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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

4/23 - Redwood City: Ardbeg Single Malts (w/the chopper!)

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

1988 Littlemill 25 Year Old K&L "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Lowland 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!


Bladnoch 23 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #1054 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Talisker "The Speakeasy" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel 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

1991 Cambus 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


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!


Thursday
Apr282011

1512 Barbershop? Where Did This Come From?

Just met with a representative for 1512 Spirits today, a little outfit that has been making illegal moonshine for three generations.  From what I've heard (from them and from others) the guy behind this project is a distillation genius.  Can't wait to meet him.  I just pre-ordered four cases of their newest white rye batch coming out in a few weeks.  Word is they may have some older stuff hiding away as well.  Mike Barber of our SF store actually met him at his barber shop a few years back and traded him some wine for booze.  This guy still works as a barber five days a week in SF and distills at night in Sonoma County.  In any case, Mike said the spirits are the real deal.  We'll have 48 bottles of this 100% white rye in a few weeks.  It's very, very good.  I hope it's an indication of what is to come.  I plan on doing plenty o' business with 1512.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Apr272011

No One Cares

I've been doing a good amount of thinking lately about the merit of awards, achievements, and accolades.  People are always searching for a way to display their accomplishments, vendors are constantly putting their gold medals on the label, producers never stop talking about points, and some consumers keep bragging about what they've tasted.  There are numerous publications available now that are calling this period in time the "look at me" generation. Everyone wants to be special and, more importantly, they want you to know it.  The problem with this mentality and the irony of the situation is that NO ONE CARES.

Seriously, no one gives a hoot.  In all honesty, I've found that most people care very little about many things, but they especially zone out when listening to pedantry.  Yap, yap, yap, is all they hear and who can blame them?  If I get asked to pick out a few wines for someone, I have to be very careful about how much information I choose to share.  If I say, "these wines are fantastic," that's about as much as most people want to hear.  They wanted my selection and they got it.  When I start getting into micro-climates, soil types, and the history of the region, many customers begin staring blankly and nodding their head with a zombie-like expression - a sign that I've gone too far.  Touting one's expertise can really annoy people and as one of the less humble people of the world, I've had to learn this the hard way over the years.  The point is, however, that I've learned.  I'm still surprised by how many haven't. 

I've met with numerous liquor salesmen over the last few weeks and lately I've been more than blunt in my interpretation of the market.  "But our tequila won a double gold at the SF Spirits competition! Doesn't that help you sell it?"  No, it doesn't.  You know why?  Because no one cares.  Awards are given by people in the industry to other people in the industry.  Very few people outside the industry even know what the SF Spirits Competition is, and even if they did, they still wouldn't care.  Gold medals fall slightly under the 100 point scale on the list of the least valuable evaluation systems in spirits.

I was browsing a widely-read whisky blog the other day, and the subject was concerning a few new releases that had yet to be made available.  The author was explaining how they tasted and I was excited to get some insight.  Then I read the comments.  The first few responses were from other bloggers who just HAD to let everyone know that they had also tasted these whiskies at some special tasting somewhere.  Guess what, guys?  NO ONE CARES!  I went to the site to read this one person's take, and I don't give two shits if you tasted it last week.  Save the bragging for your Facebook page.  Take a picture in front of every bottle you've ever tasted and post it there (although, I still can't promise you that anyone will care).

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day and she said, "I don't know why everyone thinks my sister is dumb, I mean, she got her masters in education."  I thought to myself, "your sister IS rather spacey, and as far as the master's degree goes: no one cares!"  As if a master's degree separated smart from dumb, good from bad!  I have a master's degree in German and I usually don't tell anyone because most people say, "Why?" with a frown, rather than "Wow, that must mean you're smart!"  College degrees don't mean you're intelligent, in fact, I'm not sure what they're good for these days.  Chris Rock dropped out of high school, I think, and if you've ever listened to his stand up comedy, that man is a genius!

You know what most people care about? Taste, fun, and enjoyment.  Awards, accreditation, and accomplishments might make you feel good about yourself, but they don't make you fun nor do they make you enjoyable.  If you want people to like you, be nice and don't bore them by talking about how awesome you are.  That goes for people and for booze. 

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Apr262011

Busy On My Tasting Day

An appointment with Charles Neal is an appointment I look forward to with great relish.  This Bay Area importer is consistantly bringing in the best line up of artisan French spirits in the business.  All of his products come from small farmers in the countryside who decide to bottle their own products rather than sell them to the big houses.  Charles Neal is to spirits as K&L is to Champagne.  We go over and find the little guys that no one else is paying attention to and then try and introduce them to our customers.  We currently carry a number of Charles Neal selections, such as the Dudognon Cognac, the Pellehaut Bas-Armagnac, the Lemorton Domfrontais Calvados and the 1984 Ravignan Vintage Armagnac.  Perhaps the biggest feather in Neal's cap however is the Adrien Camut Calvados collection, a small production outfit in the Pays d'Auge region.  Every time we're able to secure a new batch of these apple brandies, I usually buy as many as are available.

While I've always considered the Camut 12 to be the best Calvados in our inventory, this might change to the recent release of Camut 6 year old.  I brought my assistant Kyle in to the tasting bar today so that he could educate his palate a bit and he agreed that the 6 was simply stupendous.  Even though the Pays d'Auge brandies are twice distilled, the crisp acidity of the apples comes through clean in the spirit and the palate is bursting with juicy, ripe, spicy cider.  To me, the measure of a great Calvados is the balance between barrel and fruit, and I've perhaps never seen a finer example.  I just bought Charles out of every bottle he had available, so I'm hoping to secure a nice amount for our interested customers.

Following the departure of Mr. Neal, I had a brief visit from a small distributor in the area who is going to be bringing the small NYC producer Breuckelen Distilling to California.  I had read a bit about the gin (pictured above) online and had hoped to eventually try it on my annual excursion to the Big Apple.  However, no need to wait, as it showed up today on my doorstep.  We're hoping to have this in stock by early next month.  A fascinating gin, delicate and dainty, with nice lemon and floral elements.  Kyle felt that it would make a fantastic gin and tonic, and I had to agree.  Should retail in the sub-$30 zone.  Fun, fun, fun!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Apr262011

Tuesday Tasting Tonight

I wanted to start a little educational series about how the barrel type effects the flavor of a whisky, but I was having trouble finding a really fine example that was neither too obvious nor too subtle.  This new ten year Laphroaig from Signatory is perfect and will prove as tasty as it will pedagogical.  Aged in a refill sherry butt, the richness of the wood is on display, but remains restrained due to the fact that another whisky has already soaked up much of the intensity.  Come and taste a magnificant Islay for pennies on the dollar.  Should be around $4 or less.  And that's for a full glass, Jack!  Martin's West, Redwood City, 6 PM, one bottle only, first come first served.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Apr252011

New Buffalo Trace Barrel In Stock

Here's a secret photo that someone with an iPhone smuggled out of our tasting bar earlier today.  We can't confirm reports just yet, but word is that the bourbon is delicious.  Here's what we know:

Buffalo Trace K&L Exclusive Single Cask #171 Lot 2089 Kentucky Straight Bourbon $24.99 - When given the opportunity to continuously buy casks directly from one of the best distilleries in the country, it makes sense to take advantage of it as frequently as possible.  Every time Buffalo Trace has provided us with single barrel samples, we've no problem selecting a winner.  These guys only make outstanding bourbon and the quality is apparent in both their normal distillery bottling and once again in our exclusive K&L single cask.  This is supple, rich, and robust whiskey - going down soft and easy while exhibiting warm baking spices with vanilla and oak.  It's difficult to imagine any bourbon fan not enjoying this immensely - especially for the price.  American distilleries offer tremendous value for the money and no whiskey could display this phenomenon better than this one.  180 bottles available.

-David Driscoll