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Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #344 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #345 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


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1997 Bunnahabhain Heavily Peated 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


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 25 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


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 IN STOCK NOW!


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 SOLD OUT!!


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!


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!


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!


Monday
Jan242011

Staff Education - Blending

Every Tuesday is staff development day where one of our regional buyers opens about 20-30 wines from their selection and traverses between both SF and RWC stores to give us some education.  I lobbied to be on this list for 2011 but, alas, there are too many K&L employees who do not drink spirits to justify giving me one of those spots.  They did give me permission to hold impromptu training events whenever I felt it necessary, so I decided to take my lovely Sunday crew for a little blending action. 

After talking to John Glaser about starting with experimental vatting in his London apartment's kitchen, I was inspired to try something like that here.  There's obviously no point in vatting whiskies that have already been vatted, so I would have to find some bottles that were from single barrels, and if they could be cask strength, even better.  Here's what I went with:

The Auchentoshan 18 would make a great base.  Light, fruity, high proof at 56.9% and interesting.  I wanted some peat so we chose the Ellenstown 12, which I understand to be a single batch of Ardbeg, also coming in at cask strength 57%.  To add some oily richness we took the fantastic Glencadam 22, while at only 43%, should help to proof it down a bit as well.  You can tell I was looking for something similar to the Flaming Heart with these ingredients. 

To help prepare the staff for what the blends could possibly taste like, I had created a few on my own in advance and had given them a week to settle down and integrate.  The staff's job was to taste the three ingredients on their own, then taste my sample blends, and attempt to create their own blend into the empty glass bottles that I provided them.  We would then taste each blend after a week to see how successful they were in creating their own expression.

The blends I had created were as follows: Batch 1 - 25% Auchentoshan, 50% Ardbeg, 25% Glencadam. Batch 2 - 33% of each.  Batch 3 - 50% Ardbeg, 50% Glencadam.  The flavors of all three blends were interesting, but #2 was easily the most balanced and drinkable.  Equal amounts of each really went a long way in balancing the flavors out. 

While we didn't have enough time to taste everyone's blend yesterday, I was present to watch our Australian/NZ wine buyer Jimmy C in action.  He has had some experience with wine blending in Australia and he took his craft very seriously - really measuring things out and getting intricate with the meshing of flavor profiles.  His final batch was something like 50% Glencadam, 30% Ardbeg, 20% Auchentoshan and it smelled amazing.  I can't wait to go back and try it today.

The point of this article?  Blending is a fun exercise in understanding how single malts are structured.  When the master blenders are putting together a new batch of Talisker 10, how many different batches of Talisker are they using from different ages and different flavors, I wonder?  You can play blender in your own kitchen by doing the same experiment.  Get some friends to pitch in some cash, buy some single barrel cask strength expressions, and get creative. 

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Jan232011

The Pheonix has landed...

So, as Driscoll pointed out in Whisk(e)y News 1.18.11, the much anticipated Glenfiddich Now Phoenix has just hit Hollywood.  This limited bottling is a little expensive, but it's sure to fly out of stock considering the limited availability, complete uniquesness and overall ultra hype.  While, I haven't had a chance to taste the I have been pining over the bottle all weekend and thought I'd share my obsession with you guys.

 

Clearly, the Snow Phoenix motif comes from more than just this whisky's rise from the ashes.  The religious symbolism is overwhelming, but no doubt intruiging.  Very excited to taste this unusual whisky!

Just to go over exactly what we're dealing with here, on January 7th a far flung part of Glenfiddich's warehouse collapse under the stress from one of Scotland's snowiest winters on record.  This part of the warehouse was exposed to the incredible cold of the Scottish winter nigh around -20 C.  Upon surveying the wreckage, the malt master realized the oppurtunity they had to flip this crisis on its head.  The whisky is NAS, but contains whisky from 13 to 30 years old.  We will taste this soon and let you all know if its awesome or overhyped.  Eitherway, if you are interested act quickly...

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix Single Malt Whisky 750ml - $85.99

-David Girard

 

Saturday
Jan222011

Maintaining A Balanced Diet - A Guide To Drinking

The domineering force of alcohol can manifest itself in the form of crippling addiction, but it can also overpower our enthusiasm as hobbyists.  I'm sure I speak for many out there when I say that my need to keep drinking is driven by my desire to taste as much as possible. The problem with curiousity however is that it killed that cat, or in this case, pickled his liver and left him a mess. There are real dangers out there for those of us who like to spend our free time traversing this deliciously intoxicating world and, when you work in an adult candy store like K&L, any dehydration or morning nausea from the previous night's antics is immediately a faint memory when the visual of our sales floor hits the retina upon arrival.  All those bottles to choose from, and so little time to drink them all.  Needless to say, I've picked up a few lessons from three years on the frontline and I'm here today to share them with you.  If you've ever felt like you need to take break from the booze, you are not alone, but moderation can keep you from this either/or precipice.  Here are my tips to stay happy, healthy, and satisfied as a professional drinker.

1) Choose The Proper Drink - If you choose to only drink spirits, you're not only withholding serious pleasure from your taste buds, you're also bombarding your kidneys, liver, and stomach lining with high-proof poison.  Selecting healthy amounts from all the major food groups can help ease some of the strain that your body undergoes in trying to purge itself of alcohol.  Part of drinking responsibly means choosing the proper beverage for the proper time.  If I'm out for an early lunch on a Saturday, I'm not going to order a glass of whiskey - I'd be knocked out before the afternoon activities even started.  Beer is definitely the correct choice, or a glass of white wine if the carbonation is too much.  Understanding which food groups are appropriate for each drinking scenario can go a long way to keeping you in check.  Plus, my affinities seem to work in phases, so it's great to have options when I've exhausted my tolerance for brown water. Drinking should not be an all-the-way or nothing exercise, so lighter options are sometimes a necessity.

2) Keep excerise the one constant - I once made the mistake of trying to work exercise into my drinking schedule and I paid the price with dizzy spells, fainting, and general fatigue.  Your exercise schedule needs to take priority and the booze fits in around it.  For example, if I go running every morning then I cannot begin drinking heavily before bedtime - it leaves no time for my body to filter out the alcohol before exercise.  I don't get home until after 7 PM and I usually am asleep by 11 so that doesn't leave much time.  Does that mean I should swallow as much elixer as possible between 7:30 and 8:15 as possible, then hit the water heavily so that I pee five times before bedtime?  No, unfortunately it doesn't work (as I've tried that).  The rule is I can have either a beer or a small glass of single malt and that's it.  End of story.  Running comes first, then booze.  I usually don't run on Saturday or Sunday, so that gives me Friday and Saturday to indulge a bit. 

3) Maintain A Balanced Booze Diet - I've found that my desire to drink just about everything can in most cases keep me from overdoing it.  I had a fantastic dinner on Thursday night that ended with complete satisfaction and more-or-less sobriety.  I started with a Campari and soda, dined with a glass of red Italian wine, and ended with some Amaro.  After that I even let myself have a small glass of Springbank. The diversity of the flavors, and the anticipation of each beverage helped to keep each serving to a minimum.  Having four small drinks was more pleasing than drowning myself in two big ones because of the variety.  When I overindulge it's usually because I'm trying to finish a quantity of booze that was too large to begin with. Which leads me to my next point....

4) Don't Feel Like You Have to Finish the Bottle!! - This is perhaps the most important of the four points.  Perhaps the coolest part about buying a nice bottle of Scotch is the fact that you don't have to finish it once it's been opened.  Beer and wine unfortunately do not keep for long after oxidation so they must be drained in a matter of hours or days.  If you're all alone, a bottle of wine is simply too much.  Even a half bottle of wine to yourself results in nothing but TV for the rest of the night.  Putting the cork back in the bottle is something you should get in the habit of doing.  Wine will keep just fine for 2-3 days and most of the time will only improve over that period.  Have a glass on Tuesday, a glass on Wednesday, and a glass on Thursday rather than a bottle all at once. 

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jan202011

Get Your Wallets Ready, It Keeps On Coming...

Just when you thought that you had bought everything you could afford, the distilleries keep the new releases coming.  If you thought my post a few days back called "The Death of Brand Loyalty" was just a random observation, then you would have been mistaken.  The brands are not stupid.  They know what's going on.  They know that people need constant input, constant stimulation, constant novelty!!  Glenmorangie knows that single malt fanatics are not going to buy the GlenMo Original over, and over, and over.  Hence, another new limited edition release (and, yes, it is VERY good).  Finealta, based off an old recipe for Glenmorangie made in 1903 and sold to the Savoy Hotel in London, is a lightly peated expression that sees Lumsden & Barrie bringing the smoke from Ardbeg over to the Highlands.  Don't expect a Lagavulin-style effect however, this whisky is very much Glenmorangie and the peat is only around 10-12 ppm.  There's plenty of fruit, it's round and elegant, and everything is balanced.  I can't wait to buy one for myself in a few weeks! 

Here's the best part: I sat down with Moira last night at Martin's West and we had a business talk.  I had a sweet little idea and she did nothing but smile and nod and say, "yes, let's do it."  Starting soon, every Tuesday at Martin's will be "Taste A New Whisky At Cost."  That means we divide the bottle up by the amount of pours and charge you exactly that price.  $2, $4, whatever, just not the $10+ you would pay for just about anything good.  I think the Finealta will be featured very soon, maybe the first one we do?  Can't wait to see you all there!

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jan192011

Podcast #3 - Compass Box's John Glaser

Our originally scheduled podcast #1 finally happens!  John Glaser sits down with me and discusses the art of the blend, grain whisky as a white canvass, and vatting as a trend for 2011.  It was a wonderful conversation and I am really looking forward to visiting his laboratory in London this summer. 

Download the podcast here (remember to right click for PC users, or hold down "option" if you have a mac).

The podcast is also available in subscription form on iTunes.

Or you can listen here via our embedded Flash player.