Tastings Tonight!

Appleton Rum will once again visit the Redwood City store, while 1792 Ridgemont makes its way up to SF to pour our exclusive K&L barrel!  Tastings begin at 5 PM and run until 6:30.  Free of charge as always!

-David Driscoll


Bruichladdich In Negotiations with Remy-Cointreau

For those of you who don't make the whisky rounds on the internet, this is the big news right now. Anyone confused about yesterday's "parable" will now understand the difficulty that comes when your beloved independent distillery decides to cash in its chips. The most fiercely independent of the brave new whiskymakers is finally turning corporate and we are all a bit sad at the moment. I'm sure Bruichladdich will continue to make outstanding whisky and I'm sure we'll still be able to get lots of it. The relationship, however, will likely change and that's difficult to handle right now. With all of the commenting I've read (and participated in) on the blogosphere right now, I thought David OG's statement on the Whisky Advocate summed it up nicely:

The real sadness of losing Bruichladdich’s independence is not the potential for a decline in quality, but the inevitable focus on efficiency that we see with nearly all other conglomerated distilleries. One of Bruichladdich’s most endearing and respectable qualities has been its commitment to the local community. While I’m not implying that Remy-C won’t have the same commitment, I am certain that running your business this way is incredibly expensive. Little Bruichladdich employs more people than any other distillery on Islay and more than most on the mainland. If you run it like the rest, you automate and eliminate until you’ve got three guys manning the mash and the stills and a couple running the front of the house. This will be a huge blow to the local economy and would cause an incredible backlash toward the brand from retailers like myself that fell in love with the whisky not only for its quality, but also its commitment to the community and environment it inhabits. Indeed, I hope the Remy Cointreau factor in the incredible loss in cache their takeover represents for a carefully crafted anti-corporate image, exemplified by their famous tagline, “proudly independent.” Will Bruichladdich’s new catch phrase just be, “proud?” It doesn’t sound like an easy task the R-C marketing department. I personally hold no ill will for my dear friends at Bruichladdich, being mislead is sometimes part of this business and I do not fault them for keeping their cards close to chest. I’m excited to see what happens next. With any luck, Remy will not screw things up, nor seek out redundancy at the cobbled together masterpiece that has become Bruichladdich. Maybe a little extra capital won’t hurt the place, as the floors always need a new coat of paint, but if extreme care is not taken with preserving the legacy, there’s going to be hell to pay. There’s no question that there will be some serious love lost for the diehard progressives. - David OG

From everything I've heard so far, this offer came in strong and fast - a serious amount of money that no one thought would ever be on the table.  Bruichladdich was never planning on selling, but when RC brings the briefcase full of cash, there are investors that want to see their investment returned and there's nothing to consider beyond that.

-David Driscoll


Whisky Season 2012 Update: New K&L Faultline

With all the talk about value on the blogosphere lately, about price increases, about the lack of age statements, about the shortages, about the end of everyday whisky as we know it, David and I thought the time was right to release our newest Faultline cask for pre-arrival purchase.  We all know that high proof, single cask spirits are still expensive, reaching up into the high $70 range for even the youngest expressions.  We knew it was going to be tough to find K&L whisky that truly lived up to the purest definition of the word "value," not only in comparison to other malts of similar stature.  "For $50, is there anything interesting anymore?" we asked ourselves.  How about a single refill-sherry cask of 100 proof whisky from one of the best distilleries in the Highlands?  While we can't tell you who made it (without risk of serious legal repercussions, that is) we can tell you why we proofed it down a bit.  At cask strength, this whisky was just too hot.  At 43-46%, it was too soft.  At 50%, it was baby bear's porridge: just right!  Bottling at 100 proof gives whisky fans the big flavor they're looking for, but it also takes off a serious amount of taxation on our part, which allowed us to drop the price down to $50.  Those few extra percentage points would have added some serious coinage to the price, which in our minds wasn't worth it.  We found the sweet spot for a sweet deal.  Feast upon the newest release!

Faultline 10 Year Old North Highland Single Barrel 100 Proof Single Malt Whisky 750ml $49.99 - In a single malt market where "value" is becoming a loosely defined word, we at K&L are working harder than ever to find new and interesting whiskies that everyone can enjoy. While many of our exclusive Scotland casks can be quite pricy due to the scarcity, age, and the high alcohol percentage, David and I really wanted to find a few great options that came in well under $75. Part of the problem, however, is that even young whiskies from single barrels are expensive, which is why we often opt for the older ones. It was David OG's intuition, however, that took us outside of Glasgow to a small producer's warehouse full of great whiskies at remarkable prices. Inside this tiny storage unit was a refill sherry butt full of classically-flavored malt from one of the Highland's most distinguished distilleries, one from which we practically never see independent offerings.  After tasting the whisky, we were very impressed, but we felt that, at cask strength, the alcohol simply overpowered the flavor. A few drops of water really mellowed out the heat, bringing forward the fruit and highlighting the grain. The whisky is perfect at 100 proof.  The nose offers fresh stonefruit and light vanilla, the palate is deceptively rich with a faint oiliness and incredibly subtle sherry tones that masterfully tame its youthful vigor.  What we have here is good old-fashioned Scotch for people who like great whisky at a great price - exactly what the Faultline label is all about.

-David Driscoll



One time there was a little boy who lived in a small town full of wealthy children.  This boy was not rich, but rather from a humble family of craftsmen.  He didn't have the advantages of the kids around him, but he had desire.  This desire carried him successfully through school and into maturity, despite the obstacles thrown into his path.  Everything he had in life was earned from blood, sweat, and tears – no victory came easy, unlike the other children whose money and family relations brought them a life of ease and plentitude. Because of his work ethic and ingenuity, he won over other residents of the town who also were not wealthy.  They respected his ability to thrive in an environment in which he faced numerous obstacles.  Because they related to his circumstances, these residents went out of their way to help the young craftsman as he struggled to feed his family.  They made an effort to purchase his goods, they spoke kindly of him to other villagers, and they did favors for this boy that they would never dream of doing for other children in the town. 

With his own perseverance, and the combined effort of his local supporters, the boy was able to turn his family's craft business into a successful enterprise, competing handily with the craft businesses of the wealthier families.  It continued to grow so quickly that eventually other families wanted to buy his business. The boy had a decision to make. He could continue to fight, scratch, and claw to stay consistent with the other families in town, or he could take their money and finally transcend his class status, beyond a humble craftsman and into a successful businessman.  Finally, an offer came that was just too lucrative to pass up.  The boy took the money, moved his family into a larger house, and smiled at his newly-found wealth.  However, when he went back into town to visit his old supporters, those who had helped to pave his climb upward, he found little enthusiasm.

It was when he visited an old supporter, the shopkeeper who had eagerly sold his crafts, that he asked why the others in town were not happy for his success. 

"It's not that we're unhappy for you," said the shopkeeper, "it's just that we wanted you to win." 

Confused, the boy replied, "But I did win!  I finally escaped the dogfight that was my life for the past ten years.  I beat the other companies at their own game." 

The shopkeeper chuckled and said, "You definitely proved you could beat them at their own game, but you didn't win.  You were co-opted." 

"I don't understand the difference.  In the end, I've acquired exactly what those wealthy families have! I'm one of them now and I did it without their resources or their help!"

Again, the shopkeeper laughed quietly as he looked down at the floor. "You had my help," said the shopkeeper, "because you weren't one of those families.  We, the residents of this town who exist outside the wealthier families, we pushed for your success because we wanted you to win.  We worked hard along side you, singing your praises, lauding your achievements because we thought you were looking to move beyond this town, beyond the wealthy families who have controlled this town for years.  Instead, however, we've realized you just wanted to be part of their world.  Had we known that from the beginning, we may not have invested so much on your behalf.  That, young boy, is the reason we do not celebrate with you.  Because we have to start all over again.  We have to hope we have enough in the tank for another push.  We have to find another young person to believe in."

As the boy left the store and walked into his new neighborhood high upon the hill, he shrugged off the shopkeeper's remarks.  "That crazy old man thought I was here to be his friend," he said to himself and he never looked back.  "This is business and I did winI got paid and that's the point."

-David Driscoll


New Gin (for this weekend?)

Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin $27.99 - More than any one distillery, more than any single producer, I'm completely obsessed with the products of Haus Alpenz – the small import company headed by Eric Seed, who you might call "the Kermit Lynch of the spirits world." He has a knack for traveling the globe, finding great regional spirits, and getting them back to the U.S. with fantastic packaging.  Dolin vermouth, Smith & Cross rum, Cocchi Americano – those are all from Haus Alpenz, along with many other unique and exciting products.  Eric has now introduced a new high-proof gin to the lineup.  Made by Hayman Distillers, the same company behind the Old Tom Gin we carry, this 57% London dry style gin is just what the doctor ordered for your gin and tonic, or any other cocktail where water is added, diluting the flavor of the spirit itself.  The massive proof cuts through those bubbles and keeps the gin itself at the center of focus.  Herbacious and full of bright juniper notes, this is a welcome addition to our shelf because of the value.  Most of the other "navy strength" gins are in the $40+ zone, but the Royal Dock comes in at a cool $27.99.  What a deal! I'm taking a bottle home with me tonight!

-David Driscoll