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

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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


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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!


Tuesday
Jul262011

Authentic Spirit

"That workers are toiling so hard for authenticity amid a wholly artificial environment, meant to evoke another time and another place, causes my heart to skip a beat in admiration of the utter complexity of American life."

- Wayne Curtis in And A Bottle Of Rum...

The United States of America is a mix of so many different backgrounds and ethnicities that has, over time, merged into one steady American culture.  As immigrants continue to make their way to our shores, they and their families become Americans too.  Their kids grow up speaking English and soon forget the native language of their parents, losing in the process the identity that their ancestors once held true.  It's a natural part of cultural integration in any country, but in America it's a bit different because every tradition in the New World is, in a sense, new.  Let's take me as an example - I'm a mix of Scottish, Irish, Portuguese and a bit of German, yet, as I'm the product of fifth generation Americans, I have absolutely no connection to the practices or heritage of my people.  I am not alone in this situation either.  Millions of other Americans have completely lost touch, or simply lost interest with their ancestral past and that's fine because in most places it's not seen as a negative thing. 

In hip, young, urban America, however, cultural authenticity is the new dogma for what's cool and interesting.  No one wants to go to Cancun for vacation anymore because that's an uneducated American tourist outpost.  Cool, educated people want to be in Oaxaca where you can get the "authentic" Mexican experience - real culinary adventures (no burritos) and no cheesy holiday packages.  As a teacher in San Francisco's largest Asian community, I was well aware of the distinction between "fake Chinatown" (Grant Street which is the Disneyland version for tourists) and "real Chinatown" (Stockton Street which is where the actual residents shop and eat).  No cool San Franciscan would be caught dead eating on Grant Street because it's not "authentic" and if it isn't authentic, it isn't good.  I can only surmise that the disdain and fear of the inauthentic stems from an inner embarrassment about our own disassociation from our culture.  Our own insecurities about our lack of heritage have created the need to make up for them in full force, which inevitably has lead to snobbery.

Today I watch my generation of Americans without a culture flock with an almost religious ferocity towards the adoption of chosen foreign cultures, always making sure to point out what is commonly misunderstood about them by most of us ("I lived in Italy for a year during college and no one actually eats red sauce.")  While I certainly have a desire to fit in and respect the cultural practices and travel the world in the hope of experiencing them, I don't advise doing so at the expense of pleasure or enjoyment.  However, there is something genuinely romantic about authenticity when it comes to booze and it's based more on getting something made to standard than mass produced.  No one wants to drink tequila from a factory because where's the fun in that?  We want tequila made with agave being crushed by a donkey-powered mortar and pestle!  We want wine made by a farmer out in the middle of rural France who is making it with the traditional, regional practices handed down to him from generations of other family winemakers!  We want to drink single malt in small Scottish pub in downtown Bowmore with a dozen inhabitants of Islay while bagpipes play in the background!

While I've spent the last few years researching the authentic practices of making Scotch whisky, Mexican tequila, French Cognac, and American Bourbon, I've spent very little time dabbling in the world of rum.  However, I've been plowing my way through a few history books recently and have found that rum is considered to be the true, "authentic" American spirit.  It's been around since the beginning of the New World and has played a role in many historical movements. It's never really been the cool thing to drink and it's never seemed to speak to artisans of the authentic the way the above spirits have.  Maybe it's because rum is made in so many different ways in so many different places?  That might be the case, but ironically enough rum might be the most authentic spirit our culture has! Wayne Curtis writes in his book And A Bottle Of Rum...: "Bourbon fanciers, who often claim for their tipple the title of 'America's spirit," drink one of the most regulated spirits known. To be labeled bourbon, it has to be made with a cetain percentage of corn and aged in a certain kind of barrel.  But excessive regulation is not the spirit of America. Unrestricted experimentation is. Rum embodies America's laissez-faire attitude: It is whatever it wants to be. There's no international oversight board, and its taste and production varies widely, leaving the market to sort out favorites. Rum is the melting pot of spirits - the only liquor available in clear, amber, or black variations"

The melting pot of spirits!  Yes, our own lack of a definable culture fits in perfectly with the culture of rum itself!  Like rum, America is a mix of so many different influences and different styles, so it only makes sense for rum to be authentic to what we are as a culture.  As the weeks go by I'm going to be educating myself more about rum and hopefully passing on some interesting facts to all of you.  Maybe we'll all learn something cool and authentic about America that makes us proud to know a bit more about ourselves - a combination of many authentic cultures.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jul262011

Tuesday News & Notes

- Had a staff tasting today with Ferrand and their lovely line of products.  It's really tough to beat everything they make for the money.  What Cognac is better than the Ambre for $35?  What gin is better than Citadelle for less than $20?  What liqueurs are better than the Mathildes for $15?  What rum is better than Plantation for $17?  Heck, the Plantation 5 Year Barbados is better than most rums at $30.  They're the Buffalo Trace of European distillation and they're more versatile.

- We had a dinner this past weekend with Bill Blatch and a boat-load of old Bordeaux.  Bill is the super-expert negociant from England behind the Blatch Report - the most detailed and worthwhile annual review of the Bordeaux vintage (i.e. rainfall in each square foot of each vineyard, etc).  I realized that I am not buying enough young Bordeaux to age and old Bordeaux to drink.  How can we turn down things like the 1997 Langoa Barton when it's right in our face and affordable?  I ponied up for this today because we opened it with Bill and it drank like the transcendant wine experience that many people assume old Bordeaux will be, but rarely actually is.

- Rum is becoming more and more the best deal in the booze world.  I never thought that it could outdue bourbon or rye, but there's not much good rye left on the market (and what's tasty and available isn't cheap) and maybe I'm just getting a bit tired of the same old bourbon selections.  The new Banks 5 Island Rum really impressed me the other day with its earthy aromas and complex flavor profile, so we brought it in.  The El Dorado rums are an outstanding value for sipping options, Batiste Agricole is slamming for the price, Lemon Hart 151 is the Rittenhouse Rye of the rum world (and it's readily available for now), and the Smith & Cross continues to make my cocktails taste world class.  I realize now more than ever that I need to learn more about rum, where it's being made and stored, and how to source it for K&L exclusively.  The BBR rums still blow my mind, but they're expensive and not many people are willing to take the plunge.  I need to bring them in directly so we can lower the ticket price and let more people experience the show.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jul262011

Tuesday Tasting Tonight + More Videos!

Tonight's tasting at Martin's West will be the Bowmore Tempest 10 year Old Cask Strength Single Malt.  Cost should come in at around the $3 mark!  CHEAP!  Come join us at 6 PM for a full glass of whisky for a price that will cost less than a pint of cheap beer.  This is a delicious whisky that many will want to try, but maybe not actually buy so don't miss out.  I won't be there tonight, but the bottle will be so you'll all be OK.  Have fun with Moira and Doug.

 

Nicolas Palazzi just sent me this video of the wax finishing on our new single barrel cask strength Cognac.  Should be on the water soon, on its way to Oakland for direct importation!  Get ready for some serious juice that comes from a real place, not a giant factory.  As you can see, this isn't exactly mass production here.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jul252011

No Comment (part 2)

This is an interesting article that showed up in today's SF Chronicle.  What shocks me is the disbelief of the reporter writing the article.  This anonymous aggression and anger is a phenomenon on the internet today that makes me want to vomit (no, not in the same way that a certain other whiskey once made me want to).  The fact that the Chronicle is outraged by these comments makes me wonder how often they read their own site or the internet at all for that matter. There's an easy solution to their problem - turn them off.  We'll all be better off.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jul252011

Faultline Cognac Video

You've got to hand it to Nicolas Palazzi - he knows how to document the bottling process! More media from our first ever Cognac selection, live from Cognac itself.

-David Driscoll