Be part of the BOOM 

It’s very clear that we're living in the biggest whisky boom in history. The amount of whisky consumed is at historic highs, simple population growth accounts for the increased volume, but more than that people are more interested in whisky as an idea, a hobby, a passion, and a profession. History has treated whisky well. Few other commodities have been so bolstered by society’s imagination, so venerated by its intellectuals, or sought-after by the sporting class. We've created legends about its origin, developed organizations to honor its craft and history; some have even claimed it to be an elixir of powerful effect (Disclaimer: WHISKY is NOT approved by the FDA to treat your back pain). Previous whisky booms of various tenure and magnitude, most notably one that ended at the turn of the 19th century, still rest in the psyche of many in the Scotch industry. It is easy to understand why many producers are cautious to be optimistic regarding today’s increased demand. The Whisky Boom of the late 1800’s began as a function of a growing world economy, a golden age of drinking, and the death of nearly all of France’s brandy producing vines. Demand seemed insatiable and production soared. The boom was short lived and the crash was abrupt. What would become known as the Pattison Crisis, was in fact an industry brought down by the dishonest dealings of a select few and the inability of lenders to properly assess customers ability to repay their debts (doesn’t sound so different from the mortgage crisis, but it at least it tasted better). The Pattison Brothers, who have been attributed by many to both the cause and effect of the whisky bust, were respected whisky merchants that turned out to be little more than convincing conmen.  Not only were these two inflating the amount and worth of the whisky they were selling, they had also been caught selling cheap blended whisky as much more valuable single malt. 

This is what sets whisk(e)y apart from so many other commodities.  While other products have varying degrees of quality (light vs. heavy crude oil), few are so reliant on the manufacturer to determine value.  No products have as inelastic a supply as whisk(e)y. Wine production is similar, with its limited production levels and environmental sensitivity, but no other product needs so much time to produce or has such wildly variable quality from one barrel to the next. All of these factors contribute to what is arguable one of the best performing investment markets over the last twenty years, as well as general increases in price for almost all whisk(e)y including non-collectable everyday stuff.  A nice article in a local paper details this trend (Market forces, demographics drive price of Scotch whisky skyward), the sources cited are highly reliable.

Well, anyway the point of this is that we’re offering you a chance to be part of this wild and exciting world! Are you feeling like you have contributed directly to inflated whisky prices? Now is your chance!!!  Today, one of the years absolutely most hyped up bourbons is going on sale at K&L.  We’ve had hundreds of inquiries a week regarding this higly effectively marketed product. Thousands of people have been chomping at the bit to snag their very own bottle of the elusive Jefferson Ocean Aged Bourbon. We received ONE bottle from the supplier.  Our only solution was to let the market dictate the owner. We have not tasted this product. We have no idea if it’s any good.  We will never know, but you might.  You’ll have to step up to the plate and give it a swing to find out.

 The one and only...

Check out the auction HERE.

-David Othenin-Girard


Managing Your Health

I've been sitting here on the couch all day, alternating between NFL football and reruns of Anthony Bourdain. I've had a couple of beers, but nothing much more than that.  Last night was a splurge – Round Table Pizza, a bottle of wine, followed by a few small gin martinis (featuring a new London dry product we'll be bringing in next week – more on that later).  I had nothing to do today but veg out on the sofa, so choosing to stuff my face and pickle my liver were easy decisions. Today is a different story, however. Tomorrow morning is a run day, so I have to monitor my alcohol intake right now. Doing six miles after a night of session drinking has held disastrous results for me in the past. My desire to be both a booze professional and a healthy human being is contradictory by nature and it's taken me years to come to terms with what I can actually handle. There were dizzy spells, one fainting episode, and numerous other side effects from dehydration along the way to shape this evolution. I had to come up with some sort of schedule to keep my life in order, or face serious consequences.

Watching back-to-back episodes of Bourdain can make the food and drink lifestyle seem very romantic. However, there are a few moments where Tony opens up about his heart and cholesterol issues, as well as the meds he has to take to control these problems. One show about food bloggers documents the serious health effects, such as gout or hypertension, that have plagued those who literally live to eat. Passionate people simply can't say no sometimes. I am one of those people. I have two speeds: fast and faster. When you give me a bottle of booze, a camera, and a computer I can entertain myself for hours upon end. I go to sleep thinking about alcohol. I dream about alcohol. I wake up thinking about alcohol. It shapes my thoughts and ideas, even while my body works to rid its remnants from my system. 

I have come up with a schedule, however, that works for me. Based on both my work and social schedules, this is how I regulate my drinking:

Monday – Run 6 miles in the morning, day off, free to drink that evening.

Tuesday – Work earlier, free to have a beer or glass of wine that night.

Wednesday – Run 6 miles in the morning, work, free to drink that evening

Thursday – Normal work schedule, one drink only that night.

Friday – Run 6 miles in the morning, work, free to drink that evening

Saturday – Work, free to drink that evening (sometimes rest if I add a Sunday run)

Sunday – Day off, a few drinks during the day OK, but the evening is for rehydrating and rest

This schedule has worked well for me so far. I know how I feel when I watch Bourdain. I feel inspired about food and travel. This makes me want to eat and drink terribly. I'm guessing that non-industry people reading whisky blogs feel the same way. Know this – I'm not running around San Francisco willy-nilly, drinking great booze to my heart's content. There's a lot of romance to this job, but there's a lot of reality as well.  The reality is this: too much booze isn't good for you. Keep yourself and your booze schedule regulated. Your body will thank you.

-David Driscoll



It's been a while since we saw something new, tasty, and affordable from a major American whiskey producer.  However, with a keen eye on Maker's Mark, Heaven Hill has just released their answer to the bargain-priced wheated Bourbon.  At 92 proof, it's got a bit more pop than MM, while maintaining more creaminess and less of the big sweet wood that characterizes the Weller releases.  It's far better than Bernheim, their straight wheat expression, and it makes another fine edition to the $25 and under whiskey club.  Creamy, supple, balanced, and well-made.  What else could you ask for?  Our first batch has almost sold through, but we'll have more coming next week.

Larceny Kentucky Bourbon $22.99

-David Driscoll


Super Secret

There's a small group of K&L customers that meets every now and then in the NorCal area to taste booze and be merry.  These meetings are usually very hush hush, but this time we've got a little room to grow.  On Thursday Sept 20th, we'll be having a meeting at Donato's in Redwood City.  I was told by Donato today that we can use their larger backroom instead of the smaller room we usually use, so we can accommodate thirty people more than usual.  Therefore, I'm opening up the Super Secret group to anyone in the area who wants to come until we reach the 60 person limit.  We could use some new blood and I'd like to see some fresh faces.  Thursday's event will feature a group of cool dudes drinking single malt, as well as Master Distiller Ian MacMillian from Bunnahabhain, Tobermorey, and Deanston.  He'll be bringing the entire line up from each distillery, including the old and rare ones.  We'll be hanging out and drinking them. 

Donato will be doing a multi-coursed menu as well that will run each person $60 including gratuity. Rather than us split the food there, I'm having everyone register via the website and we'll handle the check.

The meeting begins at 7 PM.  It's super secret.  It will be super fun.  These are very laid back events that end up being quite memorable.  I hope a few more of you will want to join us.

-David Driscoll



I'm working on a cocktail menu for a local bar and restaurant on the Peninsula (more on that later) and I've been preaching to them the idea of pre-mixed drinks. High West and Germain-Robin are selling pre-mixed cocktails in the bottle. Many bartenders I know in the city use pre-mixed cocktails in their own repertoire.  It's a way to prep in advance, yet offer customers something special at the same time.  Letting the ingredients of a Manhattan congeal slowly over time helps to meld the flavors together.  David OG went to a bar in London once that sells one-year old Manhattans – cocktails that have been marrying together in a glass bottle for 365 days! Crazy, right? There's no reason you can't do this at home. Do this – make a batch of your favorite aromatic cocktails (not citrus-based) and leave them to sit for at least 24 hours.  Then make a fresh version of that drink and try it with the aged version side-by-side.  See if you can notice the difference. I've got rye Manhattans, brandy Manhattans, Calvados Manhattans, Negronis, and plenty of other concoctions sitting on my mantle right now. One thing - do not add the bitters in advance. You need to do that when you actually mix. 

See what you think. Pretty soon you may be pouring a bottle of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth into a giant jug the moment you get home with them.  Why wait when those components could be melding together right now!

-David Driscoll