Kick-start Bourbon Season with Three Amazing K&L Exclusives – American Whiskey News

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Kick-start Bourbon Season with Three Amazing Exclusives

The light at the end of the bourbon shortage tunnel is finally growing brighter. While options and age statements have disappeared from the broad market over the last few years, the strong relationships K&L has built over the past decade have paid off in the ability to continue sourcing extremely high-quality bourbon casks. With everyone scrambling to increase production capacity, we are finally entering a new era of availability in premium single casks. Our recent Kentucky adventures yielded a record 20 casks, some from producers we haven’t seen a barrel from in years, which we will be rolling out all summer long. Fortunately, to kick-start bourbon season we have three exceptional bottlings from three different producers.

Elijah Craig, from the Heaven Hill Distillery, has been a stalwart of exceptional whiskey at affordable prices throughout the years. For a mere $30 bucks, you can have nearly 10-year-old bourbon made by the largest family-owned distillery in Kentucky. There is no better single cask program in Kentucky in terms of price/quality ratio.

Old Forester, the darling of Brown-Forman’s portfolio, has also managed to produce exceptional single casks at terrific prices. They retain some old school production techniques at the Shively plant that most bourbon producers have forgone in favor of more efficient, modern methods. The result is a full and rich bourbon that tastes like a step back in time.

Except for Four Roses, no major Kentucky producer bottles a proper cask-strength barrel for their single barrel programs. Fortunately, for those who love the extra punch of high ABV, the Tom Moore (Barton) Distillery in Bardstown releases some of the most pure and intense high rye bourbon available in single cask form, and 1792 leads the way in full proof casks, bottled at 62.5% ABV. Their distillery-bottled Full Proof release won World’s Best Bourbon from World Whiskies Awards in 2018. We’ve spent a lot of effort to source the best full proof casks we can get our hands on from this famous brand.

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Elijah Craig K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #5325830 Bourbon 750ml (ships as a 1.5L) ($29.99)

The history of Elijah Craig is the history of Bourbon. Reverend Elijah Craig was a Baptist preacher and active character in 1800s Kentucky. He was an educator, road builder, land speculator, and built the first paper and wool mills in Georgetown, KY. But it was his gift as a distiller and entrepreneur that established his place in history as The Father of Bourbon. How did Elijah Craig become credited with pioneering the charring of the oak barrels used to age Bourbon? We’re actually not entirely sure. A lot of the history is lost, and there are several versions of the story. One account tells of an accidental fire in Elijah’s mill, which charred the wooden barrels and changed the whiskey inside. It makes for a great story at your next Bourbon tasting, doesn’t it? Other accounts speak of Elijah storing his wares in former sugar barrels, and becoming impressed with how the charring of the barrels improved the flavor. The truth is, no one really knows how Elijah began charring his barrels, but once he figured it out, it’s easy to understand why he continued to develop the process and changed Bourbon making forever. Inside, the clear, un-aged corn liquor becomes transformed into a bold amber liquid with a distinctively smooth flavor that makes Bourbon what it is. We rarely get access to Heaven Hill single barrels, but when we do, we snap them up. We expect a lot of people to do the same. This barrel is 9 years old from Warehouse W, 6th floor. 134pf when pulled for bottling at 47%.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 06, 2019

One of Heaven Hill’s finest barrel programs is Elijah Craig. Always a huge hit, these barrels are luscious, rich, and absurdly inexpensive for the very high quality. This barrel clocks in just under 10 years old and is packed with dark caramel, candied corn, a touch of fresh baked bread, and a lingering spicy finish. Great bourbon shouldn’t be expensive. EC single barrels hit the hammer on the head for an old fashioned value proposition.

Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 08, 2019

If you know you’re normally a fan of Elijah Craig’s style then this will be right up your alley. Our K&L single barrel pick has those rich caramel notes that Craig is known for. Nice scents of vanilla, well-toasted oak, and cherry candy meet the nose. What sets this barrel apart from the standard Craig is more fresh black pepper spice, buttery popcorn, some dustiness, and a stroke of menthol. On the palate, the spice announces itself first, followed by the burnt wood flavors, then it moves on to drippy caramel territory. The finish is decidedly woody with a touch of spice.

Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 06, 2019

This is the classic Bourbon you’ve been looking for from the premier producer in Kentucky. Sure to please with its sweet toffee note, caramel corn, hint of pepper, and long finish. Though there is richness, it doesn’t feel heavy or too hot, but fresh and super smooth. This is the perfect bottling for novices and old hands alike.

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Old Forester K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #4093 (Warehouse H, Floor 5) Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml) ($39.99)

Another stupendous cask from the excellent distillery in the Louisville-adjacent neighborhood of Shively. The old facility is one of the most authentic, using several practices now eschewed by modern distillers, including a proper souring element and an old school thumper. The thumper is an unusual style of doubler (pot still component of bourbon distillation that takes the first run up to final proof) where the alcoholic steam from the beer striping run (column still) is injected directly into a pot of water. The steam heats the water to boiling, and the resulting quick condensation creates a loud bang or thump. The whiskies are then aged in the old patent warehouse for 4-6 seasons. They’re very cagey with the actual bottle ages here, but these are not the oldest whiskies on the shelf. They do see a number of seasons of steam heated aging in the winter time, which adds depth and softens the bourbons. All together, the result is one of the most interesting and drinkable single barrel releases on the market. Expect a nose of stewed fruit, old exotic wood, wild flower honey, and sweet maple syrup. The palate starts very soft and sweet with a warming spice that keeps it incredibly balanced and lifts this whiskey up for a long, lingering finish of baking spice and roasted orchard fruit.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 18, 2019

A beautiful sweet cherry note sits on top of the bouquet of this whiskey. As you go deeper into the whiskey the layers of wood spice, dark cocoa powder, and caramelized sugar unfold. The palate is exceptionally soft and approachable, almost velvety in texture. One of the most easy drinking, yet fully flavored whiskies on our shelf at any price.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 18, 2019

Old Forester is finally starting to get the recognition as a brand that it really deserves. After years playing second fiddle to Jack and Woodford at Brown-Forman, the whisky brand that started it all is back in a serious way. They’re Whisky Row series is picking up fans across the country and selling about as quickly as any of the other Special Releases from Buffalo Trace or Four Roses, but they instead of being completely unavailable, they’re in stock with relative regularity and priced for drinkers not collectors. Their stalwart 100 proof remains one of the very best values in bourbon today, but it is these single barrels where the whisky truly shines. The nose here is a concoction of exotic wood, maple drizzled fruit compote, roasted vanilla and candied cherries. On the palate, surprisingly spicy with the sweetness only building at the very end. The finish is soft as can, but not boring and ends on a somewhat distinct chocolate covered cherry note. Zero bite, but not cloying. It really is incredible what they’re able to do in the patent warehouse in 5-6 short years. I’d pay double to have this at cask strength, but this has guts enough to hold the attention of even the staunchest purist.

1792 “Full Proof” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #3087 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) ($49.99)

Sazerac’s “other” distillery is the legendary Tom Moore (Barton) facility in Bardstown, one of the few programs in Kentucky that actually allows private barrels bottled at full proof. This 62.5% ABV monster is a high rye mash bill, yet it shows an incredible amount of sweetness, dark caramel, and butterscotch. Our previous two 1792 barrels sold out in moments. With a sweeter, rounder profile, we doubt this barrel will last much longer.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 18, 2019

A wildly expressive nose of sweet corn and spicy rye jumps out of the glass. Cool mint and touch of dill squeeze past the gobs of intense caramel and toasted sugar. Like a perfectly balanced dessert, one sip and you’ve got an explosion of flavor and sweetness, but never a cloying or lingering finish. A bit of pepper spice kicks up the back end of the palate and intensifies the entry by pulling all of the sweetness down your tongue. Work a few drops of water into your glass and everything broadens to coat your entire palate without losing intensity of flavor.

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