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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

9/24 - San Francisco: Monkey 47 w/Christoph Keller!

9/24 - Redwood City: Germain Robin K&L Exclusive Brandy!

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!


Sunday
Aug142011

Whisky Wednesdays Start This Week

Now that we have our tasting license, we will be conducting free spirits tastings every Wednesday at the RWC store!  Our San Francisco license is still pending, but we plan to begin there as well as soon as the papers are cleared.  This coming Wednesday will feature some of the interesting products from Glenglassaugh distillery, a Highland legend that was recently brought back from the dead.  Mothballed from 1986 to 2009, the new ownership has put out several curious young whiskies in the meantime, as well as some drop-dead gorgeous aged expressions. We're trying to get a bottle of something older for the tasting.  If we manage to do so, you wont want to miss it.  We will be pouring three products over all between 5 PM and 6:30.  Free of charge to anyone who wants to stop by!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Aug132011

LEGAL TASTINGS @ K&L START NOW!

LET'S DO THIS! More info to come.

-David Driscoll 

Saturday
Aug132011

Buffalo Trace Single Oak Tasting Notes

While we are not able to offer these bottles to customers due to their extremely limited quantity, I was able to secure one set of the first twelve releases from Buffalo Trace’s highly anticipated single oak project.  I definitely admire what BT is doing because as a whisk(e)y geek it’s absolutely fascinating – different bourbons being aged in barrels made from different parts of the tree, along with several other variables that all affect the flavor differently.  They even have a website you can visit after you’ve tasted your bottle where you can leave your own personal feedback in exchange for the DNA info of each whiskey.  It’s an ingenious way to get people involved in an education discussion of the product as well as obtaining valuable feedback from interested consumers.  There’s just one gigantic problem – they didn’t make enough.  

Even though the whiskies have been diluted to 45% and packaged in 375ml half bottles, there are still precious few of these whiskies available (when I finally logged into the BT website to leave my reviews there were only about ten to fifteen others – that’s nothing!) Each barrel is unique so imagine trying to supply the world’s demand out of one single cask! Tasting any one bottle on its own is meaningless because the goal is to understand them in conjunction with one another, so selling these single bottles as individual pieces was pointless. However, giving them all to one customer would be unfair as well as superfluous – these need to be analyzed in a group! I decided the only thing to do was buy the one set myself, call up seventeen friends, colleagues, and customers to split the cost, and divide the bottles up evenly.  That way we allow the maximum amount of people to taste each bottle side-by-side as intended.

I recently finished my tasting session of all twelve and have rather mixed emotions concerning these bourbons.  While I find each of them fascinating for what they are, I wouldn’t call any of them great or even worthwhile as a purchase.  I loved tasting them and I will definitely buy the next set to do the same activity, but had I purchased these to drink and enjoy over time, I would have been gravely disappointed. Anyone thinking that they’ve missed out on the world’s greatest bourbon, fear not – these are far from a finished product, in my opinion.  Others seem to agree because the average rating for most of these whiskies on the actual Single Oak website is around 70% which is a C- if I'm interpreting the scoring system correctly.  Below are my tasting notes if anyone cares to read.  All the whiskies in this group are eight years of age and the barrels were all toasted at #4 char.

Barrel #3 (top tree cut, rye mash) – all-spice, pencil shavings on the nose with vanilla, very peppery, resinous, and bright on the palate, finish is more pencil shavings and wood, very assertive

Barrel #35 (top tree cut, wheat mash) – brandied fruits on the nose with toasted wood and vanilla, an herbal, drying palate with toasted nuts, ashy finish

Barrel #68 (bottom tree cut, rye mash) – rich honey aromas blend into graphite with salted caramel.  Slightly sweet on the palate with balanced richness, vanilla, and sandlewood.  Saw dust on the finish,

Barrel #164 (bottom tree cut, wheat mash) – furniture store varnish with pencil lead aromas, green flavors, little richness if any, hints of grain, lean and lacking.

Barrel #99 (top tree cut, wheat mash) – unripe bananas on the nose with vanilla and Cognac, fatter textures and more developed flavors, spice and pepper on the finish

Barrel #4 (bottom tree cut, rye mash) – richer, more vanilla with sawdust underneath on the nose, supple palate with bolder wood flavors, green, vegetal, bitter on the finish.

Barrel #131 (top tree cut, rye mash) – green bananas with pencil shavings, paint thinner and Seagrams 7 on the palate, then all spice with a sandy, dusty finish.

Barrel #67 (tope tree cut, rye mash) graphite, pencil lead aromas with faint vanilla, good baking spices with supple richness on the palate, herbal and resinous finish.

Barrel #100 (bottom tree cut, wheat mash) ­– candy peanut aromas with oak, rich more balanced palate with salted notes, balanced and lengthy finish.

Barrel #36 (bottom tree cut, wheat) – Payday candy bar aromas, nougat, sweet spices, nice vanilla notes on the palate, glowing with honey on the finish

Barrel #132 (bottom tree cut, rye) – brown sugar and molasses aromas, totally different than of the others on the nose, nutty, sherry flavors on the palate, tobacco finish.

Barrel #163 (top tree cut, wheat) – Baby Ruth aromas, black pepper and earthy must on the palate, faint richness but roars to a bold, spicy finish.

I tasted all twelve at the store with my assistant Kyle and we both felt that there was an overwhelming woodiness to all of these, but not new oak or vanilla.  Most had a sawdust, pencil shavings, graphite, sandlewood element to them so I wonder where that’s coming from.  Overall a great experience and I look forward to the next batch!

-David Driscoll

Friday
Aug122011

K&L Spirits Podcast #16 - The Davids Talk Barrel Buying - Part 1

It's been a while since we've done some audio!  Now that we've finally secured all of our casks from Scotland, we thought we'd break down the list and talk about each of the 18 total barrels.  Listen to a few stories, tasting notes, and distillery information from our romp through the Celtic heartland.  To download click on the link here or visit our iTunes site.  For a complete list of previous podcasts please go to the link on the right hand margin.  You can also listen via our embedded player below.

Thursday
Aug112011

Final Four Casks Secured

If you know you can’t spend any more money this month then please stop reading now.

We’ve finally locked in the pricing on our final four casks from Scotland and they are STUPID cheap.  You’ll all be wondering how we did this, but all I can tell you is that we managed to get some close friends to help with the importing.  That way we got wholesale pricing, rather than distribution pricing.  The results are below.  Four different decades, four insane deals.  All scheduled for late November/early December arrival.

2000 Bowmore 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky – PRE ARRIVAL $72.99 - This one took quite a while to secure, but we finally landed another slam-dunk cask: a sherry-aged barrel of delicious Bowmore single malt!  I'll never forget looking at David OG's face as we sat in the tasting room of the Sovereign offices tasting this whisky - "Tennis ball can?" we both said, nosing the complex whirlwind of aromas emanating from the glass.  Vanilla, rich raisined fruit, creamy sherry, and yes a bit of tennis ball can!  The palate is where the Bowmore campfire smoke and peat moss creep in and lead one's mouth to a succulent, savory finish.  However, the nose is the real jewel of this whisky and David OG sat for more than twenty minutes just smelling it and smiling.  Who doesn’t love sherry-aged Islay whisky, especially when it’s from Bowmore?

1980 Caol Ila 30 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky – PRE-ARRIVAL $174.99 - If you can't believe your eyes at the price of this Caol Ila 30 year old single barrel, cask strength bottle, we can't blame you.  Is it a close out?  No.  Is it just not good?  Sorry, we don't buy bad whisky.  How is it that K&L is able to get an entire barrel of elegant, smoky, mature Islay whisky and sell it for $175?  We'll let you in on a secret - we worked very hard to get these casks imported directly and we've enlisted the help of a few friends to get these incredible prices.  Do a Google search and you'll find that the official Caol Ila comes in at about $350 while other expressions bottom out at around $280.  This new relationship we've started with Sovereign from our recent trip to Scotland is the beginning of something very big - top level whiskies, all at cask strength, all at wholesale prices for our retail customers! 

1990 Girvan 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Whisky – PRE-ARRIVAL $73.99 - The home of the old Ladyburn distillery, this is the perfect sister bottle to our "Rare Ayrshire" cask (which unfortunately is now sold out).  Girvan once housed the now defunct Ladyburn, but was more known for its role in creating the Black Barrel brand available in Scandinavia and Latin America.  This is another whopper of a whisky that is difficult to describe.  Dry, herbal, grainy on the nose, but the palate is expressive and clean, finishing with apples and pears in a fruity flurry of flavor.  So much fun, but more for the experienced drinker than the novice.  We loved the complexity of this whisky, but were very afraid about consumer interest due to its esoteric character.  When we learned that we could work with an importer of our choice, we were able to negotiate an amazing price making this deal a no-brainer.  Other prices on Girvan of this age (if you can even find a bottle) fester around the $100+ range, making our cask the equivalent of a closeout bargain.  David OG and I felt a duty to import this barrel for the super whisky geeks out there, those who are never satisfied with the limited selection of most stores -the uber-curious, adventurous whisky connoisseurs everywhere. Compass Box's John Glaser told us we were making him proud!

1965 Caledonian 45 Year Old K&L Exclusive Sovereign Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Whisky $149.99 - Closed forever in 1988, Caledonian was a Lowland grain distillery that was once famed for having Europe's biggest patent still.  The nose is salted caramel and sticky Sauternes with rich and enticing aromas of sweet goodness.  The palate however is grain all the way - lean and herbal, odd and exciting, crazy cool and super fun - truly a difficult malt to truly explain.  Knowing this was going to be for the true whisky nerds out there,  we originally decided to pass on this cask even though we loved it.  However, when the owners let us deal via our own importer, we were able to work out a ridiculous price for such an ancient collectable (the closest comparison we could find was a 45 year Caledonian selling in the UK for more than $200).  Similar grains of this age have sold at K&L in the past for over $300.  While this bottle isn't for everyone, it is meant for the curious collector looking to branch out and understand the various styles of Scotch.  Grain whisky has always been an important element of blended whisky and continues to provide the backbone to legends like Johnnie Walker Blue and Chivas Regal.  While it has recently fallen out of "style," there is a strong grain whisky revival festering once again and we're glad to be, as usual, at the forefront of all whisky movements.

-David Driscoll