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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!


The Oracle of Bardstown

Being a young wine & spirits professional, I'm often confronted by customers regarding my youth and expertise.  How could someone of your age be knowledgeable enough to sell me the right wine, whisky or cognac? I'll confess that working retail is by far the best way to learn this industry. There are, however, many ways to gain experience in our industry. When it comes to wine, you have countless resources -books and classes, seminars and tastings.  Universities all over the world teach classes on oenology, viticulture, and even wine tasting/appreciation.  The world of spirits however is much more difficult to grasp.  Just finding a place to learn the craft of distillation is a difficult and complex process.  There are in fact few proper programs on distillation.  They're generally centered around the main distilling regions in the world (Edinburgh, Charentes, etc.)  The craft distillation movement has opened the door for knowledgeable professionals to impart some of their knowledge to enthusiastic amateurs, but of course amateur distillers also happen to be criminals, so this complicates things. 

In general, knowledge regarding Spirits is difficult to come by.  While there are plenty of critics, reviewers, and bloggers, there are very few sources for actual information.  You can't turn around these days without bumping into a "single malt expert," but finding actual information on the distilleries of The Parker's Heritage CollectionScotland is not easy.  While there are some great books about the spirits world and its history, most of what you find is little more than opinion or marketing.  The spirits category is just as complex as the wine world.  For starters, almost everyone distills something.  From Japan to Africa, and everything in between, they are fermenting, distilling, and drinking something.  Each sub-category has its own set of rules, history, and geography. These are almost never codified thoroughly. Needless to say, the complexity and lack of resources can be both exciting, as well as incredibly frustrating.  There's an impossible amount of information.

My Spirits story starts early.  I'm the product of two families, each with a special connection to the wine & spirits world.  My paternal grandfather owned a small vineyard outside of Geneva.  He was an amateur wine maker and committed lover of alcohol (in a good way).  You could generally count on him to ferment anything he could get his hands on.  His large garden provided the means to this end.  I remember helping him stir a vats of fermenting plums during the summer, which would eventually be distilled by traveling stills much like Armagnac.  When I was ten, Grandpa Pepe was teaching me the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy.  This is where my love of wine & spirits started.  ON the other side, my grandfather and his father were part owners in a bourbon distillery in Bardstown in the 1950s.  They were also involved in spirits importation and distribution.  My great grandfather claimed to have been the original importer of Kahlua and his hand written notes and recipe survive today.  My family history is why I became interested in wine & spirits and because of that I started to learn the business at a very young age.  When I graduated college, I made the distinct decision to follow my love of the epicurean, rather than utilize my degree in economics.  I wasn't even 22 when I got my first job in wine & spirits.  

The point is that my heritage helped me find what really makes me happy.  I was lucky to realize early that what I really love is great food, wine, spirits, company & conversation.  Heritage and tradition play a big part in distillation.  Kentucky is by no means the exception to that rule.  Heaven Hill Distillery is the world's second largest holder of bourbon whiskey and the last operational family owned bourbon distillery.  In 1996, a tragic fire raced through the distillery and warehouses destroying equipment and more 90,000 gallons of bourbon.  All that survived were the original yeast strains that Master Distiller Parker Beam had stored in a home fridge for safe keeping.  Heaven Hill was able to resume distillation after purchasing the Bernheim distillery in 1999.  This bottling marks the 10th Anniversary of Heaven Hills acquisition of the wheated Old Fitzgerald brand and the Bernheim Distillery.  Hand selected by Master Distiller Parker Beam, it is bottled at 63.9% and not filtered.  The most affordable of the Parker's Heritage Collection to date, less than 5000 bottles will be made.  No need to consult the oracle on this one.

Parker's Heritage Collection 10 year Wheated Mashbill Cask Strength Batch #1 - $80

-David Girard


K&L Four Roses Barrel Is In - Rutledge Says "Great"

We did our Four Roses tasting the other night with Jim Rutledge, who actually was NOT in town for Whiskyfest.  He came all the way out just to do a few barrel release dinners and say hello, and he was nice enough to come by our event to meet our customers.  I had a sample bottle of our new barrel with me so I decided to give him a taste to get his thoughts.  It would be the first of many tastes he would keep returning to.  Not only was Rutledge floored with the quality of his own whiskey, but so were the marketing reps traveling with him.  So impressed that they came back later to buy bottles back from me and bring around on their travels with them as a marketing tool to convince other stores to do the same.  I think everyone is going to agree with Mr. Rutledge that this is some damn fine bourbon.  We just got our initial drop but there are 100 more bottles on the way - get 'em while they're hot.

-David Driscoll

Four Roses K&L Single Barrel Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon 59.99 - Once again, we're teaming up with Kentucky legend Jim Rutledge to bring our customers a single barrel of his beautiful Four Roses whiskey.  This time around we opted for yeast strain OBSO, which brings a different mash bill of 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Barley.  This bourbon is a liquid manifestation of the phrase "an iron hand in a velvet glove."  The palate opens up to some big time flavor, rich sweetness, and fruity spice, enveloping the senses with sheer power and force.  The finish is all nuance however as the whiskey dies down to a meer whisper and gently glides away, softly hinting at the beautiful barrage of flavors it battered you with only moments before.  Another legendary whiskey for our K&L customers to enjoy!


Bruichladdich Sneak Peaks

Luckily I have some very nice customers who shop at K&L and sometimes they feel moved to share some of their most amazing bottles with me.  I am always humbled that some of you out there think of bringing your own favorite spirits into the store so that I can taste them.  One such customer just returned from a trip to Scotland and, since he has been shopping here since the Susan Purnell days, he wanted to visit Bruichladdich and take Mr. Jim McEwan out to dinner.  While there, he was able to convince Jim to let him leave the island with a super-secret bottle that hopefully will be hitting the U.S. market at some point in the near future.  Your eyes do not deceive you, it is a bottle of Bruichladdich gin and it is very tasty.  Made with 21 botanicals local to Islay, it is big and herbal andbrimming with character.  It's definitely in the London Dry style so get ready for some martini and gin & tonic action sometime down the road, courtesy of Bruichladdich. 

As if it were not fantastic enough to get a sneak peak of the gin, this wonderful customer also brought me a taste of the Bruichladdich DNA, which is one of the most amazing whiskies out there on the market.  The DNA is 36 years old and it is bottled at cask strength, which in this case ended up being a meager 41.1% - no water needed here.  This whisky is so soft and supple on the entry before the dried fruits and toffee kicks in, but unlike most older whiskies, this one was finished in wine casks, Chateau le Pin for that matter.  The result is really wonderful as the red fruits from the wine really add a certain depth to a whisky that may have been one-dimensional without it.  Much like the Black Art benefits from the enchancement, the DNA really seems transformed by it.  A fantastic whisky that will definitely leave a hole in my heart as I know that I will likely never taste it again.

-David Driscoll





American Whiskey Craft Distillery Tasting in Burlingame $25

Come join us on Tuesday October 26th at 6:30 PM at La Boheme in Burlingame as we sit down with some small plate appetizers and taste through a selection of American whiskies.  The small craft distillation boom has been a controversial subject as of late, with bloggers all over the internet sounding off on whether they believe anything good is actually coming from it.  Are these small and unknown distilleries a local industry that we as Americans should be nurturing, or should they leave it to the established producers?  Are they too weird, too different, and too esoteric, or are they a sign of a new way forward?  Available to taste will be:

- Stranahan's Whiskey from Colorado
- Prichard's Fine Rum
- Prichard's Double Barreled Bourbon from Tennessee
- Prichard's  Tennessee Whisky
- Prichard's Single Malt
- Roughstock Montana Whisky
- Copper Fox Rye Whisky from Virginia
- Copper Fox - Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky
- Corsair Aged Barrel Gin from Kentucky

Come sound off as we discuss the movement and I talks about each producer and their specific operations.  Tickets are available here.  Price includes all tastings and food.

-David Driscoll


More Questions - Late Night Version

Now I'm a few sheets to the wind with a bottle of our killer, off-dry sparkler under my belt (literally), but I'm still awake as I sip on the leftovers of Saturday's tasting - a stellar and well-out-of-my-price-range bottle of 2006 Guigal Cote Rotie "La Mouline."  Seriously, the fact that I'm sipping on $300 wine while watching Mad Men on Comcast On Demand is pretty nice, especially with this recent NorCal heat.  It's still around 80 degrees outside and we're approaching my bedtime.  As I linger in ruby red fruit, hints of roasted meats, and seamless tannic structure, I wonder a bit beyond the day's earlier insights.  Now I've got No Country For Old Men on TV muted and watching Javier Bardem with his mushroom haircut is starting to freak me out.  I need to focus on typing here. 

-Why do the 49ers think that firing Jimmy Raye is going to be enough to right this ship?  Singletary is garbage!

-Is KFC really so S-O, G, double O, G Good?  I think their biscuits are passable, but their chicken is terrible.

-Why do American's need to remake great foreign films?  The new American release of Sweden's legendary Let The Right One In, now renamed Let Me In, is an abomination. If you're going to remake classic horror cinema, then you need to take a terrible film, like The Hills Have Eyes and completely re-do it with a modern edge.  The modern remake of The Hills Have Eyes is a revelation.  The modern remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street is a travesty.

-Do androids dream of electric sheep?  Does Arnold know that he starred in the movie version of that short story? 

-How much water should one drink for every alcoholic beverage consumed over the course of the night?

-For all the Lillet we're selling, are most customers drinking it straight or mixing it in a cocktail?

-Why don't I call it a night?

-David Driscoll