San Francisco Tasting License Approved

The Wednesday night wars will begin!  I haven't been this excited since WWF Raw went up against WCW Nitro every Monday night in the 1990's!  We have to keep tastings on the same day because those are the only times that work for both stores, so every week you'll be forced to choose between two allegiances.  Times will be the same as well - 5 PM to 6:30 PM. 

This coming Wednesday, August 24th, will bring A.D. Rattray into the San Francisco store to pour their fantastic new 19 year old blend, as well as a cask strength 20 year old Bowmore.  The third whisky will be a mystery to all!  A new release likely. 

Redwood City will host local legend St. George distillery from Alameda.  They'll be on hand to pour some fantastic selections for their portfolio.

Which store will have more customers tasting?  Only time will tell!  Let the Wednesday night wars begin!

-David Driscoll


K&L Spirits Podcast #17 - The Davids Talk Barrel Buying - Part 2

Join us for part 2 of our in depth conversation about our exclusive single malt casks.  This second part can be downloaded by clicking on the link here, or by visiting our iTunes page.  You can also download previous episodes by clicking on the Podcast Archive link on the right hand margin of this page.  You can also listen via our embedded Flash player below.

UPDATE 8:08 AM - First edition contained a large gap at around the 2:45 mark.  This is now fixed.


Happenings Around The Store

Yesterday was staff training day and we had Diageo come by to let us play with their entire line up.  This was a dream tasting for many K&L employees who don't get to taste as extensively as I do.  They brought the goods and everyone acted like kids in a candy store.  Auchroisk 20, Glen Spey 21, Cragganmore 21, Glenkinchie 20, and everything from the classic malts selection.

Diageo's Steve Beal took us through each expression and helped us understand what exactly makes each whisky unique.  One new thing I learned was that Diageo likes to use 3rd fill barrels when making whisky older than 20 years, so that the maturation is gradual and not overdone with wood.  I can't believe how good the Glen Spey 21 is.  I need to get some more for the store, but I think it's all sold out.  What to do!?

Angostura also dropped by in the afternoon to taste us on their rums, as it had been a while since the last time we carried them.  The 1919 is coming back to K&L this week and should make for a breakthrough bottle to those unfamiliar with rum's complexity.  This is as smooth as booze gets if that's your sort of thing.  It's sexy, sleek, brimming with caramel and butterscotch, and finishes like candy without the overpowering sweetness.  Very well made with good cooperage - all Jack Daniels barrels I believe. 

The return of the 1824 should also please some rum fans out there.  The bottle is labeled as a 12 year old, but the blend contains barrels well over 20 years in age.  A bold, spicy, bourbon-like rum that could be thrown into a blind whiskey tasting and very well win first prize.  Fantastic stuff.

The shocker of the day came in the form of these non-alcoholic mixers from Elixer.  I don't even remember scheduling this appointment and I was NOT excited to taste these.  I should have known from previous irony-filled experiences that this would turn out to be the highlight of the day.  These floral-infused mixers are INCREDIBLE.  I mean it - outstanding.  They taste amazing just in soda water!  Add them to sparkling wine and they taste like a professional cocktail.  Add them with gin and lemon juice to make super complex drinks!  The best part is that they're difficult to mess up, meaning that you can totally distort the measurements and it still doesn't matter.  They're too good to mess up a drink, even if you add too much.  I don't have pricing yet, but I will be bringing them in by Friday.  The lavender won everyone over as a tasty replacement for Creme de Violette.

-David Driscoll


National Rum Day

August 16th is national rum day and had I not been reading Wayne Curtis's And a Bottle of Rum I probably would have thought little of it.  Considering that rum is primarily made in the Caribbean and in South America, there seems to be little reason for Americans to celebrate it as nation.  I mean, why not have national sake day then?  However, the more I discover about the history of rum, the more surprised I become.  Like many others out there, I was predisposed to the idea that rye whiskey was the foundation of American distillation.  Old Potrero's 18th Century whiskey and other "frontier" style products have crafted the notion that to drink rye whiskey is to embrace our early American drinking habits.  While rye whiskey was certainly being distilled early on in the colonial era, grain was simply too valuable to waste on distillation.  These people needed rye for bread not booze!  However, the giant glut of molasses coming from the West Indies provided a cheap and effective product for the early settlers to ferment and then distill.  It was essentially a "trash product" - the remnants of sugar refining and "astoundingly cheap."  In response to the 156,000 gallons molasses that would arrive every six months just in Massachussets, settlers built distilleries as close as possible to the ports where ships from the Carrbbean would arrive.  The practice became very popular and Americans began drinking rum in gigantic amounts. According to Curtis, there were 159 rum distilleries in New England by the year 1763!  By 1770, the U.S. was importing 6.5 million gallons of molasses to feed the thirst for more rum!

Amazing.  Happy national rum day!  Drink some rum.  Celebrate our early drinking culture the right way!

-David Driscoll


Whisky Wednesdays Start This Week

Now that we have our tasting license, we will be conducting free spirits tastings every Wednesday at the RWC store!  Our San Francisco license is still pending, but we plan to begin there as well as soon as the papers are cleared.  This coming Wednesday will feature some of the interesting products from Glenglassaugh distillery, a Highland legend that was recently brought back from the dead.  Mothballed from 1986 to 2009, the new ownership has put out several curious young whiskies in the meantime, as well as some drop-dead gorgeous aged expressions. We're trying to get a bottle of something older for the tasting.  If we manage to do so, you wont want to miss it.  We will be pouring three products over all between 5 PM and 6:30.  Free of charge to anyone who wants to stop by!

-David Driscoll