2016 Cairdeas Arrives

This is Laphroaig's distillery manager and head distiller John Campbell. Every year John puts together what is, for me, one of the best annual limited releases in the single malt industry: the Laphroaig "Cairdeas." Started as a distillery release for the pilgrims of Islay's Feis Ile festival, the label has since become a global release (much to the joy of whisky drinkers everywhere). In the past there's been a port wood edition, an amontillado sherry finish, and a 100% in-house floor malted expression, and in 2012 it was just a tasty whisky. This time around it's a Madeira cask finish, so there's a glaze of soft, honeyed sweet wine that highlights the trademark peat and iodine. We had a one bottle limit on this earlier in the week, but I figured we had enough now to remove any restrictions. Go for it! Treat yourself to some deliciousness.

Laphroaig 2016 "Cairdeas" Madeira Cask Islay Single Malt Whisky $79.99 - Each year Laphroaig's Master Distiller, John Campbell, handcrafts a limited edition malt to celebrate friendship ("Cairdeas" in Gaelic). The 2016 bottling features fully-matured Laphroaig aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being blended together for a second maturation in Madeira seasoned traditional hogsheads. The result is a classically smoky Laphroaig with accents of sweet fruits and honey around the edges. Bottled at 51.6%, the extra kick helps balance out the additional richness.

-David Driscoll


Beaujolais Party @ Mathilde

I'm continuing to expand my duties at K&L this year and one area I thought I could be of help was our Burgundy department. For years we were rather stagnant in terms of growth and tracking down interesting new producers, but since Trey and Alex took over last summer we've been turning the department around. This past Spring, the two boys visited Beaujolais for the first time and met with a number of different small producers (petits producteurs, as they say) in the region. They were thrilled with the quality and purchased a number of different expressions that arrived at K&L earlier this month. The only person who may have been more thrilled was me (or maybe G Eazy's producer Christoph Andersson who LOVES Beaujolais). I've been drinking nothing but Beaujolais since because, to me, the wines simply taste like Fall. They have crunchy cranberry notes and bits of earth and spice. But there's two important things to know about these particular new Beaujolais wines:

1) They were purchased directly and imported directly to CA; no middlemen. Hence, low prices!

2) These are cru Beaujolais wines, not the carbonic and fruit juice-like Beaujolais Nouveau wines that are released at the end of each November. There's a HUUUUUUUUGE difference.

Cru Beaujolais wines are made from gamay just like Beaujolais Nouveau, but they're vinified just like normal red wine. Beaujolais Nouveau, on the other hand, is fermented in whole clusters, meaning the juice is not pressed out of the grape per the norm. Instead, the fermentation starts inside the berry, meaning low amounts of oxygen and skin contact. The result is a lifted, bright, super fruity wine with minimal tannic structure. One that can often be chapitalized or sweetened, as well. Cru Beaujolais, on the other hand, is more like real pinot noir from the Côte d'Or, but darker, fleshier, and more concentrated. Much like Bourgogne rouge can be classified by commune or village—Volnay, Pommard, Marsannay, etc—there are several village classifications in Beaujolais as well. You've got Brouilly, and Morgon, and Chiroubles, plus a few others. These wines do not taste like Ocean Spray and bubble gum. They have much of the same variety and complexity that I find in wines from Louis Jadot or Domaine Bart, except for one very important thing: they're waaaaaaay cheaper!

As I referenced in yesterday's post about grain whisky, when a market is misunderstood and poorly explained to consumers, prices remain low and affordable. I love dabbling in those grey areas because I love finding unexpected value. Cru Beaujolais is definitely one of those places. If I even mention Beaujolais as a potential recommendation in the store, I see the customer's face begin to frown and their lips quiver. "I don't like Beaujolais," they invariably say. "It's too fruity, or sweet, or something."

But they're, of course, referencing Beaujolais NOUVEAU. I'm talking about an entirely different wine.

Remember this place I mentioned the other day? It's Mathilde in San Francisco, on 5th Street just up from our Harrison St. location. I thought maybe we should head back over and do an intimate cru Beaujolais dinner for 28 fun-loving folks who want to get their French on. Alex Pross and I are going to host. We're going to bring (at least) eight of the wines mentioned in that post I linked to above. We might bring even more. We're going to sit in the exact same place you see in that photo above, except this time they've got a band playing French music in the corner! It's going to be a legit soirée! Check out this prix fixe menu we put together to go with it. You can choose one item from each group:


House made Charcuterie: 
cornichons and mustard

Mussels Marinieres style: 
with white wine and cream

Beef Bourguignon Ravioles:
Arugula, Parmesan shaving and truffle oil

Organic raw beet salad:
arugula and crumbled goat cheese


Bouillabaise seafood stew:
halibut, salmon, prawns in saffron tomato broth

Pan seared Flat iron steak:
Caramelized onions and red wine sauce

Coq au Vin:
pearl onions, mushroom and bacons

Gnocci a la Parisienne: 
Parmesan cheese, truffle oil


Mousse au Chocolat

Valrhona bitter sweet chocolate

Tarte Tatin: apple tart with caramel sauce and whipped cream

Floating Island:
soft meringue and caramel sauce sweet almonds

If you haven't been to Mathilde yet, this is the perfect time to join us. You're going to drink a lot of good wine, eat a lot of good food, listen to a lot of good music, and maybe learn a bit about Beaujolais if you didn't already know something. Tickets are an extremely reasonable $65 (which is about what three or four glasses of wine would cost alone). You can reserve your spot here:

K&L Beaujolais Import Dinner @ Mathilde - Nov 10th, 7 PM - $65

I'll see you there! Email me if you have further questions!

-David Driscoll


Whisky Season 2016 Continues!

We’re moving into some of the bigger guns at this point in Whisky Season 2016. Those who like their whisky old and rich will definitely be interested in this. Those who like it rare will love the fact this ancient cask only produced 72 bottles in total. Those who like their whisky dark will revel in the dark mahogany of its hue.  Those who only drink whisky from “closed” distilleries can rest easy: Carsebridge was closed in 1983 and demolished in 1992. This 42 year old grain whisky is old, rare, dark, rich, and from a long lost producer. The only thing it isn’t is overpriced! Once again, we used our direct buying power to keep the price reasonable. You’ll find this whisky picks up right where the now-sold out Garnheath left off. The only problem is that we only have 72 bottles.

1973 Carsebridge 42 Year Old "Sovereign" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whiskey $249.99 - Much like our other 42 year grain whisky cask from Garnheath distillery, this 42 year old grain also comes from a long lost producer. Carsebridge was one of the many industry casualties of 1983 and was permanently closed after the whisky business suffered serious economic setbacks. The grain facility was originally founded at the end of the 1700s, making it one of the oldest in Scotland until it was completely demolished in 1992, after staying dormant for almost a decade. This 1973 single cask of Carsebridge, bottled for us by Sovereign, is another rich and full-bodied whisky that brings serious bang for the buck. While malt whisky prices for 30+ year old expressions continue to reach four figures, the misunderstood grain whisky market continues to stay low and reasonable. Candied citrus, toasted oak, sweet vanilla, and a richness that can only come from over forty years in wood dance over the palate in waves of Scotch whisky deliciousness. Due to the ancient age, however, this barrel evaporated down quite heavily. Less than 80 total bottles were retrieved and sent to over to us, making this selection a true rarity. Bottled at 53.3%

-David Driscoll


Introducing Eden Mill Distillery

For those of us who spent the early years of the Scotch whisky boom thumbing through the Malt Whisky Yearbook, memorizing the many names of the distilleries, and doing our best to understand who made what, keeping pace with Scotland's newest producers has never been more difficult! It seems like every time I investigate the announcement of a new distillery, I discover a new one by mere proximity. It's like an astronomer who thinks he's discovered a new planet realizing he's actually discovered two or three. After the arrival of young Wolfburn this past year I thought I was completely up to speed, but it turns out there's another fledgling malt producer on Scotland's eastern coast that I'd somehow missed entirely. Eden Mill is located in the town of St. Andrews, on the edge of the peninsula that juts out just north of Edinburgh. While the town was once known as the home of Haig, today it's much more renowned as a golfing mecca. It's actually referred to as "the home of golf," as it's believed golf was played on the nearby links as early as the 15th century. On the ashes of the old Haig distillery (originally founded in 1810) is a newly-resurrected phoenix of whisky tradition in St. Andrews: a more modern take on what it means to produce alcohol in the 21st century.

Eden Mill isn't just St. Andrews's first distillery since Haig, it's also Scotland's first single-site distillery and brewery. When they're not distilling whisky, they're whipping up a batch of IPA, red ale, or a chili and ginger porter to whet your whistle. When they're not brewing beer, they're distilling gin—many, many different gins. I was lucky enough to meet with the guys from Eden Mill during their recent foray and introduction to the California market. We tasted some serious single malt whisky; a two year old single cask aged in sherry that pretty much blew my mind. While the whisky isn't quite ready for retail, the gin most certainly is and we've got four of them to tell you about today. All four just hit the warehouse today and they should be on the shelf before the morning ends. Along the banks of the River Eden, Eden Mill is using its traditional single malt pot stills to create a series of unique gins using locally-grown fruits and botanicals from the Eden Estuary, along with other sourced ingredients. Taking a custom grain base distilled at nearby Cameronbridge distillery, the gins are run through the Forcyths copper with various recipes for a rounder, and mellower mouthfeel than your standard London Dry. They also come in gigantic ceramic bottles!

Eden Mill Original Gin $39.99 - The original gin flavor was inspired by the distillery's nearby (and world famous) St. Andrews golf course, thereby creating a mellow and easy-drinking profile that's perfect for a summer afternoon on the links. Juniper, angelica, heather flower, blueberries, and red clover are just a few of the botanicals use to create this mellow and deliciously supple gin.

Eden Mill Oak Gin $39.99 - The Oak gin is briefly aged in former Heaven Hill Bourbon casks to impart just a touch of oak spice into the gin, functioning in this case as more of an extra botanical rather than to impart the richness of barrel maturation. The result is a delicate and incredibly subtle gin with delicacy and just the right amount of spice.

Eden Mill Love Gin $39.99 - The Love gin uses goji berries and elderberries in addition to juniper and rose petals to create a softer, more fruit-forward expression that mixes beautifully into a number of tall drinks. Try it with ginger beer or tonic for a simple spritz!

Eden Mill Hop Gin $39.99 - The hop gin uses a heavy dose of (you guessed it) hops to create an expressive, but utterly balanced spirit that never goes too far in the skunky IPA direction. The flavors mingle brilliantly with the juniper and their impact is direct, but never overpowering. Use this in a Negroni for a fun variation on the classic cocktail.

Like I mentioned above, the sample whisky I tasted from Eden Mill was all I needed to know these guys have their act together. I think the four gins above also set a precedent. These are not your standard London dry specimen. They are grainier, fuller, and unique on the palate, standing out from the pack in a major way. I'm eager to try their beers as well to see if everything happening at Eden Mill is equally outstanding. 

I looks like I'll be adding St. Andrews to next year's itinerary! I wanna check this place out!

-David Driscoll


Bruichladdich Dinner Event w/Adam Hannett - Nov 8th

Come out to Donato Enoteca in Redwood City on Tuesday night, November 8th, at 7 PM for an unforgettable event with Bruichladdich's young new leader Adam Hannett. We'll have some Botanist gin cocktails for you, as well as a full three course meal along with a trip through the distillery's core whisky range. Adam will be there to introduce himself, unveil what the future of Bruichladdich holds, and talk you through the malts as we taste them. Those who haven't yet caught wind of how important the specific origins of barley are going to be to the future of single malt whisky will want to be hand for this one. Bruichladdich is already at the forefront of this movement and Adam is ready to continue that push forward. Once again, tickets are a ridiculous fifty dollars, so they will likely go fast. There are no refunds once you've purchased your seat, so please check your schedule before committing! We'll see you there!

Bruichladdich Dinner & Tasting with Adam Hannett, November 8th, 7 PM @ Donato in Redwood City - $50

-David Driscoll