Two More Raffles for Fire Relief

I've been working with our management and ownership teams early this morning to get two more exciting charity raffles going in association with the ongoing beer raffles started yesterday. Here are the details we've added since yesterday in terms of donations:

100% of the proceeds will go to organizations directly helping the affected areas, split evenly between the Redwood Empire Food Bank, Napa Valley Community Foundation, and the Redwood Credit Union Fund. 

Raffle tickets are $10 each and there's no limit to how many you can buy. The raffles will run until Tuesday 10/17 and we'll draw the winners on Wednesday morning. Are you ready for these two whoppers?

1980 Karuizawa 35 Year Old "Samurai" Single Cask #8317 Japanese Single Malt Whisky Raffle - This raffle features a very rare bottle of Japanese whisky from the now extinct distillery of Karuizawa. Previously priced at $10,000 on our website and one of 89 bottles from an ancient single barrel, the whisky was distilled in 1980 and aged for 35 years before it was bottled in 2015.

1974 Joseph Phelps "Insignia"/2014 Dominus 3L Raffle - This raffle features two California legends, thus there will be two individual winners. The 1974 Joseph Phelps "Insignia." was previously priced at $1750 on our website, the wine was retasted by Robert Parker a few years back and awarded a 99/100 score, who wrote: "nearly perfect nearly 40 years after it was made," and a giant 3L bottle of 2014 Dominus with a 97 score from Parker valued at $1100.

We've already raised thousands of dollars from the two beer raffles alone. I'm thinking we can raise tens of thousands of dollars before this thing is done. What do think? 

-David Driscoll


A Beer Raffle to Help Our North Bay Friends

This is the first of a few different raffles to come, but with the smoke-heavy air in Redwood City this morning choking our lungs, our minds were 100% focused on doing something ASAP. We're starting today with a very special beer raffle put together by our buyer Jim Boyce. I'm going to post his notes below:

We, along with many others, have been thinking nonstop about family, friends, colleagues, and everyone else being hit unbelievably hard by the fires in North Bay. Sonoma and Napa have been the backbone of K&L for decades, in both the wine and beer categories, so to see these lives upended so quickly has been heart breaking. It will take years for families and businesses to rebuild and help is very much needed. After talking about ways to help, we thought it would be a great idea to dig into our cellars to find some incredible bottles, set up a raffle, and donate 100% of the proceeds to organizations directly helping the affected areas. On the beer side, we have two different sets going up:

A Cantillon raffle featuring one bottle of 2014 Vigneronne and one bottle of 2015 Fou'Foune

A Bottle Logic raffle featuring one bottle of 2016 of Fundamental Observation and one bottle of 2016 Darkstar November.

Raffle tickets are $10 each and each customer can buy unlimited tickets. The charity for these donations will be set up asap. Raffle tickets can be purchased through midnight next Tuesday (10/17), and the winner will be drawn Wednesday morning. (Winner will be charged a $.05 included in the purchase of a ticket). Pickup via Will Call to all three locations and shipping within CA ONLY. Thank you for helping! 

-David Driscoll


Meet My New Best Friend David

I'll be clear from the beginning: I have no idea who David Nicholson was, nor what the back story is about his brand or non-existent distillery. I have no clue as to what the original "43" recipe is, nor I am interesting really in learning about it because the whiskey in both of these bottles didn't come from any sort of David Nicholson production center and it wasn't created according to any of David Nicholson's standards (but I appreciate the story). What I am interested in doing, however, is telling you all about how delicious these two whiskies taste because they're both absolutely dynamite for the dollar. Luxco's latest addition to the California market is going to be very, very popular with our customers. 

Let's start with the 1843 100 proof Wheated Edition. Just to make double sure, I put a few glasses in the hands of my assistants here at K&L and told them it was a sample from a new Weller 107 single barrel that I had just purchased. Their eyes lit up and not one of them assumed the whiskey wasn't what I said it was. In fact, they were downright stoked about the quality. Then I immediately confessed. Alas, it was not Weller 107, but rather a new 100 proof wheated Bourbon from Luxco, the folks behind Rebel Yell and Ezra Brooks. How much would it cost, they asked? A cool $26.99, I replied. 

The nose is an absolute dead ringer for Weller. If you poured it for me blind, that's what I'd say. Pencil shavings, sweet oak, and caramel. Big spice. 50% ABV booming right out of the glass. The palate has more of those three elements, but also a creaminess that's perhaps even more compelling. The finish has another flurry of oak spice, pepper, cinnamon and clove. It's basically a really great version of Old Fitzgerald BIB in a different bottle and for the price I'm backing up the truck. I'll have no problem selling every single bottle we have before the week is over.

And then I'll be backing up a few trucks after that. There's no amount of this whiskey that will satiate the current demand for delicious, high proof, wheated Bourbon right now in California right now. We have guys selling their souls for Weller Reserve, yet the Nicholson is far better.

Now let's talk about the Nicholson Reserve, a classic corn/rye mashbill Bourbon also at 100 proof. Basically, if you liked our 100 proof Faultline release from a few years back, this is like a baby version for a $12 discount. There are some great herbaceous accents, lots of pepper from the rye, and a gush of savory notes on the finish, but again the texture is the real star. The nose is brimming with toasted wood and the 50% ABV really dials up all that oak from front to back. The Nicholson Reserve at $32.99 is like the perfect middleground between the standard Elijah Craig and the Barrel Proof. 

Basically, you're gonna want at least one of each and there's plenty to go around. When I sell out of the first lot, I'll be heading back to Luxco for more. And more after that. And more after that. This is exactly the type of Bourbon I'm after right now: abundant, delicious, with no hype, and plenty of availability and no allocations.

While everyone else is duking it out for their next two bottle allocation from Sazerac and the latest retro Nintendo from Gamestop, I'll be smiling over here with Mr. Nicholson and hundreds of satisfied customers.

-David Driscoll


Come Meet the Noninos!

One of my original guests on the long-defunct podcast series I used to run, the Noninos will be in the San Francisco store this afternoon to pour some grappa and talk Italian spirits with you! I'll be there as well to help guide the process along. We'll be in the bar from 4:30 PM until 6 PM when I have to whisk them away to another private event. 

Spirits tastings are always free of charge, so what do you have to lose? Hopefully I'll see some of you there.

-David Driscoll



I touched down into Vegas late on Friday night after spending most of the day at K&L meeting with guys like Dr. Bill Lumsden from Ardbeg/Glenmorangie. The entire whisky making world was in the Bay Area this past week for WhiskyFest, but while the malt-thirsty hoards descended upon San Francisco to fulfill their longing desires, I was 35,000 feet in the air with my wife heading southeast. I was tired when we arrived having worked all day, but seeing that the airport rental car center is only about half a mile from Mandalay Bay, I forced myself to take a detour and head down Las Vegas Boulevard to visit the site of the shooting. I didn’t want to ignore it, or avoid it while I was here—I wanted to confront the anxiety immediately. As you pass the famous Las Vegas sign at the entrance to the Strip, you can see the flickering of numerous candles lining the various tributes and shrines to those murdered at the massacre. Then I saw the fifty-eight white crosses placed in a long row beyond the main gathering, each adorned with the name of the victim. I had read about the retired carpenter from Illinois who had made similar memorials after the Orlando shooting, but to see the markers in person had a somber effect on me. It was both moving and numbing simultaneously—sobering, yet surreal. There were hundreds of people gathering to pay their respects, moving down the center of the road along the divider across from the airport fence. A huge billboard flashed “#VegasStrong” above the in the distance. At the corner next to back of the concert area, a man pointed up at the thirty-second floor and made a motion toward the side of the stage, as if trying to decipher what happened with two friends standing nearby. I was stopped in the left lane at Hacienda Ave, waiting for the stoplight to make my way west back toward Summerlin, watching everyone around me attempt to reconcile the impossible reality with everything they’d seen and read.

Everywhere we went this weekend, the vibe was extra friendly and supportive. Vegas is already a friendly city as is—the kind of place where complete strangers say hello to you while shopping for groceries at Target in the early morning—but the mood was extra congenial. My parents were in town to visit, so my wife and I took them to all of our favorite spots: Echo & Rig, China Poblano, Grimaldi’s, Milk, topped off with happy hour martinis at the Red Rock Casino by the pool on Sunday evening. Our waitress ended up sitting down on the chair next to us for most of the evening, chatting with us about life as the hours went by. My mom remarked on how charming she was. As my wife and I waited to fly back yesterday afternoon, we had dinner at the pub toward the end of the terminal and ended up sitting next to two Las Vegas policemen who were finishing up their meal and waiting to pay their bill. When the waitress finally came by to drop it off, she thanked them for their service and covered their check. As the two officers thanked her for the kindness, they struck up a conversation about the white crosses we had seen on my way in and the waitress added that she had spent the last few evenings visiting the shrine after work, adding small decorations to each of the individual memorials. She said it brought her peace to spend time out there with others looking for collective comfort from the crowd. 

But no sooner does one region begin the healing process when another gets its own tragedy. The fires that have gutted parts of Napa and Sonoma, affecting many of our friends here at K&L, have crippled the California wine region and devastated thousands of lives up North. We met this morning in the Redwood City store to talk about some fundraising options to see what we can do to help, so look for some raffles and various other donation options in the near future. There's still more recovery work to do.

-David Driscoll