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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

7/9 - San Francisco: No Tasting

7/9 - Redwood City: Ron Zacapa Rum

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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


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 26 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


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 PRE-ORDER


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 IN STOCK NOW!


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!


Bladnoch 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Lightly Peated Single Barrel #303 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

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!


Tuesday
Dec142010

K&L Best of 2010 Awards: Brandy

Cognac, Armagnac, brandy, what-have-you!  If it's grape-based and barrel-aged, then it all falls into this category and here are our picks for Brandy of the Year 2010.

David D picks: Marie & Fils 58 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac - I can't remember if I've EVER been excited about Cognac, a spirit that seems destined to be forever limited to "smooth."  Then Nic Palazzi walked in and said, "Try this."  Being a big bourbon fan, Palazzi wanted to bottle his Cognac like the American whiskies he tasted after moving to New York.  The result is a Frenchman who gets the American palate - we want it unadulterated! This is all from 1951 and it's all one barrel!  Only 257 world-wide.  Easily the best of the year for me.

David OG picks: Chateau de Laubade Extra Bas-Armagnac - The most critically-acclaimed brandy of the year was also a hit with David OG.  The depth of flavor had just about everyone who tasted it spellbound: rancio notes intermingled with sweet, fat, dripping textures of dried fruits flavors.  A benchmark Armagnac for those who appreciate it, or an eye-opener for those who don't.

In other news today, I got to taste with Val and JVS again this morning as we went through some of the new Signatory bottlings.

From what I tasted, I thought the 1997 Clynelish was a sure standout, full of everything that makes it one of my favorite distilleries - wax, citrus fruits, and oily notes - but this one has a tropical/banana creaminess that really drew me in.  I look forward to offering it along side the classic 14.  The 16 year old Bladnoch also warmed me up as I look to constantly expand our Lowland selections beyond Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, and the occasional defunct Rosebank bottling.  This one had plenty of heather and a light, floral disposition.  A perfect addition to the shelf.  I also cleaned CVI out of their 19 year old Caol Ila Murray McDavid.  I got a good price so instead of the old price ($129.99) I'm able to bring it down to $105.99.  A great deal that I am sipping the rest of right now as I type!

Before we were done, being the nice guy he is, Val pulled out a sample of 1981 Brora Signatory Cask Strength - a whisky now long gone, but that I had really wanted to try.  I've been on a Brora kick lately because I love Clynelish so much and Brora has all the goods with a pinch of smoke.  I was so grateful to get a small taste of this: swirling stone fruits, salty oil and butter, peat in the background, but really hanging back, and a bit of heat on the finish as I didn't proof it down enough.  Very, very good.  Now that I've tasted two Broras in my lifetime, I'm definitely convinced that I love it.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Dec132010

K&L Best of 2010 Awards: Gin

I had to wait for the Rusty Blade to come in before I could do this one, but even though it's only seeing the end of 2010, it's soooooooooo good there's no other choice for me.

David D picks: Rusty Blade "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel Cask Strength Barrel-Aged Gin - This is such a homerun of a product that it might be best overall spirit of the year, if there were such a category.  The Rusty Blade is an intense spirit, very high proof, full of cloves, junipers, baking spice, and vanilla wood tannins.  This is the only one of our exclusive products that we'll be awarding a year-end prize to, so don't think we're entirely biased.  I've simply never had a gin this good, so there's no doubt about it for me.  Gin of the year - Rusty Blade.

David OG picks: Ransom Old Tom Oregon Gin - The Negroni and the Martinez have never tasted so good.  Oregon's Tad Seestedt crafted one fantastic gin on his alembic pot still to really give the classic cocktail mixologists something serious to work with.  That bit of richness from the wood really lends itself well to the sweet vermouth drinks, so if you're stirring something up with Carpano Antica, this is tailor made for you.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Dec132010

Rusty Blade Gin - First Batch Coming Today!

For all of you who have patiently waited for our fantastic new barrel-aged gin to arrive, you will be rewarded later today.  Davorin and Joseph are coming by later this afternoon to drop off the first batch of freshly bottled Rusty Blade to help fill the currently-placed special orders.  Any one who placed an order for pick up in RWC should be able to get it later today, and it will be in SF by tomorrow, LA by Friday.  Super exciting!

We had our K&L holiday party last night so we might be dragging a bit today, but we'll do our best to get all the pre-orders fulfilled and ready to go. 

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Dec112010

On The Nature of Online Reviews

I was just browsing through K&L's Yelp reviews, and while we have a high four and a half star rating, I can't help but think about the nature of the few bad reviews we have and their origins.  To see if the grievances were of a similar nature between liquor stores, I decided to search out the standard Bay Area competition to see what the complaints were.  Sure enough, there are a handful that are similar between us.  This is what I have to say about certain negative experiences: everyone has bad days.  I have been discussing first impressions lately amongst close friends and a few of those closest to me believe that one bad encounter is all it takes to dismiss someone for the rest of eternity.  She looked at me wrong, he didn't acknowledge me - that's it!  You're written off permanently.  I, however, am a bit more forgiving and I try to be understanding.  Here's why:

I know for a fact that I am responsible for at least one previous K&L shopper deciding to never again grace us with his presence.  The reason?  I was tired, trying to get the shelves stocked, and I didn't have the patience to put on a happy face.  The customer was wondering why we didn't carry his favorite gin and I basically said that I didn't feel it was as good as some of the other gins we currently had.  It was the wrong thing to say because it made this customer feel like I was condescending to him, and wine shops are thought of as snooty enough places as is.  However, I realized my folly and tried to mitigate the situation, but the damage had been done.  The point?  I think most of you out there know that I'm not a complete prick and will try to help you as much as possible should you come to K&L.  I get a bit frustrated with this instantaneous-news-coverage age where one off day can lead to poor reviews from a major website.  I try to take these with a grain of salt, but then I start to think about all the poor restaurant servers and other hospitality jobs that get shredded by someone online who happened to catch them at a less than opportune moment in time. 

The overall statement I would like to make is that you need to base a strongly worded review over the culmination of several experiences to really make a valid judgement.  If I go to a restaurant and the hostess is rude, but the waiter and food are excellent, then I'm not going to hold one hostess against the entire place.  However, this is the nature of today's modern society - rash reviews based on rash emotional responses written meer moments after the said incident has occured thanks to our handy smart phones. 

I wish that one customer would come back into the store so that I could really give them quality service, but their mind is made up.  Sometimes one chance is all you get. 

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Dec092010

Mountains of Whisky Coming In!

We're selling more booze than we've ever sold in our thirty year history and I am running out of places to put it!  I am selling Ardbeg and Lagavulin by the case, so I have to squeeze these stacks of whisky into corners all over the warehouse.  Tomorrow there should be a huge drop of Walker Black and Ketel One coming in and I really don't think there is anywhere to put it.  The holiday season is upon us and people are buying almost as much of our brown goods as our red!  I remember just starting out last year and dealing with the holidays, but it seemed easier at the time despite it being the start of my rookie year.  I think we have been branching out to more and more customers, which is fantastic because I think we have a good supply of booze to offer people at pretty reasonable prices. 

So what just came in today....

Diageo limited special editions are here, and they are very limited.  As much as I don't want to believe that they are worth their expensive price tags, I am hearing rave reviews so far for these whiskies.  The Brora 25, which was part of last year's release, was an absolute dream of a whisky and the Talisker 18 year old is still one of my favorite bottles that I own.  The Auchroisk 20 is supposed to be a dessert whisky, full of fat texture, pudding-like sweetness, and baked fruits.  I've read that it's the first distillery bottling since they stopped using it in Singleton.  I'm really curious about the Cragganmore as well because it's usually such a light, fruity style of whisky.  To experience 21 years would be very satisfying, I believe.  In any case, these all retail for close to $200 so they're all out of my price range.  Thank God for the independent bottlings that allow me the opportunity to taste these great distilleries for a less demanding cost.  Speaking of Auchroisk, the Black Adder 18 bottling should be in next week and it's under $80.

 Compass Box just released their Double Single, which is even rarer and, I've heard, more delicious than the Flaming Heart.  I've got a bottle on my bar at home that I'm waiting to open, but I have to taste a few other whiskies before I get to this guy.  I'm really pumped about the idea of the blend (roughly 75% Glen Elgin single malt and 25% Port Dundee single grain).  The clear plastic boxes that both bottles come in make it difficult for me to open them!  They look so awesome on top of my fireplace that I just want to leave them as is, but I am an advocate for whisky drinkin' and I'm a fixin' to drink 'em soon.  So much stuff to get, so little time (money).

Oh, and to end on a positive note, the Rusty Blade label just got approved by the government and should be in K&L stores by next week!  I'll be going over to the distillery tomorrow to help bottle it! 

-David Driscoll