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2015 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

1992 Clynelish K&L Exclusive 21 Year Old Cadenhead Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Bowmore 12 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2008 Caol Ila 5 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Craigellachie 18 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Miltonduff 19 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2007 Mortlach 7 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2004 Smoky & Peaty Tobermory (Ledaig) 8 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Laphroaig 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Macallan 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Tamdhu 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Tobermory 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Girvan 24 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1978 Port Dundas 36 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1964 North British 50 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

SMWS 36.82 Benrinnes 17 Year Old "Rare Release" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1988 Blair Athol 25 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


2001 Bowmore 12 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Bruichladdich 23 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glen Ord 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glenburgie 19 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glenrothes 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1998 Mortlach 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Sherry Butt Finish Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Imperial 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #344 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #345 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Glenfarclas "The Faultline Casks" K&L Exclusive First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Bunnahabhain Heavily Peated 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1998 Laphroaig 15 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1983 Caol Ila 30 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1992 Bruichladdich 21 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1988 Balmenach 25 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Dailuaine 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glen Elgin 18 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!!


1981 Glenlivet 32 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


Bladnoch "Young" K&L Exclusive Heavily Peated Single Barrel #57 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Glengoyne 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #172 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #74 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Tuesday
Jun302015

2015 Single Malt Whisky Casks

Remember when this blog was primarily about whisky? Ah, those were heady days. Never fear though single malt fans because we're still bringing in tons of new K&L exclusive barrels for you to enjoy this calender year. We're just finalizing some of our purchase orders as we speak (or as I type this), so I thought I'd give you a small peak at what we're working on. We've got a boat full of hooch ready to leave Scotland very, very soon, and since I know some of you like to get your finances in order before landing, let's take a look at some of the forthcoming K&L releases.

From Signatory:

1981 Glenlivet in sherry

1995 Benrinnes hogshead

1988 Blair Athol in sherry

1990 Glen Elgin ex-Bourbon

1996 Glenlivet in sherry

1985 Linkwood hogshead (the star of the show)

1995 Imperial hogshead

There will be a few other surprises in this group, but you can count on these babies right out of the gate. Four of them are the sister casks to barrels we imported last year; whiskies so good we had people literally begging us for more.

From Hepburn's Choice:

More young peated whiskies (i.e. Caol Ila, Talisker, etc)

More affordable Highland whiskies in their high teens (including an 18 year Clynelish hogshead, and a sherry butt of Inchgower that will make your fucking head spin)

More older grains under the Sovereign label

A smattering of old and rare whiskies (including an 18 year old Springbank in sherry that lit the room on fire at my last private tasting, plus a pair of 40+ year olds in sherry)

We've trimmed down the list a bit this year to include only whiskies of supreme value, supreme quality, and supreme decadence. You'll have the choice of young and interesting, old and unknown, or really old and really good.

You're going to be happy. Trust me.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jun302015

Every Day Give Yourself a Present

I was definitely overwhelmed by the response yesterday’s tribute to my grandmother garnered. I had almost one hundred emails by the day’s end from customers all over the country who took the time to drop me a line; many who felt a certain kinship with Helen and her love affair with gin martinis. Let me say this: my grandmother would have been absolutely thrilled had she been alive to read all of these messages. She would have been downright giddy. So thank you to everyone who chimed in. My family is extremely thankful for your sympathy and well wishes.

I learned one of the most important lessons in my booze career from my grandmother, when she taught me that giving people exactly what they want is sometimes more rewarding than expanding their horizons. When I first got the job at K&L I told her specifically how much great Champagne we had in stock, and how I couldn’t wait to send her some; Helen being a big fan of the bubbly. She responded by telling me she had always wanted to try Dom Perignon, but had never been able to afford it. She had always pictured the monks out in the field (back when that was still happening), tending to the vines, making one of the world’s most revered liquids, and she would tell me how just the thought of having a glass would often send chills up her spine. Me being new to the industry and eager to show off my chops, I told her about all the other incredible K&L exclusive Champagnes we carried; many of which were cheaper in price and higher in quality than Dom Perignon, in my opinion. She thought that was interesting, so I sent her a bottle of Frank Bonville “Belles Voyes” (the best Champagne we carry, in my opinion) which I know she enjoyed. She told me later on “it was nice.” She thanked me profusely. “Oh, it was just lovely,” were her words. But I could tell from the tone in her voice that it hadn't really moved her the way a bottle of Dom would have. Drinking the Bonville wasn’t going to go down in history as a memorable moment for her, which is ultimately the experience I had hoped to give her.

The next year when my mother went up to visit Helen, it was Mother’s Day weekend and a Champagne shipment was most definitely in order. This time around I didn’t make the same mistake. I sent the Dom Perignon—a Champagne that wasn’t nearly as delicious as the “Belles Voyes” in my opinion, but was what I ultimately knew she wanted. At that point, I was completely focused on my grandmother’s dream of living out one of her most-coveted fantasies, and the romanticism she felt towards Dom Perignon the brand, which was far more powerful than the elegant and refined flavors of the Bonville. It wasn’t about drinking “the best” for her, or deciphering quality. It was about feeling special, and getting the chance to experience something she never thought she would have the chance to enjoy for herself. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with her the next day after she and my mother drained that bottle. She was so happy. She was absolutely thrilled. That bottle of Dom Perignon had made her entire year.

That moment created a serious sea change in my customer service philosophy, and ultimately in the way I looked at the intentions of my job. Up until that point I considered my responsibilities as a wine store specialist to include both knowing which wines were best, and informing our customers of my own personal opinions as to which selections represented a better value. If someone came in and said, “My dad loves Johnnie Walker Blue, what can we get him?” I figured it was my job to say in return, “Well, I have something even better.” After realizing how happy the Dom Perignon made my grandmother, however, I started asking people what they specifically wanted, and then did my best to give them just that. Being a specialist of any kind can cause some of us to get a little preachy. We think our main purpose is to enlighten people and educate them, but it's not. We're just here to connect the dots. If someone asks me a question, I'll be happy to answer it, but I'll never force my opinion upon anyone at this point. Because let tell you about my grandmother and the time I tried to convince her there was a Champagne "better" than Dom Perignon. It didn't work out the way I had hoped, unfortunately.

The other thing my grandmother believed in deeply was a daily ritual—a moment each day when she would stop, sit down, relax, and give herself something special. That moment usually included a gin martini, as you all know. One of the emails I received yesterday actually recommended that I lobby to make June 29th “National Helen Felber Gin Martini Day”; an honor which I can tell you my grandmother would have enjoyed whole-heartedly. Except that Helen Felber didn’t believe in indulging herself merely one day per year. She never even considered the word “annual” when thinking about her martini. She believed in the idea of daily indulgence—that every afternoon was an opportunity for reflection and reward. So I say to you—those of us who want to do the memory of my gin-loving grandmother a certain dignity—we should make each day a memorial. Or maybe I should leave you with this classic line from Twin Peaks; a show my grandmother enjoyed greatly seeing that it was filmed in her own backyard:

Every single day should be "Helen Felber Gin Martini Day" because every single day we're alive to celebrate with a cold drink is worth recognizing.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jun292015

In Memory

Last night one of the world's great gin connoisseurs passed quietly in her sleep from this world into the next. She was ninety-four years old. You might remember Helen Felber, former owner and bartender of the 219 Saloon, from a series of gin-related blog posts I did a few years back (click here to read her thoughts on the subject). I, of course, remember her as my grandmother. She was a woman who enjoyed simple, yet elegant pleasures; Chanel and Champagne should they be available. But what she enjoyed more than anything in life was sitting out on her deck every afternoon, watching the animals in her front yard, and sipping a cold gin martini—shaken, not stirred—with a few olives.

She will be missed.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Jun282015

Too Cool For School

One of the reasons I love working in the booze industry is because of the opportunities it allows me to be out and about. Socializing, traveling, having a cocktail at a nearby restaurant—these are all aspects of my job that require me to interact with other people, both professionally and personally. I love talking to people; it’s always something that’s come very naturally to me. But what a few people have noticed lately is the movement of my eyes, constantly scanning the room for action while we’re engaging. I’m listening, but I’m also observing.

“Are you trying to find someone?” a person asked me at an event earlier this week.

“No, I’m just watching this guy over in the corner while we’re chatting,” I said. “He’s putting on quite a show.”

I love people-watching when I’m out on the town, both because I think human behavior is a fascinating thing and the fact that I’m constantly looking to improve my own understanding of certain personalities. Working with the public requires you to morph into whatever incarnation of customer service your client requires, and there’s no better classroom in my opinion than the public sphere. When you watch people behave in various social settings, you get a better idea of what motivates their intentions and how they expect you to react in turn. From there, you can decide whether you want to play along or not.

For example, there’s a very particular personality out there that I call “too cool for school”—a person who is constantly trying to downplay their enthusiasm, especially in relation to the enthusiasm of those around them. Whatever excites you doesn’t excite them, and what might arouse you will bore them to death. You can imagine my run-ins with these people considering I’m like an excited young puppy sometimes, unabashedly enthusiastic about numerous things in life. What’s ironic is that these folks who are “too cool for school” think that by acting uninterested and unmoved by the scene around them, other people are taking them more seriously as a result—like when someone who tells you they don’t watch TV honestly thinks that: 1) you actually believe them, and 2) that people who don’t watch TV are smarter than people who do. It’s the opposite, however. When it’s an act people can tell instantly, and many of us do our best to run from such behavior—quickly and quietly.

As you might guess, the wine and spirits world is full of such people, but there are just as many honest and genuine folks to balance them out, which is nice. At a party I attended in LA earlier this week I met a prominent restaurateur who just opened his ninth successful establishment in the city. As a theme, his bars are incredibly atmospheric and center around fun rather than the more serious pre-Prohibition approach that’s so popular at the moment.

“I can make you a kick-ass Manhattan. That’s not an issue,” he told me as we shared a drink. “But so can five thousand other guys around the country. Proficiency isn’t enough anymore. It’s expected. What about fun? Don’t you want to have a memorable time when you’re out?”

“What’s funny, is people think you have to do one or the other,” I said, taking a sip of my cocktail. “They think only intensely-straight-faced bartenders are going to be taken seriously. Smiling, showing emotion, and being enthusiastic mean you don’t know what you’re talking about, and that’s the kiss of death for snobby booze people.”

“Everyone’s too cool for school,” he answered.

“Hey, that’s what I say!” I yelled in response. “But you’ve really put yourself out there with your thematic elements. You’re inviting people to make a judgment as to whether they’re going to feel comfortable doing both simultaneously. Anyone who can’t have a good time at your bar isn’t someone I want to hang out with anyway, so I’m sure you bring in a pretty laid-back crowd.”

“I think if you can strive towards quality while having fun, people will ultimately respect you for it.”

“Amen, brother,” I said. “You and I are cut from the same cloth.”

As a retailer, I want people to enjoy coming to K&L. It should be fun, and our customers should feel comfortable, which is why I make an attempt to learn everyone's name who shops there frequently. I remember going to Manhattan a few years back and visiting one of my favorite clothing stores, only to find that the salesman working there was the same guy I had been dealing with in San Francisco for years. He had apparently switched locations, and yet here I was running into him 3,000 miles away.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I asked with a smile. “I didn’t expect to run into you out here.”

“Do I know you?” he replied with a frown. This coming from a guy who clearly recognized me, and who had sold me dozens of shirts, pants, sweaters, and suits on numerous occasions.

“Oh, we’re playing that game,” I thought to myself as I walked off.

“I knew that guy was too cool for school;” my wife said to me as we left.

“I bet he doesn’t watch TV either,” I replied to her with a smirk.

“He should,” she answered, “Because he really knows how to put on a show.”

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jun262015

Magic Mike

Magic Mike was one of those movies that caught a lot of people off guard—its cast of Hollywood hunks, glistening under the neon lights, with washboard abs and huge biceps, making most women weak in the knees and sending their husbands into a self-conscious sulk. I still know people today who don’t really understand that film and think it was just some slick studio flick about strippers. Which it was, by the way. But it was so much more than just eye candy for the pleasure of our smarter sex. For me personally, Magic Mike was one of the most striking and forward-thinking films of the last ten years; combining athleticism, wit, good looks, and an off-beat storyline more inclined for the independent cinema than the multiplex. It’s a tour de force of top-flight dance and choreography, matched with smart camera work (by Mr. Soderbergh, of course), a script that meanders effortlessly between dark and silly, and a collaborative cast that couldn’t have been more fun to watch on screen. “You liked that movie? I thought it was just for girls!” people still say to me when I express my appreciation for Magic Mike today. Come on. That’s like saying cocktails or white wine are just for girls. Please. Grow up.

When the sequel to the film was announced a while back—Magic Mike XXL—I never dreamed I’d be invited down to Hollywood for the premiere. However, since Steven’s booze company Singani 63 was sponsoring the event, I got the chance to be a part of the festivities. So here I was, holed up in the Mondrian Hotel on LA’s famous Sunset Strip, looking out over the city from high above, drinking a cocktail in my boxer shorts while ironing out the last few wrinkles in my suit; my wife applying her make-up in the glamorously-lit bathroom behind me. Yes, it was going to be quite the scene, and I had no idea what to expect. In these situations I find it’s best to just relax and let the night take you where it will. I poured another drink and gazed out towards the skyline.

Our official Singani 63 pre-party was by the Tropicana pool at the world-famous Roosevelt Hotel. We gathered for custom-made Singani cocktails (I had a delicious one that resembled a Negroni using Carpano Antica vermouth and orange bitters) and a bit of chit-chat before the film started. David OG and his wife rolled in a bit after us, looking dapper as always. We snacked on cheese and various pickled vegetables before we got the call to head across the street. The TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard beckoned.

What we quickly realized upon our exit was that our current location (the Roosevelt) and our final destination (the theater) were separated by a gigantic wall of on-lookers and star-gazers; packed onto the sidewalk, holding signs and squirming towards the guard rail for a glimpse at the red carpet. We weren’t sure how to part that sea and get into the theater, so we mistakenly tried moving through the back of the crowd, hoping to flank them from the opposite side of the entrance. Bad idea. About five minutes into that attempt we were smashed against the side of a shop by Christian protesters, picketing against the pre-conceived smut that awaited us (and the fact that one of tonight’s guests Sofia Vergara had frozen her embryos). After one of the more claustrophobic experiences of my life, we retreated back the way we had come, and found a security guard to escort us in through a side entrance. We were in.

As a film, Magic Mike XXL builds on everything you loved about the first movie, intensifies it, and increases that intensity to a fever pitch with a grand finale. If you think it's just a bunch of greased-up bods with gyrating hips, think again. Magic Mike XXL is just as much a bromance road trip as it is a female striptease, and it's one of the most feel-good buddy films I've seen in years. The entire experience is meant to pull the stick out of your ass, and put a gigantic smile on your face; but tastefully and with charm. Over the course of the trip, the film's theme mimics the crises and quests of the characters themselves, as the guys look deep within themselves for their own personal definitions of happiness. There's a scene where Joe Manganiello goes into a liquor store, hell-bent on giving the gloomy checkout girl a bit of man-powered sunshine. I've never laughed so hard. That moment ends up being a metaphor for the flick itself; a message to let your guard down and open yourself up to life's possibilities. The most touching moments are incredibly sentimental, which is another reason the women love it. The men of Magic Mike are completely in touch with what women want, both physically and emotionally, in a way that never appears hackneyed or clichéd. I also can’t fully express to you how much fun it was to see Magic Mike XXL in a gigantic theater with hundreds of screaming ladies. 

At the after party, it was all Singani 63—another reminder from Mr. Soderbergh to let your hair down a bit. There's a similar motif that threads between Steven's film and the handling of his liquor brand. It's always about quality, of course, but never at the expense of a good time. All of the cocktails on the menu were named after characters in the film, and were incredibly refreshing against the sultry Hollywood night.

I went first for a coconut drink with lime juice and mint. A bit of fusion between a Mai Tai and a Pina Colada. It was delicious, and the floral notes from the Singani actually held up beautifully against both the tartness of the citrus and the sweetness of the coconut. I truly believe that you can mix Singani into just about anything and make a great drink. I cannot stress enough how versatile this stuff is.

The burning question, I know, I know: David, did you get to party with the Magic Mike XXL cast? Yes, I did. Sofia and Joe were on one side of the room, Channing on the other, and Andie McDowell was chilling out at a table right in the center. It was pretty cool, I won't lie. While I was waiting for my wife to come out of the restroom, however, I spotted one of my all-time heroes standing humbly in the corner, about to pour himself a glass of Singani over ice. It was "Big Daddy Cool" himself, Kevin Nash—the seven-foot tall, former WWE Champion who plays Tarzan in both Magic Mike films. I instantly got butterflies in my stomach as he approached the drink cart and stood there on my right, towering over me, checking out the new artwork on the bottle.

I took a deep breath, threw another glance at the bathroom line (no sign of my wife), and let it out:

"Kevin, do you mind if I take a photo of you drinking the Singani? I'm going to write a little article about the party tonight and I'd love to get a picture of you enjoying it."

He couldn't have been nicer. We ended up chatting for ten minutes about various things—drinking, watching Team America, Florida, etc—and I was like a kid in a candy store, beaming with rosy cheeks and a huge grin.

"I'm on my third glass, already, and I don't normally drink hard liquor," Nash added before we parted. "You can't shoot this stuff; you have to sip it, which I like."

"You prefer it straight?" I asked.

"It tastes so good on its own, I don't really need to mix it," he responded.

And what type of Magic Mike XXL after-party would it be without live male dancers, removing their clothing for a screaming crowd of celebrities, on a stage recreated from the film itself? This was easily one of the best nights of my life. My wife and I were all smiles from ear-to-ear by the evening's end. The movie itself was hilarious and uplifting. The Singani 63 put me in the best of moods. The post-film party was epic. I felt like Channing Tatum himself was going to walk over and say, "Now there's that smile I was looking for," just like he does in the movie.

You got me, Mike. Your magic definitely worked on me. Another round of Singani please.

-David Driscoll