New K&L Exclusive Single Malt Pre-Order Release


Today we've got another new release from our most recent trip to Signatory, the whisky deal that just keeps on giving!

While this one may not shock the insider crowd, it’s going to absolutely kill with the general public. It’s just too good. Tooooo good. Everything you want from sherry-aged booze, in the style of Glenfarclas and Glendronach. We decided to proof this one down for the masses, however.

1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky $66.99 - Although we didn't advertise it at the time, we actually selected this first-fill sherry barrel of Glenlivet from Signatory as part of our 2012 trip. We thought the whisky was simply outstanding, a shining example of what the classic Speyside distillery can accomplish when one fantastic barrel is isolated from the rest of the batch. What we wanted to do was wait until this cask hit its 16th birthday, then bottle it immediately. You could tell it was right on the cusp of greatness, but it just needed an extra year. While the standard Glenlivet expressions are soft and supple on the palate, they rarely exhibit the amount of fresh sherry influence that this 16 year old barrel exudes. The result is a whisky that's more like Macallan or Glendronach than what we think of as Glenlivet. Toffee, raisined fruit, baking spices, and cocoa came blasting out of the glass when we first pulled the sample straight from the barrel. This whisky was a beast! Since we knew that a cask of Glenlivet would encompass a larger tent of customers than some of our more esoteric selections, we thought that proofing the whisky down to 46% might be a good idea in this case. After tasting it we knew this was the right move. The spice and heat turn into creamy, unctuous sherry, melting over the palate at a slow crawl. While the whisky isn't at full proof, it is still unchillfiltered and from one single barrel. For the price, it's hard to find a single fault with this single malt.

This should be here by September with the rest of the Signatory releases. Also, we’re down to 22 bottles of Jura left for pre-order if you’re still on the fence. The Glenlivet will go out on a BIG email next week with the Miltonduff and Imperial.

-David Driscoll


A Pair of K&L Exclusive Armagnacs

Two brandies hit the store today! One old friend, and one new one. Both are products from our French spirits trips with Charles Neal. K&L direct, K&L exclusive, K&L value.

Back in stock:

1987 Chateau Pellehaut K&L Exclusive Tenareze Vintage Armagnac $79.99 - While Bas-Armagnac gets all the press, and the Haut-Armagnac gets completely ignored, the Tenareze region of Armagnac is quietly producing some of the best brandies in the world.  Much like the Borderies region in Cognac, the Tenareze brandies seem to have more fruit and a bit more life than the more classic  Armagnac style. We visited Chateau Pellehaut on our first day in Armagnac last January and were completely overwelmed by the quality of spirit.  Using only new or first fill barrels for the beginning years of maturation, the Armagnacs have richness, weight, and spice. The 1987 vintage was one of the most attractive brandies we tasted on the trip, or what we would call a "sexy" spirit. There are gobs of fruit coming on the entry with a Bourbon-like spiciness that gently permeates the rest of the palate. Beautiful concentration and a fantastic finish of toasted nuts with more round stonefruit make this one of the most accessible Armagnacs we've ever carried. Pound for pound, I'm not sure any brandy under $100 can hang with this.

Brand new:

1973 Domaine d'Ognoas K&L Exclusive Vintage Bas-Armagnac $129.99 - 1973 continues to be a strong year for vintage Armagnacs at K&L. Fresh of the boat from our latest French expedition with Charles Neal comes this nearly 40 year old brandy from our favorite co-operative distillery. As a property that's been in existence since the 1200's, Ognoas spends much of its time as an agricultural school and a training ground for young distillers. Because of their status as a "co-op" of sorts, the operation is partly subsidized by the French government, which means the prices are insanely low! This 1973 selection is practically seamless. The entry is rich and warming, wood spices and dark fruits transition into caramel and toffee before you've even had the chance to notice. The flavors are never overpowering or cloying, however, despite the four decades this brandy has spent in wood. This is as good of a deal as you'll see for something this old and this good. Thank goodness K&L lets us go over the Atlantic to find this stuff!

-David Driscoll




What the heck are shrubs?

Good question!

Shrubs are vinegar, sugar, and fruit macerations that work as soda bases with seltzer or as flavor ingredients for cocktails. They were big in the 90s - the 1790s. According to Wikipedia they were also known as "drinking vinegars." Up until a few days ago I had never even heard of a shrub. Now, they're available at K&L.

Shrub & Co. is a new adventure for us here in the cocktail department because it's the first time we've really been excited about something without alcohol in it. We normally just focus on the booze. However, these tangy, tart, and intensely flavorful "drinking vinegars" really captured the hearts of our K&L staff members and everyone wanted to have some around. So they're on the shelf.

What do you do with them?

You add them to soda water and make non-alcoholic aperitifs. Or you go to the Shrub & Co. website that I linked above and check out some of their cocktail recommendations. I'm going to take these home tonight and give 'em a whirl. Here's what we've got for you right now:

Shrub & Co. Grapefruit Shrub 16oz. $19.99

Shrub & Co. Spicy Ginger Shrub 16oz. $19.99

Shrub & Co. Tart Apple Shrub 16oz. $19.99

This recipe from the website sounds delicious:

Harvest Gold

2 oz bourbon whiskey

.75 oz Tart Apple Shrub
.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and serve in a cocktail coupe with a twist of lemon.

-David Driscoll


Two In-Store Tastings Coming Up

This is Jan Potocki. He's from Poland. He makes one of the cleanest, most-traditional Eastern European vodkas on the market and he's coming to our San Francisco store this coming Wednesday, May 15th. If you want to drink vodka with someone who can actually tell you about it, about how he uses his own home-grown rye and how his family has been making vodka for about 200 years, then you should come to the store next week. The tasting is free and the spirit is top notch.

On another note, Glenlivet will be hosting seminar on their whiskies in the Redwood City store on Wednesday, May 29th. This is an RSVP event and it will start at 5 PM. This will not be a walk-in event where you can come at anytime between 5 and 6:30. Please send me an email at if you want to attend. This tasting is also free.

-David Driscoll


New 2013 K&L Exclusive Cask Scotland Pre-Arrivals 

Wow! It seems people are really interested in some mature Isle of Jura! We've already sold more than 100 of our 150 available bottles from last week’s initial release and there’s no sign we’re slowing down yet. Today we're back with a couple of new pre-order releases from our 2013 campaign. As you can see in the above photo, our favorite bung-popper Mr. Des McCagherty is opening up a barrel of something quite delicious. I'm pretty sure this was the Miltonduff barrel from below. Why don't you read more about this pair of Chivas distilleries we're offering today for rock bottom prices:

1995 Miltonduff 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $69.99 (PRE-ARRIVAL) - Miltonduff was all over our trip this year, whether in its normal single malt form or under the name Mosstowie, referring to a separate whisky made on site using a Lomand still. While we skipped the Mosstowie (those Lomond stills are hard to work with no doubt) we could not pass up the opportunity to buy delicious, cask strength, 18 year old whisky for this price. Miltonduff might be familiar to some as it is the key ingredient in the famous Ballantine's blend. It is this particular whisky that makes me believe the Ballantine's 17 year could actually be rated as Jim Murray believes it should be. Altogether more typically a Highlander than Speyside (if these regional descriptions mean anything to anybody any longer), it's a powerhouse. Phenolic and earthy, we've got this sort of flinty aroma, it's not sulfur, but more struck flint on iron. Sparks! There's some herbal extract (Indian ginseng), floral remedies (crushed flowers) and an oily texture. If someone were using heavy machinery (like a license plate printing press) nearby while you were nosing this whisky you probably wouldn't notice. An intense, powerful and unusual whisky that makes you pause for a moment before filling your glass again. And you will fill it again. (David Othenin-Girard)

David D adds: Lots of Bourbon-cask style action going on with this Miltonduff. Wood spice, burnt sugar, lots of round fruit with vanilla overtones. Then there's a rather herbacous note on the finish that adds an earthy character to the back end. This is just delicious. I know it's from Miltonduff, a distillery whose whisky mostly goes into Chivas blended goods, but if you're not interested in big names or collectable bottles you're getting mature, 18 year old, full proof hooch that tastes great for a great price. That's all we can ask for anymore, right?

1995 Imperial 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $69.99 (PRE-ARRIVAL) - This may be a first (and hopefully not a last!), but we've got a lovely Imperial from a great supplier that's even CHEAPER than the last cask of Imperial we purchased. I'm not going to read too much into this, but single malt prices seem to have come down for the first time in my nearly 10 years of doing this. Maybe we just got lucky or maybe we're making better friends but this is just a screaming deal. We purchased an octave from Duncan Taylor in the 2011 campaign and sold it readily for $100. Now we're looking at an equivalently aged cask for nearly $30 less! We're talking about a closed distillery that's rather well regarded. It's just shocking. What's even more unusual is the quality of this cask. This lovely whisky shows all the complexity expected from this high quality facility. On the nose: a freshness that alternates between grassy fields and forest floor. The wood does not hinder the spirit in the slightest and a lovely comforting grainy quality is evident, alongside the fresh foliage and subtle grass. Sweet herbs (maybe dill or mint), navel orange pith, and a textural richness that's surprising considering the lighter aromas. Long, lengthy, rich even borderline syrupy. This is sure to be a classic and maybe even collectable at this price!  (David Othenin-Girard)

David D adds: For anyone who is still nursing that last sip of the 1992 Bladnoch we bottled back in 2011, have no fear of finishing that final gulp. We've got you totally covered. Imperial is an old Allied Distillers distillery that was closed in 1998. It was purchased in 2005 by Pernod Ricard, but never reopened. In 2013 the buildings were demolished and plans to build a new "Imperial" distillery on the same site were announced. What we've got in this bottle is some of the last juice from the original facility. This whisky is all sweet fruit, vanilla, jelly beans, and wood oils. Lots of unsherried roundness going on. Delicious, fun, and easy to drink. Perhaps a bit too easy. Insane price for what you're getting.

These should arrive this Fall in the same container as the Jura cask from last week. Hopefully by September!

150 bottles of each available for pre-order. Then the price goes up for in-store retail.

-David Driscoll