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K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

7/9 - San Francisco: No Tasting

7/9 - Redwood City: Ron Zacapa Rum

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

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


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 26 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


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 PRE-ORDER


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 IN STOCK NOW!


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!


Bladnoch 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Lightly Peated Single Barrel #303 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2005 Glenrothes 8 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Sherry Barrel 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!


1989 Cragganmore 23 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 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!


1983 Miltonduff 30 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750m IN STOCK NOW!


Wednesday
Jan132010

New Local Booze! - Old World Spirits in Belmont

I was excited today to meet and taste with Davorin Kuchan, the master distiller for the newly-opened Old World Spirits in Belmont - just down the street from the Redwood City store.  Kuchan is a Croatian-born, but locally-educated product of a family that has been making booze for generations.  His traditional methods have brought him to search out the finest local produce for sourcing his brandies.  He is also a former member of the group behind Sarticious Gin, a Santa Cruz spirit that had a legion of adoring fans before folding last year.  He's now on his own and he's got the updated version of Sarticious, which he now calls Blade Gin, as well as a whole other line-up of goodies.  Most of these will be in stock by the end of the week, while others will be special order only.  The Blade Gin is not quite ready yet, but it will be hopefully in stock within a month or so.  We are the first retailer to carry his products and I couldn't be more excited.  Here are my tasting notes and info:

Kuchan Indian Blood Peach Eau De Vie 375ml $35.99 - All the fruit in this brandy comes from Placerville's Apple Hill and are all Indian Blood peaches - a variety that is difficult to sell as produce because it splits easily. However, the Indian Blood peaches are incredibly flavorful and as the base for fermentation, they really come through in the spirit.  The aromas are delicate, but unmistakably peachy and the pure flavor carries over to the flavor on the palate as well.  This is very good eau de vie.

Kuchan Poire William Pear Eau De Vie 375ml $35.99 -  The pear brandy has a lovely nose that jumps right out of the glass, and the entry is softer than most other fruit eau de vies.  The difference according to Kuchan is the yeast he uses during fermentaion - a trade secret he keeps to himself.  He also ferments the fruit for over a month, letting the slow process really give the spirit character.  The result speaks for itself - these are amazing products that we are very excited to see in our store.

Kuchan Juglans Nigra Black Walnut Liqueur 375ml $28.99 -  This liqueur has no perceptable sweetness whatsoever, so it's more like a walnut-macerated brandy - it is unlike anything you've ever tasted.  The California black walnuts are crushed and then macerated in the Zinfandel-based brandy for over nine months! At the end a bit of cinnamon and vanilla is added, as well as organic tapioca.  This is a tradition that has been in Kuchan's family for generations, and is part of the Croation tradition of planting a walnut tree in front of the house where a baby has just been born.  Both the tradition and the spirit are beautiful.  The color is a brown-amber and the flavors are nutty, as the brandy intermingles with the natural oils in the walnuts.

La Sorcière Absinthe Supèrieure Verte 750ml $72.99 - The spirit is brandy-based and is distilled from wine made by local California growers.  The Verte is macerated with wormwood, fennel, anise, star anise and other herbs before distillation, then the spirit gets a second maceration and the chlorophyll from the leaves colors the absinthe green.  La Sorcière has gotten rave reviews from the Wormwood Society, and from us here as well.  The aromas are not as bold as some of its comtemporaries, partly because Davorin tones down the proof to 100, but the concentration is beautiful.  The anise really shines and the flavors are clean and focused.  This is an absinthe I would like to drink straight, with no water added.

La Sorcière Bleue Absinthe Supèrieure 750ml $72.99 -   The spirit is brandy-based and is distilled from wine made by local California growers. The Bleue is clear and without the standard greenish tint seen with most absinthes because all the maceration is done pre-distillation, meaning that the flavor needs to be strong enough to transfer over into the finished spirit.  That's a difficult tast, but Davroin pulls it off.  The flavors are more ginger and spice, rather than herbal, but the result is still beautiful.   La Sorcière has gotten rave reviews from the Wormwood Society, and from us here as well. We are very happy to have them on our shelves.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jan132010

What's In David's Bar - 1/12/10

I was nursing this bottle of one my favorite local secrets because I was under the impression that it was going to be a permanent piece of history.  Little did I know that Osocalis (named after the local native American name for Soquel - the town outside of Santa Cruz where the brandy is distilled) was already at work on an XO release and an exquisite apple brandy, as well as a re-up on the already legendary Rare Alembic Brandy.  The straight Alembic lies on the verge of subtlety - that netherrealm where, after tasting, some people shrug their shoulders and say "eh," and others stop, focus, and sit in complete and utter awe.  If you haven't been exposed to much Cognac or brandy, then the Osocalis won't blow your mind.  If you've tasted the Germain Robin, Ferrand, or Pellehaut offerings, then you'll probably get why Osocalis is so cool:  because this miniscule operation in the Santa Cruz mountains holds its own next to its finely-crafted, world-renowned contemporaries.  I've always been told that the sign of great brandy is in the fruit - if you can still gently taste the grapes through the distillation and the barrel aging, then something is being done correctly.  The Rare Alembic is neither rich, nor delicate.  It's neither sweet, nor without sweetness.  It balances perfectly in the middle of everything, and it does so subtly.  Subtlety is the key with Osocalis and I couldn't be happier that I no longer has to wait a month between visits to my bottle.  There's more to be had.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jan122010

Smokehead Islay Single Malt - Who Done Made It?

So I got to taste some new whiskies today and this was by far the most intriguing bottle in the bunch -both in flavor and in history.  Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd. has a whole portfolio of interesting products, like the Isle of Skye 8 Year Old that we sell here at K&L, but this new Smokehead has really set off a buzz on the internet - mainly because they are being tight-lipped about who actually made it.  It's definitely Islay and from what I heard the average age of the whisky is around seven years, but it could easily be mistaken for Ardbeg, Caol Ila, or Lagavulin.  I think it could be Ardbeg because it tastes like Ardbeg and I know that they have a strict policy about involving their name with other products beside their own.  The nose is full of fresh seaweed, peat smoke, and salt water, while the palate replicates the aromas almost precisely.  It's a delcious Islay malt and a good deal at around the $50 mark.  The question again is: who made it?  It doesn't really matter to me because I like it, but if I could tell people it was Ardbeg we'd have a real mover.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jan122010

What's In David's Bar - 1/11/10

I have a ton of booze in my home liquor collection.  Too much, if that's a possible scenario.  I'm in the process of going through it to see how much I actually drink of any given bottle - to access whether I would buy them again whenever it is that I finally run out.  Tonight I'm starting with grappa.  The Marolo Moscato is my favorite grappa that we carry because it is the most flavorful, and, in my mind, very traditional.  The Muscat grape is more aromatic and floral than say nebbiolo or sangiovese - two other traditional Italian grapes that are often used for grappa making.  This pommace distillate is so clean and vibrant, and it doesn't have any of the burn or petrol that makes most people cringe when forced to sip this underappreciated elixer.  This is the perfect spirit to sip after a large meal because it aids digestion.  Seeing that my sweet fiancée brought me tacos de carnitas from Pancho Villa, the world's best taqueria, I am in desparate need of stomach space. 

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jan112010

Preiss Imports Introducing Quarter/Octave Cask Program

Two hundred years ago, malt whisky was carried through Scotland in small casks that were easily transported on the backs of packhorses. As transportation methods improved, Scottish distillers turned to more economical larger casks, which became today's uniform standard for maturation. Until now. Realizing that using the original small cask maturation process would be an innovative way to add new character, some distilleries are now using the octave and quarter casks again.  I talked to Ken Young over at Preiss Imports today on my lunch break and was very excited to learn about their new cask program that will offer Quarter and Octave casks as well.  Even better: YOU, THE CUSTOMER, CAN BUY THEM YOURSELVES!  That's crazy!  They will bottle it for you, as well.  I love the fact that I as a retailer can buy only 70 bottles of something and have it be totally unique and one of a kind.  A cask of whisky is a giant commitment (350 bottles to be exact), and, for a retailer of our size, we could never afford to invest in more than one at a time.  I can't wait to get the list of what's currently aging in the 1/8th barrel size.  Quarter cask whiskies are usually much more potent because of the greater whisky to wood ratio, as seen in the crazy popular Laphroaig 10 Year Quarter Cask, which seems to sell out every single week.  Duncan Taylor, the indie bottler that Preiss works with, also has an extensive full cask list as well, so look for some exciting upcoming opportunities, both for K&L and for you the consumer.  I've heard rumors of a 2002 Ardbeg in Octave (it ages faster!).  Wow.