Scotland/France 2014 Preview

We're off tomorrow night -- taking the red-eye to London, catching the connection to Glasgow, and then heading right downtown for our first appointment. I'm getting tired just thinking about it! For the fourth straight year, David OG and I will be heading across the Atlantic in search of those wonderful spirits that seemed to have escaped American importation somehow. This time we'll have young Kyle Kurani with us, whose youthful exuberance we hope will keep us motivated and energized. We've got a packed itinerary with very little downtime, which hopefully means more booze than ever before.

What are we hoping to find? The same things you're all hoping for: hot deals.

Kyle asked me today about our expectations, but I told him that's like trying to plan a dinner party without knowing what you'll actually be able to buy at the grocery store. If you don't know what you can get, then you can't figure out a menu in advance. You just have to wing it and hope something great is available.

The real problem with the single cask market for value hunters is that single barrel cask strength malts are always more expensive. There's a higher taxation rate and a higher premium put on the time it takes to do one small bottling versus a larger volume order for the producer. There's not a lot of value in that niche, hence why most of what we're bringing are $100 bargains (if that's not an oxymoron). For $100, our money goes a long way in the single cask market. For $50, not so much. That's where big brands and big blends have the advantage (hence the post I wrote recently about the new Kilchoman casks). But with clever math and some bulk purchasing we might be able to find some deals. We were able to switch up a few things in this last shipment that allowed us to get the Glenrothes 8 year down to $50 and the Glengoyne 16 down to $79. Both of those are slam dunk deals in my opinion, especially when you taste the quality in those bottles.

But then there's the Catch-22 of the single malt world always staring you in the face: customers want value, but they also want fresh, exciting new products. Those two things don't go hand-in-hand very often, unfortunately. Nevertheless, that's what people want and we're in the business of giving people what they want (even the things they don't know they want....yet!). We need to dig, get creative, work hard, and make sure we use our connections to find some interesting options -- both with the single malts in Scotland and the brandies in France.

While we've been geeking out about pre-Phylloxera legends and ancient 100-year-old selections from our smaller producers, we need to find more solid $50 options from both Cognac and Armagnac. We've got a good thing going with the Bouju Fines Saveur and the Pellehaut L'Age de Glace. They've been excellent gateway brandies for the uninitiated (we'll have more Pellehaut soon). The 1996 Pellehaut has been huge hit as well. We need more vintage Armagnac in that style to keep this movement going.

Can we find it? Will we find it? Will we cause more international incidents? Will we make it back alive and with our sanity?

There's only one way to find out: stay tuned into the K&L Spirits Blog.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll