Some New Arrivals This Week

Now that our 1994 Laphroaig 18 Year Old Chieftain’s K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength has arrived, pre-arrival orders are no longer being taken and we’re sending all the bottles over to our operations team for processing.  As soon as pre-orders have been handled, we can put these on the shelf!  The price will be $139.99.  If you ordered one you should be hearing from us within the next week or so. Of course, our friends at JVS aren’t going to just bring one cask over at a time.  They had a few other knick-knacks on board that container that I thought were quite special.

1993 Linkwood 19 Year Old Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $135.99 - This cask strength Linkwood delivers all the flavor this Speyside institution is known for - creamy vanilla, rich oak, supple malt, and a powerful, spicy finish due to the cask strength proof.  An absolute classic example of the distillery and the style.

1989 Miltonduff 22 Year Old Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $179.99 - Miltonduff is a Speyside distillery we don't see too much from stateside.  This 22 year is aged in hogshead, likely a sherry cask due to the darker color.  The oily flavors come forth first - resinous fruit, wood, and spice.  The finish brings more richness, with the sherry component coming to life.  The full proof adds extra character.  It's definitely worth grabbing for devoted single malt drinkers.

We also brought in some new Rogue products from the famed Oregon brewery:

Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey $39.99As David OG states in the tasting notes, this stuff is waaaaaaaaaay better than it was upon first release.  I literally spit this whiskey out in shock a few years back.  Since then they’ve really turned it around.  The Dead Guy Whiskey is made with the same 4 grains that are used to make Dead Guy Ale since 1991. Northwest Harrington, Maier Munich, Klages, and Carastan malts; Free Range Coastal Water & Distiller's yeast. The bottle also claims the whiskey is “ocean aged,” so maybe they’re putting it on ships off the coast?  In any case, all new packaging, all new whiskey from the famed Oregon brewer.

Rogue Spruce Gin $35.99Made with 14 ingredients - Spruce, cucumber, angelica root, orange peel, coriander, lemon peel, ginger, orris root, grains of paradise, tangerine, juniper berries. Champagne Yeast, Grain Neutral Spirit & Free Range Coastal Water.  A fresh and clean tasting gin from the Oregon brewery.

Both products come in beer bottles with a bottle cap on top, but with a swing top attached for resealing.  More info here on the Rogue website.

Another bitter aperitif liqueur for the mix as well!

Suze Gentian Liqueur 1L $27.99 - Suze Gentiane Liqueur is a bitter aperitif that's been produced in France since 1889, but we're just getting it at K&L now!  Lightly sweet with plenty of gentian bitterness, this is the perfect ingredient for a white negroni, or just plain soda water.

-David Driscoll


Talking About Booze: Part II - Forgotten Ingredients


It's San Francisco Cocktail Week! Time for another episode of cocktail talk! After such a fantastic session with Erik Adkins, Thad Vogler, and Eric Johnson, I had to get Jennifer Colliau and Erik Ellestad together for a second part to this "Talking About Booze" series. Listening to San Francisco's best bartenders talk about the drinks they make is fascinating for anyone who takes their mixing seriously. I've learned so much over the past few years from my conversations with Jennifer and Erik, so I thought filming one of these encounters might be helpful to budding cocktailians. If you didn't know already, Jennifer is the brain behind Small Hand Foods, a company dedicated to recreating lost syrups and sweeteners once indespensable to the world's best bartenders. Erik is the man behind Savoy Stomp, the über-popular blog documenting every single recipe from the famed Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book. Erik's blog was so influential, they actually gave him a job at Heaven's Dog! I met them both by chance in 2009 while sitting with my wife at the HD counter, looking to learn a bit more about what they do. Since then they've become good friends, people I count on when I need help and trusted companions of the liquor industry who share my ideas about education and contagious passion.

Since whisk(e)y from forgotten and lost distilleries has become quite the rage, I thought we could talk about the cocktail equivalents.  Absinthe, Creme de Violette, and Orgeat were not all that accessible in 2007.  Since then there has been a concerted effort to recreate and reintroduce these products into a market hungry for cocktail history. Jennifer has played a large role in this genre herself with the Small Hand Foods products. Erik is a concerted historian who spends his time delving through old manuals in search of more information and lost recipes. There are no two bartenders more equipped to tackle this subject than Erik and Jen.

If you're looking to recreate some of these drinks at home, here are the recipes for a few "forgotten" cocktails mentioned in the video:

The Army Navy Cocktail

- 2 oz. gin

- 1/2 oz. Small Hand Foods Orgeat

- 1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass

The Brooklyn Cocktail

- 2 oz. rye whiskey

- 1 oz. dry vermouth

- 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

- 1/4 oz. Amer Picon (or Paolucci CioCiaro since Amer Picon is not available in the U.S.)

Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Pisco Punch

- 2 oz. Pisco

- 3/4 oz. lemon juice

- 3/4 oz. Small Hand Foods pineapple gum syrup

Shake vigorously with ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass.

From the Savoy Cocktail Book (adapted by Erik Ellestad)

Inca Cocktail

- 3/4 oz Italian Vermouth

- 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth

- 3/4 oz Sherry (Manzanilla)

- 3/4 oz Dry Gin (Navy Strength is fun)

- Barspoon Orgeat

- Dash Orange Bitters

 Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Barbary Coast Cocktail

- 3/4 oz Scotch

- 3/4 oz Dry Gin

- 3/4 oz Creme de Cacao

- 3/4 oz Cream

 Shake with ice and pour down the sink.

-David Driscoll


Be part of the BOOM 

It’s very clear that we're living in the biggest whisky boom in history. The amount of whisky consumed is at historic highs, simple population growth accounts for the increased volume, but more than that people are more interested in whisky as an idea, a hobby, a passion, and a profession. History has treated whisky well. Few other commodities have been so bolstered by society’s imagination, so venerated by its intellectuals, or sought-after by the sporting class. We've created legends about its origin, developed organizations to honor its craft and history; some have even claimed it to be an elixir of powerful effect (Disclaimer: WHISKY is NOT approved by the FDA to treat your back pain). Previous whisky booms of various tenure and magnitude, most notably one that ended at the turn of the 19th century, still rest in the psyche of many in the Scotch industry. It is easy to understand why many producers are cautious to be optimistic regarding today’s increased demand. The Whisky Boom of the late 1800’s began as a function of a growing world economy, a golden age of drinking, and the death of nearly all of France’s brandy producing vines. Demand seemed insatiable and production soared. The boom was short lived and the crash was abrupt. What would become known as the Pattison Crisis, was in fact an industry brought down by the dishonest dealings of a select few and the inability of lenders to properly assess customers ability to repay their debts (doesn’t sound so different from the mortgage crisis, but it at least it tasted better). The Pattison Brothers, who have been attributed by many to both the cause and effect of the whisky bust, were respected whisky merchants that turned out to be little more than convincing conmen.  Not only were these two inflating the amount and worth of the whisky they were selling, they had also been caught selling cheap blended whisky as much more valuable single malt. 

This is what sets whisk(e)y apart from so many other commodities.  While other products have varying degrees of quality (light vs. heavy crude oil), few are so reliant on the manufacturer to determine value.  No products have as inelastic a supply as whisk(e)y. Wine production is similar, with its limited production levels and environmental sensitivity, but no other product needs so much time to produce or has such wildly variable quality from one barrel to the next. All of these factors contribute to what is arguable one of the best performing investment markets over the last twenty years, as well as general increases in price for almost all whisk(e)y including non-collectable everyday stuff.  A nice article in a local paper details this trend (Market forces, demographics drive price of Scotch whisky skyward), the sources cited are highly reliable.

Well, anyway the point of this is that we’re offering you a chance to be part of this wild and exciting world! Are you feeling like you have contributed directly to inflated whisky prices? Now is your chance!!!  Today, one of the years absolutely most hyped up bourbons is going on sale at K&L.  We’ve had hundreds of inquiries a week regarding this higly effectively marketed product. Thousands of people have been chomping at the bit to snag their very own bottle of the elusive Jefferson Ocean Aged Bourbon. We received ONE bottle from the supplier.  Our only solution was to let the market dictate the owner. We have not tasted this product. We have no idea if it’s any good.  We will never know, but you might.  You’ll have to step up to the plate and give it a swing to find out.

 The one and only...

Check out the auction HERE.

-David Othenin-Girard


Managing Your Health

I've been sitting here on the couch all day, alternating between NFL football and reruns of Anthony Bourdain. I've had a couple of beers, but nothing much more than that.  Last night was a splurge – Round Table Pizza, a bottle of wine, followed by a few small gin martinis (featuring a new London dry product we'll be bringing in next week – more on that later).  I had nothing to do today but veg out on the sofa, so choosing to stuff my face and pickle my liver were easy decisions. Today is a different story, however. Tomorrow morning is a run day, so I have to monitor my alcohol intake right now. Doing six miles after a night of session drinking has held disastrous results for me in the past. My desire to be both a booze professional and a healthy human being is contradictory by nature and it's taken me years to come to terms with what I can actually handle. There were dizzy spells, one fainting episode, and numerous other side effects from dehydration along the way to shape this evolution. I had to come up with some sort of schedule to keep my life in order, or face serious consequences.

Watching back-to-back episodes of Bourdain can make the food and drink lifestyle seem very romantic. However, there are a few moments where Tony opens up about his heart and cholesterol issues, as well as the meds he has to take to control these problems. One show about food bloggers documents the serious health effects, such as gout or hypertension, that have plagued those who literally live to eat. Passionate people simply can't say no sometimes. I am one of those people. I have two speeds: fast and faster. When you give me a bottle of booze, a camera, and a computer I can entertain myself for hours upon end. I go to sleep thinking about alcohol. I dream about alcohol. I wake up thinking about alcohol. It shapes my thoughts and ideas, even while my body works to rid its remnants from my system. 

I have come up with a schedule, however, that works for me. Based on both my work and social schedules, this is how I regulate my drinking:

Monday – Run 6 miles in the morning, day off, free to drink that evening.

Tuesday – Work earlier, free to have a beer or glass of wine that night.

Wednesday – Run 6 miles in the morning, work, free to drink that evening

Thursday – Normal work schedule, one drink only that night.

Friday – Run 6 miles in the morning, work, free to drink that evening

Saturday – Work, free to drink that evening (sometimes rest if I add a Sunday run)

Sunday – Day off, a few drinks during the day OK, but the evening is for rehydrating and rest

This schedule has worked well for me so far. I know how I feel when I watch Bourdain. I feel inspired about food and travel. This makes me want to eat and drink terribly. I'm guessing that non-industry people reading whisky blogs feel the same way. Know this – I'm not running around San Francisco willy-nilly, drinking great booze to my heart's content. There's a lot of romance to this job, but there's a lot of reality as well.  The reality is this: too much booze isn't good for you. Keep yourself and your booze schedule regulated. Your body will thank you.

-David Driscoll



It's been a while since we saw something new, tasty, and affordable from a major American whiskey producer.  However, with a keen eye on Maker's Mark, Heaven Hill has just released their answer to the bargain-priced wheated Bourbon.  At 92 proof, it's got a bit more pop than MM, while maintaining more creaminess and less of the big sweet wood that characterizes the Weller releases.  It's far better than Bernheim, their straight wheat expression, and it makes another fine edition to the $25 and under whiskey club.  Creamy, supple, balanced, and well-made.  What else could you ask for?  Our first batch has almost sold through, but we'll have more coming next week.

Larceny Kentucky Bourbon $22.99

-David Driscoll