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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!


Is The Buffalo Trace Fall Collection Worth It?

The "Pappy" is a popular man these days

Now that serious whiskey enthusiasm is reaching a wider audience than ever before, the cult favorites that insiders looked forward to every year are becoming even harder to obtain.  While there are still a plethora of fantastic single malts flying under the radar, there are no more secrets in Bourbon County.  This is partly due to the fact that there are so few actual bourbon distilleries (especially compared to Scotland's single malt producers) and partly because of America's spirit-blogging, food-blogging, Facebooking culture.  Everyone is excited to share their latest discovery, their newest adventure, a picture of them standing in front of a landmark, or a photo of them drinking a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle.  The word is out on the Buffalo Trace Fall releases and they are no longer being snatched up by only the faithful following.  The Antique/Van Winkle is becoming known as the "it" thing to be drinking and it only takes a few Google searches and a little bit of browsing to figure that out.  Anything that is difficult to obtain immediately becomes more desirable, especially in the spirits world where trophy hunting and Ebay flipping have become commonplace.  I didn't need to use the Internet this year however to learn that more people are seeking the BT bourbons than previously were. 

Everyday when I get to my desk there are ten voicemails with new customers from all over the country asking when I might get these whiskies in and if they could reserve three of each!  Then there are the fifteen emails that I have to answer, all with the same apologetic words: I'm sorry, but I cannot reserve any bottles in advance.  All I can do is smile and fight back that nervous feeling in my stomach that knows how upset some people are going to be when they don't get any.  On one hand, it seems like people know that these bottles are not plentiful and are doing their homework early, but on the other hand I'm not sure they know how limited they are. 

Between both our NorCal and SoCal locations (a luxury that no other California boutique retailer knows) we get two allocations of Buffalo Trace, basically doubling what other stores get.  Even with these numbers, we're getting a case or less of each expression.  We're only getting six bottles total of Sazerac 18 and the Van Winkle Rye, if that helps give you the idea of what we're dealing with here, so how does that help the 500+ people out there who have been calling me for weeks in anticipation?  What if I want a bottle, or Girard, or my manager Alex who loves bourbon?  Then we're down to even fewer available with demand through the freakin' roof!  The situation is so dire right now that we're no longer holding back bottles for our long-time customers or helping out friends of K&L.  We simply cannot play favorites and we have to open it up to first-come, first-served. 

My question to any readers out there is this: knowing what you know about the difficulty in getting these bottles, is the Buffalo Trace Fall Collection worth all the trouble?  I love these whiskies and find them all to be fabulous specimen of Bourbon and Rye, but are they so amazingly good that you would line up around the corner or set your alarm early to get one?  If so, which ones in particular and why?  I'm very curious to see what other people think.

-David Driscoll


Missiles over LA!!!

So while the government denies any knowledge of the missile/airplane/ufo that was filmed over LA this Monday evening, everyone else is either frantically awaiting the release of Van Winkle and the BTAC stuff, or like David and I, awaiting our new single barrel stuff with baited breath.  Amazingly, other things are still happening in the spirits world and the world at large.  Here is a brief rundown of some of the new arrivals this week.

This was a serious favorite of mine at Whisky Fest and was well received by Malt Advocate. Compass Box Flaming Heart Third Edition Malt Scotch Whisky 750ml - $89.99. John Hansell says, "A marriage of three different single malts, aged in American and French oak. This whisky shows the advantage of marrying whiskies from more than one distillery (when properly done). Vibrant, with a complex array of fruit (orchard fruit, sultana), sweetness (light toffee, marzipan, honeyed malt), spice (creamy vanilla, mocha, warming pepper), smoke (tar, smoked olive, coal), and lesser notes of toasted almond and beach pebbles. More smoke and tar on the palate than the nose, yet always in balance. Well played!  I like this version (the third Flaming Heart release and second one brought to the U.S.) better than the last one imported here. I love the balance on this one, all the way through to the finish." 95 points.  Needless to say I don't feel bad about falling in love with this small production vatted malt.  Compass Box Whisky Co. represents a breath of fresh air in an industry stuck in tradition and slow to adapt.  Always the innovator, John Glaser, has often run afoul of the "scotch authorities" and continues to push the limit of what we expect from blended single malt.  Mr. Glaser has succeeded when many assumed he'd fail and this bottling is another poke in the eye (nail in the coffin) of the naysayers.  The bottle is beautiful and the juice is even better; The price is right as well.  Get it before everyone else does. 

Next we have a classic that any American Whiskey collector can appreciate.  Woodford is one of America's most popular bourbon brands and each year they release a small production experimental bottling.  The Master's Collection is meant to honor tradition while incorporating innovation.  This years release is finished in Maple Wood.  The Sugar Maple tree was often over looked as a source wood for barrels as the staves are very difficult to manipulate.  Maple wood has a very complex structure both physically and chemically.  As the name would imply the Sugar Maple tree has an exceptionally high level of sugar in its sap as much as 3%.  The barrels are toasted rather than charred in order to accommodate the fickle maple wood as well as prevent this whiskey from becoming overly sweet.  Bottled at a satisfying 47.2%, this Woodford must be tried to be understood.  Only 18,282 bottles produced. Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish 750ml - $84.99

Here's something different - Deleon Anejo Tequila 750ml - $149.99.  Deleon has come to the saturated tequila market with a new twist.  Using the very best ingredients at every step, Deleon has set a new standard for quality and innovation.  From what I can tell its not just another gimmick either.  The few opportunities I've had to interact with actual agave growers from the Jalisco region they've all agreed that Deleon represents the finest juice available.  This comes in conjunction with a marketing savvy that makes Patron look like amateur hour.  Anyway,  the excellent Blanco and Reposado, now have a big brother to look up to.  Deleon's Anejo spends 18 months in frent oak barrels untainted by whisky.  The golden delicious liquid is then ace'd for several months (secretive is an understatement for these guys) in Chateau d'Yquem barrels.  The intense agaveness is not lost after the nearly 2 years in barrel.  The sweet Bordeaux barrels add and interesting twist to an already exceptional package.  My tasting notes are as follows, "Nose: Stone fruit, salt water taffy, pink pepper corn. The palate delivers a soft smooth agave tweaked with the Sauterne barrels depth. Buttercream, bell pepper, and rich sweet agave fruit."  Very interesting indeed and the bottle makes it a most impressive gift.  Please act fast as production levels are supposedly "extremely limit."

Compass Box Flaming Heart Third Editon Malt Scotch Whisky 750ml - $89.99

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish 750ml - $84.99

Deleon Anejo Tequila 750ml - $149.99

-David Girard


McCarthy Whiskey Is In! Pre-Orders Currently Being Filled!


Just got our shipment of the K&L exclusive Clear Creek McCarthy Oregon Single Malt Whiskey and it has just left for our warehouse to be separated and prepared for pick up!  Best case scenario it might be ready tomorrow or hopefully by Friday.  I just pulled a bottle out of the stock and opened it to try a quick taste.  It is far richer than I expected, which is a good thing when you're talking about three year old whiskey.  While Steve's releases in the past have been very peaty and very salty, they have always been more like Laphroaig than Lagavulin.  Steve's malts never see any sherry, but this barrel seems to have soaked up a little more oak than usual.  The result is very pleasing and it makes the whiskey far more accessible.  Malty, beery goodness with plenty of smoke comes right at you and there is no need for water since cask strength with Steve is 49%.  A bit of water does bring out the flavor however and it's fun to experiment with drawing out the complexities.  If you want to drink Steve's whiskey with him, as well as all of his other products, you should join us at Alembic in SF next Tuesday as we sit down for a four course meal and have Steve take us on a drinkable tour.  Still eight spots left for this fantastic event.  Tickets are available here.  The whiskey will be available for everyone to purchase by this weekend! 

-David Driscoll


Balblair Coming In Soon - Tasty!

These are some of the best packaged bottles I've ever seen.  And the whisky ain't have bad either!  When the new vintage-dated Balblair stuff comes in next week, I expect them to be hot holiday items.  I don't normally carry large packaging on the shelf because it takes too much space, but these are just super cool and they will definitely turn some heads.  When someone asks me about the whisky, I will happily tell them about my tasting notes:

1997 Balblair Highland Single Malt Whisky $42.99 - Balblair has gone completely vintage distilled and the results could not be sweeter!  The new 1997 bottling is a heck of a deal - brimming with stone fruits on the nose, a medium bodied palate with beautiful richness, and a slightly vanilla finish.  What's not to like?  The packaging is also amazing, coming in a large square box with the Scottish landscape painted across it.  For less than $50, this is going to be one of our top picks while it lasts - and because it's a vintage malt, it is indeed limited.

1991 Balblair Highland Single Malt Whisky $105.99 - If you're a fan of the Glenrothes vintage dated malts, the new Balblair line-up of vintage whiskies is very much in the same style, although much more Highland than Speyside.  The 1991 is full of dried fruits, nougat, citrus, baking spice, with hint of pepper on the finish and compares nicely with the spectacular 85 Glenrothes.  While the 85 has the full-bodied Speyside richness, the 91 Balblair has more of that medium-bodied Highland oilyness that I find wonderful.  This whisky is also packaged in an amazing box with the Scottish landscape painted across it, making it a wonderful gift option as well.  This should be a big hit come the holidays.

-David Driscoll


St. George Whiskey Up For Pre-Order at 10 AM

Beginning Tuesday morning at 10 A.M. I am going to make the St George "K&L Exclusive" 12 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey available for special order.  What does this mean?  It means that you can reserve ONE bottle of our upcoming barrel in advance.  I will only be allowing 125 bottles to be pre-ordered so that we do not sell everything out before the holidays.  This is going to sell very quickly so make sure you don't hesitate if this is a bottle you are interested in.  There will be another 60 or so after Thanksgiving, but at that point I am going to lift the one bottle limit and let people buy as much as they need.  If sales are sluggish on the pre-order I will also allow multiple purchases, but I don't anticipate that happening.  This is a joyous occasion and a very special whiskey so I want as many people as possible to be able to get one of these.  It's received rave reviews from our staff and the few lucky bloggers who tried it at WhiskyFest SF.  We are expecting a delivery of the first batch right before Thanksgiving.  EMAIL ME TO ORDER:

-David Driscoll