Saturday
Mar162013

Understanding Pre-Arrivals @ K&L

I wanted to write a quick blurb so that everyone who has purchased their own bottle of Karuizawa understands how the process works. I'm assuming we're getting a lot first-time customers with these bottles and the pre-arrival process isn't always clear. We always assume everyone purchasing at K&L has been doing business with us for years, but that isn't always the case. Here are some quick things to remember when purchasing on pre-arrival with us:

- The pre-arrival process was designed for our Bordeaux futures program, so we use the same structure.

- You pay for the product up front which reserves your bottle(s) in advance. The order is then closed and you are sent a confirmation email that says your order is complete. This does not mean that your order is ready to be picked up or shipped.

- When the product shows up we will send you a letter in the mail. The system is NOT set up to notify you by email.

- Because we don't want to ship you your booze without your prior knowledge, K&L will hold the product in our San Carlos warehouse until you notify us and tell us what you want to do (either ship or pick up at the store). There is a way to have your profile default to "in-store pick up," but you can't do that yourself online. You'll have to call us up to make that happen, or send me an email.

- When you order a pre-arrival online your selection of shipping will not carry over. You may have selected "2-day FedEx," but we just delete that and change the status to "pre-arrival." Again, you'll have to contact us later when the product arrives to schedule shipping.

- Because I know that none of you want to wait any longer than necessary to schedule your shipments, I will post here on the blog when the bottles arrive and are ready, therefore you won't have to wait for your snail mail letters to arrive.

I think that covers it. If you have a question please let me know. Thanks!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Mar162013

Karuizawa Labels

I had forgotten to post these earlier because I couldn't find the files, but here are the labels for the Karuizawa bottles.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Mar152013

Karuizawa Update

If you're on the fence about getting one, let me give you an update.

We've sold about 130 bottles of the 1999 in the last 45 minutes and about 60 of the 1981. This is just with a blog post and an insider's email alert. However, the big K&L email will not go out for another few days. You can bet that at that time whatever is left will get blown out in a big huff and puff.

You've probably got about three or four days to mull this one over, but that's about it.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Mar152013

Karuizawa For Sale

Anyone want one of these? We're getting some. I've heard they're pretty popular, but what do I know?

1999 Karuizawa Single Barrel Cask Strength Japanese Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER (w/Noh label) $144.99 - Karuizawa Whisky is the holy grail of Japanese Single Malt. It has never before been released in the United States. K&L is incredibly lucky to offer you the first two casks to ever be imported. Not only are we the first to ever sell this whisky in the United States, but we've managed to do so well below international prices.  Here we have a single cask distilled in 1999 and from a first fill sherry butt. The color is dark mahogany. The nose is the wonderful savory sherry thing that you sometimes get. Extremely rare and extremely delicious. It's as if you've poured a demi-glace over a pile of dried fruit. On the side, you've got a really delicious espresso that's just been served. What a symphony of flavors! I'm shocked at how balanced this is at cask strength. The palate is fully of sandalwood and spice. With water this thing goes a whole new direction. Citrus peel, earthy clay, tar, and some of that wonderful kind of camphor smoke (not all sulfury flavors are unpleasant). The finish is dry and long. The exotic wood is back in full force with subtle hints of fennel and fresh soil. I'm just embarrassed by how delicious this whisky is. There's simply too much going on to post full notes here, but know that this whisky simply brings it. (David Othenin-Girard)

1981 Karuizawa Single Barrel Cask Strength Japanese Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER (w/NOH label) $389.99 - This legendary distillery has never been available in the United States before. We've worked tirelessly over the past three years to introduce this incredible whisky to our customers. Karuizawa Distillery, located in the Japanese Alps, has not produced any whisky since the early 2000s. Production first began in 1956 and was used exclusively for blending until the late 80s when Single Malt Whisky began to gain notoriety in Japan and worldwide. They've become renowned for the use of incredibly powerful sherry casks. These whiskies are like no other in the world, but will satisfy even the most demanding Single Malt aficionado. The 1981 is considered a rockstar vintage for Karuizawa and has resulted in some very high scoring whisky. This cask is no less impressive than others I've tasted from the vintage. Powerful aromas of coasted coffee, struck match, moss, dried tropical fruit and exotic wood. The high proof does mask some of flavor initially, but the tiniest drop of water brings out an incredible array of flavors. Any sulfur disappears and is replaced by just more of everything else. The tropical fruit really comes to the front, but this time it's fresh mango peel covered in spices, clove, nutmeg, allspice. A seemingly endless list of flavors appear on the palate. It's just incredible hot little heat this gives off at this incredible proof. Needless to say, this is going to be a bench mark whisky for K&L and the whisky community as a whole. (David Othenin-Girard)

Remember that these will not be in stock until late Summer. You are pre-ordering so when you get the email that your card has been charged it does not mean that your order is ready. We will send you a letter in a few months after the whiskey has arrived. Thanks!

-David Driscoll

Friday
Mar152013

Celebrate St. Paddy's Day on the Cheap!

If you're not on the insider email list then you probably didn't know that we had to postpone this weekend's Salon tasting in San Mateo. There were a number of problems on the horizon, so we decided to shut it down for the good of K&L, the Vault restaurant, and the consumers who were paying us their money for a good time out. We wanted to get it right and make sure we were in the clear legally, so that this could be an ongoing event. However, now that I've abandoned you and left you with an empty Sunday.......

.....I've been doing my best to find something fun and inexpensive for you to do instead. Like drink an entire bottle of really delicious Irish whiskey all by yourself!

Since working at K&L I've been subjected to certain questions repeatedly, even while not maintaining the spirits department. Sometimes you just get so used to saying the same thing that you forget certain circumstances may have changed.

"Do you have any Sazerac?"

Sigh. "No sir, unfortunately it's all sold.....

KYLE: "David, we actually got some back in stock in LA, so we can order from there!

OH! Well apparently I am mistaken!

A similar thing happened just the other day. I had a customer email me about the John Powers 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey $29.99, which I thought was still only available in Ireland. The John Powers 12 Year was one of those bottles that was super popular overseas and would find its way back in the suitcase of many a traveler. It was like getting a bottle of Havana Club or Royal Lochnagar. Apparently, Pernod Ricard brought it over to the states in 2010, but somehow I was totally in the dark. I don't know how I missed it (especially since John Hansell wrote it up almost three years ago), but I did. So when a customer asked me the other day if I could get him a bottle, I wrote: "I'm sorry, but I don't think it's imported to the U.S."

Wrong.

Not only is it imported to the states, but David OG had it on the shelf in Los Angeles. I immediately called my sales rep and asked for a sample. When it came yesterday I took a swig (literally from the bottle as there were no glasses at my desk) and smiled. This is the bargain whiskey I had been missing on our shelves! We've got some drinkers, like Kilbeggan at $16.99, if you want something inexpensive in the Irish realm, but most of the selections fall into the $40 and over range (with the exception of Tyrconnell). The John Powers 12 Year is a triple-distilled whiskey from Midleton distillery that, to me, drinks as well as Redbreast 12, but for significantly less money.

For $30 this is a hot deal. The profile is supple and round, the barley notes are pronounced, the whiskey is simply soft and delicious. I bought a lot of it for the store (lots more coming today). I bought one for myself as well. I know what I'm doing on Sunday now. I'll be finishing this bottle.

-David Driscoll