What's New This Week?

Back at work today. Lots to taste. Lots of new stuff to think about.

While I was entertained by all of the talk on the Whisky Advocate blog this week about super high-end whiskies, I'm not too worried about those prices. I'm worried about the prices on whisky that I can afford, or maybe I should say could once afford. Another week of placing orders has been met with more hikes on the brands you all know so well. It's not noticeable to most consumers because K&L isn't going to change their price every week, nor is any other retailer. That's not a feasible business model. Nevertheless, my invoices keep showing up with prices $1.25, $2.00 higher per bottle than previously. Jesus, freakin' Mount Gay Rum went up $5 per bottle this week!  Their wholesale cost is now higher than our previous retail! It's getting out of hand.

When we see Laphroaig 10 go from $29.99, to $32.99, to $36.99, and eventually to $42.99 (yes, that's coming soon) within the span of six months, something crazy must be going on. There are shortages that are driving prices, but the market has yet to balk at any increase so far. Whisky companies have yet to experience their Netflix moment. Until that happens, get ready to start spending more money for the products you love. Macallan is scheduled for their second increase of 2012 in October.  Buffalo Trace, I've heard, will take an increase company-wide by the end of the year. In some cases, it's just the natural course of inflation that most markets experience over time. In others, its a blatent attempt to keep profits consistent despite a shortage of physical product to sell.

Here are some things I tasted earlier today that I'm pretty excited about:

With Oktoberfest ready to begin next week, now is the perfect time to reintroduce one of Germany's top distillers back to K&L.  They've switched distributors and the pricing is now lower than it was before (a welcome relief after a week of price increases). I really enjoyed all four of these products, so much so that I've invited them to pour in our Redwood City store next week.  We'll be having our own little Oktoberfest next Wednesday to celebrate the long tradition of German fruit distillation. For all the Clear Creeks, St. Georges, and Old World Spirits, we have to remember that most American producers were inspired by the German/Austrian producers we rarely see in the states. The Schladerer family has been distilling since 1844, passing down the knowledge from generation to generation. We'll be bringing in the kirschwasser and himbeergeist (cherry and raspberry eau de vies) which are filling in a serious hole for us at K&L.  We haven't had any true German schnapps available for years. The kirsch and himbeer liqueurs are also quite stunning.  The liqueurs will be $30 for a full 750ml, while the brandies will come in at $38 for the himbeergeist and $44 for the kirschwasser. Please come next Wednesday if you can make it. I'm very excited to start featuring more booze aus der Schwarzwald. Ich kann mich nicht daran erinnern, als ich so begeistert war! Ja wohl! 

Sullivans Cove. A small single malt distillery in Tasmania that has been quietly making outstanding whisky since 1994. I say "outstanding" having only read the reviews from guys like Jim Murray, who have been rating their whisky very highly for years. JVS has finally reached a deal to bring their products into the U.S. and I was very excited to taste them today. All three expressions are eleven years of age, which gives us in the states a chance to peer into the future at what our own craft distillation boom might eventually offer. Much like Kilchoman or any other small producer, their prices are not inexpensive. Couple that with the importation costs of shipping from Australia and the extra decade their malts have over most other American craft distillers and you're talking some serious cash.  Are the whiskies worth it? That's not something I can answer for others, but I don't think they're outrageously priced. Not when there's so much crap on the market at comparable levels. I like all three, but the Doublewood (aged in both American and French oak - ex-Bourbon and ex-Port) is very nice, almost like an unsherried version of Linkwood. It's bottled at 40% and will come in around $90. The American and French Oak batches are bottled at cask strength 47.5% and are far more intense. The American Oak whisky is a spicier version of the Doublewood, while the French Oak is darker, richer, and almost sherry-like.  The flavors are familiar, yet new and exciting at the same time. I'll be bringing in all three expressions for those who are interested in what's been going on down under.

David OG should have an email for all of you on the insider list tomorrow. Lots of new Bourbons to discuss, plus a few other knick-knacks.  See you then!

-David Driscoll 

David Driscoll