News & Notes
I got back from Scotland Friday evening after a whirlwind trip then woke up early yesterday morning to open the Redwood City store and get right back to work—no rest for the wicked. If you're wondering why I decided to take a quick four day romp through single malt country in the middle of September, I'll tell you: this past March I went to Scotland and bought what I thought was enough whisky to last me until January. Turns out it didn't even last until mid-September. With the exception of the two Islay casks we just released this week and the last seventeen bottles of Garnheath, all of our 2016 exclusive single casks are already sold out. I still have bottles of Inchgower and Benrinnes from last year's selections that have lasted for months and months, but this year the average estimated lifespan of a new K&L release is somewhere between three and twelve days. Needless to say, I'm glad you're all so thirsty!
So I made an emergency trip to Glasgow this week and tried to see what I could do about restocking before the holidays. We do have six more casks still in waiting (three from Signatory, one old Sovereign grain, and two from Hunter Laing's Old and Rare label) and I'm planning to release some of those next week. I'm sitting on the two Old and Rare casks until we get deeper into the holiday season because we can't be sold out of K&L gift recommendations before the holidays, now can we? The meetings with our suppliers went exceptionally well and let's just say that if you've been satisfied with the pricing and quality of the Hepburn's Choice/Old Particular selections thus far, expect more of the same moving into winter and the beginning of 2017. We'll have another 30+ casks lined up with pricing anywhere between the $50 to $150 mark, plus more reasonably priced 50 year old grains and malts.
I'm also going to take a gamble on the small rum movement I've been monitoring in the Bay Area by investing in three intensely-flavored Jamaican casks from three different distilleries. I'm glad that funky pot still rum is finally taking off at K&L, however gradually. My spidey sense has been on high alert lately as reminders of whiskey's past continue to pop up in my inbox, albeit rum-focused in their narrative. There's a cranky, dismissive, anti-authoritative, passive-aggressive energy about many of these inquiries, which is unavoidably what happens when people start taking any subject seriously. It's reminding me vaguely of Bourbon circa 2009, but surprisingly without any desire to understand the nuances of specific distilleries or their methods of production. With Bourbon it was always about identifying who made what, then searching out the whiskies you liked from the distillers that made good stuff. You had guys breaking down mash bills, trying to identify why something might taste different or better (for better or for worse). From what I'm seeing with rum, it seems to be much more tiki-based; guys are making specific cocktails with certain expressions, sharing those recipes online, and then noting which rums made the better drink. There's still that desire to find something interesting and out of the ordinary, but yet the motivations are totally different. Few people seem to care about caramel coloring, added sweeteners, or purity, whatsoever. It's solely about the resulting flavor of their Mai Tai, which is kind of refreshing when you think about it. Many of the best rums in the world are loaded with God knows what, so I'm happy we're not dwelling on that. Let's hope this little trend continues and we can expand the rum department a bit. I kind of miss getting lectured about what I don't know on a daily basis!