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 26 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Bowmore 13 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Bruichladdich 24 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!


Saturday
May122012

Scotland - Day 2 continued: Driving North

This morning's drive up Scotland's east coast was wonderful.  The rain clouds had given way to sunshine and blue skies, the North Sea looking much like the Pacific Ocean outside Santa Barbara.  We drove around Edinburgh for about a half hour before we found our way north to the bridge towards Perth, where we eventually turned east to the sea.  After Aberdeen the road went northwest towards Huntly and we could see the snow-capped Glencairn mountains to our left.  Last year, we mistakenly took the longest possible route to Glendronach, which led us through those very peaks, into the snow, and one of the most beautiful drives of our lives. 

For the sake of time, however, we decided to take the major throughway this year, which interestingly enough took us through Inverurie, home to Glen Garioch distillery - the Bowmore-owned brand that we plan on sampling with Rachel Barrie later in Glasgow.  Since we might be purchasing an entire cask of their whisky, we thought it beneficial to check the place out.  Luckily, they were running tours only an hour after our arrival, so we walked into downtown Oldmeldrum for some lunch and a beer.

At Morris's restaurant I noticed that one of the options was a roast chicken sandwich with cranberry and "mealie."  I had to ask what "mealie" was, so our waitress Margaret told us not only what "mealie" was, she also gave us a free sample with her own personal recipe.  You take a finely-chopped onion, fry it in oil, and then gently add in some oatmeal.  You finish it off in a steamer until the consistency comes together and, voila, you've got mealie.  It has a semi-hard texture, almost like Grape Nuts after they've soaked up a bit of milk.  Apparently, it's wonderful with chicken dishes as well as with mince and tatties.  I can't wait to make it for Thanksgiving this year!  Margaret adds bread crumbs as well, so I'll have to try it both ways.

Back at Glen Garioch distillery, Fiona had discovered we were in town and decided to take us on the private tour rather than the general public option, which was fantastic for the other fifteen people.  We would have bogged that tour down with technical talk after five minutes, drawing the wrath of everyone who paid their money for a relaxed visitation.  Fiona made a fantastic guide and we both learned a ton about the distillery.  First off, it's one of the oldest single malts still in production.  The current facility was founded in the mid-1790's, but it had been in a different location before.  While Strathisla usually claims to be the oldest distillery in Scotland, Glen Garioch could probably make a claim for that title because there has been licensed distillation in Oldmeldrum since the early 1700's .  They're simply not sure where the original distillery was, how long it was in operation, or if that licensing applied to the original Glen Garioch owners.

Because the currently distillery is quite old itself, it's considered a historic site, so Morrison-Bowmore has to keep up the facility, even though parts of it are no longer being used.  The malting rooms are silent, but they are still pristine. 

Before Morrison-Bowmore was sold to Suntory in 1994, there was less structure and less consistency to the whiskies of Glen Garioch.  The old regime would often peat some of the whisky, at various levels and at no particular frequency - simply whenever they felt like it with whatever peat was available.  The northeast of Scotland isn't particularly laden with peat moss, so they were dependent on what they could get, when they could get it.  Suntory has streamlined things a bit and removed the peat completely.  However, the whiskies from pre-94 are still blended in with current releases to give them a slightly-smoky edge.

For the people who don't understand what we mean when we say "native yeast" fermentation, this is what you'll usually see in all distilleries - a big bag of commercial, designer yeast.  You usually want to know what you're getting, but it is fun to see what happens when you just let nature happen.

Tasting the 1994 and 1991 releases was an eye-opener.  I'd had these whiskies before, but going through the distillery and understanding the spirit really gave me a better appreciation of it.  The slight peatiness to both malts was very compelling.  They taste like better versions of the Glenmorangie Finealta that I loved so much - slight richness and vanilla, but leaner and more medium-bodied with the smoke coming on the backend.  An interesting fact about the distillery is that it was forced to close in the 1960's due to a lack of available water.  It wasn't until their former distillery manager "Digger" took his digger (see where the name came from?) out to a nearby field one day and discovered a spring that Glen Garioch was able to re-open and continue fermenting malted barley.

We're now at Glendronach, our lovely little Vauxhall parked next to the Brewer's House where we'll be staying.  On the kitchen table sits a batch of freshly-pulled samples, placed there earlier today by Alistair and Alan.  We've got both Glendronach and Benriach to get through.  It's going to be a long night.

-David Driscoll

Saturday
May122012

Scotland - Day 2: Some Thought

First off, let me say that Edinburgh is a fantastic city.  We'd never spent any time here, usually landing at the airport, hitting the meeting with Chieftain's, and then bolting for the country.  Last night, however, we had some extra time to walk around, visit a few whisky shops, and take in the beautiful architecture and the stark contrasts between the dark grey stone and the ultra-green hills.  We found a lively restaurant for dinner, almost too good to be true called The Outsider, which served big glasses of Pappy 20 for eight pounds, as well as delicious food, and then walked back through the rain to our hotel downtown.  I actually slept through the night for the first time ever, so now I'm up at six ready to go for a quick run, snap a few photos, pack up, and drive north.

One thing that David and I talked about last night at dinner was the price of single cask whisky.  One of the most frequent email subjects I receive from customers deals with the cost of all the barrels we've been finding - namely, that they wish we could find some less expensive options.  The problem with single cask whisky is that it's limited, and it's at cask strength - two qualifiers that raise the price of single malt.  It's simply easier to make the whisky less expensive by making a larger batch of it and lowering the per-bottle cost.  We're definitely open to the idea of doing a batch whisky while we're here.  If Glendronach or Bruichladdich want to put together a blend for us, I'd be over the moon.  That's a lot of work, however, so I would never expect it.  Single casks are easier to deal with.

The point is that $70 is going to always be the low end price for the single cask whiskies we're finding here.  $100 per bottle will likely be the average.  We can't always find amazing deals like the Faultline Cragganmore for $75, but we're trying.  I hate alienating customers who don't want to pay $100+ for these exciting new finds, but it's just the reality of the pricing.  The new Laphroaig cask we just bought is quite a good value for $130, but it doesn't help the person looking to spend $50.  Here's to hoping we can pull something off, however!

More from the road later.

-David Driscoll

Friday
May112012

Scotland - Day 1: One Cask in the Bag

Well, we haven't been here more than a few hours and we've already got one barrel secured.  Upon landing in Edinburgh, David and I rushed to the baggage claim where my magic suitcase came through once again!  Four flights so far with this blessed bag and four flights where my suitcase has been the first one out on the conveyor belt.  Chieftain's was closing at 5 PM, so we snuck in right at 4 PM to do a quick tasting with John and the available casks.  Pickings were slim this year as bottlers are currently tightening their belts to keep up with demand.  Nevertheless, we did find one outstanding cask we think will be a big hit later this year.

While last year's trip was marked by the complete void of any smoky, Islay single malt for our K&L selections, this year's visit will hopefully make up for that.  Right off the bat we found this 18 year old hogshead of Laphroaig, singing its wonderfully peaty tune at a beautiful pitch.  Even at 55% the whisky is quite gentle.  Soft hints of salt and brine make their presence, but take a backseat to the phenolic action, which itself is somewhat restrained.  We think we can retail this for about $130, which would make it $10 less than the fantastic 18 year old Laphroaig from Hart Brothers we've been selling (a whisky that is not from a single barrel, nor at cask strength).  

There were some other intriguing options in the room - 18 year old Longmorn, 18 year old Linkwood, and a super oily 1982 barrel of Inchgower.  In the end, however, they were good, not great.  We have big shoes to fill after last year's unexpected surplus.  We want this year to be even better, so we're going to be more scrupulous than ever before.  Hopefully, that doesn't leave us with just this one cask!

We're absolutely drenched right now, sitting in our hotel lobby, attempting to dry off after the deluge that opened up onto us.  Time for a beer and some much needed rest.  Tomorrow we drive north.  Glendronach and Duncan Taylor await!

-David Driscoll

Thursday
May102012

Wildly Successful Trip A Certainty

So,

Now that I've paid AT&T Wireless $50 for 300MB of international data I'm convinced that this next 12 days in Scotland will be the most successful and exciting thing to happen to our Spirits Department EVER! I mean, if it's not, what a waste, right? Needless to say we'll be blogging, vlogging, slogging, and regular old logging our journey, but this is the first time that we'll be tweeting directly from the belly of the beast.  As long as I've got a signal, you'll be up to date on our newest find.  All the details will be filled in later by Mr. Driscoll and remember he is thorough.  For a rural and relatively far-flung locale Scotland has a fabulous amount of WiFi.  Anyway, if you're interested in viewing our most pertinent musings, please follow us at:

KLDavidOG & KLDavidDriscoll

- David Othenin-Girard

Wednesday
May092012

Big Time Dalmore & Sirius Dinner at Boa Tomorrow Night

Our old friends over at the Universal Whisky Experience are extending a special invitation to K&L’s Whisky Club.  As we’ve said we were skeptical of these super high end tastings when we first heard about them.  Having attended the Las Vegas Tasting, we now stand behind the incredible team at UWE and want to make sure our customers are aware of the incredible Single Malt Dinner events they have planned.  California has three tastings scheduled in the next few weeks.  While the cost is not insignificant, anyone who can afford to do so, should absolutely consider attending as Mahesh and his team pull out all the stops and promise to pour you some of the finest old malts available anywhere.  At $350 a plate, it’s a pretty serious commitment, but I promise they’ll make it worth your while.  Mahesh will pour nine outstandingly rare malts along with your all inclusive dinner

From the Sirius Line they will pour:  Fettercaine ’66, Dalmore ’67, Carsbridge ’65, North British ‘62

From the Dalmore Distillery: Dalmore 18 year, King Alexander III, Dalmore ’78, Dalmore ’74, Dalmore Astrum 40 year

By the oz that’s over $2000 worth of single malt, they’ll be opening over $21000 worth of whisky per event.  I know some here will inevitably scoff at the high price tag, but I assure you that this will be a very special evening.  Everyone who attended UWE was blown away and several of the LAWS guys agreed that it was the finest tasting they’d ever attended.  Unfortunately, David & I will not be able to attend as we’ll be heading for Scotland, but if you can make it and afford you should go.

May 10th Boa Steak House in West Hollywood @ 6:30pm:

SECURE YOUR SPOT TODAY - $350

Here is the Menu:

Pass

Spicy Tuna Tacos

Mini BOA Burgers

Smoked Duck, Truffle Tremor Cheese & Asparagus Tip Quesadillas

First Coarse

“Classic” Caesar Salad

Dungeness Crab Cake

Entrée Course

Rosie’s Organic Chicken Breast

Atlantic Salmon

Petite Filet Mignon

“Bone-in” Rib Eye Steak

Accompaniments

Jumbo Asparagus

Sautéed Seasonal Mushrooms

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Dessert Course

Key Lime Pie

Bread Pudding, jack daniels sauce