Botanist Gin Finally Arrives

Bruichladdich Botanist Gin $34.99 - What happens when you take one of the great single malt distillers of all time, put him in a room with an old Scottish pot still, and have him make gin using only botanicals found on the legendary isle of Islay?  Trouble.  Trouble for other gin producers, that is.  Bruichladdich's Jim McEwan has decided to tackle the gin market and his Botanist gin is simply to die for.  Clean, brimming with lemon peel and vibrant juniper, lovely floral notes, and utterly soft on the palate, this is gin to drink neat - straight from the bottle.  Made entirely on Bruichladdich's old school pot still (known affectionately as "Ugly Betty"), this is one of the great and more unique gins to hit the market - ever.  We've been waiting impatiently for more than a year for this to finally make it to California.  I've talked it up to customers for what seems like ages, but the time to get some for ourselves is finally here.  While the gin itself isn't limited, getting it here has been quite a challenge.  We were only able to secure 120 bottles for the time being and I'm not sure when we'll be able to order again.  You know what that means: buy it sooner than later.

-David Driscoll


More Tastings Tomorrow!

Remember that Wednesday is free spirits tasting day at K&L Redwood City and San Francisco.  Here's a sneak peak at what's ahead.

February 8th

RWC - Four Roses Bourbon

SF - Lagavulin Single Malts

February 15th

RWC - Glenlivet Single Malts

SF - Distillery 209 Gin (OWS cancelled due to conflict)

February 22nd

RWC - Templeton Rye

SF - Mount Gay Rum

February 29th

RWC - Firelit Spirits (St. George)

SF - Templeton Rye

Remember that all tastings begin at 5 PM and last until 6:30.  See you there.

-David Driscoll



Universal Whisky Experience Update

So, we've got the updated SUPER POUR list.  Sounds like a comic book hero, but it's even more exciting.  Some of these bottlings are worth upwards of $400 per oz, that would be more than the cost of your ticket, just to be clear.  These are the confirmed super pours for the event.  We've also got the Master Class Schedule fleshed out and the classes are already selling out.  Don't wait to contact us if you are interested in attending as we've said before we're getting an INCREDIBLE deal which is only available to K&L Customers.  We can't advertise it publicly, but I assure you it will be well worth your time and money to come to Vegas with us.  Here is your super pour list: 

Dalmore Astrum (40yr)

Dalmore Aurora   (45yr)

Sirius - Fettercairn 1966 (45yr)

Sirius - Dalmore 1967 (44yr)

Glenfarclas - Family Cask 1960 (50yr)

Highland Park (40yr)

Gold Bowmore 1964

Glenrothes - Editors Cask (Limited cask #9973 only 240 bottles globally)

Springbank - (21YR) Return of a legend limited release of 150 bottles to US

Old Malt Cask - Port Ellen (27yr)

Glenfiddich - Vintage from a 1961 Cask (50yr)

Glenfiddich - Vintage from a 1972 Cask (40yr)

Douglas Laing Platinum collection - Port Ellen (30yr) 

Balvenie (40yr) - Batch 2 release

Glenglassaugh (37yr) - North America Exclusive (Only 450 bottles)

Macallan Vintage 1950 - Cask 600

Benriach ( 30yr)

Glendronach - (31 yr) grandeur

Johnnie Walker Blue Label - King George V

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964

Ardbeg - A Rare cask from 1970

Duncan Taylor - Macallan 1969

Glenfarclas 1966 - Single Cask exclusive to 'Nth 2011' show

Bruichladdich 'MCMLXXXV' - DNA3 (1985)

Samaroli - Evolution 2011 (vatting of aged whiskies) 

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glenlivet 1974 (Glenlivet Decades)


Classes – Nth 2012 Show

MC1 - 12.00PM – 1.00PM (CHOPIN 1)             


Join Morrison Bowmore Distiller’s Master Of Malts Iain McCallum to savour five exceptional and collectable expressions from their archives. Whiskies to include a current limited edition from the triple distilled  Auchentoshan distillery; two vintage  expressions from the hand crafted micro batched Glen Garioch Distillery in the Eastern Highlands and two exceptional releases including a jewel in the crown from Bowmore Distillery – Islay’s first Distillery.  Auchentoshan Valinch, Glen Garioch 1986, 1994, Bowmore 1982 and the jewel White Bowmore.

MC2 - 12.00PM – 1.00PM (CHOPIN 2)                                                           

10 Seats remaining only


Richard Paterson explains Jura brand story and range tasting of 10(yr), 16(yr), superstition, prophecy, 21, 1976 and culminates in tasting some of the casks that have gone into the new 30(yr).

MC3 - 12.00PM – 1.00PM (CHOPIN 3)                                                                             

 7 Seats remaining only

HIGLAND PARK – LIKE NO OTHER… – Pour Value $900.00                                                    

A opportunity to sample the rarest malts from the Highland Park Distillery, the world’s northern most Scotch distillery. Situated in the Orkney Islands, only Highland Park deftly fuses the flavor of Orkney peat with Sherry Oak maturation to create a unique flavor profile that is gently smoky yet surprisingly sweet. Guests will be sampling the Highland Park 25, 30 and 40 Year Old as well as the rare Highland Park 1968 Limited Edition.

MC4 - 12.00PM – 1.00PM (CHOPIN 4)

12 Seats remaining only


Master of Whisky Kevin Mulcahy will take you through a discovery  of Diageo’s rare and limited gems: Lagavulin 12yr, Oban 18yr, Glen Spey 21yr and Auchroisk 20yr.

MC5 - 1.30PM – 2.30PM (CHOPIN 1)

8 Seats remaining only


Join Ian Logan, International Brand Ambassador, for an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the history of the brand while sampling some of the most exceptional and rare whiskies that The Glenlivet has ever produced.  Guests will sample The Glenlivet 12, The Glenlivet 16  Nadurra, The Glenlivet 18, Single Cask – Helios, Single Cask – Josie, and The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1973.

MC6 - 1.30PM – 2.30PM (CHOPIN 2)

6 Seats remaining only


Ian Millar global ambassador and Mitch Bechard US ambassador will present this.  An unique insight into Glenfiddich with a chance to taste the 12, 15 and 18 year old expressions at cask strength.  We will be looking at the three casks used in the vintage selection last year, from 1973,1974 and 1975 which became the 1974 .   To finish off we will be pouring a very special dram  of our new limited edition Cask of Dreams bottling.

 MC7- 1.30PM – 2.30PM (CHOPIN 3)

 9 Seats remaining only

FETTERCAIRN – DISCOVERING A HIDDEN GEM – Pour Value $750.00                

David Robertson – ‘Rare malts director at Whyte & Mackay’ to share secrets of this artisan and boutique East Highland single malt. Full range of  Fior, 24, 30 and the stunning 40(yr) old.

MC8 - 1.30PM – 2.30PM (CHOPIN 4)

 8 Seats remaining only


Antonio Bleve second generation family member of this prestigious Itallian independant bottler will walk through the main changes that has occured since 1965 to date. You will taste a selections of their casks from the end of ’60 to middle of ’90 – Macallan 1990, Blend Samaroli 1965, Glenlivet 1977, Evolution 2011, Ardbeg 1991 and Pure Malt.

MC9 - 3.00PM – 4.00PM (CHOPIN 1)


The family aire and Brand Ambassador George Grant is back, taking us through his family’s jewels…… Family casks 1962, 1972, 1982 and a very special ‘Cognac cask matured 1967′ (43 yr).

MC10 - 3.00PM – 4.00PM (CHOPIN 2)

11 Seats remaining only


Ranald Watson Global Brand Ambassador will take you on a journey of Campbelton  ‘a region on its Own’.  Featuring whiskies from all four of the company’ brands, Springbank, Longrow, Hazelburn and Kilkerran.  Savoring six great examples;  Kilkerran Work in Progress 3rd release, Hazelburn 12yo, Springbank 15yo, Springbank 18yo, Springbank 21yo brand new release and Longrow 18yo 2012 release.

MC11- 3.00PM – 4.00PM (CHOPIN 3)

3 Seats remaining only

MACALLAN – A SENSORY EXPERIENCE – Pour Value $375.00                                                    

Join Macallan Ambassador Randy Adams to explore unique expressions from The Macallan distillery using a sensory kit designed by Master Perfumer Roja Dove.  Using bespoke scents created to enhance the unique qualities of Macallan whiskies, guests will explore Distillery Exclusive bottlings like Easter Elchies House 2012 Cask Selection that can only be sourced at the distillery itself and well as Macallan Oscuro and other bottlings not currently available in the US.

MC12 - 4.30PM – 5.30PM (CHOPIN 1)

3 Seats remaining only


Richard Paterson showcases the range of wood he uses- Port, Maderia, Sherry, Can sauv, Marsala and Bourbon range of tasting – Castle leod, Cromartie preview, KA III, 1981, 1978 and 40(yr).

MC13 - 4.30PM – 5.30PM (CHOPIN 2)

8 Seats remaining only

GLENROTHES – WHAT MATTERS AGE OR MATURITY ? – Pour Value $510.00                        

“The Glenrothes does things differently, as enthusiasts we love this about the distillery, not least they bottle exclusively based on vintage. Ross Hendry will lead you through the The Glenrothes vintage concept and why it is maturity that matters and not age. Ross will illustrate this concept by taking you through a current vintage from the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s as well as an extinct vintage from the same decade. This will not only underline the difference from vintage to vintage in terms of flavour profile and style but will also serve to demonstrate the fact that vintages are finite in their nature… Once they are gone, they are gone forever. A unique opportunity to taste, for the last time, the storied 1985 and 1975 and to be introduced to their exceptional replacements the 1988 and the 1978.”

 MC14- 4.30PM – 5.30PM (CHOPIN3)

5 Seats remaining only


David King, President of Anchor Distilling Co., highlights the most rare and exclusive whiskies from around the world.  Taste six of the most unusual whiskies that most will never have the opportunity to experience or buy.

MC15- 4.30PM – 5.30PM (CHOPIN 4)

10 Seats remaining only


Euan Shand who was raised on and began his working life at a Distillery in the mid 1970′s will introduce various rare whiskies from his favourite period of distilliing when single malts were first coming to prominence and when the distillers “art” or not the case, as you will find out at his talk, was at its most prolific.
Distilleries such as Strathisla, Glendronach, Macallan, Bunnahabhain and some grains and blends will be discussed and some even tasted.  Bunnahabhain 69, Strathisla 67, Tomatin 65, Black Bull 40YO Blend,

Complimentary Events – Saturday 3rd March


Come and meet international whiskey writer Dominic Roskrow, share a dram with him, and ask him anything you want about whisky. Dominic covers world whiskey for The Whisky Advocate, writes for a range of publications including The Daily, edits three drink magazine including the online World Whisky Review and is heading up the fantastic new whisky website, The W Club, which is launched this February. Dominic has had four books published on whiskey, including The World’s Best Whiskies, and in 2012 he will haver two more out, 1001 Whiskies To Try Before You Die out in May, and The Whisky Opus, published in October.

Time: 12.00pm – 2.55pm

Location: Mozart

If you have any questions please e-mail

-David Othenin-Girard


Alcohol is like __________

I have to talk about spirits a lot.  In fact, I've done nothing but talk about spirits all day so far.  There are so many people looking to learn more about the liquor they love and I'm happy to help them.  When I was a teacher I would constantly use metaphors to help describe confusing lessons to my students.  I've just always related to real life examples of things that I could comprehend.  When talking about specific trends in the spirits world with customers, I'm always gauging whether or not I'm giving them too many specs and not enough understanding.  "This was aged in casks for two years and distilled on a copper pot still......blah, blah, blah."  That bores some people right off the bat and I can see their eyes glaze over as they nod out of politeness.

For that reason, I'm starting a new series of posts called "Alcohol is like _______" which I hope will convey some of the issues on my mind with greater clarity.  Today's post is going to be "alcohol is like an action movie."  Here's why:

Remember when one could make a living as a stuntman?  There were all kinds of guys who prided themselves on doing amazing feats captured on film.  Jackie Chan always did his own stunts and he was very proud of that fact.  There was no trickery, no special effects, just him making everything look as real as he could.  The glory days of stuntmen are over, however.  CGI has taken over the movie industry with sweeping shots of grandeur that could never be achieved in real life.  Many traditionalists believe that CGI has lead to a decline in the quality of action films because there's little acting or plot anymore, simply one giant special effect after another.  Big budget studios are pumping out the CGI flicks as fast as they can, however, because there's a lot of money to be made, if not quality cinema.

The same is true for wine and brown spirits today.  There are more special effects today in alcohol prodution than in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.  I went to Cognac and watched two year old swill get sweetened up with oak chips, sugar, and caramel until it tasted rich and soft like an older, more mature spirit would.  Wine of a mediocre quality is getting blasted with new oak until it tastes rich and smooth like people expect expensive wine to taste like.  Like a scene from a Roland Emmerich movie, it may seem amazing, but it's all fake. 

Now, of course, there's nothing illegal about pumping your alcohol or action movie full of special effects.  However, the public always has more respect for the people that can actually do the backflip, leap the chasm, or fly the helicoptor to safety.  The same goes for alcohol production.  If you can make your wine or brandy taste great without the use of special effects, then you deserve some credit.  It's easy to whip up some CGI magic, but doing a stunt for real takes talent.  It doesn't always work out perfectly and the results are always dependent upon the capabilities of human hands.

Now, of course, there's something easy and comforting about watching CGI action crap.  But I recognize it for what it is.  It's a lesser form of entertainment.  It's a guilty pleasure, like Cheetos or something.  But when I see real life action, with real humans doing real things, I'm always more impressed.

-David Driscoll


Whisky Social Media

All the talk about Facebook filing its IPO paperwork has me thinking about social media this week and how people interact with one another when it comes to whisky.  There are all these tools that companies, publications, critics, and bloggers use to communicate with enthusiastic drinkers, but I'm not sure that they're really having the desired effect.  That's not to say that there isn't a strong online community of single malt and Bourbon fanatics, it's just that it isn't really as big as one might think.  Every now and again I get access to company memos from the larger whisky suppliers and their goals for each product launch always crack me up.  It will be part of an email thread where they accidentally include me in or a memo left in the store after a meeting with vendors.  There will be a list of bullet points with suggestions like "Make a splash with the online whisky community," or "Send samples to prominent bloggers for a more grassroots presence."  My favorite one was something like, "Attempt to increase presence on Twitter with positive 'tweets' from reputable online personalities."  While I think that tools like email, blogs, and interactive websites can be valuable resources for connecting whisky drinkers, I'm more of the opinion that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have been relatively ineffective for providing credibility or spreading knowledge.

Even before I worked in the industry, my excitement to learn more about wine and whisky led me to peruse the internet in search of something I could sink my teeth into.  Sadly, I'm still searching for that really good website about alcohol-related products (if I had to pick one now it would be  The truth is that, unlike movies, books, music, or photography, alcohol cannot be digitized or transfered via the world wide web.  I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.  What can be streamed, however, is information and opinion about alcohol, but there are very few sites that put information above opinion.  That's not to say that they should either, it's just to say that tasting notes and availability are all that's being offered to inspired parties.  That brings me back to social media.  If sites like Facebook and Twitter were being used to offer up more in-depth information about single malt and Bourbon to those interested, they might stand a chance of being successful in their marketing of those products as well.  However, the very nature of these operations is to pump out quick, fractured, succinct bits of information - the very opposite of what I think whisky enthusiasts are ultimately looking for.

Rather than offer up and coming whisky drinkers an opportunity to learn more about their interests, the internet, perhaps the most important educational tool ever invented, is providing them with blurbs like, "Drank the 18 year old from Dalmore last night.......Man was that good!"  Facebook is full of people holding their favorite bottles and smiling.  They might as well be saying, "Ha!  I drank this.  You didn't!"  I'm not seeing much in the way of useful information being passed within online whisky social media.  As for the blogs, which do sometimes offer up relative data about distilleries and producers, they're read by the same 100 people over and over again, never really having the impact one might think they're having.  You'll see fifty comments on a specfic post and think, "Wow! People are really into this subject," but really it's just the same ten guys who commented last time all having a conversation with each other.  Blogs are not the powerhouses reaching the masses that whisky companies mistake them for.  They're places where a handful of hobbyists like to discuss current trends, but they're not driving sales. 

So if internet social media is full of whisky fluff and blogs are simply catering to the initiated, then why is the online whisky community seen as the best way to market new products?  Maybe it's because they think it should be.  And it should be!  However, no one has figured out how to do it the right way.  Reading a tweet about what someone drank last night doesn't make people excited about whisky.  Reading a Facebook comment about what someone drank last night doesn't make people excited about whisky.  Reading someone's tasting notes is boring unless you're already interested in that particular bottle.  I want to drink it, not watch someone else drink it.  Supplemental information is what the internet can offer, but that isn't the model we're seeing.  The current framework is built around opinion - everyone tell us what you think!  In theory, the most successful whisky sites will be the most useful.  Facebook is successful because it helps people communicate with each other.  The online whisky community doesn't necessarily need more communication, however, it needs more information.  Any site that could provide objective insight not centered around personal preference could be huge, but it might not be very lucrative.  Maybe that's why it doesn't exist.

Five years ago, when I was headed to my interview at K&L Redwood City, I stopped off and bought a wine magazine for the train ride down, hoping to learn something useful about wine before the meeting.  I didn't.  Yesterday, I checked a few whisky sites online, hoping to learn something more about a new whisky I was considering bringing in.  I didn't.  However, I can tell you what five people drank last night. 

-David Driscoll