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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

10/29 - Redwood City: Alexander Murray Single Malts

11/5 - San Francisco: Alexander Murray Single Malts

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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


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 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 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 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 SOLD OUT!


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!


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

Wednesday
Jul252012

Whisky Season 2012 Update: A Pair from Glenfarclas

We've been getting a ton of emails asking us when the bombs were going to start dropping, when the Ladyburns of 2012 would be offered, so to speak.  Ladies and gentlemen, please begin to take cover.  Now that we've armed ourselves with a calvalry of selective bargains, we're ready to start bringing out the heavy artillery.  The above picture will give you a pretty good idea of what our visit to Glenfarclas was like.  George Grant going through a gigantic, 1980's-style computer printout of ten thousand casks and where they were located.  Us, salivating like two hungry dogs, wetting our whistles with sweet, sherry-aged juice from decades past.  We could have spent our entire time in Scotland at Glenfarclas alone, digging through the various warehouses and pulling out amazing barrels.  In the end, David and I had already snagged a handful of value whiskies, so we knew we had to take advantage of the situation.  No other distillery would be willing to let us run willy-nilly through their super mature stocks, allowing us access to thirty and forty year old casks at the drop of a hat.  There was no point in settling for a twelve year old cask of Glenfarclas when our customers can buy that right now anyway.  The insane amount of mature whisky needed to be exploited to its fullest potential.  We needed to man up, go deep, and simply take the best barrels we could find - no matter how old, how rare, or how expensive.  So we did.  Man, are they glorious.

(NOTE: We are leaving off the age statements until we can determine the exact age of the malt - 41 or 42, 32 or 33)

1970 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (Pre-Order) $579.99 - The next time we head over to Scotland for a business trip, we could easily spend the entire week at Glenfarclas.There are multiple warehouses with an endless amount of barrels, making our discovery of fantastic whisky almost the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. One of the oldest distillerlies in all of Scotland, Glenfarclas is perhaps the most legendary Highland producer. No one is quite sure when the site was actually founded because records only document those facilities that legally paid taxes. In 1865, the Grants purchased the company and since then has passed it down to successive generations. Today, George Grant still proudly runs the show, making Glenfarclas a true rarity - an independent, family-owned distillery that still maintains complete autonomy over its operations. There are no corporate obligations, which is why David and I were able to walk in, meet with George, and pick out any cask that we wanted from the storied, sherry-aged stocks. With so many mature expressions available, we knew we had to take advantage. The 1970 cask is over 40 years old, with a savory richness that oozes with fudge and coffee grounds. The sherry morphs into cakebread and rancio notes before going back in for more richness on the finish. The full proof really makes this whisky special, adding a punch that most older malts lack.  The finish goes on for an eternity, seriously daring you to go back for seconds.  It's the entire package - rarity, depth, and a complexity only found in whiskies of this age. One of the best we've ever found and very limited. Believe me, we wouldn't bring in an entire cask of whisky this expensive unless we knew it was going to be epic.  It is.  It's AMAZING.  Only 50 bottles available for pre-order.

1979 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $279.99 - Glenfarclas is well-renowned for its heavily-sherried character, a mainstay of the Highland distilleries in its region. Located just down the way from Aberlour and other famous Speyside institutions, the dried raisins and fruit cake flavors of sweet sherry casks are ubiquitous in the region and in Glenfarclas whisky expressions.  For that reason, the single cask of 1979 vintage malt we tasted from a fourth-fill sherry cask really caught us off guard.  Because the barrel has already been used three times to mature other whiskies, the sherry residue left on the wood is quite faint, therefore having less of an impact on the eventual color and flavor of the spirit aging inside of it. After more than 30 years, the result is absolutely incredible and very unlike most other Glenfarclas whiskies (exactly why we wanted it!).  Instead of rich sherry, the whisky opens with oily resinous notes, sweet barley, and supple texture that can only come from three decades of wooded slumber.  The finish turns somewhat smoky, filling in the gaps with more oil and a wave of vanilla.  The whisky is simply delicious, loaded with character, and unlike anything from Glenfarclas or any other distillery offering currently on the market.  David and I are always on the lookout for the delicious oddball and we definitely found one deep in the plentiful warehouses of Glenfarclas.  One of my absolute favorite bottles from the trip, if not the favorite. Only 75 bottles available for pre-order.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jul252012

Tastings Tonight!

Two very exciting tastings at K&L tonight: San Francisco will host Boyd & Blair vodka who will be focusing on their Boyd & Blair 151 - a high-quality, high-proof spirit meant for making infusions and bitters.  Kat will be there with packets of different herbs and flavorings to help showcase the various possibilities.  This is almost like a cocktail seminar and a tasting combined!  Redwood City with host the much beloved Buffalo Trace distillery who will be pouring their standard expression, along side the Old Weller Antique and probably the Eagle Rare.  Tastings start at 5 PM and run until 6:30.  Free as always!

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Jul222012

Mark Your Calender

I just got the word this week – Glenfarclas owner George Grant, one of many in a long line of Grants who have run the distillery since the mid-1800's, is going to be in town this Tuesday.  Although that's not our usual tasting day, we can't not have George come into the store, meet the public, and pour some single malt, right?  Therefore, this coming Tuesday in Redwood City you can come and meet George from 5:30 to 6:45 and taste some of his wonderful single malts for free!  He'll have the standard line of expressions, but he did mention something about an exclusive bottle of 1994 vintage that he did for Austria.  I'm not sure if that's on the table or not, but anything's possible!

I won't be there, so Kyle will be running the show.  We'll still have our normal tastings in both stores on Wednesday as well.  Mark your calender!

-David Driscoll