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


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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!


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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!


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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!


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

Wednesday
May132015

This Made My Whole Year

Just like a gin martini or an ice cold beer, this video fills me with a warm, fuzzy glow over and over again. I've watched it about forty times and it just keeps getting better. I'm so happy right now.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
May122015

The New Pride of the Peninsula

I got a call from my friend Davorin Kuchan about a week ago asking me if I had time to grab lunch and catch up. It had been more than a year since I had last seen him in person, so I was looking forward to hearing about the latest gossip from Old World Spirits. We arranged to meet in downtown San Mateo and had a lengthy conversation about the state of the micro-spirits industry, as well as the ever-changing fashion of cocktails and the future of booze distribution. As we were leaving, Davorin said he had a small present for me and handed me an unfamiliar bottle. I looked at the label; somewhat like his Blade Gin artwork, but with a hand-drawn image of an old saint trapped behind the giant letters "VODKA". What in the heck?

"It's my old vodka recipe. I never distilled it when I opened up Old World Spirits because I bought into that whole 'vodka is dead' hype that was going around at the time. Now, however, I'm over all that BS."

"That's fantastic!" I shouted, always happy to hear about someone smiting the perceived rules of the game. "What does that old recipe entail?"

"I can't tell you too much, but let's just say that it involves a number of painstaking steps that I perfected over many years back in Croatia," he replied. "It's a pain in the butt to make, but it's worth it in the end."

"And you're making this right here on the Peninsula?" I said.

"Of course. Same as always."

"We need to sell this! Our local customers will go crazy for a high-end vodka made right in their backyard," I answered. "I'm assuming it's good."

"St. Blaise is the patron saint of Croatia, so I wouldn't dare besmirch his name. Try it and find out."

I did that very night. Less than a week later, Davorin and I worked out a deal for us to buy his "painstakingly" delicious vodka direct from the source, available exclusively at K&L. He just needs to get a few labels printed up and a few more bottles in the ringer. In the meantime, however, I'm taking pre-orders. Anyone who isn't too cool for vodka will want to at least try a bottle. It's pretty awesome when one of the softest, most-supple vodkas on the market is made right down the street from your house. This is the type of vodka that's so clean and mellow you can drink it straight out of the bottle and it goes down like spring water. Right now it's just for us, so you might as well get in on the secret. Dust that half-empty bottle of Smirnoff that's been sitting in your cupboard for the last six years and get yourself something delicious and locally-made. Davorin's willing to make as much as you want to buy (even if it is a pain in the ass).

Old World Spirits "St. Blaise" Vodka $34.99 (SPECIAL ORDER) -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!

-David Driscoll

Monday
May112015

More on West Cork Distillers

I had a lovely conversation with John O'Connell from West Cork Distillers this last week—the new Irish whiskey label that's taken K&L by storm suddenly. He rang my cell phone at about 9 AM on Thursday morning and we discussed the latest happenings at Ireland's soon-to-be-a-superstar distillery. John also sent me a few photos to use on the blog, and answered some questions I had about pricing and availability. There's something about the Irish work ethic that you just have to respect. John reiterated some of the main philosophies concerning whisky that I've heard from other Irish friends in the industry; namely that whisky should be tasty, affordable, and not fussy. "We just need to make enough profit to cover our main expenses. We're not looking for a whole lot beyond that," he said to me calmly. He also said that West Cork operates around the clock, 24/7, and that heas one of the ownersruns one of the overnight weekend shifts himself. That's called setting an example.

Here are a few more quick specs that John sent me:

There are four stills in total at West Cork and they are in the process of developing another set. The two low wine stills are Setterstrom of Sweden stills. The very high lye to pot height ration (nearly 4:1) means that West Cork can make a very clean and high alcohol low wine ( about 55% ABV which is INSANE). The spirit stills are copper from Holstein in Germany. They have both jacket and coils heating systems. The alcohol content of the first spirit comes off at circa 70% but West Cork pulls at around 63%. 

West Cork only distills with grains indigenously grown in Ireland; so those would be barley and wheat. They distill their grain whisky on a pot still as well and absolutely no corn is used in that mashbill, just the two aforementioned crops. West Cork has been distilling since 2004, but in 2009 they ramped up production significantly. They malt some of their own barley on site (using green malt, which John thinks makes a big difference in flavor), and they do not use municipal water for their production; only natural spring water and water taken directly from the Ilen River. 

We still have plenty of the standard Classic Blend in stock right now, and we'll have more of the ten year old later this week. Both are just ridiculous values considering the quality and scale of West Cork's production, and especially when you compare what they're charging to other small and independent distilleries around the world. Again, the more I dig into the story of West Cork Distillers, the more magical it becomes. Another thing John said that impressed me was that West Cork didn't take any outside investment money because they didn't want to be beholden to capitalistic interests. West Cork really does seem like a bunch of down-home, hardworking Irish boys pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and making something delicious and affordable. Whether that matters to you or not is subjective, but I find it incredibly endearing.

-David Driscoll