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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!


Good Food Awards

My good friend Jennifer Colliau from the Slanted Door called me up a few weeks back and told me she had been made the chair of the newly added spirits board for a group called the Good Food Awards, an organization dedicated to recognizing domestic producers who create beer, cheese, coffee, pickles, chocolate, and charcuterie in humane, responsible, and environmentally friendly ways.  She asked if I would be on the board with her (and a slew of other Bay Area spirit people) to help get people interested in participating.  I took one look at their website and loved what I saw - I was in.

Starting now, any distillery who meets the guidelines can enter -

• Utilize ingredients that are traceable and that they can speak to where they come from.
• Do not contain any genetically modified ingredients.
• Contain no artificial additives.

Anyone interested in entering can contact me for more info.  Entries will be taken until September 1st via the website.

Can't wait to see how this goes!

-David Driscoll


Tuesday Tasting Tonight!

I'm jetlagged as all hell, but I'll still be heading over to Martin's West tonight to give you all a sneak peak at the soon-to-be-sold-out batch of Highland Park 16 Year Old Calvados aged single malt from the Alchemist collection.  Price will be $4 a glass and we will have one bottle which will be opened right at 6 PM!  Don't miss this chance to try before you buy!  When the email goes out to the big list tomorrow these Alchemist bottles will be a thing of the past!

-David Driscoll


Berry Bros & Rudd - A London Visit

Berry Bros & Rudd is the shining example of what a wine and whisky merchant can strive to achieve towards - an international company with offices all over the world, bottling their own casks of liquor acquired from the relationships formed over three centuries of business.  This storefront has been around since the late 1600's when it opened as a coffee merchant.  The store itself is more like a museum than an actual place of business. There are bottles to see and choose from, but most of the selection is buried under the building in the many rooms and cellars.  The main entryway still has the scales that were used to weigh coffee beans.

When the coffee business ceased and the booze business began, BBR began using the scales to weigh customers as they awaited their wine.  Apparently it was pricey to visit a doctor and receive one's measurements, so BBR offered it as a gratis service for their loyal patrons.  The original logs are still located at the front desk where one can trace the growth of notable historical figures such as Lord Byron.

The whisky room is where I met Doug MacIvor, a Scotsman who moved to London as a boy and is now in charge of the liquor operations for BBR.  He tastes and purchases all of their independently-bottled single malts and even does the blending for their own line of vatted malts.  He was nice enough to take me around the store and into some of the more historical rooms in the building. 

Behind the main storefront is a small and cozy lounge where one can quietly taste and concentrate on some serious whisky analysis.  It also happens to be the room where the owners sat one evening and created a little brand called Cutty Sark.  You might have heard of that whisky before. 

Underneath the first floor is the famous Napoleon cellar where BBR still holds private events and corporate meetings with important guests.  It's called the Napoleon celler because Napoleon used to visit and have a few drinks within it while plotting his subsequent invasion back into France.  There was also once a tunnel that connected it with the royal palace where deliveries of wine would be transfered subterraneously to the king and queen.  It's quite a sight and the room itself is filled with ancient relics.

Bottles from the 1600s adorn the glass cases attached to the inner walls.  They are embossed with family crests for identification purposes because bottles were once more valuable than the commodities they contained. 

The reserves of old wines and whiskies in the storeroom await the visitation of significant guests for whom they are intended.  Some of the selections are incredible and I spent a few minutes just staring in awe.  Did I tastes some whisky at BBR? A little.  Did we discuss some future business?  Of course.  However, visiting the St. James St. location is like visiting Westminster Abbey or the London Tower, it's an experience in itself and needs to be given its proper due.  Visiting Berry Bros. and Rudd is a must-do for any whisky fan who finds himself in London just because of the history.  It was and continues to be the destination for any distinguished drinker and connoisseur of fine spirits.

And, yes, we will probably be bringing in some casks with them in the near future.  Needless to say both David OG and I are excited about working with such an extablished and esteemed company with a flawless reputation for quality drink.  We can only hope to achieve the same lofty heights.

-David Driscoll


Alchemist Closeouts Are In!

I'm sitting in my hotel room in London after a long day of drinking and eating, and I just found out that these bottles finally showed up!  I'll repost the old info from before now.  These won't last long after the blig email goes out so get what you need right now.

Get ready for some AWESOME whiskies at low low low prices.  There were dropped by the former importer and closed out at ridiculous prices. I did my homework on this deal, made sure I got over to the importer's warehouse once they arrived, tasted through these, and jumped all over every bottle of the best expressions.  The Alchemist single malts are independent whiskies from Gordon Wright, a member of the Springbank family with close associations to Bruichladdich as well.  That explains how he got all the good stuff.  There are other expressions besides the four that I cornered, and while they are also less expensive, they don't represent the slam bang deal that the others do.  There are other spirits as well such as a 15 year old Calvados, an older Armagnac, and some aged Guadalupe Agricole rhum.  Those will also be brought in most likely, but I'm sticking with these four as the highlights and I bought over 100 bottles of each.  We will be shooting out an email to the big list when these arrive but you will have plenty of time to nab as many as you want.

Macallan 18 Year Old Alchemist (elsewhere $150) $79.99 - I've seen this as high as $150 in other countries and over $100 in the UK, but it is not available in the U.S.!!  While not as heavily sherried as the standard distillery offering, the Alchemist version still brings the elegance. Vanilla, hints of stone fruit, soft textures, a smooth and lasting finish, and hints of sweet baking spices - everything one would expect from well-aged Macallan. Do not wait to secure your order. These could very well sell through in minutes.

Macallan 15 Year Old Alchemist (elsewhere $80) $65.99 - While everyone else is out there eyeing the fantastic price on the Macallan 18 Alchemist, trust me folks, the 15 year is the jewel of the bunch. This whisky simply explodes with flavor in the traditional Speyside style. Big, chewy, intensely rich flavors of toffee, raisined fruit, candied orange peel, and thick, malty goodness. This is personally the best Macallan I've had in....well, I can't actually remember tasting another Macallan I liked this much! Simply wonderful whisky and I can't recommend it highly enough. This whisky delivers the goods in everyway possible, both for beginners and for single malt experts. Stock up for holiday gifts, or save for yourself because once this is gone, that's it forever. At this price it's hard to decide how many I want!!

Bruichladdich 15 Year Old Alchemist (previously $75) $52.99 - Gordon Wright, the man behind the Alchemist bottlings, used his great relationship with Bruichladdich to secure this super batch of whisky from their library of casks. It's everything you want from the classic style of the distillery - grassy, herbal aromas that lead into a saline, and fruity palate. The finish is rich and warming, brimming with toasted vanilla and barrel spice. When you think that that standard distillery bottlings of Bruichladdich 15 retail for over $70, you realize what a crazy, ridiculous price this is for a whisky this good. Classic in every way and one of the best deals we've stumbled across in some time. This won't last long - especially once our old whisky buyer and Bruichladdich super fan, Susan Purnell, realizes it's here. This is unavailable anywhere else in the U.S. right now, so grab it and grab it quickly.

Highland Park 16 Year Old Calvados Finished Alchemist (unavailable in the U.S.) $72.99 - Currently unavailable anywhere else in the U.S.! A rarely seen gem has suddenly re-emerged and fallen right into our lap at a ridiculously low price! This Calvados-finished Highland Park is astoundingly good, supremely delicious, and likely to sell out as fast as it came in! Imagine all the grace and balance of Highland Park, with the campfire smoke and sweet grains, maturing inside of an apple brandy cask! I couldn't believe my mouth when I tasted this! The apple highlights linger softly on the entry and brood slowly on the palate before they give way to the bit of peat smoke and subtle richness that coat the finish all the way down. I've never seen a Calvados-aged HP and I don't think I'll ever see one again. After tasting this, I can't imagine why that would be the case - this stuff rules.

-David Driscoll


Borough Market

South of the Thames, near the London Bridge crossing, is London's answer to San Francisco's Ferry Building - a concentrated population of organic produce, artisan cheese and charcuterie makers, wine shops, hip pubs, and interesting restaurants open for trade every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  The selection is vast and the quality is incredible.  Just a brief visit to the market is enough to cure any Bay Area foodie of their homesickness in seconds.  That's because Borough Market is like a combination of the farmer's market, Bi-Rite, and Whole Foods, except waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better.

First off, Borough is about fifteen times as big as any high-end market we have in the States - the selection is mind-boggling and causes one's head to spin as the senses are inundated with intoxicating sights and smells.  Intoxicating drinks are also available and one can walk freely with a beverage in hand (so of course we both grabbed a Pimm's) while perusing the various stands and storefronts.  Imagine if you could sip on a beer while picking out vegetables at Whole Foods!

Sure you can get fresh fruit, crisp produce, and all the usual snacks we see in the U.S., but it's the foods we don't see at home that one should concentrate on, i.e. England's traditional meat pie!  There are numerous choices available and they all seem quite delicious.

We made a mistake eating lunch before we came because the hot meals available at Borough Market are wonderful.  Most vendors will let you sample just about anything and that leads to trouble quickly.  This giant bowl of green seafood curry was almost my second lunch.

Of course there's seafood as well.  Fresh-shucked oysters on the half shell are ubiquitous and there's a plethora of fine fish and chips with an option to choose your own fillet for deep-frying from an eye-popping selction of varieties.

Don't even get me started on all the bread and baked goods.  We opted for a half loaf of Spelt Sourdough to go with our cheese purchases, but these flower pot-baked treats had me captivated.  What a creative way to cook and present!

The cheese is what will break you at Borough Market.  We had nearly purchased a pound of various cheese before we even made it to Neal's Yard Dairy.  We tasted their Stilton and began talking to the staff about how highly we thought of their shop.  They asked us where we were from and we said San Francisco.  They then said that a guy named Adam from Cowgirl Creamery had come over from SF to work in their shop recently.  I about freaked out because Adam is the brother of our RWC store assistant manager Zach.  You're never too far away from six degrees of K&L no matter where you go.  Neal's specializes in the farm cheeses of the UK and the selection will make you drool with delight.

I was about to leave when I spotted the New Forest Cider stand out of the corner of my eye.  These guys are making some amazing, apple ciders and a good lot of them are non-carbonated.  We never see bubble-free cider in the States and I'm not sure why because it's quite nice to have a few pints without filling your stomach up with air.  They also sell apple brandy from a small distilery in Sheffield, but I was too entranced by their delicious cider.

By the time we arrived back at the hotel we had quite a booty.  Bread, meat pie, various cheeses, fruit, and some cider to wash it down.  If you're in London, you simply must go to Borough Market.  I'll be heading back tomorrow and Saturday to take in more.  Can't wait.

-David Driscoll