K&L Wine Merchants, located on Vine just south of Sunset (behind the Arclight Theater), is a relatively new entry into the LA retail liquor scene. Opened last spring, the store is the third in a small family owned chain based in the Bay Area (the other locations are Redwood City and San Francisco).
The store is mostly wine, but on the back wall there is a spirit section. While modest in quantity, the whiskey selection is of excellent quality, including quite a number of selections I have never seen in Southern California.
For instance, they have the hard to find Lagavulin 16 year old Distiller's Edition (as opposed to the regular bottling). The Distiller's Edition is a well regarded vintage Lagavulin (meaning all of the whiskey was distilled the same year). It goes for about $100.
Equally impressive, they have the entire Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. As you might recall, Buffalo Trace is one of the most innovative and skilled distilleries in Kentucky, making amazing Bourbons and Ryes packed with flavor. Their Antique Collection is the BT crème de la crème, a sort of holy grail for Bourbon lovers, but they are very hard to come by. Of the five bottles, I have only previously seen one or two of them on sale anywhere in Southern California. To have all five in one store is a real rarity and a Bourbon lover's dream come true. On top of that, the price is right. Most of the bottles seem to go for a quite reasonable $55 a pop; the much heralded Stagg is $65 which is about as good a deal as you will find on it anywhere.
The collection includes:
- George T. Stagg - Deeply flavorful firewater
- Eagle Rare 17 year old - Elder version of a favorite sweet sipping whiskey
- W.L. Weller 19 year old - An older version of a popular Bourbon
- Sazerac 18 year old - A beautifully smooth Rye
- Thomas H. Handy - A cask strength version of the Sazerac Rye
If you are a Bourbon/Rye fan, you really can't do much better than this series, and if you know a Bourbon/Rye fan, these would make wonderful Chanukah or Christmas gifts.
In addition to a great selection, K&L has a knowledgeable and helpful staff. I had always rued the fact that there were no really great liquor stores in mid-city LA. Now we have one, so check it out.
K&L Wine Merchants
1400 Vine Street (south of Sunset)
Hollywood, CA, 90028