K&L Exclusive Cask Update

We're getting a lot of stuff done today and all of it is super positive. The negotiation process for the casks we tasted on our trip to Scotland is moving along full speed ahead and I think we've got more than twelve barrels locked down at the moment, with pricing that could be finalized very soon.

If everything goes as planned we might be able to start the pre-arrival campaign as early as next week! That's crazy! Although, I must admit, much of the motivation to head to Scotland in March and brave the snowy weather was to make sure we had all of our booze long before the holidays. Last year's post-Xmas scramble was a nightmare that I don't think either of us are looking to repeat.

Here are some fun facts to chew on: we should have a large number of barrels ready to release within the next month that are $100 or less. All single barrel, most of them at cask strength. It hasn't been easy to make this happen, but we've really pushed and we've made it clear that value is our top concern this year.

Here are some of the things we're mulling over at the moment with my notes alongside them:

1995 Glenlivet 15/16 year old Sherry Butt – aged in first-fill sherry. Big, rich, supple, round, cakey, spicy, classic Speyside sherry. YUM! This would taste better at 46% than 58% however, and the price will probably drop significantly if we do so. There’s no amount of this we can’t sell.

1989 Isle of Jura 23/24 year old Bourbon barrel – aromas of toffee and cake frosting, but with a bit of earth, nice wood spice, Bourbon influence is clear, fruity on the finish, long finish of toasted nuts. Easily one of the best Jura whiskies I’ve ever had.

1995 Miltonduff 17/18 year old – Lots of rich Bourbon spice, fruity, malty, and delicious. Could be a total steal if the price is right.

1995 Imperial 17/18 year old – Gobs of fruit and vanilla, very reminiscent of the 1992 Bladnoch we did a few years back with Chieftains. Lots of oily action as well. A must have.

1991 Cambus 21/22 year old grain whisky – From the now defunct Diageo grain distillery, this is the sequel to the amazing Girvan from 2011. If we can get the pricing online this could be a HUGE hit. Lovely vanilla, all the spice and herbaciousness of grain spirit. Lovely, and collectable as well.

1997 Laphroaig 15/16 year old – Simply delicious. Classic Laphroaig in total balance. Probably expensive. Hopefully not too much.

Again, if everything goes as planned these could all be $100 or less. Some of them far below that ceiling. 24 year old Jura at full proof for $100! That's pretty cool, I think. Same with the Cambus!

We're wrapping up negotiations with Glendronach, Benriach, and Glen Garioch today as well. Also met with a new importer who will be helping us secure some fun things like Royal Lochnagar and Bowmore barrels that might both clock in at $65 or less!

It's getting fun. More on this later.

-David Driscoll


No GlenMo Tomorrow

Our beloved LVMH guy Lester Lopez is on baby alert this week as he anxiously awaits the birth of his third child. Therefore, as we cannot legally replace him behind the tasting bar, we'll have to postpone tomorrow's Glenmorangie tasting. We wish Lester the best during this exciting time!

As you all know, the California spirits tasting laws do not allow for retail employees to engage in the tasting of spirits, so we'll have to get another date on the books soon.

-David Driscoll


Soda Water is Your Friend

Sometimes it's simply as easy as a bottle of Pellegrino. One of the most commonly requested tasks at K&L is to have us help put together a home bar. I always love doing this with beginners because I'll never choose things like Creme de Violette or Falernum, which is what they think I'm going to end up tossing in the basket. I'll take a bottle of whisky, Bourbon, gin, rum, vermouth, and maybe a liqueur or two, then a giant case of soda water.

"What about all those fancy cocktails I'm reading about in the newspaper? What about Creme de Violette, and chocolate mole bitters, and rose petal water? How do I make drinks with those?"

Blue Moons and fancy tiki drinks are fine once you've learned the basics. The truth is, however, that some of the best cocktails in the world are simply the result of a base spirit with sparkling water. No joke. They may not require the skill level that a Clover Club needs (with egg whites and fresh citrus and things like raspberry gum syrup), but they do hit the spot in a way that a martini-up never could.

I drank a lot of cocktails with soda water this past week. Here's a list of the booze I added it to:

Bank Note Blended Whisky

Hibiki 12 Japanese Blended Whisky

Great King Street Blended Whisky


Biancosarti (the white Campari - available in Italy only - make the effort to get some!)




Cocchi Americano

Byrrh Apperitif

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon

Dolin Blanc Vermouth

And that's just over the last six days! Soda water has a particular affinity for blended whisky, so that's usually my base spirit of choice, but the marriage of Pellegrino with a bitter liqueur is simply a thing of beauty. Don't forget the pastis liqueurs either, like Pernod and Ricard. Yum!

The other great thing about soda cocktails is the fun garnish. If you're in a hurry to get your drink on then just dump some ice in a glass, pour two fingers, top it off with sparking water and get back to your Mad Men episode. However, if you've got guests and some extra time, you can add orange peels, lemon peels, lime peels, grapefruit peels, cherries, raspberries, herbs, or whatever else you've got on hand. You can do a highball glass, a lowball glass, or whatever suits your fancy. There are tons of options.

These are all real cocktails, despite what the fancy pre-Prohibition scene has you thinking. You may not be interested in martini glasses or white spirits whatsoever, but you can still enjoy the simple pleasure that is whisky with soda. Especially when it's hot like it is here in the Bay Area today.

Just a few things to think about. Making cocktails isn't really all that difficult or time consuming when you concentrate on the simple basics. Plus, you've probably got at least a few bottles laying around that could use some love and attention. This is a great way to finish off that Glenmorangie 10 year that's been sitting there half full since you graduated to the Ealanta.

-David Driscoll


Ready for the Weekend


It was a hot one for the Bay Area. The weekend was finally here. Quittin' time about ready.

What does she grab before heading out the door?

Bank Note. Her best kept secret. Now in 1.75L bottles.

The blended whisky that makes believers out of single malt drinkers. Treat yourself tonight.

How was that? Should I get into brand advertising?

-David Driscoll


Readers Chime In

This email comes from K&L customer Ryan, who added in his two cents about "corked" whisk(e)y:

Saw your post about TCA in whiskey. One of the first dozen bottles I purchased (from (retailer name edited), before they sold my email address to spammers and I started coming to K&L) was a Glengoyne 17. It was the most expensive bottle I'd purchased at that point and I was really looking forward to tasting it. When I got the bottle open, it immediately smelled rank. I poured a glass, hoping that the nose was just challenging. It tasted like a boxer's armpit. I didn't know anything at the time and figured Glengoyne was just a whisky that I did not like. To this day, I call it "Glengroin" with my friends. I haven't actually tried any since, even though I subsequently learned bottles could go bad.

I also had a bottle of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey from (retailer name edited) that tasted good at first, but went completely to shit within three months. I mentioned it to a friend who also had a bottle. He went and checked his and it had also turned simply horrible since he had last tasted it not very long previous.

You're absolutely right about wanting to educate spirits consumers about TCA and whatever other things can go wrong with a whiskey. My conclusion as a novice drinker was that these were simply garbage products from apathetic producers. It only harms the spirits world to pretend this problem doesn't exist.

Thanks for the message Ryan! I'm sure other readers have had similar experiences. It's not always simply the whisk(e)y.

-David Driscoll