Tuesday Tasting Tonight! 

Are you ready to get experimental?  I hope so because tonight at Martin's West we'll be tasting a selection from the ultra-rare Buffalo Trace "Rediscovered" series.  The recent release of experimental barrels contained a 21 year, 19 year, and 17 year without any tweaking or manipulation - just old Buffalo Trace whiskey!  Good luck trying to find these in a store, but you can find them on Ebay for about $200 per HALF bottle.  As I wrote earlier on the blog, I learned while being a teacher that being fair means allowing everyone to have a chance at the cherry popsicle.  Therefore, I gave a few bottles back to the distributor and they sold them to Martin's West instead.  Moira will open them tonight and you can have a full glass of the 1993 17 year old for about $4.  Show starts at 6 PM.  See you there!

-David Driscoll


To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Judging from the flurry of emails I've received lately, I can tell that we've really got everyone in quite a pickle about whether or not to purchase a bottle of our exclusive Ladyburn cask.  In order to help ease some of this capitalistic tension, I will offer a bit of what I hope is sage advise.

-If you've never spent more than $100 on a bottle of whisky before, this is not the bottle for you.  To me, great single malt scotch usually falls into the $80 to $150 range.  I think that the Ladyburn cask we bought is special enough to warrant a $300 price tag because it is easily twice as good as something like Macallan 18 ($140) as well as twice as old.  Plus, it's extremely rare.  However, whisky comes with expectations and if you've never felt like $140 was a reasonable price for a bottle, then you certainly won't feel that way about $300.

-If you're worried about quality, then let me tell you: you're covered.  The quality is there and the complexity is stunning.  If you're worried about whether you'll like it or not, I can't guarantee anything. 

-If you've ever gone out to eat and paid $70 for a bottle of wine at a restaurant, then you know you're probably paying more than double the retail price.  Yet, we're all willing to treat ourselves now and then in these situations.  If you figure you'll get at least 26 pours out of the Ladyburn, then it comes out to be about $12 a glass.  If you ordered this glass at a restaurant it would be $75 easily if not $100.

-If you're waiting to see what else we have in store so that you don't blow your entire savings right away, then that might be a good idea.  However, the Ladyburn will be gone before you find out what's next, so that's a gamble you'll have to take.  I can tell you this: there is no whisky coming up down the road that is as good as the Ladyburn.  However, there are two other closed distilleries coming and you can probably buy two of those for a little more than $300, so that might be the move.  Again, that's a personal preference.

-As it stands now, there are no peated Islay whiskies coming down the pipeline.  We had a cask of Lagavulin in the mix, but it fell through at the end due to complications.  No Ardbeg, Laphroaig, or anything like that so don't hold out for a shocker later on.

-There won't be a chance to sample these whiskies at a tasting because we cannot legally taste spirits that we purchased via K&L.  They have to either be provided by the distributor or purchased by the retaurant hosting the event.  Since we have already purchased every bottle, this type of arrangement is not possible.  You'll have to decide on faith.  The other selections should run deep enough to allow you to taste your own purchase and decide if you want more, but no chance to try before you buy unfortunately.

Does that help at all?

-David Driscoll


New K&L Scotland Single Barrel Pre-Arrival Release

Another exciting day in K&L whisky history is upon us, as we make available another of the many barrels we secured during our recent adventures in Scotland.

Today we are bringing you the absolute best whisky we found.  In fact, I think it is one of the finest whiskies I have ever tasted, period.  Granted I have a specific style I like, but this magical gem of a malt should please just about every aficionado out there. 

Before I introduce it, I want to state that David OG and I are always wary about pushing more expensive malts upon our customers.  If there were ever two guys that tried to UNDERsell people rather than oversell them, it’s us.  My ideology as a whisky retailer is based on giving customers the best value for their money and making sure that their expectations are fully met. 

That being said, if I truly felt that one whisky was worth such a high price tag, this would be it.  David OG and took one sip of this whisky in a Pittlochry warehouse and simply fell in love.  There was no way we COULDN’T buy this barrel.  We knew it might be difficult to sell a barrel of $300+ a bottle whisky, but we also knew that once our customers tried it they would be completely satisfied.  It is absolutely worth $300 in every way.

What is it?

1974 Rare Ayrshire "K&L Exclusive" 36 Year Old Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Lowland Single Malt Whiskey PRE-ARRIVAL PRICE $299.99 (retail price to be $349.99)

Absolutely one of top two or three whiskies I've ever had the opportunity to taste.  David OG and I knew it wasn't going to be cheap, but we had a duty to bring great whisky back to the states so we couldn't let the price tag stand in our way.  Labeled as "Rare Ayrshire" because Signatory cannot disclose the name of the distillery, we're more than happy to let you in on the name of this rarely-seen and long-forgotten single malt.  One of the rarest and hard-to-find of distilleries, Ladyburn is a Lowland distillery that operated only between 1966 and 1975, inside the grain distillery of Girvan. The rare 12 year old distillery bottling sells for over $3000 at auction and the name Ladyburn has become synonymous with "cult whisky." Our 36 year old bottling is an orgasm of complexity that should send true whisky geeks into a ferverish frenzy of ecstasy.  Brandied fruit on the nose with honey and Cognac-esque aromas seeping into the mix.  The palate is light and soft with vanilla, baking spices, and flowers in complete harmony with the natural cask strength proof.  A drop of water brings out more of the spice and releases the vanilla into a bowl of fresh cherries that linger long on the finish.  Simply amazing whisky that demands the attention of the most serious of drinkers.  Classic in every way and worth every penny of the price.

Because this is such an old barrel, there are only 80 bottles worth of whisky left inside of it.  All 80 will be made available for pre-arrival.

Like I said above, I’ve never tried to convince anyone that they needed to pay $300 for great whisky.  I won’t try to convince you of that now either.  What I will say, is that if you HAD to pay $300 for ANY whisky, this is the one.

Ladyburn is so rare that it would cost at least $300 even if it were terrible.  Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I smuggled a sample back from Scotland and tasted a customer whose palate I completely trust to get his opinion.  He bought the first bottle, so now there are 79 left.

On another news note, the 1994 Glendronach 17 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt $99.99 is once again available for purchase as we are now more certain that we have straightened out any complications.

Any questions?  Please let me know. 

More news later in the week and another barrel to announce! 

-David Driscoll


Booze Is Like Vacation

I recently visited with a friend who had just returned from a vacation in Portugal.  We sat and had lunch while he told me of his adventures.  When I asked him if Portugal was a wonderful place he said, "Yes, amazing." When I asked him if he planned on going back any time soon, he said, "No, too many other places I want to see."

Brand managers, this is why selling a brand doesn't work at K&L. It might be the best brand in the world, but there are still too many other places people want to see.

-David Driscoll


Elementary School Lessons

When I was teaching elementary school in San Francisco, I learned a great deal about human psychology in the face of choice and selection.  My first P.E. time was perhaps the best example of what could happen when supply and demand influenced behavior.  I asked all the kids to spread out so that we could stretch and do our warm-up exercises, but they still all clumped together.  To help solve this dilemma, I found some small, round, colored rubber mats that I could spread out evenly and then ask the students to find a colored dot to stand on top of.  There were yellow, red, green, orange, blue and purple dots.  Problem solved, right?  Wrong.

Immediately all the girls ran to the red dots and all the boys ran to the blue dots.  The girls started screaming at each other about who had got there first and the boys began pushing and fighting over their territory.  I immediately blew my teacher's whistle and told everyone that they needed to find their own space, that there were enough dots for everyone, and that it didn't matter what color they received. While they listened and understood what I said, they didn't believe it for a second.  Every day there was a competition about who would get the red or blue dot first and those that got it would hold it over the heads of the other kids.  It soon became an obsession for some of the kids who didn't even know why they wanted it, just that they did.  The harder it was to get a red or blue dot, the more the kids wanted it and fought about it.  I eventually found some rubber dots that were uniform in color and that was the end of that. 

Another time a parent brought in popsicles for one of the student's birthday.  She had different flavors however and I told her that it wasn't going to work.  She looked shocked and asked, "What do you mean?  There are enough popsicles for everyone!"  She didn't see where I was going with this.  Wanting her to learn a quick lesson about children, I took a step back and told her to go ahead and pass them out.  Immediately the kids started screaming, "I want cherry! I want cherry!"  Once the kids figured out that cherry was the best flavor to have, the other kids who got grape or banana started crying and complaining that they wanted cherry as well.  The whole situation was about to blow up until I said, "You're going to get whatever you get, no choosing, and if you don't want the popsicle you get you can choose not to eat it."  It got them to quiet down, but it didn't end the teasing, the boasting, or the triumphant behavior of those who were able to secure the beloved cherry.  That was the last time the mom brought in different flavored popsicles.

As an elementary school teacher, I learned that if you didn't have enough red dots or cherry popsicles for everyone, you were only setting yourself up for disaster.  Children understand the basic rules of fairness and they will let you know when you're breaking them.  Kids would cry, scream, pout, and moan if they were left out, while the victorious kids would take every opportunity to rub their possession in the face of the have-nots.  I found it easier just not to participate in certain activities because playing referee all the time gets tiresome and the kids just get mad at you. It wouldn't be fair to choose favorites and let some kids get something special that they wanted. There either had to be enough for everyone who wanted one or else we didn't do it.  In the end, why would you want to make only some kids feel special when the goal is to make everyone feel equally special? 

I remember little Joanne saying, "Mr. David, why did you give one of the cherry popsicles to Lisa and not me?"

Yeah, Mr. David, why did you?

Those were valuable lessons.

-David Driscoll