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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!


Saturday
May162015

Glasgow Comes to Cali

If I can't bring you all whisky fans to Glasgow with me, in the hopes of showing you the city that's captured my heart since our last visit, I figured we could at least bring a little bit of Glasgow to some of you. People ask me all the time to make plans—to grab lunch, have a drink, or watch the game after work. As much as I want to see my friends and family, I'm almost always doing some kind of liquor-related event post-K&L. I don't always advertise them or sell tickets, some of them are secret, and others might be thrown together last minute, but I'm simply addicted to doing events with great consumers and I've got all kinds of networks moving 24/7—like a series of underground rivers. I love bringing good people to good booze. So when our long-time partner Andrew Laing, from Hunter Laing—the folks behind our exclusive Hepburn's Choice and Sovereign labels—said he was going to be in town last night, I wanted to show him how wonderful a private K&L dinner event could be.

Big tastings are fun, but you can never have an intimate conversation when there are hundreds of other drunken whisky fans clammering for the attention of a few producers. In the privacy of a secret dining location, Andrew was able to talk about some of the 2015 K&L selections, as well as go into detail about how the independent game works for those interested in what's behind the curtain.

And so we drank, and dined, and got a little heady on the delicious bottle of soon-to-be-a-K&L-exclusive-single-cask Springbank 18 that Andrew smuggled into the country. People flipped out for the whisky, Andrew got a taste of the Cali lifestyle, and a few loyal K&L customers got to drink ridiculously good Scotch with one of Glasgow's most-entrenched independent bottlers.

"If those people are your actual customers, then you've got an easy gig," Andrew said to me as I drove him back to San Francisco late last night. "They were very charming."

Indeed.

-David Driscoll

Friday
May152015

It Used To Be Really Cool: Scenes From St. Elmo's Fire

Oh, brat pack; where have you gone? In 1984, Ally Sheedy and Demi Moore were on top of the world, drinking Absolut Vodka straight, no chaser, feeding the fire of St. Elmo's in their yuppie guts. Today? No self-respecting hipster under the age of thirty would dare break out of bottle of vodka for cocktail hour. It's funny how things change, right?

When her buddy Andrew McCarthy comes over late night, Demi breaks out the vodka once again—along with a pack of Pall Malls and a wall mural that looks straight out of an old Vidal Sassoon ad. 

Yes, that's right my friends—whisky was an old man's drink back in the mid-1980s and vodka was the hip choice of a new generation. My how times have changed (and how they'll probably change again). I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky. I'll be where the eagle's flyin' higher and higher. I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea. I can feel St. Elmo's fire burning in me. It's either that, or the glass of Absolut Elyx I just downed while watching a sweaty Rob Lowe play the cheesiest sax solo of all time. 

-David Driscoll

Thursday
May142015

The Proof is in the Pudding

I'm very sensitive about manners, ethics, and behavior as it pertains to doing everyday business. As many of you know, I'm the guy in the restaurant who can't help but eavesdrop on the terrible jerk behind me, behaving at his very worst because his soup was a little too cold. When people go out of their way to make others uncomfortable, it makes me uncomfortable in turn because I don't want to be associated with an asshole by proximity. When some retailer out there jacks up the price of Pappy to $1000, I end up hearing about it for some reason from consumers; as if I'm the spokesperson for all retailers in the world or something. "Don't lump me in with that guy," I'm thinking in the back of my mind. That being said, I feel sorry for distillers and blenders who make top-quality NAS or non-descript whiskies, who may be unfairly demonized by the neo-witch-hunt against the lack of transparency in the industry right now. There are people out there like John Glaser from Compass Box and the Morrisons over at A.D. Rattray who are making top-notch whiskies for great prices, but who either can't or aren't interested in revealing the greater specifics due to industry politics. They're not trying to hide anything. They're just not in the business of selling specs. That's not their game.

Despite the new era's obsession with details, I've been overjoyed with the reaction that our customers have had to the exclusive malt whisky project we've been producing with Michel Couvreur in Burgundy (see our visit from 2014 on the blog here); a Scotch whisky blender with a huge inventory of top-quality, first-fill sherry-aged single malt. Everything about this whisky is based on blind faith—our faith in Couvreur to make something great, their faith in us to pay up when the invoice arrives, and our customers' faith in K&L to put good booze on the shelf. There are no specifics about this whisky, other than that the whiskies used to comprise the blend are at least 12 years old (when in reality many of them are much older). Our customers don't know which distilleries were used, or in what quantities. All they know is that we say it tastes good and that we vouch for its quality. And the result? Two massive sellouts of batch one and two in K&L record times. The word is out on the street: despite the anonymity of the details, this whisky is the real fucking deal. Big, sopping wet sherry with a firm dagger of Islay peat smoke right in the gut. Batch three just landed today. It won't be here long.

I want to send a big thank you to everyone out there for the blind faith you've had in this project, and for putting aside your hatred of non-descript whisky in the name of what is obviously some high-end hooch. I'm glad you're all as enthused as we are.

Michel Couvreur K&L Exclusive Overaged Peat Malt Whisky $89.99 - The chance to work with Michel Couvreur on a special K&L whisky project was something that David and I had been dreaming of for years. We had heard the stories. This crazy Belgian had moved to Burgundy in the 60s, carved out a wine cellar inside a mountain, only to fill it with Scottish single malt whisky instead of pinot noir. He set up camp in Beaune, ordered new-make spirit to be delivered by tanker, and drove down to Jerez himself; selecting his own sherry butts to insure only the finest quality casks for his contracted spirit. Unfortunately, Michel Couvreur passed away last year from pancreatic cancer, thus ending the career of one of the industry's most courageous pioneers. Luckily for us, however, apprentice Jean-Arnaud has carried on after studying under Michel for more than a decade. When we visited the underground cave this past Spring, we were all in total awe. The tunnels of dripping stone go on forever, and the amount of whisky stored in this secret lair is jawdropping. We put our trust completely in Jean-Arnaud and are happy we did. Our peated version of the incredible sherry expression is a seamless creation that drinks like the best version of Johnnie Black ever, mixed with the most supple and soft expressions of Macallan. It's a lush, unfiltered, creamy, caramel-laden dream of a whisky composed only of malts 12 years and older. There's a bit of peat on the finish, but the soft sherry is the star. (NOTE: do NOT cut the hard wax seal, tap it so that it breaks)

-David Driscoll

Thursday
May142015

White Nights

If you're anything like me, when you hear the words "White Nights" you'll probably flash instantly to the 1986 Academy Award winner for "Best Original Song" featuring the late Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov; a film that somehow, someway managed to incorporate jazz dance, tap, and ballet into the Cold War politics of the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R. (click here to watch the original trailer). However, while talking to my buddies Thad and Eric over at Bar Agricole the other day, we discussed the need to throw an epic after-dark party featuring all white spirits. Brown booze has been at the forefront of the industry's attention for the last eight years, and (as I wrote in a post not long ago) while aged spirits are both delicious and fascinating, it's about time that someone did something to showcase all the advances that clear spirits have made while steadily improving in quality outside of the spotlight.

"When are we going to throw an event focusing on white goods?" Thad asked me, "Where we pour gin, and mezcal, and all the other unaged spirits we love so much?"

"It's about time," I answered, "Literally, because the weather is getting warmer and this is the perfect time of the year to sit outside and drink gin cocktails. We should do a night event on the patio and make it a party."

"White Nights?" Thad asked, the tagline having just popped into his brain.

"You mean the old 80s flick with Gregory Hines and Baryshnikov where an American living abroad and a Russian ex-pat have to collaborate, using the power of ballet, to defeat the evil intentions of the Soviet Republic?" I responded.

"No, that's not what I meant, but I think it's amazing that you thought of that first."

"Oh, so you mean a night party featuring only white spirits like gin, vodka, mezcal, tequila, and anything else unaged we can think of?"

After figuring out what exactly we meant by "White Nights", we finally began thinking on the same wavelength. While Thad, Eric, and I figure out the logistics for our epic "White Nights" party at Bar Agricole, let me tell you about the arrival and the return of some new clear, unaged, white spirits here at K&L. This way you can throw your own White Nights party while you're waiting for us to get our act together.

Just yesterday we got in a new shipment of Mike Groener's Genius Gin, from his Austin, Texas-based distillery. We're bringing this in directly, which means we're big believers in the quality of what Mike is doing down there. At 57% "navy strength", the flavors are bold and they explode on the palate, but I've never found that the higher alcohol overpowers the delicacy of the botanicals, nor does the extra proof make the mouthfeel unmanageable. If anything, it adds weight and texture, much like it does with wine. There's a creamy sugar cane note that gets accented with pepper and citrus. This might be something you want to try in your next gin and tonic out on the back patio this weekend.

Genius Navy Strength Texas Gin $29.99 - The Genius Gin from Austin, Texas is one of the best new craft spirits I've tasted in years -- and the price is right where it should be at $29.99. Austin is one of the most up-and-coming cities in the United States, with a cocktail scene and farm-to-table culture that now rivals San Francisco and New York. In 2011, Charles Cheung and Mike Groener created Genius Gin -- a cane-based spirit made entirely from scratch in a tiny warehouse with a tiny still. Utilizing years of tech industry experience, Genius ferments, distills, and bottles with immaculate attention to detail. The navy strength was inspired by Plymouth and Old Tom style gins; the botanicals span from lime leaves to lavender to create a classic gin profile that is quite simple and utilitarian in its profile. It's not some wacky new designer gin, but rather an honest, botonical-driven spirit that's distinct, yet familiar. At 57% it packs quite a punch!

The polar opposite of the Genius Gin would be the Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin, another product we're bringing in directly, albeit from Utah. Erik Ostling and the crew over at Beehive Distilling in Salt Lake City, have created one of the most gentle and elegant gins we carry; very diminutive in flavor, but with a lovely harmony of sage, rose petals, and juniper. I can drink this stuff straight from the bottle (and I have done so many times). We were out for a few weeks, but we just received our latest shipment from the Great Salt Lake. If you're looking to sip on a refreshing gin martini, late in the evening on a warm summer night, then this is a prime candidate for that cocktail.

Beehive Distilling Jack Rabbit Utah Gin $29.99 - I'm always amazed what can be accomplished with grain neutral spirit and just a few simple botanicals. In the case of Beehive's Jack Rabbit Gin, the addition of sage and rose petals to the standard juniper recipe creates an absolutely beautiful balance of spicy, savory, and floral. Located in Salt Lake City (not exactly hard liquor country), Erik Ostling and his team at Beehive Distilling have set up shop in one of the least-friendly places in America for alcohol production, yet have managed to thrive in spite of their challenges. The Jack Rabbit Gin stands out immediately with its creaminess and fullness of texture. None of the botanicals jump out (unlike a Jack Rabbit), but rather linger long in a soft wave of flavor that meanders from classic London Dry to a clean and elegant finish. The quality of the base spirit is to be commended, but the ease of the gin is what ultimately grabs you. This isn't like anything else in your liquor cabinet, but it isn't some strange new variation of gin either. The Jack Rabbit makes a stunning Martini, just straight stirred with ice, but mixes wonderfully into just about every drink I've tried so far. K&L is so far the only retailer on the west coast to carry Beehive, as Erik reached out to us directly. It won't be long, however, until other merchants catch on to what's happening out there on the prairie. Jumpin' jack rabbits! That's some good gin.

And our latest K&L Exclusive white spirit has just arrived in stock today. No more pre-orders. You can now start ordering the best vodka around directly from us as an in-stock item. If I were you, I would just stick this bottle in the freezer and pour it directly into a cold martini glass with a twist of lemon. That, or you could just do what I did after dinner the other night: pour a shot glass, sit on the couch, and savor the creamy and supple mouthfeel of the most elegantly-refined vodka we carry. Davorin's secret recipe is no joke. The proof is in the bottle. Sit outside, listen to the sounds of the night, and think about how Gregory Hines and Baryshnikov tore through Moscow circa 1985, the power of dance driving them to their ultimate goal.

Old World Spirits "St. Blaise" Vodka $34.99 - Davorin Kuchan has been distilling spirits since his early days as a winemaker and eau-de-vie expert back in Croatia. When he established Old World Spirits here on the San Francisco Peninsula (right outside of Belmont), he brought with him the traditions and expertise of old world production methods and used them to formulate West Coast versions of his original spirits. This was right around the pre-Prohibition cocktail craze when vodka was becoming a dirty word, so Davorin instead made gin; never releasing his patented vodka formula state-side for fear that it would never get the credit it deserved. Now that all that prejudice is dying down, however, he felt it was time to bring back one of his most special old world creations. Using a unique finishing process (including granite and active charcoal sedimentation) and an ultra-slow, subsonic, continuous, multi-stage filtering process, Davorin has created a California version of his old St. Blaise vodka; a tribute to the patron saint of Croatia. Based off his eau-de-vie and grappa filtration methods, the idea is to polish and soften the spirit without striping the inherent character. The vodka is proofed with soft California Sierra spring water. The final product is soft, supple, and slightly creamy in texture with accents of sweet fruit in the background. It's one of the most pure and elegant vodkas we've ever tasted and it's being made right here in our own backyard. The pride of Croatia is now the pride of the Peninsula!

Get a bottle of clear booze, pour yourself a cold glass, go outside on your next available evening, and don't forget your leg warmers, lycra shorts, and skin-tight tank top. Feather your hair, put on your most serious face, and embrace the raw power and the emotion of White Nights.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
May132015

The Faultline Scotch Old-Fashioned

So you wanna make cocktails like the Bar Agricole master himself, Eric Johnson? Lucky for you, I've got his incredible recipe right here. You can always head over to 11th Street and have him make you one of these lovely summer drinks in person, or you can try your hand at home. Either way, the power is yours! (as Captain Planet used to say).

Here's Eric's breakdown:

House Old Fashioned (Traditional)

Build in a bucket glass:

-1.5 oz Faultline Blended Scotch

-1 barspoon Small Hand Foods gum syrup

-1 barspoon maraschino cherry liqueur

-3 dashes of Aromatic Bitters

-3 dashes of Peach Bitters

-add one hand cut ice cube

-garnish with a lemon peel twist

And voila! You're on your way to smoky whisky heaven. This is seriously one of the most refreshing cocktails I've had all year and it's made with one of the most-inexpensive and delicious whiskies we carry! 

-David Driscoll