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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

4/23 - Redwood City: Ardbeg Single Malts (w/the chopper!)

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

1988 Littlemill 25 Year Old K&L "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Lowland 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!

Bladnoch 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Lightly Peated Single Barrel #303 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!

Bladnoch 23 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #1054 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!

Talisker "The Speakeasy" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!

2005 Glenrothes 8 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Sherry Barrel 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

1991 Cambus 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!

2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!

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!

1989 Cragganmore 23 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 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!

1983 Miltonduff 30 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750m IN STOCK NOW!


Barrels, Barrels, Barrels - Let The Fun Begin

The barrel yard at Springbank distillery

The holiday season is starting early at K&L.  I'm working day and night to get orders placed, secure large amounts of popular new whiskies, and make sure our casks from Scotland arrive on time.  Today is going to be a huge day.  Three of our new barrels will be arriving this morning: our Glendronach 16 year Sherry cask, the Springbank 14 year Madeira cask, and the Springbank 13 year Bourbon cask.  While many of the other barrels we purchased yielded 250 bottles or less, the Glendronach and Springbank Madeira barrels were gigantic - both dolloping out more than 600 bottles each!  This is a gigantic commitment for us to make up front, however we did it for a reason.  These whiskies are going to be our work horses for the next few months (if they last that long).  The Glendronach 16 is one the most accessible and tasty barrels we've ever purchased - think Macallan 18 on steroids with lots of chewiness.  It's so good, I can sell it to literally anyone and feel confident that they'll truly love it.  The Springer is no different, although the richness is more honeyed and therefore a bit less intense.  All three barrels will be available for sale later today.  For all of you who ordered pre-arrival, I'll be working over at the warehouse all day to get your orders filled as fast as possible - hopefully as soon as this weekend for some of you.  It's important that we do this quickly because there's no time to rest.  Next week we'll be getting the 16 year Bruichladdich finished in Ardbeg casks, followed by the Blair Athol cask right after.  Then the Bruichladdich Chenin Blanc cask hits, along side the Littlemill from our Faultline label.  It's going to get hot and hectic over here, and that's without little things like Talisker 18 and Old Pulteney 21 getting in the way!  Let the fun begin.  We've got a lot of whisky to get through people.  Get some sleep and make sure you're well rested.  I need your livers in top gear.

-David Driscoll


Free Tequila Tonight!

Two of my favorite producers are in town for some fantastic tequila tasting tonight!

Redwood City has the marvelous Los Osuna products, while San Francisco hosts the lovely Gran Dovejo tequilas.

Both tastings are completely free of charge and begin at 5 PM.  They go until 6:30!  Come out and expand your palate's horizons!

-David Driscoll


Keeping Things In Perspective

Have you ever asked anyone what their favorite movie is?  As a former film student, I've had that conversation more than a few times in my life and I've heard a lot of Shawshank Redemption during those talks.  That movie is a solid choice - great acting, lots of emotion, and a perfect ending.  It touches just about everyone so it seems natural so many people would like it.  Every now and then you'll hear people say 8 1/2 by Fellini or Citizen Kane by Orson Welles and I'm not sure what to make of those responses.  Did they actually like that movie or are they just saying that because those are supposed to be the two best movies ever made?  I mean, honestly, how often does anyone ever feel like sitting down with either of those films for a good time?  Being a brash, nineteen-year-old, aspiring director, I used to put forth Big Trouble in Little China or Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze because of their cool, camp factor.  Those are obviously not great movies (unless you redefine greatness), but they're so off-base with the expected response that they catch one's attention.

That's what I used to be all about - getting your attention.  I wasn't lying about my love for Kurt Russell and Patrick Swaze in the 80's - those are seriously two of my favorite flicks.  However, by telling someone that my favorite movie is Big Trouble in Little China, I'm doing two things: 1) taking pleasure in diverting attention to a film that is grossly overlooked and underrated, and  2) making myself look pretty smooth by bucking the trend and choosing something outside the normal realm of possible candidates.  If I had to guess why Jim Murray selected Old Pulteney 21 Year Old as the number one whisky in the world for 2012, I would say that it had something do with the analogy I just gave you.

Old Pulteney is a good distillery.  I really love their 17 year old whisky - a wonderfully balanced malt where the Bourbon and Sherry maturations form the yin and yang of the palate.  The 21 year is also quite nice.  Rich, enticing, creamy, and less sweet than something like Glenfarclas.  There's no doubt that these whiskies are good and very much overlooked.  However, giving Old Pulteney 21 the title of "best whisky in the world" is like giving Paul Newman the best acting Oscar for The Color of Money - it's more of a lifetime achievement award than recognition for that particular role.  Paul Newman was a great actor, but that movie wasn't close to his best (actually Tom Cruise was better than him in that movie). 

Personally, I believe that Jim Murray's rankings aren't literal.  He knows that curious drinkers everywhere will flock to his choices once they're released, driving sales up immensely for these particular producers.  They're more like political or personal statements about himself and his philosophy.  By lavishing that prestigious title upon Old Pulteney, he was hoping to give an underrated distillery a bit of much-deserved spotlight, as well as play the cool and unexpected card (see his previous ranking of Amrut Fusion as #3 whisky in the world).  I have no problem with that whatsoever.  My only concern is that the hundred or so customers who bought a bottle over the last day are going to come back and say, "Really?  That one?"  I can guarantee you that many new owners of an OP21 bottle are going to argue his decision.  However, you have to put these things into perspective.

-David Driscoll


Just In! (Not For Long!)

My email list is apparently not delivering emails right now, so while the tech management guys work on that, I'll post some great info here.

Talisker 18 is back in stock right now.  There are 90 bottles in LA with another 210 coming to RWC this weekend.  I would order now and secure one, then select it for shipping or for store pick up.  We'll be sending out a big email about this later on and they will be gone in a heartbeat.

We also have limited supplies of Old Pulteney 21, now named the #1 whisky in the world for 2012 by Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.  We've sold a bunch already to some eager customers this morning before David OG and I cleaned out the California distribution.  I've got 30 in RWC now with another 70 on order to LA tomorrow.  There are a million people on the hunt for these now that it's considered the BEST whisky in the world.  It broke the record for points with 97.5.  If you want to know what I think, I think Old Pulteney makes great whisky and the 21 year is outstanding.  As is the 17 year.

That's it for now.  Gotta run.  Grab what you can while there's still time!

-David Driscoll


When Do You Drink This? (or Falling Out of Love With Red Wine)

One of the most difficult urges to resist is the capitalistic drive to collect more things, especially when you're passionate about whatever it is you're purchasing.  In our case, it's likely booze.  If you think the emails I send out concerning new arrivals are tempting for whisky fans, think about the tempting offers that K&L sends out every single day to wine drinkers!  Even if you're not a collector, the idea of simply consuming a world class beverage is enough to pull out your wallet on a regular basis.  Believe me, working here at K&L it is even harder for me to resist.  We have regional staff tastings every Tuesday where we plow through anywhere from thirty to forty new wines and there are always three or four I simply have to have.  Tuesday is always a big purchasing day for employees.

When I sample a new wine and truly fall for its flavor, I'm so overcome with excitement that I honestly don't think about when I'm going to open the bottle before I buy it - I simply pay for it and add it to the pile.  This raises a problem when I look for something to open at home after work.  Many of my purchases over the last year simply don't fit in with my drinking schedule or my lifestyle because my wife and I never find ourselves in the red wine mood.  Let me elaborate a bit.  In my wine locker there are at least twenty bottles of Bordeaux, ten bottles of Burgundy, and another dozen of mixed, full-bodied reds that are resting quietly at a cool temperature.  When I get home at around 7:30 in the evening I don't have time to cook the type of meal that would merit opening one of these bottles. 

I'm not simply going to open a 2001 Gruaud Larose St. Julien for kicks and pour a glass while I watch TV.  These are special occasion wines that require planning and consideration.  I only drink three days out the five in my work week and on those days I'm drinking beer, a cocktail, or a glass of white wine.  The weekend would be the best time to plan a special meal and open one of those bottles.  However, the weekend is when my wife and I go out to eat, walk around the city, or grab a cocktail from a bartender friend.  There's no time to fuss about with wine and regulation - the weekend is about getting out of the wine environment and remembering that I used to have other interests before I became immersed in booze culture.  Before I know it, I'm back to work again and I'm already thinking about new bottles that excite me.

In Sideways, there's the famous line about making the bottle itself the occasion for opening it.  I've tried doing that lately, but the motivation just isn't there for me anymore.  I really wanted to enjoy this new Rioja Reserva we just received so I cooked an elaborate meal and sat down with my wife.  We both enjoyed a glass or two, but we didn't finish the bottle.  The wine was fine, it's just that drinking heavy amounts of red wine and eating the heavy foods that accompany it are not things we enjoy anymore.  I had roasted a chicken and made a delicious sauce to go with it, but we just weren't feeling it.  I began to realize that my wife and I, despite our love of cooking and eating, are not the stereotypical sit-down-to-dinner types.  Most of my co-workers enjoy cooking up steak, chicken, pork chops, duck confit, and other famous wine-pairing entreés, then sitting down to multi-course meals with pairings for each one.  As much as I tell myself that's what I too should be doing, it's just not our thing.  Our diet consists mainly of beans, fresh vegetables, Indian sauces, lentils, pizza, hot Thai chillies, and fruit.  In New York, a few weeks back, we ate pizza, tacos, or knish for practically every meal. I think we ate tomatoes on toast with avocados and some broccoli soup for dinner the other night.  Those simply are not meals that scream for Cote Rotie.

Why am I explaining all of this to you?  Because I feel that there is a pressure to derive happiness from booze based off of what other people find enjoyable.  Despite the fact that I don't enjoy red wine at home, I continue to keep purchasing it as if I need to prove something!!  It's not that I don't like it, I just don't ever feel like drinking it.  I had a conversation with a customer yesterday who told me that he almost purchased one of the Eagle Rare 17 year old Bourbons off the shelf simply because he never sees it available.  He didn't particularly want the ER17, nor was it even one of his favorites, but knowing how rare these bottles are and how much other people love them, he felt a compulsion to get one of his own.  This is the same feeling I get every time the Pappy Van Winkles show up, the George T. Staggs, etc.  These are whiskies I have owned and never enjoyed drinking, yet I still feel like I should give them another chance because of how popular they are.  It's the same feeling that compulsive shoppers feel when watching an infomercial about knives or something - they simply have to have those knives even if they've never cooked a thing in their life!

John Glaser told us during our whisky blending seminar to imagine the time we would want to drink our whisky before creating it.  Would it be something to drink after work?  Late at night with a book?  On a sunny afternoon?  The mood was an important creative factor because it needed to be something we would actually want to drink, not merely something we thought was good.  Thinking about when we are actually going to drink a particular wine or whisky should be just as important for evaluation as proper tasting notes are.  The next time you try a new single malt or Bourbon, think about when you would actually drink it.  For me personally, I know that I'm currently not drinking anything cask strength because I'm sick of having to tinker with my whisky when I get home.  That's an important point for me to remember when those Antique Collection whiskies land next week (remind me of that so that there's an extra one for all of you).  Just because something tastes amazing doesn't mean you're actually going to ever drink it - it may sit there on your bar for the next five years while you search for the right moment that never existed in the first place.

-David Driscoll