we add grape concentrate and cane sugar for a rich mouth feel and a sweet finish. Predominant aromas of sweet citrus fruit with hints of ginger, exotic flowers and spices are supported by a framework of cinchona bark and bitter root extracts. Adds refreshing fruit flavors and crisp bitterness to a variety of cocktails. Pairs especially well with sparkling wine and aged spirits."
Inventory: San Francisco
Our friends at Douglas Laing in Glasgow, with whom we do the Old Particular bottlings, have put together a series of regional malt blends that wonderfully showcase the stylistic flavor profiles of Scotlands main whisky producing sectors. Not only are the whiskies accurate reflections of a dying era in Scotch whisky production, they're some of the tastiest and most enjoyable whiskies we've discovered in ages. The Rock Oyster is an Island blend that uses whisky from the Arran and Jura distilleries, along with other malts from the islands of Islay and Orkne... Read More »
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "Strong but intriguing. Medium color and body, with rich aromas of burnt orange and caramel. The flavors also reflected burnt orange and caramel, plus a spicy tinge reminiscent of cassia bark or Red-Hot candies. The finish lingers, pleasant, inviting and warm. Might be good for Manhattans--a touch of fruit or sweetness would go well with this rye." (11/2010) 95 points Whisky Advocate: "A blend of two whiskeys; a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye. These are very high percentages; a straight rye whiskey only needs to contain 51% rye to meet the definition ...Read More »
Guillermo Erickson Sauza is a fifth generation tequila maker who hand-crafts beautiful, artisanal tequila at his century-old estate. His tartabuelo (great-great-grandfather) Don Cenobio was the first person to export tequila to the US, way back in the 1860s, starting his own brand in the 1870s. That tequila (Sauza) was passed down the generations before being sold by Guillermo's grandfather in 1976. Tequila Fortaleza is a return to his roots, and to the traditional methods, including the use of a stone mill called a Tahona to crush the agave, a small, co... 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, it 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, are still in operation and produce a number of amazing flavors. The 15 year old draws its core flavor from the use of the distillery's historic wooden pot stills -- the Port Mourant... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Enthusiast: "The mild aroma hints at green bell peppers; the flavor also has a distinct vegetal note, mixing bell and jalapeño peppers along with agave. Finishes long, with white pepper and ginger sparks. (KN)" (11/2014) K&L Notes: Espolón tequila is finally back in the U.S. with a fantastic new package and a new unbelievable price. The label is an ultra-cool "Dia de los Muertos" style mural, which immediately catches the eye. The price tag is more than reasonable, so that's two for two. If you actually get around to tasting it, then you're going to experience the ultimate trifec... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This Speyside Scotch is rich with vanilla notes, along with bright tropical fruit and a touch of smoke on the finish. (KN)" (12/2013) K&L Notes: This is a great introduction to the Glenfarclas style. This Highland distillery's 12 year is aged in sherry casks and has a nose and palate with spice and sherried fruit, with hints of peat and a lingering spiciness.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Made with 10 internationally sourced botanicals--Seville orange peel, Italian orris root, et al.--this gin rings with plenty of juniper and licorice upfront, followed by lavender and citrus peel. Finishes smooth and mellow. (KN)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: 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 dist... Read More »
The new release of Anchor's highly sought-after straight rye. Bottled at slightly higher proof this year, but, as usual, this whiskey was aged for 3.5 years in new charred oak barrels. Very limited.
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, it 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. The complex and ethereal 21 year uses heavy-bodied rums from the EHP Coffey still (a wooden column built in the 1800s)... Read More »
91 points Whisky Advocate: "After last year's pot still triple whammy from Irish Distillers, we couldn't expect any more, could we? Could we? Step forward Yellow Spot, which seems to hold the view that if you can't beat 'em, don't get in the ring; go and pick a fight somewhere else. The pot still green apple and nutmeg notes are there on the nose and palate, but the nose also has vanilla and marzipan. On the palate the whiskey trips off to Speyside with sweetness, citrus zest, and pepper. Another game changer. (Fall 2012)" K&L Notes: The big brother to the illustrious Green Spot, the Yellow Spo... Read More »