First Batch of Scotland Barrels Available

If you're on the Whisk(e)y Club Email List that we run here at K&L, then this is old news, but for those of you who read this blog and order whisky with us, we finally have the first round of our recently acquired barrels available and they are at special club pricing if you order in advance.  The question most people have is: how do I qualify for special club pricing?  We used to have a secret whisk(e)y club where you had to buy something every month to get these discounts, but we realized that we were growing too rapidly to sustain that system.  We're now offering special pricing to anyone interested in getting it!  That means those of you reading this blog!  Basically, we're not using the official channels to advertise these selections, so they won't catch the attention of the casual shoppers.  Only people who get our Club emails or read this blog should know about them, so that gives you all an advantage.

For each barrel we release, we'll be offering a limited number of pre-order bottles at a discounted pre-arrival price.  Those of you who pay in advance will generally pay $10 to $15 less than the retail price will be once the bottles arrive.  You can order online now and then pick up the bottles in the Fall when they arrive. 

What’s in the first round of barrel offerings?  Springbank and Glendronach of course!  Now that we’ve got you all excited from our detailed blog postings and our podcast with Peter Currie, it’s time to release the only barrels we’ll be offering directly from the distillery.  These whiskies are NOT independently bottled, they are straight from the source.  Each distillery’s warehouse seems to give the whiskies a special terroir during the aging process, so having these barrels aged at the distillery proper honestly makes them more authentic.  It’s crazy, but I experienced it firsthand so I am a believer. We worked hard to get you these fantastic prices and we think you’ll be more than happy when you finally taste how wonderful they are:

1998 Springbank K&L Exclusive 13 Year Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ARRIVAL PRICE $84.99  (retail $94.99) - We purchased this amazing bourbon cask of Springbank directly from the distillery during our 2011 visit to Campbeltown.  Both David OG and I wanted something that exemplified the true character of Springbank - that unmistakable dense mouthfeel, brimming with chewy, gum-smacking texture and viscosity.  Springbank whisky from a straight bourbon cask is one of the true pleasures in life.  While the heavily sherried versions of the malt are wonderful in their own way, the sweetness from the sherry tends to mask some of qualities we love so much.  We tasted this 13 year straight out of the barrel and loved the rich tannins provided from the wood, the intense vanilla aromas, and the nutty flavors that intermingled with salty accents.  Seeing that Springbank was one of the true highlights of our trip, we really wanted to pick a cask that faithfully represented just what we loved so much.  This whisky does exactly that.

1997 Springbank K&L Exclusive 14 Year Single Madeira Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ARRIVAL PRICE $89.99  (retail $99.99) - Upon our 2011 visit to Springbank, we knew we wanted to purchase a single bourbon cask, but we were open to other options were we to find another very special barrel.  Of course, that's exactly what happened.  One of the most beloved whiskies in K&L customer history was a 2000 Springbank that was finished in Chateau d'Yquem barrels, giving a sweet highlight to the chewy textures of the malt.  This 1998 Madeira-finished cask is bottled at cask strength, and is the more muscular, more mature cousin of that lovely 2000.  Golden fruits, a rich, oily mouthfeel, and long, supple finish all merge together and make this one of the easiest drams we've tasted in sometime.  We can't imagine anyone not loving this, so we decided to go deep and buy the whole thing.  Like the 2000, we expect people to talk about this whisky for some time to come. 

1994 Glendronach K&L Exclusive 17 Year Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ARRIVAL PRICE $99.99  (retail $114.99) - While ensconsed deep in the countryside of the Eastern Scottish Highlands, David OG and I sat at a small table in a low-lit guesthouse and marveled at the quality of the Glendronach single malts.  I immediately blogged via the K&L Spirits Journal website that the 12 year old was the "best single malt that no one is drinking!"  Very much like Springbank whiskies sans the peat smoke, Glendronach has an unctuous, chewy mouthfeel that isn't overly cloying or too saturated with sweet sherry.  We knew that if we could find a single barrel that tasted similiar to the amazing 12 year, we would have a real winner on our hands.  The next morning we scoured the warehouses in search of the perfect expression and we found it in a 1994 barrel that had been briefly finished in PX sherry cask.  Earthy notes from the warehouse aging permiate the rich, oily flavors of vanilla, raisined fruit, and cakebread.  The cask strength proof really keeps the sweetness at bay and the result is a fabulously balanced malt that should appeal to just about everyone.  This is the barrel everyone will overlook, but I'd bet my salary it's the one that will get the best reviews.

That’s it for round one!  Every time we secure another batch of barrels we’ll send out another email and do another blog post.  There are many great whiskies coming, so if you want to hold off and wait to see what all is coming in that might be a smart move.  HOWEVER, we’re only selling 150 bottles of each at the pre-arrival price, so once they’re gone that’s it for the special pricing. 

-David Driscoll


SF Tastings Imminent 

For those of you who have been bummed out about our lack of SF tastings, I think we might be right on the verge of a winner.  I have to check out the spot next week, but I like what I've heard so far and the days are going to be just right.  These guys are interested in doing some seminars and serious tastings, so it could be quite the relationship.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.  The location is downtown/North Beach so it should be a hotspot for drinkin'!

As a reminder, anyone interested in joining our secret K&L Whisk(e)y Club should email me and have me add your email address to the list.  We generally don't talk too much about it (first rule of whisk(e)y club is you don't talk about whisk(e)y club), but I thought I'd offer a few open spots.  There are some nice perks. 

Let me know-

-David Driscoll (


Test 1, Test 2...

So I broke my camera in a Scotland warehouse and said "No More!" with digital point & shoots.  I was a film major in college, so I have a basic working knowledge of photography.  I decided to invest in something more serious to see what I could do with spirits romanticization.  Maybe I can make our bottles look so freakin' amazing that you can't help but want one!  We'll see.  I'm playing around with a few lenses and a few looks.  Above is my "intellectual/whisky drinker/private eye" look.

Better lenses means lower aperture, means narrower depth of field, means subjects that pop when shot in focus.  I think I can take this blog to the next level with some better imaging.  We'll see.  I'll keep toying around with this thing and see what happens.

-David Driscoll


Tuesday Tasting Tonight!

We're going big tonight at Martin's West.  Tonight, beginning at 6 PM, you can come and order a whole glass of 1984 Yamazaki Japanese Single Malt Whiskey (a $600+ dollar bottle) and it will cost you about $20.  That's less than the average glass of Macallan 15 at most places.  We are only purchasing one bottle, so that leaves 26 pours available for the first 26 people who show up.  Unfortunately we cannot reserve pours in advance. 

If you're new to Japanese whiskey and you're wondering why this is such a big deal, let me tell you first that the Yamazaki was the megahit of WhiskyFest SF.  It was the first bottle everyone who attended the advance VIP session went to try.  I was there early and I still wasn't able to taste it - the bottle was drained within 15 minutes.  Interest in Japanese whiskey has reached a fever pitch stateside, so getting to try something new, especially something rare, is a big deal.

Neyah White, the brand ambassador for Suntory, recently told me that the 1984 was just awarded best whiskey in the world at a recent Whisky Magazine blind tasting, where it went up against the big boys of Scotland and took them down unanimously.  What makes the 1984 so different?

To me, it's the heavy use of ultra-expensive Japanese Oak barrels that comes through in the flavor.  Having tasted the 1984 a few months back, I picked up sandlewood, curry, even Indian spices and I couldn't figure out where these flavors were coming from.  Neyah informed me that these profiles were indicitive of the wood and they were exactly why Japanese oak barrels are amazing vestibules for malt whiskey. However, due to the rarity of the wood, the fact that coopering it is next to impossible, and the amount of leakage that occurs due to its porousness, aging whiskey in Japanese oak is neither easy, nor cost effective - that makes it exclusive.

There are not many bottles of 1984 Yamazaki in the states right now so I'm looking forward to drinking one with you all tonight!  See you there.

-David Driscoll


Yelp Help

Every now and then I like to check in on Yelp to see what our customers think about our service. I am very sensitive to this kind of thing, so I probably shouldn't look too often.  However, if some of our employees are not doing their job in the eyes of the customer, I definitely want to know about it.  We're not perfect over at K&L so it's always nice to know where we can improve.  We generally have a great five star average, but now and again we mess up and that person lets us know it.  That's the nice part about Yelp - it gives the consumer some power to fight back against crappy service.

The bad part about Yelp is when people get frustrated about something that isn't our fault and then blatantly lie about what happened.  I was perusing our recent reviews and read the report of a customer experience that is just 100% false.  I usually give reviewers the benefit of the doubt, but I happened to remember exactly the incident the person is describing and it couldn't be further from the truth.  The bad part about giving everyone a voice on the internet is that many people choose not to use that voice responsibly.  Some readers take Yelp very seriously, so it pains me to know that some customers will read this review and believe it to be true. 

I ask that those of you who use consumer sites like Yelp to please keep the basic tenants of human nature into account.  I used to rely on these testimonials for restaurants and hotels, but having been on the other side, it's obvious that some people are using reviews on Yelp as a punching bag for their own inner anger. 

-David Driscoll