In Stock Today - Very Limited!! The Original Violette Liqueur


Crème Yvette Violette Liqueur $42.99 - The original violette liqueur, first made in 1890, is now available again in the U.S. for the first time since 1969.  This highly allocated item has the cocktail world buzzing for an authentic Blue Moon or Aviation.  Cooper Spirits, makers of St. Germain, has had the original recipe for years and has finally concocted the extremely rare elixer and bottled it in a wonderful package.  Made in Bordeaux, the liqueur is a blend of blackberry, raspberry, currant, and wild strawberry with dried violet petals from Provence and bits of vanilla, orange peel, and honey.

I was supposed to get this in a few weeks ago, but a problem with our vendor coupled with my vacation in New York delayed things, but that's probably a good thing because everyone else is already sold out!  They didn't make much of this and, being a huge fan of the Rothman Violette, I'm super excited to get home tonight and make a Blue Moon! 

-David Driscoll


New Independent Whisky Bottlers!

We are starting to carry a few bottles by a new indy named Duthies that has just made it over the pond to California.  The initial offerings are very strong and very moderately priced for what they are.  I am excited to see what else we get from them.  Right now we are expecting.

Glenrothes 15 Year Old, Duthies, Single Malt Whisky $69.99 - This is an easy, gentle, and very easy drinking Glenrothes.  It may be the best independent bottling of it that I have ever tasted.  The classic richness is there, but this whisky was aged in oak butts, so that sherry barrel sweetness and dried fruit componant is not present like in the 1991 distillery bottling.  This is more classic and balanced, with hints of honey and sweet vanilla.  Every flavor and texture is perfectly in balance making it a very fun malt to drink.

Highland Park 17 Year Old, Duthies, Single Malt Whisky $74.99 - This independent bottling aged in oak cask is fatter and thicker than most older Highland Parks and really stands out from the distillery versions.  Right off the bat you get sweet cereal notes on the entry followed by a waxy and oily componant that I usually associate with Highland distilleries like Clynelish.  A faint hint of smoke comes through on the mid palate, and then the flavors really mold together to finish on a high note.  This is very different from other HPs I have tasted and it is a fantastic deal for the money.

Auchentoshan 16 Year Old, Duthies, Single Malt Whisky $69.99 - Soft and delicate, just like the standard triple-distilled offering usually tastes, but with the added complexity of a full 16 years in barrel.  For me, 16 is the magic number for whisky aging, and while I'm not normally a super fan of Auchentoschan's Lowland, mild-mannered nature, this is a perfect balance of sweet cereal flavors, hints of heather, and honey.  An easy whisky to fall in love with.

Another new indy bottler we are expecting a shipment from is Whiskey Thieves.  Their cask strength offerings are very impressive.

Knockando 15 Year Old, Whiskey Thieves, Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $76.99 - Knockando is a Diageo-owned distillery in the Spey that we rarely see distillery bottlings from.  This independent offering from Whiskey Thieves is delightful, bottled at cask strength 59.6%.  The malt just brims classic malt whisky - balanced levels of richness, sweetness, and power with no flavor profile really making itself too obvious.  There are hints of baking spices that begin to open up when a drop of water is added, but this is an old school dram - no barrel enhancements, no peat, no nonsense.  Think Bruichladdich 16 or Benriach 18, but at full power!   A fantastic value.

-David Driscoll


A Visit From Clear Creek's Steve McCarthy

Steve McCarthy talking booze with Doug, Alex, & Cindy

Today was the kind of day when you really cherish your job at K&L.  When people find out what I do for a living, they think everyday is like today was - a day spent hanging out with the best distiller in the United States, and one of the absolute masters in the world, Steve McCarthy. I can only wish every day could be so fun! Taking the time to fly down from Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Steve brought his entire line-up of bottles with him for a staff seminar on eau de vie.  Both the Redwood City and San Francisco stores got the pleasure of meeting with him as they nosed and sampled a slew of fruit liqueurs, eau de vies, brandies, grappas, and, of course, the highly sought after and often discussed Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, flavored with real pine tree!


Having already tasted through the entire selection on my visit to the Pac Northwest last summer (click here to read all the details about my trip to the distillery), I reveled in seeing the eyes of my co-workers light up and hearing their glowing responses after they finished.  Jeff Garneau, not the most avid of spirits drinkers, was absolutely amazed.  Our new guy Jason Marwedel, also not a huge advocate of all things distilled, was simply blown away and made sure he went home with a bottle of Steve's knockout pear brandy.  Melissa Smith was in complete heaven as she began fantasizing about all the magical meals she could make with the crazy good liqueurs, and I just sat there smiling as I watched everyone learn what I already knew: Clear Creek spirits are so good they are life changing.  Getting the chance to taste them with Steve himself only makes the experience even more fantastic.  He has a calming and captivating effect on his audience and he really believes in making the absolute best products - not cutting corners and not cutting costs to do so.

Some of today's many participants

Luckily for you all out there, I talked Steve into making another trip back to the Bay Area this summer to conduct the same seminar with some of our lovely customers.  We are planning a dinner event where Mr. McCarthy and myself will team up to walk you through the world of fruit based brandies and liqueurs.  I'm sure some of you whisky fans out there are thinking, "Eh."  That's what some of my staff members also said to me when I told them Steve was in the bar, but I twisted their arm and they made sure to taste through.  They immediately found me after and told me how happy they were that I had forced them to do so.  While we all love whisky, Clear Creek is in a class all its own.  They taste of purity, elegance, and quality - something any spirit lover should enjoy.

Steve talks to Kirk & Susan at the SF store.-David Driscoll



If You Had To Choose One...

San Francisco's beat writer on all things alcohol Camper English, recently wrote an article for 7x7 Magazine where he interviewed some of the city's top bartenders and forced them to limit their bar selection to one bottle of each spirit.  It's a great little intro for some of you who are looking to start your own home bar, or want to learn more about the best spirits for cocktail mixing.  I've added my picks below for fun.

Vodka: Karlsson's Gold Vodka $27.99

Gin: Beefeater's (we have this in 1.75, but we have to keep it off the web because our price is too low)

Rum: Appleton Estate V/X $19.99

Tequila: Los Osuna Blanco $39.99

American Whiskey: Four Roses Yellow Label $21.99

-David Driscoll


New Bruichladdich Line-Up!

Some exciting news on the Bruichladdich front.  I was the first in California to taste their new line up this morning which should be available here in a month or so.  These are the whiskies and my impressions.  Speaking for myself, and a few of you who I have spoken with about this, I've been a bit put off by Bruichladdich's pricing and their vast inventory as of late (how many can you really afford to buy and how different are they really?), but this lot was truly spectacular and got me very excited for their arrival.  If you are interested, send me a line and can do a pre-order for you.
2003 Bruichladdich Organic Single Malt Whisky 750ml $79.99 - Made from 100% organically farmed barley this whisky, also labeled "Anns An T-Seann Doigh" (made in the traditional manner) is another exciting young whisky from the modern post-2001 era of Bruichladdich.  Aged 6 years in bourbon cask and peated at a very light 3 ppm, this dram is energetic with spice, hints of grain and malty cereal, along with richer tones from the barrel influence.  Very tasty and very fun.  46% ABV
Bruichladdich Links Series Valhalla 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $79.99 - Aged in bourbon with acing in Barsac casks from Chateau Climens, this is classic Bruichladdich flavor.  It's rich with flavor, but not overly sweet.  Completely balanced and should satisfy any fan of the traditional distillery style.
Bruichladdich Cuvee C Margaux Cask 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $105.99 - An orange-amber color from the wine cask influence, this is 16 year old is perhaps the most impressive of the Cuvee First Growth series, with gorgeous flavors of dense, chewy dried fruits.  The flavors of the claret really mesh well with the bourbon aged dram and swirl over the palate. This is one of the better cask enhancements that we've seen from the distillery.  Very very good.
Bruichladdich Cuvee D Haut Brion Cask 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $105.99 - An orange-amber color from the wine cask influence, this is 16 year old has a bit more sweetness than than Cuvee A, B or C, but still has gobs of chewy dried fruit and loads of complexity.  The flavors of the claret really mesh well with the bourbon aged dram and swirl over the palate. This is very very good whisky from one of our favorite producers.
1989 Bruichladdich Black Art Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml $154.99 - Wow, this is as bizarre as it is wonderful!  An unbelievable rose-red color with a fresh red fruited nose showing hints of baking spice and vanilla, this whisky was aged orginally in bourbon and then enhanced with assorted and undisclosed wine barrels, making its recipe a total secret.  The intial sip shows a bit of caramel and sweetness, but then the red fruit kicks in again and flushes it out all the way to the finish.  Bottled at 51.1%, adding a drop of water only enhances the aromas and flavors.  This is one of the most fascinating whiskies I've had all year.
Bruichladdich Legacy Collection Series VI 34 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $450.99 - Only 1704 bottles of this classic 34 year old elixer were produced.  A true standout among the classy and elegant whiskies we have ever carried, this all bourbon cask-aged malt has the complexity on the nose that only older and distinguished drams can offer: soft honey, spices, oil and wax, grains, cereal, and more - all swirling in and out of your senses.  The palate shows all of these profiles and more with touches of citrus and white fruits.  Delicate, dainty, and refined, this bottle belongs on the shelf of the most serious of serious collectors.  A true masterpiece.