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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!


Friday
Jan132012

Faultline Gin Update

I made my way over to Alameda yesterday to check up on our latest collaboration with St. George distillery - our very own Faultline Gin to be sold exclusively at K&L.  We've got the labels designed, the gin has been distilled, but we needed to put a few final touches on the product.  I met up with Dave Smith in the lab to discuss a few specifics and cross a few T's.

The base of the gin is beautiful - soft and gentle with a beautiful juniper bouquet and hints of foresty botanicals in the background.  My only concern was that the flavor was too soft.  The finish is a bit light and watery, which while pleasing to fans of more easy-going gins, is not quite the profile I'm looking for.  After playing around with some citrus hops and minty distillates, we decided to tweak the gin with a bit of celery salt-macerated spirit.  The first batch was too strong, as the savory notes overpowered the beautiful botanicals.  We decided to dial it back a bit and the result was fantastic.  The empty spots were gently filled with a salty spice and the finish was far more satisfying.  I'd say we're about ready to go! 

Now we just need to get those labels over to the printer.  1,000 bottles of Faultline Gin on the way!

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jan122012

Amrut Portonova

Strong reviews from most major critics.  Better packaging than any of the previous Amruts.  Plus, I like it even more than the Fusion (which we all know it pretty darn good)!  There's not much of it to be had, but it's here while it lasts.

Amrut Portonova Indian Single Malt Whisky $115.99 - The newest release from Indian single malt producer Amrut was aged in Bourbon cask, then port pipes, and then back to Bourbon cask again for a triple maturation. At cask strength, the result is a powerful and rich malt that should impress whisky lovers even more so than the Amrut Fusion. Dark chocolate notes mix with red fruits and loads of spice on the finish. A slight herbacious note lingers in the distance as well. Very impressive.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jan112012

Our Mission in France - A Brief Overview

I've been asked by numerous customers so far which distilleries in France we'll be visiting.  Technically, the answer is pretty close to zero.  While Scotch single malt whisky is the practice of large corporations or independent companies, the brandy we're searching for is not.  That's not to say that large distilleries aren't making Cognac, Armagnac, or Calvados, it's just that we won't be visiting any of them.  That's not the goal.  That's not why we went to Charles Neal for help.

We're heading to France in search of the producteur agricole, the farmer who harvests his own fruit, makes his own wine or cider, and distills, ages, and bottles the resulting spirit himself.  Why are we limiting ourselves to this type of producer?  Well, first and foremost, because large companies are not in the business of working out special deals with American retailers.  However, that being said, we're also not flying all the way to France just to taste brandy that we could already purchase here.  Look at it this way - if a friend went to France and brought you back some French cheese, would you be more excited if he bought it at a small farm in the countryside, or at a grocery store in the airport?  Even if the latter tastes better, I'm guessing it's the former. 

Most of the reason we're interested in meeting the small farmers, however, is because of their unique, small production flavor.  The mass production of booze that goes on at the larger distilleries simply isn't as interesting - technically and flavorwise.  It may be smooth, but we got over "smooth" about three years ago.  As many of you witnessed with our first ever Faultline Spirits single barrel Cognac, the good stuff isn't sitting in a factory warehouse - it's in some small farmer's basement.  There's a significant boutique factor here, but we've all tasted the difference.  Walking outside one's door, harvesting grapes from one's own backyard, making wine from these grapes, distilling brandy from this wine on a still in one's barn, and then transfering it into barrels which are then rolled into one's own house is simply more intriguing and, from our tasting experience, seems to yield brandies with significant character.

According to Charles Neal, the producteurs agricoles feel that many of the industrial products lack authenticity while their own products are completely attached to the terroir.  If a wine maker buys some Napa grapes and then trucks them over to Modesto for the actual winemaking process in a large industrial complex, is that really still a Napa wine?  We're going to find out if the same analogy holds true for French spirits.  Maybe we're overblowing the importance of small producers and their antiquated methods, or maybe we'll find the most heavenly elixer known to man. 

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jan102012

Free Tastings Begin Again Tomorrow!

We'll have "K&L Rum of the Year" El Dorado in the Redwood City house tomorrow evening (Wednesday) beginning at 5 PM and running until 6:30.  They'll be pouring the 12 year, 15 year, and 21 year old free of charge!

San Francisco will be featuring "K&L Tequila of the Year" ArteNOM with their fabulous line up of distillery-bottled tequilas.  Former K&L Spirits Podcast interviewee, Jake Lustig, will be on hand to answer all of your questions.  The SF tasting also begins at 5 PM and is free of charge!

See you there!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jan102012

Our Greatest Fears - Anxiety & Booze

I've really been in a funk since the New Year hit and, as much as I've chalked it up to the January blahs, I really had to do some soul searching to determine why I felt so down.  Part of it is that my adrenaline has finally run out - that extra little kick that got me through the holidays has been exhausted and now I'm finally coming down.  The other piece of this puzzle is the fact that my body internalizes the anxiety of the customers I help, regardless of whether it's justified or not.  The stress that surrounds the holidays therefore becomes something larger than just running around the sales floor in a mad panic.  Every fear that someone has about a blown dinner party or imperfect gift becomes another ulcer for my sleepless mind.  That's not a healthy way to live and I'm now dealing with the after effects.

Two themes in human nature made themselves ever present to me this week.  The first is our desire for others to know we're more special than we may come off.  I can think of a million examples from my past where I went out of my way to let someone know that I was actually smarter, more talented, or more interesting than I was leading on.  It's that chip on our shoulder that cares so much about what society thinks, even if they weren't thinking anything until we put ourselves out there to be judged.  I was talking to a friend's mother this week and she told me a story about how a now-famous San Francisco rocker did some construction work at her house many years ago.  She remembered him so well because he was adamant about telling her he wasn't really a carpenter, but rather a musician up in the city.  Like waiters who are really actors, or unemployed college grads who are really future business leaders, the anxiety surrounding who we think we really are is rampant in the booze world.  Every bottle says something about the people we strive to be whether we're actually aware of it or not.  Customers are sometimes apologetic at the counter while ringing up everyday bottles of wine, saying things like "I just need something easy for dinner tonight," as if not buying bottles of Pichon Baron made them feel less than.  "Normally I'd get something better."  I need to do something about alieving this pressure because no one is assessing one's character by scanning the goods at K&L's checkout counter.

The second theme that reared its head this week concerns the subject of worth.  Not self worth, but rather the value of a transaction and the validation of its worth by others.  Making sure to get some much-needed rest this weekend, I perused a few newspapers on the couch while keeping an eye on Boogie Nights.  In the film, after Dirk Diggler finally cashs in on his talent, there's a sequence of jump cuts where he talks up his new house, furniture, and wardrobe to his friends.  The whole scene would become the template for the future MTV Cribs.  The brilliance of the dialogue is the gut-wrenching naiveté from Dirk as he talks about Italian prints, leather upholstry, and asian art-deco with the authority of a six year old.  It's clear he hasn't a clue why his new acquisitions are so luxurious, but they're still important to him and he wants others to understand why they're expensive.  PT Anderson captures a quintessential piece of humanity in that sequence.  There are reasons why certain whiskies, wines, or tequilas are expensive, but if no one understands but us, then can we really enjoy them? 

There's a book on the window ledge in the K&L public bathroom about becoming a wine expert in an hour.  The book advertises on the cover "how to avoid getting ripped off" as one of its main attributes.  The fear of purchasing a pricey bottle, only to discover that it's not all we thought it would be is ever-present in the booze world.  People want assurance that a wine or whisky will be a guaranteed hit, but how can one guarantee personal taste?  Sometimes it isn't about the quality - it's more about the specs.  Like Dirk Diggler lets Rollergirl know while dancing at the disco, "this shirt is a limited edition print made by a really famous Italian designer who only imports a few of them a year." The irony of that moment is the fact that Rollergirl really couldn't care less - her eyes glossed over as she acknowledges Dirk's comments out of politeness.  I've been in that situation so many times on the sales floor. 

My other goal for 2012, along with making K&L a place where we can all feel at ease, is to erase the need for quality justification.  If you can't taste why our new single cask whisky, bourbon, Cognac, or tequila is amazing, then I'm not going to fill you in on boring details.  Explaining that something is made by hand, on a small farm, in the middle of Easter Island isn't going to be enough to make it on our shelves.  Booze needs to speak for itself, so that people can taste the quality upon first sip, thereby removing the need to explain further.  I love a good story, and I love telling one even more, but I want our customers to say, "Taste this - it's amazing," rather than "taste this - it's made by a bio-dynamic farmer in Malaysia."

Let's make 2012 the year we live outside of fear and anxiety.  Let's drink $5 wine and be happy with it.  Let's drink whisky alone sometimes and keep it to ourselves - satisfied with the knowledge that we think it's good.

-David Driscoll