Navigation
Search This Blog

Return to KLWines.com

Spirits Journal Podcast Archive

Spirits Journal Twitter Feed

K&L Uncorked Blog

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!


Wednesday
Jun272012

More On Price Increases, Things to Think About

Many big name whiskies have gone up in price over the past few months: Macallan, Highland Park, Old Pulteney, Yamazaki, Bowmore, Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, and many, many more.  Most of these brands have also experienced shortages at some point during this period, leading them to seriously consider the amount of product they have available and what they need to charge in order to keep current profit levels sustained.  It's really just supply and demand - when the booze starts to run out and people still want it, can we afford to charge the same price?  Look at it this way: if you ran a company where you sold three hundred bottles of whisky per month for $25 a bottle, you'd be making $7500 a month.  What if, all of a sudden, you were only able to secure about 200 bottles a month?  Would you be content to make $5000 a month, or would you raise the price to $37.50 to cover your losses?  Would people still buy it if you did?

My question is this: when production on these whiskies catches back up, and supply once again balances out the demand, are prices on these whiskies going to go back down?  I ask this because, when prices on a brand go up, we retailers have to make our own decisions based on the same factors.  Do we raise our prices in response to their price increases?  If customers come into the store and see that Laphroaig 10 is no longer $35.99 but now $39.99, who are they going to blame?  Are they going to say to themselves: "What the hell?  K&L raised their prices!  I'll have to go somewhere else more reasonable," or are they going to make the connection that we had nothing to do with these changes?  I can tell you one thing - we are making a whole lot less per bottle this year than we were making last year because we don't want to raise prices on customers if we can help it. 

I'm betting, however, that once the market runs its course and the public comes to the realization that Highland Park 18 is now a $100 whisky, there's no way in hell it's going to go back down again.  Why would you lower it if sales don't slow in response to the increase?  Are people going to continue paying more and more each year for their favorite whiskies, or are they going to say "enough is enough" and look elsewhere for value?  I'm wondering when the "Netflix effect" is going to transpire.  How high can you go before the bubble bursts?  I'm still seeing tremendous value in the single malt whisky market: Bruichladdich 10, Benriach 12, Glendronach 12 and 15, Aberlour 12, Ardbeg 10 and Uigeadail, Kilchoman Machir Bay, and many other malts that are among the best we carry for the price.  Not to mention the return of great blended values like Great King Street, Bank Note, Highland Chief, and Islay Mist. 

I'm not trying to say that whisky isn't worth paying for because that would be foolish.  We all know there are some very special bottles out there in the world.  What I'm saying is that you can't pay $85 one day and then $105 the next.  That's what's happening right now, however.  It's not K&L and it's not the other big liquor stores either.  We're not raising the prices, we're simply reacting to the market. 

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jun272012

Tastings Tonight!

We'll have the dynamic Tequila 916 pouring in SF tonight (a big crowd favorite last week in Redwood City) while David Ferguson from Bruichladdich will be making his way from Islay to the tasting bar in Redwood City.  Both tastings start at 5 PM and run until 6:30.  Both are free as always!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jun262012

The Most Special of the Special

Guess what just landed in our warehouse?  Twenty-five cases of the most amazing bottle we've ever acquired for K&L.  There's really no way that I can truly convey how special this bottle is.  What if I said that Camut has never bottled a 15 year old Calvados expression before?  What if I told you that Camut has never before bottled a special cuvee for a retailer, let alone an American one?  What if I told you that this was the best Calvados in the world?  Would that be enough to get you excited? I'm so pumped up about this bottle I can hardly contain myself.  Here are a few reasons why:

- Camut makes the best Calvados - bar none.  There's no other spirit in the world where I can easily pick out one producer as being the very best.  That's how good Camut is.  They leave every other apple brandy producer in the dust.

- The Camut brothers do not need the money they make from Calvados - they are farmers and land owners.  Therefore, they don't profit off of cider primarily and then distill what's left over.  All of their cider is for making Calvados and they do everything the hard way.  When you see how much time it takes them to grow the apples the right way and the dedication they put into it, you can't help but respect the hell out of these guys.

- Camut allows Charles Neal, their importer and our friend, only a tiny allotment for the entire U.S.  Our 300 bottle batch is more than Charles gets of all the other expressions combined.  This is very limited and very special, not to mention entirely collectable.

- The Camut brothers are so geeky about their craft it's insane.  We lost Emmanual for over an hour before we realized he was across the street lurking in a barn full of his new obsession - barrel-aged vinegar.  There were over 200 barriques full of vinegar in this building that had been aging for years.  "Who are you selling these to?" I asked curiously.  "Sell?" he replied.

- Read our blog post from January if you want to see some pictures are learn some more about their operation.

And that's that.  If you're not excited about this Calvados now then you either don't like Calvados or you're a robot.  If it's the latter, then you shouldn't be reading this blog anyway because robots can't drink alcohol.  If you don't like Calvados, then that's just too bad because this bottle just arrived:

Adrien Camut 15 Year Old K&L Exclusive Pays d'Auge Calvados $115.99 - The Camut brothers have fully dedicated their lives to making Calvados just as their grandfather did - they believe in their craft and they get a sense of pride from doing it. In sports, there are athletes with raw natural ability and others who succeed through sheer hard work and determination. When you combine both of those elements you get Michael Jordan, or, in the world of fine spirits, you get Camut Calvados. There is no doubt that Camut is the DRC or Chateau Lafite of the Calvados world - they are the very best, hands down.  Getting them to make us a special 15 year old Calvados, an aged expression they have never bottled before, was not something that came from discussions of money or sales margins.  Our exclusive K&L bottling came after a long night of food, drink, and brotherhood at their country farm - talk of the Americans storming the beach at Normandy and the special bond between our two countries ever since.  This 15 year is the perfect Calvados and showcases exactly what defines greatness in distillation - the elegant essence of apple on the nose, subtle vanilla and wood on the palate, and warm cider on the finish.  It's impeccable and perfect in every way, quite possibly the best spirit we've ever acquired for K&L. It's a very big deal for our store and those who love Calvados will understand how special this is. The Camuts do not make special blends for people, but they have done so for us.  Only 300 bottles available.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jun262012

No More Packaging - A Plea to Producers

Please!  For the love of God, please stop putting whisk(e)y in cardboard boxes, tin canisters, felt bags, whatever!  We live in an age where more people are buying booze online than in actual brick and mortar stores.  Glass bottles must be protected by shipping in styrofoam sleeves that hug the bottle snuggly, leaving no room for wooden crates or fancy plastic gift boxes.  Because whisky has become so collectable, a bottle will lose its potential resale value if every little item that came with it orginally isn't kept in tact.  That means that when we ship someone a bottle of Bruichladdich and don't include the canister, the resale value of that Bruichladdich may be affected and that angers collectors.  When we buy casks from Scotland we purposely bottle them without any additional packaging for this reason.  No more tins, no more problems. 

If a bottle never came with any packaging to begin with then it's easier to maintain a collectable's full resale value - all you need is the bottle itself.  Most people don't know that when booze gets delivered by distribution there are all kinds of open boxes, damaged containers, and missing pieces.  When we get our six bottles of Pappy 15 only three of them actually have the red bag.  That means three possible collectors are going to go home pissed through no fault of my own. 

There's an easy solution to this - no more packaging.  Sure, purists could argue that whisk(e)y is for drinking, not for collecting, but that's an entirely different argument.  In today's global world, where people rely on shipping for delivery, the less packaging the better.  It's easier for the parent company, it's easier for the bottler, it's easier for the retailer, and it's easier for the customer.  Let's do it now.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jun252012

Using Online Consumer Reviews

I have to admit that when it comes to finding advice concerning dining, shopping, or specialized services, I definitely do a quick Google search or read some Yelp reviews to help guide my decisions.  Sure, it's nice just to find out what's nearby in the area, what's conveniently located, what the business hours are and whatnot, but I always read through the comments as well.  Last week my wife needed to fix a gold necklace and a silver bracelet, so I scoured through jewelers on the peninsula and finally settled upon the store with the most positive reviews.  After dropping off the items for my wife, she made sure to pick them up when they were finished, but there was a problem: the necklace wasn't quite fixed the way we had asked.  When my wife brought this to their attention the store employees laughed at her and told her she was wrong (then continued speaking about her in Spanish, without realizing she's a first-language Spanish speaker).  My wife left angrily and we had to find another jeweler to finish the job.

Out of the fifty-six total reviews on Yelp, there were only two negative ones – both from women complaining about the same type of belligerent behavior towards them from the owner.  I tend to discount a couple negative reviews, believing that the customers from time to time might be a bit difficult to deal with, but these minority opinions aptly described the experience of my wife as well.  It turns out that, despite the multitude of five-star reviews, this place can definitely rub some people the wrong way. At least, that was our experience.

Despite the attitude of the jeweler, I'm willing to accept that we might have caught him on an off day.  Maybe he was upset that we were questioning his expertise.  I've read some negative reviews about K&L online where customers vent their frustration about an inattentive staff member or crabby cashier and sometimes that's probably an accurate description.  I can't say that I bring my "A" game to work everyday, as much as I hope to.  There are times when I've lost my patience or I've just had a long week and maybe I didn't give a customer the experience they should have received.  However, on an average day in the Redwood City store, I'd say it would be difficult to leave unhappy if you were looking for quality service.  Every now and again people have rough days and that's the reality of being human.  We're not robots, we're not without our own egos or emotions, therefore it's difficult to summarize the overall quality of a particular business through a five-star rating system, especially if it's your first and only visit.  There are times when we perform better than others and that's just life.

I don't plan on leaving a Yelp review for the jeweler because I don't think it's necessary.  There are obviously plenty of other people who have done business there and received great service.  There are probably several different guys who work there as well.  What I want to state is that basing one's decisions on the mass aggregate opinion of the internet is no guarantee of anything.  Not that anyone has ever claimed it should be, either.  It just seems that people are quick to hand out either five stars or one star without taking much time to consider some very basic human elements in the equation.  I wouldn't summarize an athlete's ability after watching him perform in one game.  I wouldn't write a whisky review if I had only tasted the malt once.  Yet, I read reviews where someone stops to pick up a taco, waits five minutes, and hands out one star because they were in a rush.  We need to slow down and think about things before we put information out into the internet that people use to make business decisions.  I'm talking about myself here as well. 

-David Driscoll