So Much New Whisky, So Many Customers

We're getting swarmed right now with excited Thanksgiving shoppers, overflowing into our store and snatching up all the good booze.  In the midst of the madness, I've managed to get our two newest cask purchases into the store and on the shelf as well as a whole slew of other new stuff.  Here's what came in today:

1982 Mannochmore Chieftain's 28 Year Old K&L Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $149.99 - The last time we did a 20+ year old single barrel of whisky, we sold every bottle on pre-order and the bottles never hit the shelf - the value was simply too good to pass up, even without tasting it!  This time around we've teamed up with Chieftain's and secured a barrel of Diageo-owned Mannochmore 28 year single malt whisky, bottled at cask strength and unchillfiltered.  Mannochmore is Highland distillery rarely ever bottled as a single malt, rather it goes into high-end Diageo blends like the Johnnie Walker Blue.  This ancient single-barrel expression is simply fantastic - a nose of fresh peaches and flower petals, a palate that oozes with sweet grains and natural oils, and a long, sweet finish that goes on forever.  The last time Diageo bottled Mannochmore as a single malt in their Manager's Choice series it wasn't nearly as old or expressive and it went for over $250 a bottle.  Our bottling will come in at far less and offer so much more maturity.  But don't wait too long, this old barrel only yielded 135 bottles, there for it is limited to two bottles per customer.

1999 Talisker Distiller's Edition $74.99 - Brand new release

1994 Lagavulin Distiller's Edition $99.99 - Brand new release

Lagavulin 12 Year Old Cask Strength - $105.99 - Brand new release

Amrut "Intermediate Sherry" Indian Single Malt Whiskey $124.99 - Aged in bourbon, then first fill sherry barrels, finally back into bourbon for one year.  Crazy! The sherry barrels are cured with Amrut Single Malt before transit to Bangalore to mitigate sulfur. Ultra smooth precious young whiskey.  A hit at Whisky Fest 2010.

We just opened the Mannochmore in the tasting bar and it is EVERY bit as good as I remember.  Sooooooo happy we bought this barrel.

Happy T-day.

-David Driscoll


Price Increases - Whose Fault Is It?

I've been hitting the message boards lately, reading rather than posting, and it's really fascinating to hear how other people in other states feel about the booze business.  I was informed by one of my customers that a thread had been started on another bourbon site about my earlier Van Winkle post and in reading that discussion I noticed some talk about retailers jacking up the price of this year's release.  While we didn't gouge our customers by taking the scarcity of the bottles into consideration, we did raise the price on the bourbons this year by a few bucks.  Was that because we were being greedy?  No, it's because we had to pay more for them this year than we did last year - the wholesale price went up.  And everyone got less than last year because there were fewer bottles produced, so if you're a tiny retailer and you only got two bottles at a higher cost, you're probably going to try and make whatever you can.  Not that I approve of such measures, but I get relatively more than just about any other small retailer so I'm not forced to make that decision.

Today the first drop of the 2010 Diageo Classic Malt collection comes in and the prices on some of these whiskies are going to surprise people.  I'm sure there's still a store somewhere in the U.S. that has a few bottles of last year's Lagavulin 12 and it's selling for around $75.  When someone Google searches that bottle now, we're going to pop up at the top with a price of around $100.  That person is going to look at that comparison and say, "K&L is jacking up their prices!" Not true.  The Lagavulin 12, for whatever reason, is far more expensive this year.  As I've said in previous posts, whisky prices change on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.  Maybe Diageo bottled less than before or maybe it has become rarer.  In any case, it's pricier than before and we didn't have anything to do with that.

-David Driscoll


In Stock While It Lasts....

In Redwood City as we speak.  SF tomorrow.  Grab it while we still have some.  125 sold in four hours today.

St. George 11 Year Old K&L Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey $105.99 - The Bay Area's beloved Alameda distillery has teamed up with K&L to bring you one of the most delicious and unique whiskies ever created.  Made from 100% barley, this malt was aged seven years in bourbon cask and finished for an additional four years in apple brandy barrels.  Bottled at cask strength, the result is a brain-tickling combination of rich malty goodness and spicy barrel flavors intertwined with tart apple notes on the finish.  Sound crazy?  It is, and that's why it had the attention of the entire room at this year's WhiskyFest in San Francisco.  If we could have taken pre-orders that evening, it would have sold out on the spot.  We spent months twisting the arms of distillers Lance Winter and Dave Smith before they would agree to let us have this prized possession; a whiskey they had been nursing along since infancy.  This is an unheralded release from St. George and there is not much of it, so there is a one bottle limit per person.  The 11 year will easily go down as one of the tastiest, most sought-after, and unique whiskies we have ever carried.

-David Driscoll


Canadian Whiskey, Oregon Water, Bucking Bronco?

Pendleton Whiskey is somewhat of an enigma in the spirits world.  This is one of the fastest growing whiskey brands in the states, but honestly finding out information about the actual whiskey is difficult at best.  Pendleton is a woolen mill that sponsors many different Rodeos and has teamed up with Hood River Distillers in Oregon to celebrate these two historic Oregon institutions, the obvious next step: make a Canadian Whiskey!  I suppose this was less about logic and more about getting something out there that all the cowboys and cowgirls at the Rodeo would enjoy.  Now, we're not the biggest proponents of CanadianFancy Box Whiskey.  Generally, I find it to be mostly boring.  The Canadians keep most of the best stuff for themselves and what we see down here shows little signs of becomem more exciting in the near future.  Canadian whiskey is kind of like Cognac in that it's stuck in the old world, unwilling to adapt to a customer who has changed.  Given there are markets in this country where Canadian whiskey is very popular, just not ours. Canadian whiskey is mostly of passable quality, but bluntly uninspiring.  Young it has very little Pendleton Directors' Reserve 20 Year Oldcharacter, while the older stuff can't always stand up to the oak treatment.  There are several exceptions to the rule, including some of the bottlings recently rated on MA from Forty Creek (Kittling Ridge), to the top notch rye sourced by Dave Pickerell for Whistle Pig Farms. Pendleton 20 year is right up there with some of the best Canadian whiskey I've ever taste, but honestly I have no idea where it comes from. Most likely this comes from Alberta Distillery which is responsible for somePendleton Blended very highly rated bottlings that are not released in California.  I jump to this conclusion for no reason inparticular! The whiskey is imported to Oregon where it's brought to proof and bottled with distinctive bucking bronco label.  While I hardly ever get excited about whiskey bottled at 80 proof the Pendleton Directors' Reserve 20 year Canadian Whiskey 750ml ($144.99) is truly something special.  Created to commemorate the Pendleton Round-Up Rodoes' 100 year anniversary, the style is ultra rich and decadent.  Honey and vanilla are borderline overwhelming on the nose.  A soft oak spice backs up the intensity of fruit and sweet toffee.caramel on the palate.  Fully mature and not overly oak driven the Pendleton 20 year really shows an intriguing side of Canadian Whiskey.   I'm not the only one who likes it Spirit Journal gave it 4 stars and Patterson's scored it 95 points.  Of course you'll have to shell out some serious cashish for this highly limited bottling.  Last time we saw the Pendleton 20 year in this country (about 2 years ago) it was stupidly hard to keep in stock, so when people realize what they're missing the high price probably won't make a difference.  For those who want a glimpse of what the 20 year looks like, but don't want to shell out $150, you can always pick up the Pendleton Blended which is mighty fine for $25.

Pendleton Directors' Reserve 20 year Canadian Whiskey 750ml - $144.99

Pendleton Blended Canadian Whiskey 750ml - $24.99

-David Girard


Manditory Thanksgiving Post

Rather than be the 192nd blogger to write "What are you thankful for?" or "What are you drinking this Thursday?" and then wait for you to comment (as an obvious ploy to come up with something to post during a busy time), I've decided to make a list of what I am currently thankful for.  In all honesty, I don't really care what anyone is drinking Thursday unless they're going to invite me over :).  I do get a kick out of helping people pair their T-day dinner, so if you need some help come by the store.  While I do plan on having a glass of single malt after the meal, this holiday is all about wine for me.  Anyway, here are some things that have made me very happy as of late, and in true seasonal style, I am thankful:

- I am thankful that K&L is such a free and easy place to work, voice an opinion, and express your thoughts.  Last week couldn't have made that more apparent.  Truly thankful.

- I am thankful to work in an industry where close relationships with producers form into special projects of appreciation for one another.  That being said, thank you Steve McCarthy for making us an exclusive whiskey because I know you are getting called by other retailers who are annoyed you didn't do it for them (not that they ever even bothered asking you).  Thank you Lance Winter, Dave Smith, and everyone else at St. George for letting us have your 12 year single malt barrel.  Another whiskey that will likely piss off small retailers everywhere.  Thank you Davorin Kuchan for giving us every drop of Rusty Blade - no one knows how big this is going to be yet, so no one really cares.  Next year when you're in every trade magazine and blog because of this, they'll be furious!

- I am thankful for everyone out there who takes the time to care about what we do here.  It's easy to get excited about booze when everyone else gets excited with you!

- I am thankful that I have met over a hundred passionate whiskey people over the past year and that many of you take the time to share other aspects of your lives with me, and I with you.  It is truly a community in the spirits world and a friendly one for the most part. 

- I am thankful that many distilleries are lowering their prices to allow normal folk like myself to buy them during tough economic times.  Thank you Ardbeg, thank you Lahproaig, and maybe next year I can thank Diageo?

- I am thankful that we live and work in an area of the world that cares so very much about food and drink.  Thank you to all the people in the Bay Area who allow us to interact with your passion: Derek & Moira at Martin's West who have hosted many a whisky tasting, Jennifer at Slanted Door who has shared her cocktail mixing skills with us, Daniel at Alembic who has tailored drinks for our dinners, and every other bar/restaurant that helps keep people excited about this lifestyle.

I hope everyone has a fantastic meal this week.  David OG and I will likely be posting all this week, so this by no means signifies we're signing off for the holiday.  Just wanted to get into the spirit a bit.  Big news all week as our barrels come in.  St George should be here tomorrow!  Mannochmore 28 year on Wednesday!

-David Driscoll