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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

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!


Monday
Oct242011

Just In! (Not For Long!)

My email list is apparently not delivering emails right now, so while the tech management guys work on that, I'll post some great info here.

Talisker 18 is back in stock right now.  There are 90 bottles in LA with another 210 coming to RWC this weekend.  I would order now and secure one, then select it for shipping or for store pick up.  We'll be sending out a big email about this later on and they will be gone in a heartbeat.

We also have limited supplies of Old Pulteney 21, now named the #1 whisky in the world for 2012 by Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.  We've sold a bunch already to some eager customers this morning before David OG and I cleaned out the California distribution.  I've got 30 in RWC now with another 70 on order to LA tomorrow.  There are a million people on the hunt for these now that it's considered the BEST whisky in the world.  It broke the record for points with 97.5.  If you want to know what I think, I think Old Pulteney makes great whisky and the 21 year is outstanding.  As is the 17 year.

That's it for now.  Gotta run.  Grab what you can while there's still time!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Oct222011

When Do You Drink This? (or Falling Out of Love With Red Wine)

One of the most difficult urges to resist is the capitalistic drive to collect more things, especially when you're passionate about whatever it is you're purchasing.  In our case, it's likely booze.  If you think the emails I send out concerning new arrivals are tempting for whisky fans, think about the tempting offers that K&L sends out every single day to wine drinkers!  Even if you're not a collector, the idea of simply consuming a world class beverage is enough to pull out your wallet on a regular basis.  Believe me, working here at K&L it is even harder for me to resist.  We have regional staff tastings every Tuesday where we plow through anywhere from thirty to forty new wines and there are always three or four I simply have to have.  Tuesday is always a big purchasing day for employees.

When I sample a new wine and truly fall for its flavor, I'm so overcome with excitement that I honestly don't think about when I'm going to open the bottle before I buy it - I simply pay for it and add it to the pile.  This raises a problem when I look for something to open at home after work.  Many of my purchases over the last year simply don't fit in with my drinking schedule or my lifestyle because my wife and I never find ourselves in the red wine mood.  Let me elaborate a bit.  In my wine locker there are at least twenty bottles of Bordeaux, ten bottles of Burgundy, and another dozen of mixed, full-bodied reds that are resting quietly at a cool temperature.  When I get home at around 7:30 in the evening I don't have time to cook the type of meal that would merit opening one of these bottles. 

I'm not simply going to open a 2001 Gruaud Larose St. Julien for kicks and pour a glass while I watch TV.  These are special occasion wines that require planning and consideration.  I only drink three days out the five in my work week and on those days I'm drinking beer, a cocktail, or a glass of white wine.  The weekend would be the best time to plan a special meal and open one of those bottles.  However, the weekend is when my wife and I go out to eat, walk around the city, or grab a cocktail from a bartender friend.  There's no time to fuss about with wine and regulation - the weekend is about getting out of the wine environment and remembering that I used to have other interests before I became immersed in booze culture.  Before I know it, I'm back to work again and I'm already thinking about new bottles that excite me.

In Sideways, there's the famous line about making the bottle itself the occasion for opening it.  I've tried doing that lately, but the motivation just isn't there for me anymore.  I really wanted to enjoy this new Rioja Reserva we just received so I cooked an elaborate meal and sat down with my wife.  We both enjoyed a glass or two, but we didn't finish the bottle.  The wine was fine, it's just that drinking heavy amounts of red wine and eating the heavy foods that accompany it are not things we enjoy anymore.  I had roasted a chicken and made a delicious sauce to go with it, but we just weren't feeling it.  I began to realize that my wife and I, despite our love of cooking and eating, are not the stereotypical sit-down-to-dinner types.  Most of my co-workers enjoy cooking up steak, chicken, pork chops, duck confit, and other famous wine-pairing entreés, then sitting down to multi-course meals with pairings for each one.  As much as I tell myself that's what I too should be doing, it's just not our thing.  Our diet consists mainly of beans, fresh vegetables, Indian sauces, lentils, pizza, hot Thai chillies, and fruit.  In New York, a few weeks back, we ate pizza, tacos, or knish for practically every meal. I think we ate tomatoes on toast with avocados and some broccoli soup for dinner the other night.  Those simply are not meals that scream for Cote Rotie.

Why am I explaining all of this to you?  Because I feel that there is a pressure to derive happiness from booze based off of what other people find enjoyable.  Despite the fact that I don't enjoy red wine at home, I continue to keep purchasing it as if I need to prove something!!  It's not that I don't like it, I just don't ever feel like drinking it.  I had a conversation with a customer yesterday who told me that he almost purchased one of the Eagle Rare 17 year old Bourbons off the shelf simply because he never sees it available.  He didn't particularly want the ER17, nor was it even one of his favorites, but knowing how rare these bottles are and how much other people love them, he felt a compulsion to get one of his own.  This is the same feeling I get every time the Pappy Van Winkles show up, the George T. Staggs, etc.  These are whiskies I have owned and never enjoyed drinking, yet I still feel like I should give them another chance because of how popular they are.  It's the same feeling that compulsive shoppers feel when watching an infomercial about knives or something - they simply have to have those knives even if they've never cooked a thing in their life!

John Glaser told us during our whisky blending seminar to imagine the time we would want to drink our whisky before creating it.  Would it be something to drink after work?  Late at night with a book?  On a sunny afternoon?  The mood was an important creative factor because it needed to be something we would actually want to drink, not merely something we thought was good.  Thinking about when we are actually going to drink a particular wine or whisky should be just as important for evaluation as proper tasting notes are.  The next time you try a new single malt or Bourbon, think about when you would actually drink it.  For me personally, I know that I'm currently not drinking anything cask strength because I'm sick of having to tinker with my whisky when I get home.  That's an important point for me to remember when those Antique Collection whiskies land next week (remind me of that so that there's an extra one for all of you).  Just because something tastes amazing doesn't mean you're actually going to ever drink it - it may sit there on your bar for the next five years while you search for the right moment that never existed in the first place.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Oct212011

Arrival Times - Plan Accordingly

I sent this out on an email yesterday, but then got a message that delivery of that email was held up by something in the system.  I don't how many people actually got this message, but I didn't want to send it again and spam everyone.  Instead, I'll post that email here.  Also, if you're not on the email list, but want to be then please send me an email telling me so at daviddriscoll@klwines.com

Hello everyone,

Seeing as we’re getting to that time of the year when all the major stuff starts to happen, I thought I’d start preparing you all for the onslaught that we know is coming: the holiday season rush!  Starting this month is when all the major players begin unleashing their most prized possessions and in turn, we as a store have set as the beginning of our exclusive collection ETA.  I get a lot of emails from some of you, cursing us for tempting you further with more booze merely seconds after you’ve already purchased some.  My answer to you is – drink faster!!  No, in actuality, I wanted to type this up so that you could all plan ahead and budget your funds for the bottles most important to your heart.  So, without further ado, here is a rough timetable as to when you can expect some significant bottles to arrive.

NOTE: NONE OF THESE BOTTLES ARE CURRENTLY IN STOCK, NOR ARE THEY AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER OR HOLD AS OF NOW

OCTOBER

Talisker 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky $84.99 – We could see more of this legendary dram as early as tomorrow, but likely early next week.  Get your racing shoes on because it always goes fast.  Of course, it may be the best deal in all of whiskydom, so it’s no surprise.

Mezcalero Release #3 San Andres Huayapam Agave Mexicano Mezcal $75.99

Mezcalero Release #4 San Juan del Rio Agave Sierra Negra $75.99 – Both of these incredible and VERY limited mezcals are due in tomorrow afternoon.   In all honesty, I might be more excited for their arrival than I am for the Talisker 18.  Germain Robin always gets the premium stuff from Oaxaca, better than any other mezcals I have tasted.  These new batches, both from different species of wild agave, are incredibly pure, fragrant, and flavorful.  The Mezcalero series is always something to savor and is the best thing going right now for mezcal (at least, until the DOG and I head to Mexico this January….)

Springbank K&L Exclusive 13 Year Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $84.99

Springbank K&L Exclusive 14 Year Single Madeira Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $89.99

Glendronach K&L Exclusive 16 Year Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $99.99

Littlemill K&L Exclusive 21 Year Old Faultline Spirits Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $115.99

Bruichladdich K&L Exclusive Quarts de Chaume Chenin Blanc Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $65.99 – These might end up bleeding over into early November, but as of right now these are all scheduled to dock this weekend and hopefully make it to distribution by next week.  We should be processing pre-arrivals soon after.  REMEMBER – pre-arrival prices end as soon as these hit distribution.  That means the prices go up!  Get what you need now as it could be tomorrow that we raise them.

Buffalo Trace 2011 Antique Collection:

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon

William Larue Weller Straight Bourbon

Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Rye Whiskey

Thomas Handy Kentucky Rye Whiskey

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon – These will be arriving next week.  Looks like we’re getting more Stagg than anything else, so that should be the easiest one to get (if that helps your ranking system).  Remember, we will email you early next week concerning the raffle and we will give you instructions at that time as to how to get a bottle.

ArteNOM Tequilas – beginning early next week we should see the arrival of Jacob Lustig’s amazing new distillery-bottled tequilas.  If you don’t know what these are, check the blog at http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com for an overview and an informative podcast!

NOVEMBER

Diageo Distiller’s Editions – new batches of Cragganmore, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Dalwhinnie, Oban, and Talisker, all double-matured in their respective finishes. 

Diageo Rare Maltsthis year’s rare malts will include:

Rosebank 21 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Port Ellen 11th Edition 32 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Knockando 25 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Talisker 25 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

I have also heard that there will be a Brora 32 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, but no confirmation as to whether that will hit the states.

Bruichladdich New Releases (prices not yet confirmed)

The Botanist Islay Gin $34.99-ish

The Organic (multi-vintage) $59.99-ish

The Laddie Classic $55.99-ish

Black Art 2 $169.99-ish

Port Charlotte An Turas Mor $57.99-ish

Octomore 3-152ppm $149.99-ish

Pappy Van Winkle Bourbons – No confirmation yet on this, but I would assume it can’t be much later.  Raffle will also take place here.

Bruichladdich 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Ardbeg Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $99.99 – our mingling of two Islay greats should get here mid month.

Blair Athol K&L Exclusive 11 Year Old Provenance Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $69.99 – the best source of whisky in Scotland for K&L also happens to be the slowest.  They’re in no hurry to get this here.  That’s the pace of confidence, I guess.

Kilchoman Single Bourbon Barrel K&L Exclusive Single Malt Whisky $TBA – We went in on a barrel that will be split with Binny’s in Chicago, as far as I understand.  I was very impressed with this sample and am happy to get some 5 year old Kilchoman!  These guys are slowly becoming one of my favorite distilleries.  Can’t wait to visit them next year.  This should get here late November.

DECEMBER AND BEYOND

We initially put a December timeline on our Sovereign single barrels, but the government is being a complete bitch right now with label approval and is really making things difficult.  Hopefully we can get these here, but I’m afraid it’s looking more like January now.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Bowmore 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $72.99

Caledonian 45 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Whisky $149.99

Caol Ila 30 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $174.99

Girvan 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Whisky $73.99 – all very good whiskies, all very likely delayed until late December

2 New K&L Barrels!!!! – we’ve kinda been keeping these under wraps until we knew more, but what the heck…

Cragganmore 21 Year Old Faultline Spirits Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $TBA – This should come in right at about $100, which again puts us WAAAAY less than the official Diageo release.  And ours is WAAAAAAY better.  Look for this late in the month with our own fancy label like the Littlemill.

1981 Brora 30 Year Old Chieftain’s Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $TBA – This is going to really put us on the map nationally.  To land a barrel of this magnitude from perhaps the most sought-after mothballed distillery in the world is going to attract some attention.  Going to be a rockin’ way to start 2012.  This will be bottled on Dec 2nd which is my birthday, so now I’m going to have to buy one.

Possible new K&L casks for January – no word yet on these, but we’ll be doing a sample run next month…

Clynelish 21 Year Old Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky

Bunnahabhain 14 Year Old Heavily Peated Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky – both could be very interesting!!

IN OTHER NEWS

I’ll be doing another podcast soon with someone at Kilchoman distillery to discuss the new 100% Islay Barley whisky I love so damn much.

It looks like David and I will be postponing our Kentucky trip for January and heading down to sunny Mexico instead.  Some of you Bourbon fans might be a bit disappointed, but if you knew what we knew, you would understand.  I can’t tell you exactly what that means yet, but let’s say this: have you ever seen a tequila over 10 years old?  Over 20?  Bottled in a single barrel and at cask strength?  You might as soon as we get back. 

Tastings for next week will be:

San Francisco – Gran Dovejo Tequilas with Frank Mendez – these are great aged tequilas, some almost bourbon like.  Make sure to go!

Redwood City – Los Osuna Tequila with Jesus Padilla – come and try these fantastic agave spirits from Sinaloa, not Jalisco.  Their blanco is perhaps my favorite.

That’s a lot of data.  Crunch your numbers and come up with a budget!  Any questions, send them our way.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Oct202011

Precocious Whisky From Islay

Floor malting of local barley at Kilchoman distilleryOver the course of history, human beings have shown time and again that they like to dismiss things that don't adhere to the standard public perception.  There is too much security in the stability of ideas to allow for something to just come along and move years of tradition aside!  Nevertheless, the long-standing belief that older malt whisky was better malt whisky has taken blow after blow since the new millenium.  While many of the new craft American distillers attempted to showcase the benefits of young American whiskies, most were less than persuasive.  A group of Islay distilleries, however, has proven over the last decade that malt whisky need not be a minimum of ten years old to have merit.  If made well, with attention, care, and precision, young whisky could actually be quite exciting; not in a new and curious manner, but actually standing toe to toe with other mature examples.  In fact, I would dare say that most of the youthful whiskies from Bruichladdich, Ardbeg, and Kilchoman are simply better than the 12+ year old standard releases from established producers.

Kilchoman's newest release, the 100% Islay Barley Single Malt, is both a great idea and a great whisky.  In trying to present the world with a single malt that actually begins and ends on Islay (all other producers source their malted barley off the island), Kilchoman worked with their Rockside Farm neighbor and harvested their own grain right next to their facility.  They continued with their own floor malting (as seen above), which as far as I know only Bowmore and Springbank still do, and fermented their own mash for distillation of a pure Islay malt.  The first release is a three year old sparkplug that drinks amazingly well now with flashes of lemon oil, peat moss, campfire smoke and the bright zestiness of a blanco tequila.  Part of the enjoyment of the whisky is knowing the story behind it, but the malt is still irresistable and charming.  I would much rather drink this, or even Kilchoman's wonderful sherry-aged 2011 Spring Release than a 12 year old Macallan or 18 year Glenlivet.  Some consumers complain about the cost, seeing that using quality ingredients is a more expensive procedure, but it's obviously not for everyone. There's always room for non-organic Safeway produce while others enjoy the farmer's market.

The newest rendition of Bruichladdich's ultra-peated Octomore series is set to make its U.S. appearance this Fall.  The five year old, over-achieving malt is smoked to a ridiculous 152 ppm and bottled at cask strength, yet the purity and delicacy of the spirit make it palatable straight from the bottle.  Bruichladdich's attention to their stills and therefore their new make spirit has allowed them to market younger whiskies with confidence.  While clocking in well over $100, there is still a passionate following for the Octomore series amongst those who appreciate peated malts, namely because the vivaciousness of the whisky is simply unmatched. 

After only appearing in annual batch releases, Bruichladdich is ready to make Port Charlotte a full time product.  While none of the whisky in their peated malt has made it to ten years old, the Port Charlotte is so good that the lack of an age statement is unimportant.  The richness is more than convincing, the textures are soft, and the balance of smoke is fantastic.  At around the $60 price point, it will immediately compete with it's other NAS cohort - the Ardbeg Uigeadail - for control over the hearts and minds of value-searching Islay lovers.  I personally find it much more satisfying than other more established and mature Islay malts like Lagavulin 16 or Caol Ila 12.  While I find both of those whiskies more than satisfactory, there's simply something more going on in the Port Charlotte whisky - a brightness or high note that stands out above the others. 

Literally every single day there's a customer at K&L who discovers that single malts are not actually single whiskies, but rather blends of numerous malts that just happen to be made at the same distillery.  I think that understanding this fact goes a long way in breaking down the walls of ageism.  Once you realize that single malts are more about mixing for flavor and less about a single qualitative age statement (unless you're buying single barrels, of course), the idea of drinking something younger seems less risky.  NAS whiskies like Ardbeg's Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, Alligator, and Supernova have helped immensely in this transition where more drinkers today have begun to open their minds.  While older and more established distilleries are playing it safe with their mild-mannered classics, younger and hipper producers are showing us that passion, skill, and dedication can sometimes trump experience.  The classic distilleries of Islay have never been more popular, but it's the younger, hungrier distilleries who are keeping it relevant.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Oct192011

K&L Spirits Podcast #19 - Tequila Importer Jacob Lustig

Jacob Lustig and I have been working together for the last year with the Cyrus Noble Bourbon label, but never did I suspect that he was the biggest tequila expert I knew.  For a gringo, Jacob's Español es perfecto and his experience in Mexico dates back to his childhood when he and his mother would travel back and forth between SF and Oaxaca.  He has worked as the head of Southern Wine and Spirits Latin department and has more than 20 years of experience working with producers in Mexico.  Listen to Jacob talk about his new Selección ArteNOM tequila label, the farming of agave, regional distinction between distillers in Jalisco, and everything else you never knew about agave spirits.  This is one of the most informative interviews I've ever done!  I learned a ton.

This episode can be downloaded here or from our podcast page at Apple iTunes.  Previous episodes can be viewed by clicking the Podcast Archive link located in the margin on the right hand side of this page.  You can also listen via our embedded Flash player above.