Price Hikes

My friend SKU took a poll this week among whisky enthusiasts, asking whether they would rather keep whiskey pricing the same, but drink a younger and possibly lesser product, or face price increases and shortages, but keep the whiskey the same. The majority of responses seemed to prefer the latter. I'm glad that's what consumers would rather have because that's exactly what they're going to get (and you still might get the lesser quality thing along with it!). There have been another series of price hikes recently and there are more on the way. Why haven't you noticed them, possibly? Because as a retailer you absolutely do not want to be the first one to raise your prices, so we generally eat the difference to keep stability. You want to buy in against the increase so that you can maintain your costs for as long as possible. For example, if your William Grant rep tells you that Balvenie is taking an increase in price, you might want to go deep on the Balvenie 12 Doublewood. That's a competitively-priced whisky with wide availability.

So, being relatively intelligent whisky buyers, David OG and I have done our best to buy in and buttress against these increases. However, as the old Led Zeppelin song goes, "cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good, when the levee breaks, mama, you got to move." Here's a list of a few whiskies that have recently taken price increases or have increases planned for March 1st (at least for CA distribution). Some might only go up a few bucks, others might be in the neighborhood of $7 to $10 a bottle.

Ardbeg - all expressions

Aberlour - all expressions

Balvenie - all expressions

Bruichladdich - all expressions

Diageo malts - all expressions

Glenlivet - all expressions

Glenfiddich - all expressions

Highland Park - all expressions

Macallan - all expressions

Laphroaig - all expressions

Yamazaki - all expressions

So far Kentucky is remaining relatively stable. We haven't seen anything more than a dollar or so a bottle increase from any one producer. There's been very little to complain about with the American whiskey market, in my opinion, especially when compared to some of the huge increases we've seen with Scottish single malt. In any case, there's no sign of slowing down the money train. David OG and I have to go over all of our pricing this weekend to see what we can do to prevent any upward response on our part.

-David Driscoll


New American Whiskey Stuff

I met up with Diageo today to get an update on our three forthcoming George Dickel 9 year old single barrels. They brought me the final samples, which came with a nice little wooden box and an updated label. Things got a little hairy over the holidays, so we pushed back the delivery date, but we should expect to see our bottles in late April/early May. Keep these on your radar. They're really, really tasty with big candy corn sweetness and lots of spice.

Since they were in the neighborhood, the Diageo boys let me sample the new Orphan Barrel lineup as well, including this 20 year little gem called Barterhouse. It's tasty stuff, much better than I was expecting from other reports. It tastes like some of the better Jefferson's 18 Reserve bottles we had a few years back with lots of baking spice notes and a palate that hasn't lost much of its freshness over time. It's going to be a big hit.

The 26 year Old Blowhard was much more gentle and ghostly in nature (and the sample bottle came in this beautiful book for a case). It's much less intense with a subtle flavor profile that makes me think the barrel had some serious evaporation. It's going to make someone out there very happy, but it didn't stand a chance next to the fantastic Barterhouse. No word on when these will be available, but we'll keep you posted.

And, of course, let's not forget the latest incarnation of a straight rye and Bourbon blend: Jefferson's Chef's Collaboration $34.99. There's a lot to like in the Jefferson version. Bright barrel spices abound on the entry with a leaner palate that never gets too rich or flabby. The finish offers a hint of that sweet banana note, but it's entirely in check and balanced by more clove and cinnamon notes. All in all, it's well done and well priced for what it is.

-David Driscoll


PVW20 Cheap as Chips

Pappy 20 year old available at online charity auction

Well clearly the cheap as chips thing won't last for long, but it's for a good cause so instead of being selfish and coveting this link like a proper whisk(e)y freak, I'm going to share it with the world. My dear friend Mr. John Troia ask if I would help the whiskey world take notice of this little lot that he is offering to help his daughter's school. Despite my better judgement I'm sharing this link today to see if we can't get John's kid's school some much needed funds. Obviously, you all know where the market is for VW20, but I'm not sure any of the real crazy money will notice this post, so there might be a chance you get this at a "reasonable" price. Emphasis on might be. Happy bidding...


Help yourselves to some's only $150 right now!

-David OG


New Wahaka Gift Packs

As many of you well know, we're not big fans of packaging or gift sets at K&L because they take up valuable space and they're a pain to ship. However, we will make exceptions now and again -- especially if it truly benefits the customer. In the case of mezcal, we know how curious many spirits fans are about the different flavor profiles and the various species of agave. Wouldn't it be great if a fantastic producer, known for making traditional and rustic mezcal, offered three smaller-sized bottles in a gift pack with appropriate glassware?

That's why we picked up a large chunk of Wahaka's new gift set, featuring the standard Espadin, the super rare Tobala, and the lovely Ensemble; which is a field blend of 50% Espadin, 25% Tobala, and 25% Madre Cuishe. You get three 200ml bottles and two old school tasting glasses for $84.99.

If you don't feel like blowing $215 to try a full bottle of each, why not get the gift pack and try them out first. It's a great way to get your feet wet and decipher between standard cultivated agave, a rare wild species of agave, and a blend of various cultivated and wild species together.

I'm pumped.

-David Driscoll


A New Comic Strip

In the tradition of other great whisky blog cartoon strips, like Pete McPeat and Jack Washback, I give you a new vision: The Plight of the Whiskey Blogger.

-David Driscoll