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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

8/20 - San Francisco: No Tasting

8/20 - Redwood City: K&L Signatory Single Malts

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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


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 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!


Monday
Oct032011

Busy Busy Week

Welcome to the busiest week of the year for Bay Area spirits.  WhiskyFest will decend upon San Francisco this Friday night and many a distillery rep will be in town all week for various side projects.  There will be special seminars (like our blending class with Compass Box master John Glaser), intimate dinners with intriguing characters from the industry (like our dinner with Ardbeg distiller Bill Lumsden), and various meet and greets with high-end retail chains (like our Heaven Hill tasting this Wednesday!).  It's going to be hectic. 

On top of all these whisky events, there are other interesting stories this week.  Our first ever Faultline Spirits release has landed and I couldn't be more excited.  I'm hoping that people make some time for one very special Cognac in a week dominated by whisk(e)y.

As if the events of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday weren't enough, this Sunday is the official judging ceremony for this year's Good Food Awards, which has now expanded to include spirits.  I'm going to be tasting and judging on a panel that includes names like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters!  Clearly I'm not going to be giving my opinion about food like they are, but I will have a say in all things distilled.  Do responsibly-sourced base materials result in better booze?  I'm hoping to find out and properly award those who have made some. 

Also, all you NorCal people are going to have a chance to meet SoCal partner-in-crime Mr. David OG.  He'll be flying in this Thursday as the two of us team up for a week of power tasting.  We call him "OG" because he's actually killed two people, but was legally acquitted on both charges.  Don't mess with him.  Mr. Othenin-Girard and I will both be at WhiskyFest and at various events around town this week so please come say hello if you see us.

Make sure to enjoy this amazing week for Bay Area spirits enthusiasts!  It's going to be epic.  If you need any ideas about where to go or what to do, feel free to drop us a line.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Sep302011

K&L Co-Sponsoring Whisky Blending Class w/John Glaser

Since our dinner with Ardbeg's Bill Lumsden sold out a month ago, what are all the other K&L shoppers to do Thursday night before WhiskyFest hits?  How about a private blending class with Compass Box guru John Glaser?  That's right!  On Thursday October 6th - from 6 PM to 8 PM - at the Boothy Center in San Francisco, you will have the chance to learn how to blend your own whisky like a pro.  The materials are provided and you'll walk out with your own creation.  Blending is perhaps the trickiest part of creating a great whisky, so come and learn the secret art of doing so from a man who has proven that he knows how.

Tickets are $65 and are available here.  H from Elixer Bar is running the show that night as David OG and I will be at the Ardbeg dinner, however we want to make sure there is plenty for everyone to do!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Sep272011

Chieftain's News Plus Tastings!

I had some time to taste with Val from JVS today, who you all know is my absolute favorite person to meet with, and we had a great time tasting some of the new selections that Chieftain’s will be making available this year.  We’re so excited about what they’re offering that we decided to plan another whiskey tasting event for the end of October in Burlingame.  It should be the standard $25 tasting plus snacks and it will be one hell of a line up.  Already confirmed are the following: 1995 Allt-A-Bhainne, 1996 Braeval, 1997 Caol Ila finished in rum cask, 1998 Strathisla finished in Barolo, and an amazing 1990 Rosebank sherry cask! 

I had a chance to taste the Rosebank and it is absolutely stunning.  At cask strength, it blows anything else away that I have tasted from G&M or Signatory.  The Caol Ila is also quite nice – the same lovely cinnamon-style peat with a supple, yet restrained dose of sugar cane rum roundness on the finish.  Lovely stuff.  Here’s the real good news: our Bladnoch and Dailuaine casks are sitting in Oakland right now and they should be in shortly.  I have talked to Val about JVS holding back one bottle of each so that we can pour them at the tasting!  That means you’ll be able to try two of the amazing selections from our trip if you attend.  The Bladnoch is probably my favorite whisky from the trip, so I’m very excited about that.  Remember that once these arrive into stock, the pre-arrival price ends and the new price begins! 

Redwood City – 5PM to 6:30 PM – Sept 28th

Diageo’s Master of Whisky Steve Beal will be back in the house for another awesome vertical – this time with the Highland region’s illustrious Cragganmore distillery.  We’ll taste the Cragganmore 12 year old, the 1992 Double Matured Distiller’s Edition which was finished in Port wood, and the very limited release of the special 2011 edition 21 year old.  This is going to be another wonderful chance to taste some of the classic malts of Scotland – free of charge of course.  Walk in only, no need for reservations!

San Francisco – 5 PM to 6:30 PM – Sept 28th

St. George distiller Dave Smith will be on hand to pour out a dose of the Alameda institution’s new batch of craft gins.  The Terroir – made from botanicals sourced from Mt. Tam. The Botanivore – a seriously botanical flavored elixir.  The Dry Rye – a white rye spirit flavored with heavy amounts of juniper.  These have already been a huge success despite their very limited release.  If you’re unsure about which to buy, this is a great way to figure out which one you like the best!

-David Driscoll 

Sunday
Sep252011

Assess the Risk

We had an interesting lunch conversation today with friends about the fear of taking a risk in today's generation.  However, while gambling can certainly lead to disappointment, the greatest rewards are usually given to those who take a chance.  So many people want certainty these days - they need to know that whatever they're investing in is going to work out as planned.  They want clear instructions about what is needed from them and what exactly is necessary to achieve happiness and success.  It's the fear of the unknown that prevents people from branching out sometimes - "why take a chance on that bottle of French chardonnay when we already know that we like the California one?"

I could go on forever about this, but the subject is worth thinking about.  Part of the reason why I feel wine ratings carry so much weight stems from the fact that people are afraid of drinking a bad bottle.  Worse than that - drinking a bad bottle of wine and thinking it's good!  We need certainty even if certainty is a matter of opinion.  Life is one giant uncertainty which is why we constantly look for something to latch on to.

Look at it this way: you'll never know if little Suzie will go to the prom with you unless you ask.  The boy who never asks for fear of rejection will never know what could have happened.  The one who takes the risk may end up having the time of his life (or might end up crying in his room, but so be it).

It's ok to end up with a bad bottle now and again.  It's the understanding of the bad ones that makes the good ones so good.

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Sep242011

Still More Gin

They're a funny thing, my booze buying habits.  I'll absolutely never (with the exception of Springbank 10) buy a bottle of Scotch more than once because there's simply too much of a selection out there to waste time drinking the same one.  Same goes for Bourbon, Tequila, and rum.  Gin, however, is where my philosophy seems to contradict itself.  Despite my avid love of cocktails, I don't love experimenting with them at home.  Rather than spend 30 minutes trying to craft a new drink that I may or may not enjoy, I'd rather just whip up a Negroni or a martini and get right to the drinking.  I wasn't always this way, but I definitely am now; call it a time issue, perhaps (which also might explain my current refrain from cask-strength whisky in the home).  For this reason, I tend to only use the same two gins over and over again - BBR's No. 3 London Gin for martinis and the Ransom Old Tom Gin for everything else.

Honestly, I had never put much thought into this phenomenon until Christophe Bakunas walked into the store this week with Ransom Wine Company's second gin - the Small's American Dry.  Tad Seestedt, who is the distiller for Ransom, seems to have my number when it comes to flavor profiles because I took one sip of the Small's and absolutely loved it.  Think of it as a really good version of Citadelle - focused on the juniper, with clean and racy herbal notes.  It's nothing bizarre or new, it's just a really good version of a classic gin.  Tad distills it in batches on his old-school pot still and flavors it with a combination of "naturally-farmed and wild-grown botanicals:" juniper, orange, lemon, coriander, cardamom, angelica, caraway, star anise, and raspberry.  Ransom is heavy into the historical side of spirits production and these guys seem to know everything about the history of gin, using recipes from the 19th century to help them craft both spirits. Whatever they're channeling is working. 

I love this Small's American Dry and can't wait for it to hit California in a few weeks.  It's such a pure and concentrated manifestation of what I consider to be gin's true flavor.  It might actually turn my current two-man rotation into a three-way.  Those searching for gin's next guise might find it a bit simple, but I'm willing to bet a life-long Tanqueray drinker can be converted to a Ransom fan with the Small's.

Look for it at the beginning of October. $30 estimated retail.

-David Driscoll