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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

8/20 - San Francisco: No Tasting

8/20 - Redwood City: K&L Signatory Single Malts

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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


Glenfarclas "The Faultline Casks" K&L Exclusive First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


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!


Tuesday
Nov092010

Balblair Coming In Soon - Tasty!

These are some of the best packaged bottles I've ever seen.  And the whisky ain't have bad either!  When the new vintage-dated Balblair stuff comes in next week, I expect them to be hot holiday items.  I don't normally carry large packaging on the shelf because it takes too much space, but these are just super cool and they will definitely turn some heads.  When someone asks me about the whisky, I will happily tell them about my tasting notes:

1997 Balblair Highland Single Malt Whisky $42.99 - Balblair has gone completely vintage distilled and the results could not be sweeter!  The new 1997 bottling is a heck of a deal - brimming with stone fruits on the nose, a medium bodied palate with beautiful richness, and a slightly vanilla finish.  What's not to like?  The packaging is also amazing, coming in a large square box with the Scottish landscape painted across it.  For less than $50, this is going to be one of our top picks while it lasts - and because it's a vintage malt, it is indeed limited.

1991 Balblair Highland Single Malt Whisky $105.99 - If you're a fan of the Glenrothes vintage dated malts, the new Balblair line-up of vintage whiskies is very much in the same style, although much more Highland than Speyside.  The 1991 is full of dried fruits, nougat, citrus, baking spice, with hint of pepper on the finish and compares nicely with the spectacular 85 Glenrothes.  While the 85 has the full-bodied Speyside richness, the 91 Balblair has more of that medium-bodied Highland oilyness that I find wonderful.  This whisky is also packaged in an amazing box with the Scottish landscape painted across it, making it a wonderful gift option as well.  This should be a big hit come the holidays.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Nov092010

St. George Whiskey Up For Pre-Order at 10 AM

Beginning Tuesday morning at 10 A.M. I am going to make the St George "K&L Exclusive" 12 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey available for special order.  What does this mean?  It means that you can reserve ONE bottle of our upcoming barrel in advance.  I will only be allowing 125 bottles to be pre-ordered so that we do not sell everything out before the holidays.  This is going to sell very quickly so make sure you don't hesitate if this is a bottle you are interested in.  There will be another 60 or so after Thanksgiving, but at that point I am going to lift the one bottle limit and let people buy as much as they need.  If sales are sluggish on the pre-order I will also allow multiple purchases, but I don't anticipate that happening.  This is a joyous occasion and a very special whiskey so I want as many people as possible to be able to get one of these.  It's received rave reviews from our staff and the few lucky bloggers who tried it at WhiskyFest SF.  We are expecting a delivery of the first batch right before Thanksgiving.  EMAIL ME TO ORDER: daviddriscoll@klwines.com

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Nov072010

Be Nice To Your Retailers (especially during Holidays!)

It may not seem like a big deal to order something off of Amazon that they don't normally carry.  They have a book you want that isn't in stock, but it says they can source it from an outside wholesaler.  Delivery estimate is five to seven days, so you say, "What the heck," push click, and don't think any further about it.  Then seven days go by and you start to wonder what happened to the package.  "It said seven days!" you think to yourself, "and yet it isn't here!"  Maddening thoughts of outrage race through your head as you start to think about other places you could have ordered that book from which may have delievered it faster, albeit for two dollars more.  "I'm so cheap," you think to yourself.  "I should have just gone down to Borders and bought it outright."  I mean, really, how hard can it be to order one little book and have it shipped?  Well, my friends, let me tell you how hard it can be.

If you want me to order you one bottle of booze that we don't normally carry, it is infinitely harder than ordering case upon case.  First of all, distributors won't drop off one measly bottle.  You need a $400 minimum order to have them bring anything and maybe I only need that one bottle.  I then have to start thinking about other products I might be able to use and craft the smallest shipment possible just to get that one bottle of Crop Tomato Vodka someone wanted.  I normally wouldn't have ordered anything from this distributor, but I somehow find a way to make it work.  Take this example, mulitply it by forty, and you'll see what I have to deal with every week.  That's just getting the order started.

Then, because they're only bringing one bottle, the odds are huge that the delivery guy will either 1) break the bottle on the way over, 2) lose the bottle on the way over, 3) grab the Celery Vodka instead of the Tomato Vodka, or 4) charge us the wrong price - all of which cause me to have to send everything back (not just the one bottle) because they won't even bring one bottle on a delivery when it's THEIR mistake.  $400 is the minimum even when they mess up.  So we have to start all over.  If they're shipping the bottle to me, then it's even worse because I then have to ship it back and start all over again with about five extra days added on to the lag time.  Multiply this scenario by ten and you'll have a good example of an average week here at the spirits department.

The point is?  I had a customer today lose it because a special order product didn't come in time and he asked me how hard was it to pick up the phone and order something?  I wanted to say, "Sir, let me break it down for you," but all I could do was apologize.  I am sure that other retailers deal with this same nonsense all the time, so I ask that you all take a minute to reflect on what the reality of your holiday shopping requires.  It requires me to jump through hoops of utter incompetency.  I hope however that in the end we are able to get you what you need in a realistic time frame.  It isn't as easy as it sounds.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Nov042010

Bourbon - Who Makes What?

This is always good to refresh because I get a little confused every now and again.  Just for the record, there are only 8 distilleries making real Bourbon in the U.S. despite the large amount of brands being sold.  Worse than that, hardly any bourbons are clear about their origins, as they would rather you just drink them and go about your business.  However, they all come from one of the following places, so as a quick reference guide, I'm going to take the bourbons that we carry and break them down by distillery for you.

Heaven Hill - Bardstown

-Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Parker's, Rittenhouse

Buffalo Trace - Frankfort

-Buffalo Trace, Sazerac, Elmer T. Lee, Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, Weller LaRue, Thomas Handy, Pappy Van Winkle (still sourcing Stitzel-Weller for now)

Four Roses - Lawrenceburg

-Four Roses, Bulleit Bourbon (owned by Diageo)

Maker's Mark - Loretto

Maker's Mark, Maker's Mark 46

Wild Turkey - Lawrenceburg

Wild Turkey

Woodford Reserve - Versailles

Woodford Reserve, Old Forester

So now you're wondering where do Black Maple Hill, Willett's, Rowan's Creek, Noah's Mill, Old Buck, Pure Kentucky, Vintage, Prichard's, Johnny Drum, Hirsch, and High West come from?  The answer is one of the above.

-David Driscoll

 

Thursday
Nov042010

Why We Like Single Malts (I Think)

So I'm back on a wine kick again (it happens every few months when I just booze too much and the brown goods begin to singe my gastrointestinal system).  Wine is what got me started in the liquor world and I always find that understanding more about it helps me to better understand the single malt world.  If you've ever wondered why people obsess about single malts and shun the blended malt, it is usually for the same reason that wine drinkers seek out different varietals - curiousity about a specific style and taste.  I've recently been intrigued by the idea of a 100% ploussard wine from the Jura so I bought the one we had in our store made by Jaques Puffeney.  The idea of unique regional wine interests me just as much as a single cask bottling from Ardbeg would.  Both are unique, singular expressions of purity that are rarely experienced.  The untainted taste of a definitive style is the secret to better understanding the world of booze and that excites us (or atleast me).  How many of you have been tempted to buy something you've never tasted just to know what it tasted like?

I find it very interesting (and not coincidental) that the same customers who are interested in smooth textures and tastes with red wine are the same people who ask for Walker Blue.  Some folks just want something that tastes good and are less interested in artisinal production that leads to a special flavor.  They don't care that Islay malts tend to be salty or that Highland malts tend to be oily.  As long as it tastes good they'll take it and that is the point of blended whisky.  The idea of the blend is to take whiskies and mix them until they make one solution that is absolutely delicious.  I like blended whiskey just like I enjoy blended wine.  Isn't the goal of eating and drinking to enjoy the flavor?  That being said, while blends make my mouth happy, but they do not satisfy my intellectual curiousity and that quest for more knowledge is what fires my passion for booze.

One of my favorite things to do to this day is read through my wine books in search a grape I have never tasted and then try to source a bottle through K&L.  Getting to taste a new grape is exciting, even if the the wine isn't any good.  Just knowing is enough for me.  While single malts aren't made from different grains, each distillery has a specific process that makes their whisky unique - be it the shape of the still, the source of the water, the drying process, or the aging in barrel.  Getting to know these names, these whiskies, these flavors is a wonderful journey and one that simply isn't possible with Chivas Regal because the origins are no longer decipherable.  It isn't just that each single malt tastes different than the next, it's that their difference has something to do with the production and the tradition of the distillery.  It's like cheese - it all comes from milk, but there are so many different ways of making it (hence why I also love cheese).

This all may seem obvious, but I'm surprised by the amount of people out there who keep drinking Glenlivet 12 over and over and over again.  Every week they come in, buy their one bottle, and move on.  That's like only eating sharp cheddar.  That's like only eating Hershey's chocolate.  That's like only drinking Budweiser.  The fun in drinking single malts comes from experiencing the myriad of possiblities and then learning what makes them just so.  Why does Ardbeg taste like iodine?  Why does Glenrothes taste so unctuous?  Why does Clynelish taste waxy?  These are the questions that drive us into bankruptcy as we spend every last dollar trying to figure it out.

-David Driscoll