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Staff Favorites - Aaron Hughes

Aaron Hughes


Cut Spike Maple Syrup Barrel Finished Nebraska Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-15-2020
All right, this is a weird one, in the best of ways. I thought that the maple syrup barrel would impart a directly maple experience, but instead it's totally thrown me through a loop. The maple finish seems to have imparted an incredibly floral and slightly funky nose with super ripe peaches and whiskey-soaked raisins and a light almond hint accompanying the more typical barrel spice and vanilla. The palate is noticeably quite sweet but with a funky sort of medicinal fruity sweetness instead of a direct maple, reminding me of a botrytized wine. The finish is lingering and ends on the dry side with a grassy and grainy note buried underneath the still sweet palate. I'm not going to lie, this is a weird one and will likely be polarizing, but if you come at it with an open mind and an open palate, you might find your next after-dinner sipper.
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Cut Spike Cask Strength Nebraska Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-14-2020
More directly fruity on the nose than the Small Batch release, this Cask Strength then displays some more medicinal notes and a slight mustiness before giving way to wood and wood spice. The palate is rich and full with an excellent mouthfeel, not too thin and very mouth-coating. There's a burst of sweetness that gives way to more savoriness and spice with a mid-palate salinity. This is really starting to showcase the depths that an American Single Malt Whiskey can bring, providing a complexity and color that might lead you to think this is older than it is.
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Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-14-2020
A complex nose with barrel spice and vanilla and an outdoorsy cedar woods aroma complimented by sweet stewed apples and pears. The palate is sweet at first with bright fruits, but this quickly gives way to caramel and vanilla with a backbone of pie spices on the lingering finish. All in all, an interesting and worthy bottle of American Single Malt Whiskey.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

A. D. Laws Bottled in Bond Secale Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-06-2020
This intriguing rye from A.D. Laws Whiskey House in Colorado is 95% heirloom rye (50% raw, 50% malted) and 5% heirloom barley. All of this makes a smooth and interesting rye. The nose is intense and complex, consisting of (but not limited to) dusty leather, cracked wheat, black olive, pomace, dried apricot and a perfumed herbal florality with backnotes of orange zest and Demerara sugar. Like I said, complex. There's a bright flash of sweetness on the palate that quickly gives way to a briny salinity and dark dried fruit with a grassy cereal spicy finish. This is different and something I'm going to keep coming back to until I feel like I understand it, hope we have enough bottles in stock.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

1999 Chateau de la Grangerie 19 Year Old "Cask #54" K&L Exclusive Armagnac (750ml)
Review Date: 03-03-2020
A supple and lively nose that carries a good amount of ripe fruit, but with notes of dates and raisins as well. There's a subtlety to the nose that keeps you going back looking for more notes and more depth, often successfully. The palate is more austere and filled with toasted fennel and thyme as the core, with the fruit and other barrel notes a little more off to the side. This is one of the more unique editions of Armagnac that I've tried and to its benefit, there's something unique and special here.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Château de la Grangerie K&L Exclusive Armagnac (1L)
Review Date: 03-02-2020
While the nose is a bit hot with ethanol obscuring some of the more delicate and floral aromas, the palate is clean and bright with just enough fruit and really nice mouthfeel and acidity. This will be an amazing Armagnac for mixing and cooking, where you want a genuine and true flavor. Delicious and delightful for what it is.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Corner Creek 10 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 03-02-2020
A soft and prettily floral nose begins the trip with this incredibly friendly Bourbon. There's an approachability and enticement just on the bouquet itself, with hints of oak and spice but the florality and the fruit come together to also give me notes of muscat and wild herbs. The palate is classic Bourbon with good amounts of vanilla and spice and Muscovado sugar with sandalwood and on the long and lingering finish. Delicious and a really reasonable price for a 10 year age-statement Bourbon, especially one this hard to find in California.
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2004 Domaine de Jouanda - Cask #43 "K&L Exclusive" Bas-Armagnac (750ml)
Review Date: 03-02-2020
While still relatively young in comparison to some of our Armagnac, this is a really pretty and beautiful expression of the spirit. The nose is very floral with orange blossom and white flowers and a pleasant little herbal back note. There's a good amount of spritely fruit on the nose and palate, rich and ripe but with a restraint. The barrel notes show similar restraint with pleasant amounts of oak and vanilla but they don't overwhelm the more delicate elements. A really lovely example of what Armagnac can be.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Ragnaud-Sabourin K&L Exclusive "Fontevieille #35" Cognac (750ml)
Review Date: 03-02-2020
Wow. That's almost all this review said, just "wow" because this absolutely impressed me from first sight. A really beautiful color in the bottle and in the glass, showing its 35 years. The nose is full and rich, with very little alcohol on the nose encouraging long and wistful inhales as this is savored. Just gobs of fresh-cut apple and peach are accompanied with an orange-blossom florality and then quickly overshadowed by a rich vanilla. The palate is absolutely phenomenal with that fruit and vanilla accompanied by toasted herbal spices and rich barrel spices. I thought that the #20 was smooth but this puts that to shame. This might just be a benchmark spirit, setting the bar for all Cognacs to follow. I'll let you know.
Price: $169.99 Add To Cart

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Reserve Speciale #20 Cognac (750ml)
Review Date: 03-02-2020
Opening on a pretty fruit-filled nose, with ripe apples, white peach and hints of warm spices. The palate is smooth with an enjoyable weight and caramely vanillins on the finish mingling with hints of citrus zest and a lightly spicy liveliness. Delicious and worthy of a place on your shelf.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

2004 Domaine Les Pins "Nos Peres Hiers" Bourgueil
Review Date: 02-17-2020
This wine from 2004 is an excellent example of aged Cabernet Franc from the Loire, especially from Bourgueil. The age has allowed a lot of the tertiary aromas to come and boldly evidence themselves. There's a mushroomy and earthy savoriness from the get-go, with dried tobacco leaves, pencil shavings, bay leaf all accompanied by soft fruit - savory dried fig, dried blackberry, stewed strawberries and plum skin. The finish is intensely earthy with plenty of tannins for food pairing. This is an interesting wine worth trying, especially if you're curious about older Cabernet Franc.
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2018 Domaine Les Pins "Les Rochettes" Bourgueil
Review Date: 02-17-2020
The nose is deep and dark with savory undertones from the first sniff. There's lots of dark black fruit - blackcurrant, blackberry with hints of pomegranate all mired in an earthy nose filled with a green peppercorn driven herbaceousness. The medium body still has a healthy amount of tannins, but despite its youth it's very approachable. The fruit on the palate is bright and lighter than the nose, with raspberry and cranberry and bits of black cherry that meld into a lingering and enjoyable earthy and lightly spiced finish.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2018 Cellier des Dauphins "Réserve" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 02-16-2020
I didn't know what to expect from this wine at the outset, but wow is it impressive. Immediately after opening this wine was perfumey and full of dark stewed fruits. Marionberry and deep black cherry dance and flit about with violets with hints of chewy tobacco. The palate is lively and expressive with a delicious and ripe acidity that doesn't overshadow the fruit and earth. With a medium to light body this wine has all the promise of summer with all the delight of spring and for under $15 this is an absolute stunner of a wine.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2012 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-16-2020
Wow, this was one heck of a treat. This was absolutely gorgeous out of the gate with a floral and citrus-y nose that enticed me in from the start. The palate was full of ripe and crisp apples and that delightful brioche-y quality with a finish that had just the softest hint of grapefruit zest and pith. I'm excited to see how this Champagne ages, and is an easy recommendation on a great Champagne to stock up on to lay down.

Krug "Grande Cuvée" 168 ème Édition Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-16-2020
I recently had the good fortune to taste both the 168 and the 167 back to back and I have to say that I finally understand the hype. Krug has been spoken about in hushed and reverent tones for years and I've never had the opportunity to avail myself, and gosh I really have been missing out, haven't I? This highlights the blending art of the winemaker, with the goal being to create consistency and greatness every year from the tools that are given to them. The 168 is based on the highly lauded 2012 vintage and comes out of the gate swinging with a deep and intense nose with pretty floral edges. The palate is amazingly clean with a soft and voluptuous mousse-y mouthfeel and that mineral finish that we have come to crave from Champagne. Buy this and share it with someone you love.

Ariston Aspasie "Réserve" (formerly Carte Blanche) Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-16-2020
When I first came here to K&L the supply on this was low and its absence was spoken of in somber and melancholy tones. I can see why, now, because it's an absolutely gorgeous Champagne at an excellent price. This is a rich and brioche-y nose that straddles the line between rich and cloying with amazing finesse, always staying on the right side while remaining opulent and luxurious. Rich apple and pear with hints of cream and vanilla and lovely toast on the finish. A must-buy for anyone trying to experience the best that Champagne has to offer.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Baron-Fuenté "Esprit" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-16-2020
The second Baron-Fuente "Esprit" that I recently tasted - This Champagne, as opposed to its leaner cousin, does receive a dosage. With seven years on the lees, this is an amazing value for the price. Just think about the time that has been invested into this wine before it even gets to you, and yet it's under $40. With an easy-drinking mouthfeel and still brisk acidity, this Champagne invites sip after sip, and at under $40 a bottle. It's an astronomical deal, especially when you think about the work and effort that went into producing this wine. The nose is rich and inviting with baked apples and lemon candy, the palate is clean and ends with just enough acid to make you yearn for your next sip.

Baron-Fuenté "Esprit" Brut Nature Champagne
Review Date: 02-16-2020
The Brut Nature from Baron-Fuente is a racy and delicious little acid-bomb of a Champagne that manages to not come across too austere or overly acidified. The extra time that the Champagne has spent on the lees has softened and complexified the palate into something special. The lack of dosage does mean that this is exceptionally crisp and cleansing on the palate, but there's a delicious and creamy core of toast and rich tropical notes to be found. This is the kind of Champagne that is easy to pair with and a joy in the glass.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Baron-Fuenté "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-16-2020
As the lowest cost Champagne that we have, this can safely be called a budget entry into that wide and effervescent world. A double whammy of being easy on your wallet while satisfying your palate makes this a no-brainer buy for people looking for a little bit of bubbly. Clean and toasty with a classic nose. Apple and pear on the palate with a finish that has lemon zest and hints of stone fruit. This is an incredible value for a Champagne of this caliber.

2007 Lopez de Heredia "Viña Tondonia" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-14-2020
While the nose has generous amounts of dried cherries and raspberries with hints of fresh fruit showing through, there's also a hint of menthol and subtle green peppercorn. The palate has bright acidity with fresher fruits than the nose, albeit the same fruits in the bouquet. It has a clean and lingering finish. This would be an amazing wine for a rich meal or a hard cheese and cured meat plate.

2017 Domaine des Rémizières "Cuvée Christophe" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 12-10-2019
Bright and lively nose rife with dried blackberries and a hint of brushy sage complements and intermingles with tobacco. Juicy black and red fruits on the palate with rich tannins and a healthy acidity makes this an excellent candidate for richer meals and cheeses. A really delicious pure Syrah from the Northern Rhone.