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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

9/24 - San Francisco: Monkey 47 w/Christoph Keller!

9/24 - Redwood City: Germain Robin K&L Exclusive Brandy!

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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 IN STOCK NOW


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 IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


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 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!


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

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!


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!


Wednesday
Feb012012

First Batch of Cognacs Available

While we're still working things out with Charles Neal about our smaller allotments of French brandy, we're ready to go with our regional barrels from Comandon.  As we mentioned briefly on the blog before, we were able to work out a deal with one of Cognac's most prestigious negotiants and we hashed out the plan in the depths of their warehouse while tasting barrels, followed by a long dinner in downtown Cognac.  Our plan is to help shed some light on Cognac's regionality by bringing in single casks from the three different terroirs - Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and the Borderies.  Most companies have VS, VSOP, and XO, but that's all really meaningless in most cases.  XO is the highest grade and it simply means more than six years old.  All of these barrels are more than 18 years old, so what's the point in letter grades?  We tasted with many producers on our trip and came to respect the differences between the soils, grapes, wines, and eventually the brandies, from each of the appellations.  David OG wrote up the notes, so now we're ready to go with our first pre-order campaign from France!  These are due in at the end of May.

Comandon XO Borderies 18 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac $99.99 - Comandon's Cask Strength Borderies is bottled at a perfect 18 years old.  It is definitely the most unique and unusual of the three casks from the exception Comandon line of Single Barrel Full Strength Cognac.  Borderies is one of my favorite regions and is usually the least familiar for many amateurs and professionals a like.  Often touted for its distinct floral characters (usually violets and iris), this theme is not as universal as many assume.  While this brandy does exhibit a distinct floral component, I did not get any violet soapy notes.  Instead we a powerful blooming honeysuckle, a fabulous nutty savory character, and a soft smooth finish.  Borderies is best between 15-20 years old and I don't think this brandy could get any better.  This will definitely be the one to taste for the adventurous, but will ring out perfectly for a true Borderies lover.  It will be the least familiar to most Cognac drinkers, but its overt appeal probably makes this the easiest drinking of the three casks.  At this price I can only assume that we'll all be very sad when there's nothing left.

Comandon XO Petite Champagne 30 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac $129.99 - Each of Cognac's regions has an equal potential for quality, a distinction most producers would like you to ignore.  Cognac regionality does not come from the quality of the distillate, but in its potential to age.  While Grande Champagne is always touted as the finest Cognac has to offer, boasting the regions chalkiest soils, those eau-de-vie are best only after 35+ years of aging.  We often see subpar Grande Champagne cognac sold before they're ready to drink.  The resulting eau-de-vie must be adultered with oak extract, sugar, and caramel to make them palatable.  In Petit Champagne, where the chalk is somewhat less prevalent, the eau-de-vie tends to reach maturity between 20-30 years.  The marketing experts have nearly forgotten about the other regions of France's most prestigious brandy appellation, you could be one of the lucky few to experience the exquisite complexity of the finest fully matured Petite Champagne Cognac.  Dense and richly fruity, even with nearly 30 years in cask this brandy has incredible freshness and lift.  At this price, the Petite Champagne will definitely be in short supply.

Comandon XO Grande Champagne 40 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac $159.99 - This phenomenal cask was selected from deep within the sacred paradis at the Tessendier family cellars and represents one of the most exciting finds during our trip.  While it comes from one of the Cognac's negociantes, as opposed to the grower producers we're focusing on for our other bottlings, this series of single barrel bottlings will be a compelling statement about the direction of Cognac in the coming years.  In cognac, four brands are responsible for 90% of all sales, leaving very little room for independents brands to operate and squeezing potential grower producers to near extinction.  Sometimes to find the very best products available we need to maneuver within this framework. While the business is structured differently than our other exclusive selections, the quality is second to none. Comandon's resurrection over the last few years has been meteoric.  "Best Cognac" at 2010 SF World Spirits Competition, this single barrel selection from the small Comandon stocks is bottled at strength without reduction.  It's beautiful art nouveau label is totally unique.  Elegance and refinement remain paramount, while the intensity at full strength adds unparalleled depth.  At 40 years old, this brandy truly epitomizes the potential of Grande Champagne Cognac.  Here we can really tell why Grande Champagne is so coveted.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Feb012012

Lessons From France, From the New Year

My body is still shell-shocked from the trip to France, and my mind has yet to really settle down and mellow out, but nonetheless there are deals to be done and bottles to be sold.  Getting back into the swing of everyday blogging has been difficult for me because there are many things on my mind that need to be expressed in just the right way.  I've actually already written and deleted two posts that sought to cover this same topic, but were a bit too detailed and uneven.  The spirits industry in France is facing many of the same obstacles as Scotland and the U.S. in terms of supply, demand, and innovation.  There's a huge term paper on the subject just sitting in my brain right now, but it wouldn't be the most interesting read.  Perhaps bullet points are the best way of keeping all the facts neat, easy to understand, and succinct?

• Booze is big right now.  Big brands selling brown booze (alliteration is more fun to read) are completely caught off guard right now by how well their product is selling. While they don't want to miss out on lucrative sales, they also don't want to invest too deeply if we're drinking inside of a booze bubble.  What if Cognac producers were to increase production to keep up with demand, but then demand suddenly went away?  There are more people drinking single malt, Bourbon, and Cognac right now than ever before.  Is it going to stay that way?  What are companies doing to keep up with demand.......?

• Prices are going up!  That's right.  If people want this booze so damn badly, then why should we give it away? ("we" not being K&L, but actual liquor companies).  Unfortunately, there are going to be more price increases in 2012.  The general question I hear from customers is, "Are prices going down due to the economy?"  The opposite is true.  Prices are going up because demand is high and supply is low.  At least supply is said to be low.  Don't think that other companies haven't been watching the Pappy Van Winkle sweepstakes with interest.  The idea of a perceived shortage could also be very lucrative.

• If prices are going up on our favorite brands then what are we to do?  Luckily we're in a great situation with our direct import spirits.  Our single malts and brandies are going to be fantastic alternatives for people who want to try something new.  Building relationships with small distilleries and farmers seems to be a good move right now.  These are the same guys that the larger companies are turning to in order to fill the gap in supply. 

• Blending is important.  We were completely convinced that single barrel Cognac and Calvados would be exactly what these categories needed to increase interest.  While we found a few diamonds in the rough, there were mostly average specimen.  However, when blended together, some of these spirits took on new life.  I can completely see why Charles decided to bring in a blend of Michel Huard's Calvados rather than a single vintage.  The sum is far greater than the parts when it comes to many of these finer brandies.  I look at the beauty of these components when mixed together and I think about how much I like the new Glenmorangie Artein for the same reason.

• What is value when it comes to booze?  Is value taste?  Is value age?  Is value rarity?  Is it a combination of all three?  What if something tastes amazing, but it's cheap to make?  What if something is expensive to make, but terrible to taste?  What if it's made by hand, but tastes like crap?  What if it's mass-produced, but tastes better than the hand-crafted?  I'm witnessing the co-option of the "hand-crafted" term and watching it get slapped on labels as a sales pitch.  "Is it organic?"  Yes.  "Is it small batch?"  "Is it single barrel?" Yes.  But we're asking the wrong questions.  "Is it good?"  Well.....it's hand-crafted.  We're on the hunt for good hand-crafted spirits.  That's why we're having K&L fly us all over the world.  Instead of asking about how small the production is, perhaps we should be asking the producers if they know how to distill.

Just some things to think about.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jan312012

This Week's Wednesday Tasting

Just a quick notice about tomorrow's spirits tastings:

Redwood City will be hosting Lagavulin Islay Single Malt Whiskies!

San Francisco will welcome Four Roses Bourbon!

Both tastings begin at 5 PM and last until 6:30.  They are free of charge!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Jan282012

The Artein is Good

As you'll read in my tasting notes, I was less than excited about Glenmorangie's new Sassicaia-enhanced project, the Artein.  A lot of talk about the source of the water, and how it runs through stone and whatnot.  Then, of course, the marriage with Tuscany's most famous high-end red.  More than ever, it seemed like Glenmorangie was relying on the LVMH side of things (luxury and image), rather than the Bill Lumsden side (creativity and excellence).  Once I tasted it, however, I changed my tune.  This whisky is very well made and the wine only highlights the inherent flavors built into it.  The price is also quite fair, so I bought everything I could.  Big email going out on Friday, so expect it to sell out by next weekend.

Glenmorangie Artein 15 Year Old Super Tuscan Cask Single Malt Whisky $79.99 - Another limited edition release from the folks at Glenmorangie and this one is perhaps their best effort yet.  I have to admit that when I read about Glenmo's new Sassicaia-finished experiment, I yawned.  There are a slew of wine cask-enhanced whiskies on the market and here was simply another one to add to the pile.  However, I should have had more faith in Bill Lumsden because this is one of the best Glenmorangie whiskies in years.  The aroma is full of red berries and sweet grains, but is also very delicate.  The flavors on the palate swim with stone fruit and soft caramel before finishing in a melting glaze of cherries and cocoa.  An ultra-smooth mouthfeel full of red fruits really warms the finish - this is great freakin' single malt! The Artein succeeds because the whisky is already of quality to begin with.  In this case, the wine simply adds complexity to what was already a great blend of 15 and 21 year old casks.  Even better is the fact that Sassicaia isn't actually written on the label due to legal restrictions.  Glenmorangie doesn't need to trade on the name of Italy's most famous Super Tuscan.  The Glenmorangie malt is the focus here and Dr. Bill has created enough of a reputation on his own as perhaps the best whisky creator in the business.  One need not look any further than the Artein as proof.  It's very, very good. This will sell out fast.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jan272012

Exciting Scotch Dinner - Sunday, Jan. 29th

K&L's partnership with The Consortium continues this weekend with a special scotch dinner hosted by the Tar Pit on Melrose.  The Swirl Swig Sizzle program makes learning about the world's finest wines, spirits, and food accessible to anyone in the Los Angeles area.  Join the illustrious Johnnie Mundell as he walks you through a specially designed menu highlighting the single malts of Auchentoshan, Glen Grant, Bowmore, Glenrothes and Glen Garioch.  The Tar Pit's exceptional menu of re-imagined classics and whimsical comfort food will be the perfect compliment to some of Scotland's finest whiskies.  Don't miss this special one time event and look out for future events from SwirlSwigSizzle.com.

Here are the details:

Single Malt Scotch Dinner at the Tar Pit

When:  Sunday, January 29th
            6:00-7:30pm

Where: the Tar Pit
            609 North La Brea Avenue
            Los Angeles CA 90036

Price: only $75

Tickets:  please purchase your tickets HERE

Be sure to select SWIG in the drop down menu on the top left


HERE is the delicious menu for Sunday's event.  Pairings will be provided for each course.

Heirloom Beet Salad

humbolt fog goat cheese, cotton blossom honey,

pistachio vinaigrette

Seared Scallop

lobster veloute, tobiko, puffed rice

Octopus Bolognese

squid ink tagliatelle, prosciutto chips

Short Rib Mignon

chantrelle mushroom risotto, bitter greens, sunchoke puree

Bananas Foster

banana ice cream, rum caramel, candied pecans,

toasted marshmallow