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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!


Friday
Sep162011

Only The Best - Part II

It seems I'm not the only person in the liquor industry who's worried about the current trend of drinking "only the best."  A customer recently passed along an article from the most recent Malt Advocate and I was quite startled to find Lew Bryson had written about something quite similar.  Unlike me, however, Lew had the guts to just come right out and say exactly what he felt:

"We - you and me - are the people new whiskey drinkers learn from.  When we're excited about the Antique Collection, Birthday Bourbon, Parker's Heritage, or the Knob Creek Single Barrel, the aspiring whiskey drinker short-cuts to them, fixates on them, and never realizes that there are bourbons for all times.  They have bypassed learning their own bourbon tastes to get right to "the best" - what someone else has told them is the best. We've failed them. They don't know what a table bourbon is."

Quite a compelling statement, eh? 

Speaking solely from retail experience, I have repeatedly worked with customers who conveyed to me their interest in taking wine more seriously and were therefore ready to invest in a gigantic, $10,000 wine storage unit, plus an additional $5,000 to fill it up with whatever I thought was good.  That's a lot of dough and a lot of trust for someone just starting out, but who am I to argue?  What I have usually said, however, is that a wine storage unit is really only necessary for someone looking to meticulously age their wines over a 15-20 year period. "Do you like to drink mature wines mostly?" I would ask.  "I'm not sure, I haven't had that many," was the usual response. I would then attempt to convince the customer to start with a selection of older Bordeaux and California cabernets, taste them over the course of a few weeks, and then decide if this was what they were interested in.  Otherwise, why not just keep your wine in the closet and spend ten grand on something more worthwhile?

I'm not sure if other generations were the same, but many people today under the age of 45 have a desire to dive head first into everything.  I am one of them, but I have worked very hard to scale back this enthusiasm and focus it into acquiring actual wisdom.  I've listened to cycling enthusiasts in the Bay Area mock the newcomer who shows up on the first day with a $10,000 bike and $500 worth of new clothing, despite never having ridden a day.  I've heard amateur golfer friends ridicule the guy with the $5000 bag of clubs, but zero ability to actually use them.  There's an idea out there that beginning with the very best therefore makes you the very best, but it isn't true.  Being able to afford something is very different than actually appreciating it.  It's far better to start slowly and listen to those around you before making any serious declarations.

Going back to Lew's statement, the part that caught my eye was the addition of "what someone else has told them is the best."  Every purchase or experience in life that I value was probably at some point recommended to me by someone I trust.  Whether it was a restaurant recommendation or what type of car to buy.  I don't see anything wrong with listening to other people's opinions.  We just have to make sure that we don't derive our own pleasure through them.  If I were to go out to dinner and someone told me that the wine we were drinking got 92 points, I would probably sigh because there's no actual passion behind a statement like that.  If that same person were to just tell me that he or she thought the wine was really good, I would be much more excited. 

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Sep152011

D-Day

The day is finally here.  If you ordered one of our Ladyburn bottles for pre-arrival, they should be ready to pick up today for Northern California.  Hollywood orders will be there this weekend.  If you need to have yours shipped then give us a call as we won't automatically do it until we've heard from you.  So far I've tasted about 20 different customers, friends, and colleagues on the sample I have open and the reactions have been fun to watch.  Superlatives, cursing, and complete bliss.  No one has been underwelmed yet which makes me very happy.  This is as good as it gets!  Happy drinking to all of you who got one.  We really appreciate your support!

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Sep142011

Bitter is Better

Over the last year we've developed the Spirits Department into one of the most dynamic programs being offered anywhere in the world.  The one aspect of the Sporting Life that we've never truly focused on plays a integral role in the development of our drinks culture, Bitters.  By the strictest definition a cocktail cannot exist without the bitters.  Most people don't realize how important these special little concoctions are to the drinks that they love so much.  Using them is not always easy, but once you've gained some experience they can be wildly pleasurable.  There is absolutely NO money in bitters.  The classics dominate and the general public won't pay $18 for 100ml of booze designed specifically to be unpalatable by itself.  Nonetheless, I'm committed to becoming the countries premier bitters destination.  I'm not going to carry every bitter on the market, but I'm going to give you the best of what's available.  Honestly, my quest to become one of the world's premier bitters suppliers has been met with skepticism.  My staff thinks its crazy!  The owners laugh at the invoices.  Most customer just gawk.  Honestly I don't care!  I'm gonna work to make sure that we carry every bitter worth its salt or die trying.  Our new bitters section is up and running in Hollywood and you can get them sent ANYWHERE in the US because they are classified as non-potable.  While many specialty retailers charge EXTREME prices for there bitters, we do not have to rely on excessive margins to justify our increased inventory - why?  Cause I say so, that's why.  We need people excited about these products because they're so important to making great drinks.  IN order to do that we need people to feel comfortable using bitters, so PLEASE come on in and have a taste.  All our bitters are open for you to taste so don't wait!  I will be tasting our wide selection over the coming weeks and giving you my impression.  Any questions please let us know! 

-David Girard

Wednesday
Sep142011

Only The Best - Part I

As a society on the go, many of us are too busy to bother with the mediocre in life.  If we're actually going to stop and smell the flowers, they had better be the best damn flowers around.  Otherwise, what's the point?  Some of us aren't satisfied with merely the experience of smelling any old flower - we need to know that we've experienced the best and that others are aware also.  Facebook pictures of our trips to Paris with poses in front of the Eifel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral prove that we were there and that we saw the best sights that Paris had to offer.  A trip to the Louvre results in a mad dash to see Da Vinci's Mona Lisa while ignoring the rest.  As a culture, we are obsessed with cutting the fat and getting to the good stuff, but what are we basing this on?  Who decides what the best things in life are?  Our families?  Our friends?  Robert Parker?  The "best" things in life are not always so objective and absolute, despite what the experts tell us.  Not only is the term "best" a subjective one, it can also require requisite experience in order to understand its proper meaning.  

A great perspective on just how skewed a qualitative scale can be regarding alcohol is found in the 1855 Medoc classification of Bordeaux wine.  Because the 1855 classification still draws the ultimate line in the sand regarding quality of red Medoc wine, it's a great example of how we tend to follow the leader.  The five-tiered system of determining the "great" wines of the Medoc is merely one of many "best of" lists compiled by merchants, negotiants, and wine enthusiasts of the time.  Before the 1855 classification took place there were various versions of Consumer Reports floating around the region to help drinkers decide which wines to invest in.  This particular one just happened to become set in stone for the next 150 years despite numerous arguments for updating and revising it. Instead of developing into an evolving, up-to-date ranking system, the 1855 classification became a dogma.  The top wines could do no wrong and the lesser wines would forever be stuck in the peasant class.  Some still believe that the qualitative distinction of the list holds true today, arguing that it ranked the quality of the soil rather than of the wine itself.  However, many property holdings have changed hands over the last century and many chateaux are using different grapes from 5th growth vineyard sites to make their 2nd growth wines. 

Not only has land ownwership changed, but so has winemaking!  There are talented vintners working everywhere in Bordeaux today, taking previously unheralded properties into the ranks of the very finest.  Yet, we're still stuck with a "best of" list from the mid-19th century?  Are the five first growths still the very best wines of Bordeaux?  Auction pricing and insatiable consumer interest would say "YES!"  People today are still obsessed with drinking the best wines of the 1855 classification because it's a simple declaration of what constitutes greatness, even if in reality there's no longer any basis for it.  That's not to say that Chateau Haut-Brion isn't one of the five best wines in Bordeaux, but rather, "Who actually knows anymore?"  Are the people drinking Chateau Margaux today experienced enough to recognize that utmost quality in contrast to other great clarets?  I don't know.  However, I'm sure it's much easier not to rock the boat and let the money keep pouring in.

The only way to know for sure if something is the "best" is to sit down and compare it against other similar products, but who has the time or the money to do that anymore?  For that reason we simply defer to the experts who tell us what is or isn't worth our time.  I'll be the first to say that I simply don't have time to become an expert on every little hobby I take an interest in, but I still want the enjoyment I find in any particular experience to be based on my own personal pleasure.  If we're constantly worried about experiencing "only the best," how does that make us any happier?  Do we actually know that what we're experiencing is wonderful or is the idea that someone else thinks it is enough?

More on this in the upcoming weeks....

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Sep132011

Tastings Tomorrow

Please join us for another week of in store, "educational" tastings!  FREE of charge beginning at 5:00 PM and lasting until 6:30 PM.

In the San Francisco store we will have:

Leopold Bros. Distillery from Colorado - Todd Smith will be in the bar pouring the American whiskey, the amazing gin, and the new maraschino liqueur. 

In the Redwood City store we will have:

Kilchoman Single Malt Whisky - Val from JVS will be pouring the newest release from Kilchoman, the Smokehead from Islay, and another whisky selection.

See you there!

-David Driscoll