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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

9/24 - San Francisco: Monkey 47 w/Christoph Keller!

9/24 - Redwood City: Germain Robin K&L Exclusive Brandy!

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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 PRE-ORDER


Glenfarclas "The Faultline Casks" K&L Exclusive First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


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 IN STOCK NOW


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 IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


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 IN STOCK NOW!


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 IN STOCK NOW!


1996 Bowmore 16 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Bladnoch "Young" K&L Exclusive Heavily Peated Single Barrel #57 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glengoyne 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


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!


2013 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky Still Available

2005 Island Distillery 7 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Royal Lochnagar 10 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glendronach 18 Year Old Single PX Barrel Cask Strength Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1994 Benriach 19 Year Old Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1992 Longmorn 21 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1987 Mortlach 25 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Sunday
Jul292012

Mark Your Calender!

Charles Neal will be invading the San Francisco store this Wednesday evening to pour some Chateau Pellehaut brandies, including two K&L exclusive vintages!  Don't miss your chance to taste some of the best Armagnac we've ever carried - for FREE. 

Redwood City will be hosting Boyd & Blair vodka for another session on macerating your own herbs and spices into a collection of homemade bitters.

Tastings start at 5 PM and run until 6:30.  See you there!

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jul272012

More Fun Stuff

Jacob Lustig, the fabulously-connected importer who brings us the jaw-dropping ArteNOM tequilas, is back with his latest Mexican acquisition - Vallet bitter liqueurs.  In 1864, Henri Vallet moved to emigrated to Mexico from France and chose to stay put in his adopted homeland.  By the 1880s, he had become one of Mexico City's premier distillers.  Over 120 years later, the brand is still going strong and, with the new American palate for French and Italian bitters, the time was right to cross the Northern border.  The Fernet Vallet is made from a maceration of aromatic plants, roots and spices including cinnamon, clove, Quassia wood, gentian root and cardamom.  It doesn't have that menthol note that Fernet fans adore, but it is a fantastic expression nonetheless.  The Vallet Amargo Angostura is made from Angostura bark and a maceration of cherry fruits, cloves and other roots and spices.  It's the more traditional of the two, mirroring things like Nonino or Montenegro, but with that Angostura note that you get from the eponymous bitters.  Both are well under $30 and should make fans of the genre very happy.

We've all been a bit disappointed by the shortage of Tempus Fugit spirits since Gran Classico took the world by storm.  Supply and production issues have plagued the beloved producer, but we're happy to report that the Liqueur De Violette is back in stock for the time being.  Still no word on the Cassis or Menthe, but the Gran Classico should reappear in late August.  I have no idea if this is a temporary fix or if they plan to keep this around for awhile, so if you know you like this stuff it would be good to buy in early.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jul262012

Spirits of Über-Geekdom

Keep your eyes peeled for these goodies very soon.  Charbay distillery in Napa acquired about 6,000 gallons of the super popular Racer 5 IPA a while back and, in classic Marko style, decided to distill it rather than drink it.  The spirit was then split off into two batches - one that was aged in stainless steel for a little more than a year and another than was put into French Oak for the same amount of time.  For beer fanatics that want to taste some super hoppy whiskey, these are for you.  I thought they did their job very well, exhibiting that fruity and fragrantly bitter character of the beer in the form of a spirit.  We won't have them in stock for another week or so, but expect the unaged to list around $50 while the aged will come in around the $75 mark.  Marko has continued his experiment of transforming drinkable, high-quality beer into high proof booze with great results.

We've got this one in stock right now, but it's only for the most fanatical spirits geeks that exist, who at the same time also happen to have a passion for the most esoteric, remote wines in the world (i.e. me, David and Kyle).  Macvin is like Pineau des Charentes from France's wild and mountainous Jura region - a sweet wine fortified with unaged marc (like grappa from France).  If you've ever had the Domaine Labet Marc de Jura we carry (another incredibly geeky thing to love), the Domaine Macle Macvin de Jura has those same hay-like, grassy aromas with that hint of funk on the nose.  The finish, however, is all sweet, golden raisins and slightly oxidized sherry.  This style of wine has been made in the Jura since the 14th century, but we've never seen one at K&L until today. It's quite delicious and should make a fantastic addition to that Jura wine and spirit party you were planning on throwing this weekend anyway.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jul262012

A Few More Words About Blending

Something that Chuck Cowdery told me the other day should have been addressed in our more recent posts about Bourbon and that's the idea of consistency.  Big brands have to be consistent from batch to batch, otherwise they're not dependable and there's nothing consumers hate more than inconsistent flavor and quality. If every can of Coke or Pepsi tasted a bit different than the last one you had, neither brand would be nearly as successful as they are today.  Jack Daniels, Bulleit, Jim Beam, and every other big money brand needs to taste the same every time.  People hang their hat on the flavor of these whiskies and just how is it they achieve this flavor on a regular basis?  By marrying gigantic amounts of whiskey together.

There's a reason that the Templeton and Bulleit ryes taste different from one another, despite the fact they're basically made from the same whiskey.  Templeton is using smaller batches, while Diageo is dumping huge amounts of LDI booze into each release.  The smaller the amount of barrels being used, the more likely that a single barrel or flavor will dominate part of the overall flavor.  The more barrels used in the recipe, the less likely that any single whiskey will throw off the marriage. When you buy a bottle of Van Winkle Lot B versus the Weller 12 year, this is essentially the difference.  The Van Winkle batch is a vatting of specific 12 year old wheated Buffalo Trace barrels from specific warehouse locations they prefer.  The Weller 12 is a much larger soup.  That's why, even though they're essentially the same juice, the flavors are not quite the same.  It's that special attention to detail that warrants the extra money for the Van Winkle bottle. 

The same process happens in Scotland.  Laphroaig distillery for example has no real master blender because they're not making different types of whiskies.  The Laphroaig 10 year is literally just a marriage of the three-hundred casks closest to the door.  Contrast that with Ardbeg, whose Uigeadail and Corryvreckan whiskies are carefully crafted recipes of young and old stock from former blender Rachel Barrie.  One method isn't necessarily better than the other, but the latter is definitely more time consuming.  If a whisk(e)y comes as the result of extra attention and detail, specific measurements and equations, then it takes longer to make and time, as we all know, is money.  If a whisk(e)y just requires the dumping of x number of casks into a stainless steel tank, then it can be made much faster and more efficiently. 

The idea of crafting a specific flavor is something we're definitely paying for with certain whiskies and it demands an amount of respect.  Not all whiskies are created equally and we need to pay more attention to making these facts known to the consumer.  Sometimes they feel they're getting ripped off, when in fact they're paying for precision.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jul252012

Watch David and David at Work

When David and I visited Glenfarclas distillery this past May, I took a bunch of video footage that I never posted on the blog.  There was a reason I chose not to share it - it wasn't really very interesting.  I thought that I might edit together a fun little travelogue about visiting the Speyside distilleries, but it didn't really pan out the way I thought.  Our jobs simply sound more interesting than they actually are on video. While it's great to go spelunking in the deep caverns of Highland warehouses, it can be very arduous and time consuming.  There are so many barrels at Glenfarclas that I remember laughing from fatigue at one point, wondering how we were going to choose one cask when there were tens of thousands to taste!  Ultimately, we found two incredible whiskies that I talk about in the previous post below.  They're two of the best whiskies we've ever brought back from Scotland, bar none, but they weren't easy to find.  We had George Grant and his assistant armed with about fifty pages of computer printout taking us through the mines.  If you're up for six minutes of whisky reality TV, then by all means click on the above video. However, I can't promise you it will be as romantic and glitzy as I make it sound in the tasting notes.  There's a reason why no one has a successful Barrel Hunter program on Bravo yet.  Nevertheless, since we just released our two new casks of Glenfarclas for pre-order, I thought I'd reveal the fact that we did search long and hard for these amazing malts.  They did not come easy and we're very proud that we're getting them.

-David Driscoll