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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 26 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


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 PRE-ORDER


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 IN STOCK NOW!


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!


Bladnoch 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Lightly Peated Single Barrel #303 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

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!


Wednesday
Sep142011

Bitter is Better

Over the last year we've developed the Spirits Department into one of the most dynamic programs being offered anywhere in the world.  The one aspect of the Sporting Life that we've never truly focused on plays a integral role in the development of our drinks culture, Bitters.  By the strictest definition a cocktail cannot exist without the bitters.  Most people don't realize how important these special little concoctions are to the drinks that they love so much.  Using them is not always easy, but once you've gained some experience they can be wildly pleasurable.  There is absolutely NO money in bitters.  The classics dominate and the general public won't pay $18 for 100ml of booze designed specifically to be unpalatable by itself.  Nonetheless, I'm committed to becoming the countries premier bitters destination.  I'm not going to carry every bitter on the market, but I'm going to give you the best of what's available.  Honestly, my quest to become one of the world's premier bitters suppliers has been met with skepticism.  My staff thinks its crazy!  The owners laugh at the invoices.  Most customer just gawk.  Honestly I don't care!  I'm gonna work to make sure that we carry every bitter worth its salt or die trying.  Our new bitters section is up and running in Hollywood and you can get them sent ANYWHERE in the US because they are classified as non-potable.  While many specialty retailers charge EXTREME prices for there bitters, we do not have to rely on excessive margins to justify our increased inventory - why?  Cause I say so, that's why.  We need people excited about these products because they're so important to making great drinks.  IN order to do that we need people to feel comfortable using bitters, so PLEASE come on in and have a taste.  All our bitters are open for you to taste so don't wait!  I will be tasting our wide selection over the coming weeks and giving you my impression.  Any questions please let us know! 

-David Girard

Wednesday
Sep142011

Only The Best - Part I

As a society on the go, many of us are too busy to bother with the mediocre in life.  If we're actually going to stop and smell the flowers, they had better be the best damn flowers around.  Otherwise, what's the point?  Some of us aren't satisfied with merely the experience of smelling any old flower - we need to know that we've experienced the best and that others are aware also.  Facebook pictures of our trips to Paris with poses in front of the Eifel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral prove that we were there and that we saw the best sights that Paris had to offer.  A trip to the Louvre results in a mad dash to see Da Vinci's Mona Lisa while ignoring the rest.  As a culture, we are obsessed with cutting the fat and getting to the good stuff, but what are we basing this on?  Who decides what the best things in life are?  Our families?  Our friends?  Robert Parker?  The "best" things in life are not always so objective and absolute, despite what the experts tell us.  Not only is the term "best" a subjective one, it can also require requisite experience in order to understand its proper meaning.  

A great perspective on just how skewed a qualitative scale can be regarding alcohol is found in the 1855 Medoc classification of Bordeaux wine.  Because the 1855 classification still draws the ultimate line in the sand regarding quality of red Medoc wine, it's a great example of how we tend to follow the leader.  The five-tiered system of determining the "great" wines of the Medoc is merely one of many "best of" lists compiled by merchants, negotiants, and wine enthusiasts of the time.  Before the 1855 classification took place there were various versions of Consumer Reports floating around the region to help drinkers decide which wines to invest in.  This particular one just happened to become set in stone for the next 150 years despite numerous arguments for updating and revising it. Instead of developing into an evolving, up-to-date ranking system, the 1855 classification became a dogma.  The top wines could do no wrong and the lesser wines would forever be stuck in the peasant class.  Some still believe that the qualitative distinction of the list holds true today, arguing that it ranked the quality of the soil rather than of the wine itself.  However, many property holdings have changed hands over the last century and many chateaux are using different grapes from 5th growth vineyard sites to make their 2nd growth wines. 

Not only has land ownwership changed, but so has winemaking!  There are talented vintners working everywhere in Bordeaux today, taking previously unheralded properties into the ranks of the very finest.  Yet, we're still stuck with a "best of" list from the mid-19th century?  Are the five first growths still the very best wines of Bordeaux?  Auction pricing and insatiable consumer interest would say "YES!"  People today are still obsessed with drinking the best wines of the 1855 classification because it's a simple declaration of what constitutes greatness, even if in reality there's no longer any basis for it.  That's not to say that Chateau Haut-Brion isn't one of the five best wines in Bordeaux, but rather, "Who actually knows anymore?"  Are the people drinking Chateau Margaux today experienced enough to recognize that utmost quality in contrast to other great clarets?  I don't know.  However, I'm sure it's much easier not to rock the boat and let the money keep pouring in.

The only way to know for sure if something is the "best" is to sit down and compare it against other similar products, but who has the time or the money to do that anymore?  For that reason we simply defer to the experts who tell us what is or isn't worth our time.  I'll be the first to say that I simply don't have time to become an expert on every little hobby I take an interest in, but I still want the enjoyment I find in any particular experience to be based on my own personal pleasure.  If we're constantly worried about experiencing "only the best," how does that make us any happier?  Do we actually know that what we're experiencing is wonderful or is the idea that someone else thinks it is enough?

More on this in the upcoming weeks....

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Sep132011

Tastings Tomorrow

Please join us for another week of in store, "educational" tastings!  FREE of charge beginning at 5:00 PM and lasting until 6:30 PM.

In the San Francisco store we will have:

Leopold Bros. Distillery from Colorado - Todd Smith will be in the bar pouring the American whiskey, the amazing gin, and the new maraschino liqueur. 

In the Redwood City store we will have:

Kilchoman Single Malt Whisky - Val from JVS will be pouring the newest release from Kilchoman, the Smokehead from Islay, and another whisky selection.

See you there!

-David Driscoll

Monday
Sep122011

St. George Gin Test Run

St. George is touting its Dry Rye Gin as the bold, juniper-packed expression of spice that the Botanivore and Terroir gins do not possess.  While it may be the case that the dry rye has twice as much juniper as the other two, it certainly doesn't taste that way.  In fact, I'm sipping a dry martini consisting of 100% dry rye right now and I really don't get a mouthful of juniper.  What I do get, however, is exquisite.  What I get is a gin that tastes completely different on the way out than it does on the way in.  This gin is tailor-made for rye whiskey lovers and let me tell you why - it starts off with the classic London-style, dry and herbal note, but immediately after it hits your tongue it morphes into a malty, white-whiskey-like attack that finishes with the cloves and cinnamon-red-hots of something like the Bulleit rye.  It's unlike any other gin I've ever had.  It's like a gin and a whiskey combined into one.  It's utterly delicious.  I'm going back in for more right now.

UPDATE: just made my second cocktail with an absinthe rinse and a dash in the mix.  That's the move.  This is like a dry Sazerac cocktail gin martini!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Sep102011

When Rarity and Quality Collide

Our magnificant cask of Ladyburn arrived today and I snagged one bottle out of the batch to taste with the staff before sending the rest over to the processing center.  We hyped this whisky to the moon, so much so that it sold out completely despite no one having ever tasted it but David and myself.  The fact that the most expensive whisky we bought happened to be the first to sell out caught us completely off guard, as we were nervous about anyone buying it at all.  Nevertheless, our descriptions and enthusiasm won over the curiosity of our loyal customers and the bottles flew out of inventory faster than we could have ever imagined.  Now all we had to do was make sure that the whisky we delivered matched the expectation we created.  I popped a bottle earlier today and I'm thoroughly relieved to report that it's just as magical as I remember.

When Val drove up with the cases, I breathed my first sigh of relief because when we originally purchased the cask from Signatory they were working with JVS to import and distribute it.  However, about two months ago Signatory decided to terminate their relationship with JVS without naming a new distributor for California.  This happened after we sold out the barrel and sent us into an immediate panic.  How the heck were we going to get the bottles if they were no longer working together?  Luckily we managed to get both sides to agree to one final shipment and the whisky has now arrived in our warehouse, safely and securely.  Val, who likes to collect many of the bottles he imports, was in the rare situation of not having tasted one of his own imports.  I brought him back to my office for a sample and he rejoiced over what he held in his glass.  He bought two of the extras we had and shook my hand. "This is truly amazing whisky," he replied before leaving.

The amazing thing about this Ladyburn cask is that the rarity alone justifies the price tag.  The distillery only operated between 1966 and 1975 and today supplies are definitely scarce.  While Ladyburn is one of the more difficult malts to find, it isn't necessarily sought after for its quality.  Made in the typical Lowland style, the flavors are soft, easy, and deceptive.  Had this cask been bottled twenty years ago there may have been little nuance to savor.  Today, however, the gentle style of the Lowland seems to have benefited from a long sleep inside an old bourbon cask.  When David OG and I saw this barrel in the Pitlochry warehouse, we wanted to taste it simply because it was Ladyburn.  Neither of us had ever tasted anything from the distillery and it was merely an educational curiosity.  We never expected it to actually taste as good as it did.

If you watch the whisky auctions like Bonhams, occasionally a bottle of Ladyburn 12 will show up and sell for well over $5,000 a bottle.  This is 100% due to the rarity of the bottle.  I've never heard of Ladyburn 12 being one of the great malts of all time.  What's great about our cask is that you can actually drink it and savor the fact that rarity and quality have come together to provide one of the most pleasurable drinking experiences I've ever had. 

-David Driscoll