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1988 Blair Athol 26 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Bowmore 13 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Bruichladdich 24 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glen Ord 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glenburgie 19 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


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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 SOLD OUT!


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 SOLD OUT!


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


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 SOLD OUT!


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!


Monday
Dec132010

Rusty Blade Gin - First Batch Coming Today!

For all of you who have patiently waited for our fantastic new barrel-aged gin to arrive, you will be rewarded later today.  Davorin and Joseph are coming by later this afternoon to drop off the first batch of freshly bottled Rusty Blade to help fill the currently-placed special orders.  Any one who placed an order for pick up in RWC should be able to get it later today, and it will be in SF by tomorrow, LA by Friday.  Super exciting!

We had our K&L holiday party last night so we might be dragging a bit today, but we'll do our best to get all the pre-orders fulfilled and ready to go. 

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Dec112010

On The Nature of Online Reviews

I was just browsing through K&L's Yelp reviews, and while we have a high four and a half star rating, I can't help but think about the nature of the few bad reviews we have and their origins.  To see if the grievances were of a similar nature between liquor stores, I decided to search out the standard Bay Area competition to see what the complaints were.  Sure enough, there are a handful that are similar between us.  This is what I have to say about certain negative experiences: everyone has bad days.  I have been discussing first impressions lately amongst close friends and a few of those closest to me believe that one bad encounter is all it takes to dismiss someone for the rest of eternity.  She looked at me wrong, he didn't acknowledge me - that's it!  You're written off permanently.  I, however, am a bit more forgiving and I try to be understanding.  Here's why:

I know for a fact that I am responsible for at least one previous K&L shopper deciding to never again grace us with his presence.  The reason?  I was tired, trying to get the shelves stocked, and I didn't have the patience to put on a happy face.  The customer was wondering why we didn't carry his favorite gin and I basically said that I didn't feel it was as good as some of the other gins we currently had.  It was the wrong thing to say because it made this customer feel like I was condescending to him, and wine shops are thought of as snooty enough places as is.  However, I realized my folly and tried to mitigate the situation, but the damage had been done.  The point?  I think most of you out there know that I'm not a complete prick and will try to help you as much as possible should you come to K&L.  I get a bit frustrated with this instantaneous-news-coverage age where one off day can lead to poor reviews from a major website.  I try to take these with a grain of salt, but then I start to think about all the poor restaurant servers and other hospitality jobs that get shredded by someone online who happened to catch them at a less than opportune moment in time. 

The overall statement I would like to make is that you need to base a strongly worded review over the culmination of several experiences to really make a valid judgement.  If I go to a restaurant and the hostess is rude, but the waiter and food are excellent, then I'm not going to hold one hostess against the entire place.  However, this is the nature of today's modern society - rash reviews based on rash emotional responses written meer moments after the said incident has occured thanks to our handy smart phones. 

I wish that one customer would come back into the store so that I could really give them quality service, but their mind is made up.  Sometimes one chance is all you get. 

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Dec092010

Mountains of Whisky Coming In!

We're selling more booze than we've ever sold in our thirty year history and I am running out of places to put it!  I am selling Ardbeg and Lagavulin by the case, so I have to squeeze these stacks of whisky into corners all over the warehouse.  Tomorrow there should be a huge drop of Walker Black and Ketel One coming in and I really don't think there is anywhere to put it.  The holiday season is upon us and people are buying almost as much of our brown goods as our red!  I remember just starting out last year and dealing with the holidays, but it seemed easier at the time despite it being the start of my rookie year.  I think we have been branching out to more and more customers, which is fantastic because I think we have a good supply of booze to offer people at pretty reasonable prices. 

So what just came in today....

Diageo limited special editions are here, and they are very limited.  As much as I don't want to believe that they are worth their expensive price tags, I am hearing rave reviews so far for these whiskies.  The Brora 25, which was part of last year's release, was an absolute dream of a whisky and the Talisker 18 year old is still one of my favorite bottles that I own.  The Auchroisk 20 is supposed to be a dessert whisky, full of fat texture, pudding-like sweetness, and baked fruits.  I've read that it's the first distillery bottling since they stopped using it in Singleton.  I'm really curious about the Cragganmore as well because it's usually such a light, fruity style of whisky.  To experience 21 years would be very satisfying, I believe.  In any case, these all retail for close to $200 so they're all out of my price range.  Thank God for the independent bottlings that allow me the opportunity to taste these great distilleries for a less demanding cost.  Speaking of Auchroisk, the Black Adder 18 bottling should be in next week and it's under $80.

 Compass Box just released their Double Single, which is even rarer and, I've heard, more delicious than the Flaming Heart.  I've got a bottle on my bar at home that I'm waiting to open, but I have to taste a few other whiskies before I get to this guy.  I'm really pumped about the idea of the blend (roughly 75% Glen Elgin single malt and 25% Port Dundee single grain).  The clear plastic boxes that both bottles come in make it difficult for me to open them!  They look so awesome on top of my fireplace that I just want to leave them as is, but I am an advocate for whisky drinkin' and I'm a fixin' to drink 'em soon.  So much stuff to get, so little time (money).

Oh, and to end on a positive note, the Rusty Blade label just got approved by the government and should be in K&L stores by next week!  I'll be going over to the distillery tomorrow to help bottle it! 

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Dec082010

K&L Best of 2010 Awards: Liqueurs

This award was a close call, but interestingly enough I had these both for 1 and 2, and so did David.  That makes it an easy dual award.  The K&L Liqueur(s) of the Year award goes to:

David D picks: Firelit Blue Bottle Coffee Liqueur - I must first off say that I am just as floored with the Marie & Fils 25 year Pineau des Charentes, but the Firelit Coffee Liqueur dominated this year's liqueur sales.  That's not to say that I'm picking it solely because of sales - the Firelit is freakin' amazingly good.  The coffee comes through in pure, concentrated tones and the sweetness is just present enough to balance it out.  Dave Smith came through in the clutch with this liqueur and proved that he is a force to be reckoned with over at St. George.  This is what I will be buying my family members for Christmas this year.  It's the kind of thing that people taste and say, "Wow, that's great!"

David OG picks: Marie & Fils 25 Year Old Pineau des Charentes - Nicholas Palazzi, where did you come from?  All of sudden you walk into our lives and bring us these amazing Cognacs and Cognac-based products!  All of a sudden you blow our minds with what we thought brandy could be!  The 25 year old PdC is from one barrel distilled in 1985 that sat in France until Nicolas decided to bottle it.  There is nothing in the port, sherry, or liqueur world that can touch this product.  It is simply spellbinding.  Everyone who has tasted it has freaked out.  We look forward to many more dealings with Mr. Palazzi and his exquisite bottlings. 

In other news, I decided to experiment with some of the Chartreuse & Chocolate cocktails I read about in the Cocktail Chronicles today.  The idea sounded great and we have a nice little Creme de Cacao on close out. 

I decided to make both the Green Glacier and the Prospector.  The Green Glacier was my wife's favorite with it's bold flavors and spice complemented by the Angostura bitters.  I, however, prefered the Prospector with the addition of orange liqueur to round out the texture.  I like the combo of chocolate, orange, and herbs - very tasty.  I also got the secret recipe for Bar Agricole's newest Egg Nog cocktail and I LOVED it - brandy, rum, eggs, milk, sugar, nutmeg - delish!  So creamy and Christmas-y.  I will be making this drink for my family this Christmas Eve, and maybe in the morning as well!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Dec072010

Favorite Whisk(e)y Distilleries

I can usually come up with some type of ranking or list for my favorite authors, musicians, or directors, but I've never (until now) thought about what my favorite distilleries are.  Is there a distillery whose body of work I admire as a whole, rather than just one expression?  Do I have enough tasting experience with multiple expressions from single distilleries to really make that judgement?  I think I have enough to at least produce a top five list.  If I had to rank 'em, based on current drinking patterns (no nostalgia for whiskies I'm no longer into), this is probably the way I would list my top whisk(e)y distilleries:

5) Ardbeg - I love Ardbeg, but I'm more in a "loved" state as of late.  The Corryvreckan was a great new release, but it needs to start moving beyond peat.  If anyone has already read through the latest Malt Advocate, there's a great article by Dave Broom about the future of Islay.  If these guys are going to survive past the current whisky boom, they're going to have to do some unpeated expressions that have more than just spice.  People are looking for complexity and depth more than just big smoke, and at some point this peat bubble is going to burst.  I'm currently almost peat-free at home (my one bottle of Rollercoaster still) having traded all of my open Ardbeg bottles to my co-worker Jason in exchange for some wine.  I could see Bruichladdich unseating Ardbeg on this list soon enough because at least they have some peated and some un-peated options - the reason they're not #5 now is because I can only afford the Rocks, Peat, & Waves and I don't love any of those malts.

4) Glenrothes - The 1985 Glenrothes is the best deal in whisky today.  $100 for an awesomely complex 20 year malt that is bursting with chewy dried fruits, custard, and fat sherry flavor.  The 1994 is good, but not as good as the 1991 was.  The new 1998 is a fresh entry with more orange peel and baking spice, and who can say something bad about the Select Reserve?  Glenrothes makes some great malts that are very accessible and very tasty.  I don't have any open in my house at the moment, but that's because they've all been emptied.

3) Clynelish - My experience with Clynelish consists of the 11 year Signatory bottling (a fantastic malt), the 14 year old distillery bottling (another great dram) and our 27 year old single barrel - awesome.  I am really loving the oily, salty, waxy, orange blossom combo that goes on inside this awesome whisky.  My favorite whisky of the year might be the Flaming Heart, and from what I understand, that vatting is loaded with Clynelish as well. 

2) Cooley - Cooley is just a monster of distillery.  They have so much good stuff out there right now: the Connemara, the Slieve Foy, the Tyrconnell, the Greenore, an awesome cask strength single barrel bottling from A.D. Rattray, and some other indy-bottled stuff under various names.  I appreciate nuance more than any other aspect in a whisky these days and Cooley whiskies have a rather graceful demeanor.  I'm a big fan - my other favorite whisky this year might just be that Slieve Foy 8 year,

1) Springbank - While I had a bit of trouble selecting the other four distilleries in my top five, I had no problem picking Springbank at number one.  I love that little bit of everything that you get in great Springbank whiskies, which therefore should also endear me to say Talisker or Highland Park.  However, the reason I love Springbank more than any other producer (at least right now) is all that chewy, oily, rich-textured maltiness intermixed with hints of smoke and citrus fruit.  The 12 year is my house bottle.  The 18 is simply amazing.  The 1968 Chieftain's bottling we had was awe-inspiring.  The Murray McDavid 9 year Yquem is by my side as I type this.  I heard that Murray McDavid may release a small batch of 18 year Mission Gold Springbank next year and I will definitely be buying one.  I love everything I have ever tasted from Springbank, new and old.  Consistancy, excellence, and variety of flavor without ever getting too crazy with crazy cask-enchancing, etc.  Whisky for whisky lovers.

In considering this list, I was including bourbon distilleries, but I simply am in a bourbon rut right now. Were I to have included one it would have been Four Roses or Buffalo Trace, but other than the BT Experimental I have sitting here, I haven't been really feeling the brown American booze lately.  Maybe it's a phase and I'll come back around later.  It happens.  I can still appreciate it and evaluate it effectively, it's just that I don't feel like drinking a glass of it. 

Please post your own lists if you have the time to type them up.  I would love to read some rankings from other people.

-David Driscoll