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2015 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

1992 Clynelish K&L Exclusive 21 Year Old Cadenhead Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Bowmore 12 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2008 Caol Ila 5 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Craigellachie 18 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Miltonduff 19 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2007 Mortlach 7 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2004 Smoky & Peaty Tobermory (Ledaig) 8 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Laphroaig 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Macallan 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Tamdhu 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Tobermory 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Old Particular (Douglas Laing) Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Girvan 24 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1978 Port Dundas 36 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1964 North British 50 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

SMWS 36.82 Benrinnes 17 Year Old "Rare Release" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1988 Blair Athol 25 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


2001 Bowmore 12 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Bruichladdich 23 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glen Ord 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glenburgie 19 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glenrothes 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1998 Mortlach 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Sherry Butt Finish Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Imperial 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #344 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #345 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1990 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Glenfarclas "The Faultline Casks" K&L Exclusive First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Bunnahabhain Heavily Peated 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1998 Laphroaig 15 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1983 Caol Ila 30 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1992 Bruichladdich 21 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1988 Balmenach 25 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Dailuaine 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glen Elgin 18 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!!


1981 Glenlivet 32 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


Bladnoch "Young" K&L Exclusive Heavily Peated Single Barrel #57 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


1997 Glengoyne 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky SOLD OUT!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #172 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #74 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Sunday
Mar222015

Wrestlemania Week

T-minus one week to wrestling's version of the Super Bowl: Wrestlemania. It's the biggest and most important pay-per-view of the year, with tens of thousands of fans packing into a stadium to watch the WWE's brightest stars perform on the largest of stages. This year's event happens to be right in the middle of Silicon Valley, and as someone who likes to write about booze and pop culture along the Peninsula, I'll be right in the thick of things. Inside the envelope pictured above are four tickets to the show, passes for the Hall of Fame ceremonies, access to other weekend activities, and much, much more. Not only will I be attending the official WWE sanctioned events, I'll be stopping by the numerous other independent shows that have sprung up on the local schedule. There will be photos, interviews (crossing my fingers on this), and wrestling/booze parallels all week long; all somehow tying our love of drinking into the celebration of sports entertainment's most incredible pageant. It's going to be a wild time. 

Stay tuned.

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Mar212015

Agave Angst

The world of agave spirits is becoming much like the world of television: the quality keeps getting better and every day there's something new to discover. There's so much good TV right now that I find myself wondering when I'll have time to watch it all, and that doesn't even count internet programming! When am I going to find the time for Peaky Blinders on Netflix or Transparent on Amazon? It's making my skin itch! Along the same line, it seems like every day I'm hearing about a new mezcal or a new tequila, or how everyone's expecting the agave spirits business to be the next big boom. I'm getting samples in the mail, phone calls from vendors all over the country, and emails from producers in Mexico asking if K&L would be interested in supporting their brand. It's so exciting!

However, much like my dilemma with television, there's only so much time and so much bandwidth I can devote to tequila and mezcal. It's not that I don't want to expand the department and start romping through Oaxaca in search of the next big thing; it's that I don't know how much new agave information our customers can handle (or have time for). While I set my mind to figuring out the answer to that equation, here's one new mezcal that you absolutely cannot miss. The partnership between California's Craft Spirits and Oaxaca's Los Danzantes is the Breaking Bad of the agave spirits world: every episode is so good you can't help but wait in angst for the next one. The Mezcalero series has been—for me—the top prize in the mezcal world year after year, and Batch No. 10 continues that level of quality with a remarkably suave spirit.

Distilled by Rodolfo Juan Juarez from Sierra Negra agave, the Mezcalero 10 is the most graceful iteration of the series to date and the most accessible. It begins with a potent dash of tangy, roasted agave flavor before slowly melting into a delicate, stunningly soft palate of baking spices and sweet fruit with a faint whisper of smoke. I don't know much about Sierra Negra agave, but from what I was told by the folks at Craft Spirits it's known for making the most suave of all mezcales. If that's what it's known for, then this is a textbook example because this mezcal is smooth as silk without sacrificing flavor or intensity.

Of course, you might be reading this and thinking to yourself: "David, this all sounds quite interesting, but who has time for all the whisky you bring in, let alone fancy mezcales from the rural backwoods of Mexico?" I wouldn't blame you for thinking such a thing. Perhaps you shouldn't read more about the Mezcalero series if that's the case because—let me tell you—once you sit down and start watching, you'll be hooked. Cancel your weekend plans and order a pizza.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Mar202015

Variance - Part II

I've always driven a Honda since the time I learned how to drive. My parents drove Honda Accords, I drove a Honda Accord in high school, my first car in college was a 1999 Honda Civic, and when I first started working at K&L I bought a 1995 Honda Accord to make the commute. It wasn't until a few years ago, when one of my co-workers moved to the East Coast, that I bought his amazing 2003 Volkswagen GTI. The car was seven years old and only had 8,000 miles on it. It was in absolute perfect condition because the guy I bought it from was completely OCD about keeping it clean and beautiful. That being said, never during my time owning a Honda, used or new, did I need to bring either car in for anything other than an oil change. Yet, in my fifth year of VW ownership, not a year has gone by when I haven't needed to replace something or fix a rather pricey issue. While picking my car up last night at the garage (I needed a new thermometer in the engine), I asked my mechanic Andrew (who I trust with my life): "So am I needing constant repairs because the car is old despite the mileage, or is this indicative of a larger problem?"

"Honestly? It's because it's a VW. German cars need constant maintenance. It's part of the deal," he replied.

"So I'm trading power and speed for more time in the shop?" I asked in response.

"Exactly," he said.

It all made perfect sense to me, so I wasn't the slightest bit upset at the reality check. If you like to wear nice clothes (which I do), then you can't just throw them in the washer when they get dirty. You need to take them to the dry cleaner, which can cost you upwards of $60 a week if you go often (which I do). That's part of the maintenance. If you like to drink expensive wine (which I do), then you can't assume that just because you spent $200 on the bottle that your satisfaction is guaranteed. There are no guarantees with wine, which is why guys like me shouldn't be buying $200 bottles. If you can't afford to dump $200 down the drain, then you can't afford to drink $200 bottles of wine because you have to assume that one out of every ten bottles is corked, past its prime, was stored incorrectly, or is spoiled in some way for some other reason. That's why people (not me) buy cases of $200 bottles of wine: to protect against the bad beat. You'll probably get at least ten good bottles from a case.

Then there's the maintenance that goes along with wine collecting: wine storage, wine coolers, temperature controls, etc. By the time you're done, you've probably spent another thousand or more just making sure your wine doesn't go bad after you've bought it. That's why you have to pick and choose your battles. I'm not in for the long-term wine game. I can't afford the upkeep that a serious wine cellar requires and it isn't worth it to me ultimately. Clothing, on the other hand, is. Cars? I don't know. I don't know if I care enough about German speed and precision to justify the upkeep, but I completely understand the concept. It's no different than most luxury items, which require all kinds of extra responsibilities. It's never just about the price of admission (see the film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where Michael Caine teaches Steve Martin about the responsibilities of having money and class). Enjoying nice things often means spending far more money than you were originally expecting.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Mar192015

The Future

Last summer we were introduced to Sean Venus, a rather unassuming Santa Cruz native who had taken over the old Sarticious distillery space just up Highway 17. His Venus Gin Batch #1 was incredible, quickly becoming one of the top-selling gins we carried. Everyone who bought one came back for a second. But Sean would have more tricks up his sleeve, including a soon-to-be-released Aquavit that blew me away when I tasted it yesterday.

The point: I really need to get over to Santa Cruz, check out this operation, take some pictures, and let you all in on the secret. I’ve been slacking on this front and I need to get my act together. In the meantime, however, check out what just arrived. Mark my words: Venus Spirits is easily the most exciting small distiller in California for the moment and will be a huge story by the end of 2015. The products are impeccable, the packaging sleek and stylish, and the expansion of expressions careful and calculated. I’m really expecting big things for Sean. Here’s what just came in today:

Venus Spirits Batch #2 Gin $36.99 – Batch two of Sean Venus’s tremendous gin uses juniper, cardamom, orange, fennel, coriander, bay leaf, sage, peppercorns, and ages that formula in American oak for a mellow and creamier profile. The orange really gives it a lift. A Negroni is definitely calling my name.

Venus "El Ladron" Blue Agave Spirit $42.99Sean has agave azul from Jalisco crushed and cooked in Mexico, but then contracts a tanker of liquid to be trucked up to Santa Cruz where he can ferment it at his distillery. He then distills a 100% blue agave “tequila” from that fermented juice. It’s peppery, savory, spicy, and FANTASTIC. So creative and so delicious. I LOVE this stuff.

Venus Wayward Single Malt Whiskey $49.99 (1 bottle limit) Sean purchased different types of malted barley and then creates a mash at his distillery in Santa Cruz where he ferments his own wash. That goes into his still to create the Wayward single malt, which is aged in small casks, but doesn’t taste like it one bit. This is real deal single malt, eclipsed only by the Cut Spike and Westland, in my humble opinion. Very limited. Very, very limited.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Mar182015

Variance

I met with my tasting group last night for a leisurely stroll through the vast spread of new K&L Scotch whiskies. As has been the case lately, the reaction was mainly positive (thank goodness!). Getting to watch some of your most knowledgeable and loyal whisky customers analyze, critique, and nitpick through the details of your products in a private and tranquil setting is an invaluable service for me. Most importantly, it allows me the chance to experience these selections from various points of view (something I recently wrote about as the key to better retailing), to see if people react more or less as I hope or expect them to.

There was one moment, while sampling the Tobermory 18 year old from Old Particular, that I heard my buddy Scott say, "I love this whisky. I love everything about it." To which, my good friend Paul said, "Not me. I don't think I could drink a whole bottle of this." This caught my attention because Scott and Paul are two of my all-time best and most discerning customers, so hearing them diverge so adamently over a whisky was something I was interested in listening to more about. After hearing both sides of the discussion, I said to them: "And now you understand why we have to buy so many different casks. One of you loves it, the other doesn't, which is why we need variety in our selection. It can't be just about 'good' or 'bad' or 90 points because no matter how good you think something is, there's always going to be another person who doesn't agree."

"How often do people give you shit about 'bad' whisky?" Scott asked me curiously.

"It happens every single day," I answered.

"What does?" Paul asked.

"Someone emailing me to let me know how disappointed or angry they are that a whisky didn't meet their expectations," I said.

"How is that possible?" Scott asked, incredulously.

"Because whisky isn't ever going to be something we all agree on. Some people out there think this whole whisky thing is cut and dry, right or wrong, good or bad, black and white. Actually, a lot of people do. They think if the notes are good, but their experience is bad, that somehow we've lied to them. But look at what just happened here. Scott: you thought that whisky was amazing. Paul: you didn't. In Scott's eyes, I've just secured him a great bottle and he's incredibly thankful. In Paul's eyes, he would have been unsatisfied had he bought a bottle for himself. So what do you think? Am I wrong, or am I right to have bought that cask?"

"So what do you say when people get upset?" Paul asked.

"I tell them I'm sorry they were unhappy, but usually I have to stand by the whisky. For every person out that doesn't like something there are ten other guys who love it. For every guy who loves a whisky, there are ten other guys out there who hate it. There's always going to be variance. You just have to roll with that," I said.

And then we sat there for a few minutes in quiet solitude.

-David Driscoll