Navigation
Monday
Aug212017

Drinking to Drink Will Return

I stayed up late last night watching Game of Thrones and the latest installment of Twin Peaks before going to bed around 11 PM. There was no way I was going to go on the road without being completely caught up on both shows, as spoilers are everywhere these days and I know at least one person on the flight to Kentucky will be talking loudly about what happened. As I was dozing off, I was thinking about Special Agent Dale Cooper and what might happen on next week's episode. My thoughts began to blur into a hazy soup of random images and before I knew it I was dreaming about actor Kyle MacLachlan. We were stuck in a hotel room and over the course of the night various guests came to visit us, offering their advise on how to escape. I woke up early this morning with the loose details of our dilemma still relatively fresh in my head, but as I sat down at my computer, putting in a few orders and sipping my coffee, the clarity began to fade.

Until my phone started vibrating.

I looked at the number on the screen, an unfamiliar string of digits flashing across the top. It was a bit too early for telemarketers.

"Hello?" 

"David — It's Kyle MacLachlan. Is this a good time?"

(silence)

Oh shit....

I had given him my number a while back, trying to lock down a date to do our Drinking to Drink interview, and he was making good on my instructions to "call as early as you like." 

While I was supposed to be brushing my teeth, packing my suitcase, and getting my affairs in order before driving to the airport, I spent most of the morning talking with Kyle about wine, Washington, and how David Lynch introduced him to Lynch-Bages. I got two other interviews done over the weekend as well; plus I'm scheduling more chats for the upcoming weeks. 

Stay tuned for more booze talk with random celebrities, artists, and engaging personalities!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Aug192017

Into the Weekend

You probably noticed that we got a few Bourbon casks in yesterday from David OG's most recent trip to Kentucky. I say that because even with a one bottle limit our Weller 107 barrel sold through in no time, while huge chunks of inventory were removed from the Eagle Rare and new Four Roses barrel as well. This was all happening during the Benriach firestorm, which—I will tell you again—if you haven't jumped on yet, you should. You will be kicking yourself for the next decade if you don't grab at least one of the sherry butts (the PX is sold out, but the Oloroso is still in SF). These are whiskies that taste very much in the vein of our 5th & Harrison Compass Box release of last year—the holy trinity of malt, sherry, and peat. I had guys come back for second and thirds yesterday because they well understood these whiskies are practically extinct today.

Can you believe we were sending out an email for the Port Dundas 28 year cask while all that was happening? Meanwhile, I'm prepping the Bunnahabhain 10 and Benriach 15 year for an email touting $50 single malt values next week that will go out while I'm in Kentucky. My Bourbon schedule thus far is Wild Turkey, Michter's, Four Roses, Willett, Copper & Kings, with a potential stop in Bardstown to check out a new facility. If you haven't been to Kentucky in a few years, you wouldn't recognize it today. There are so many new distilleries now it will make your head spin. It was only back in 2013 that David OG and I were rummaging through the abandoned Old Taylor distillery, while today it's been revamped and refurbished into Castle & Key. You're wondering how all these new producers will compete in an already crowded market? Don't worry about Kentucky. They're getting so much tourism for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail at this point that each of these new distilleries can probably subsist just on that business for the time being. It's really something. 

I had a long and grueling week, but I've got some fantastic Bordeaux bottles from the 1989 and 2007 vintages to run through over the weekend. We just brought in some aged selections that I'm going to write about for the On the Trail blog as soon as I'm done typing this up. I was absolutely spent last night, trying to patiently wait for my pizza, slugging down Champagne to try and numb the feedback coming out of the TV. I can't listen to people argue anymore. I was at the gym yesterday morning on the treadmill with my headphones in, reading the closed caption subtitles on the ESPN screen, and getting nauseous as Stephen A. Smith and some other angry analyst traded barbs about Kevin Durant's decision not to visit the White House. Everywhere I look these days there are people trying to win arguments or convince themselves of an alternate reality rather than actually communicate and help one another. It reminded me of an email exchange I had with some random guy years ago where he reached out to me for help with a Tequila question and ended up questioning or refuting everything I told him. It was like he only reached out to me because he wanted to fight—just for the sake of starting a debate. I feel like that's how more and more people are behaving today. 

What is information for, really? Is it there to enrich your life, or is it simply a tool by which you make yourself feel powerful or enlightened? Do people want to learn more about wine or whiskey or the various phenomena in our world because it increases the enjoyment of living, or so that they can arm themselves with the latest talking points and start an argument with someone who clearly doesn't agree with them? Look at Steve Bannon yesterday, for God's sake! The guy couldn't wait to get back to Breitbart so that he could use all of his executive experience to start fighting with people again! He doesn't actually want to improve anything or learn from his run in government. He just wants to win the point, whatever that may be. I've seen the same personalities throughout my tenure in the booze business and they're exhausting, to the point that I had to sit down last night and drink myself into a stupor. At one point I started singing the old Tom Cochrane song "Life is a Highway" to myself on the couch, changing the words into "life is an argument, I'm going to fight it all night long....."

-David Driscoll

Friday
Aug182017

The American Gin Train Arrives

As you well know, we've been in the habit of skirting standard distribution over the last year, moving around suppliers to do direct business with some of America's best gin distilleries. A recent shipment landed in our warehouse recently with a new batch of our custom-distilled Copper & Kings American Dry, along with two new editions from critical darling North Shore out of Illinois. Their Overproof Mighty is a revelation, and their Scofflaw Old Tom is the stuff cocktail dreams are made of. If you're planning on whipping up some drinks this weekend, the train has arrived at the station: destination debauchery!

Copper & Kings American Dry Gin $34.99 - Made to order at our request, our friends at Copper & Kings in Louisville, Kentucky about knocked our socks after pouring us a couple of house-made gin and tonics on our last trip out to Bourbon country. Using their supple and fruit forward apple brandy as a base (unlike 99.9% of all gins that use grain neutral spirit), the gang at America's favorite brandy distillery does a two step infusion process that follows a more classic pot still double distillation. The juniper berries and additional botanicals are first soaked and macerated into the "low wine" (the first apple distillate), a spirit that clocks in at about 35% ABV. Then, during the second distillation, a botanical basket is hung in the still, allowing the vapor to pass through the orange peels, lime peels, and lavender. Ultimately, the Copper & Kings gin is really just a flavored, unaged apple brandy that happens to taste a helluva lot like a traditional London Dry gin with a softer, creamier mouthfeel and a bit of a fruity lift. We were absolutely hooked after our first sip; so hooked, in fact, that we forced distillery owner Joe Heron to make us our own batch before leaving. Created on the tiniest pot still in the facility, each batch is roughly 120 bottles-the size of our order! Clean and crisp, with elegant juniper notes and a beautiful integration of the additional botanicals, this is easily the best American gin we've tasted in years.

North Shore "Mighty" 110 Proof Gin $39.99 - Never before sold in California, North Shore's Mighty Gin is a higher-proof expression of their Distiller’s Gin No. 6 with rich, intense aromatics and flavors from the botanicals. It is intended for mixing into cocktails. Packed with juniper, fresh citrus and rich spices (coriander and cinnamon), accented by subtle hints of the floral botanicals, it is boldly flavored and intensifies just about any drink it is added to.

North Shore "Scofflaw" Old Tom Gin $31.99 - Rich, round texture in the classic Old Tom style, the North Shore Scottlaw is an extremely sippable and mixable gin with additional sugar added in the traditional manner. We love Scofflaw Old Tom Gin on the rocks, in a Tom Collins, or a Martinez, and it plays great with hot peppers, cucumber, fresh berries and with floral flavors. It plays very well in a range of cocktails, both classic and new.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Aug172017

PURE RIDICULOUSNESS

Wowee wow...these opportunities are few and far between these days, but every now and again you get lucky. As many of you know, the BenRiach Group sold to Brown-Forman recently and, if you're not intimately familiar with the liquor business, Brown-Forman is distributed by a different company than Anchor, who was the previous importer. What happens every now and again is that the new distributor refuses to buy the old inventory from the previous supplier, which sometimes (but not always) results in a fire sale. Since I happened to be in the right place at the right time, I made a offer for the entire lot - and they took the deal! 

Guess what that means: HUGE discounts on AWESOME single malts. Find me ANYTHING as good as heavily-sherried 19 year old peated Benriach at full proof for this absolutely stupid price. Our last barrel of a similar specimen from Benriach sold for $149.99 so this is basically half price. Then throw in the absolutely delicous 15 year old PX finished distillery bottle for $49.99. The average price for that baby clocks in between $75 - $85, so take another huge discount on that while you're at it. 

One thing you should NOT do is snooze on this deal. I would buy as much as you can afford. I just retasted all three bottles and they are utterly fantastic. Rich, heady, packed with flavor, and nothing short of a HOT deal. Imagine combining something like Lagavulin and GlenDronach together! I'm still pinching myself!

1994 Benriach 19 Year Old Peated Oloroso Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $79.99 

1994 Benriach 19 Year Old Peated PX Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $79.99 

Benriach 15 Year Old Pedro Ximenez Single Malt Whisky $49.99

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Aug162017

The Lighter Side of Islay

If you're sensing any sort of strategy with how I'm releasing these Old Particular malts thus far, you'd be correct if you guessed I'm coordinating by season. While the weather is still warm and the nights are still for rocks sippin', I want our customers to have access to summer's finest selections; before fall hits and I start breaking out the richer, peatier, and older whiskies. I've also found that affordable whiskies tend to be more popular during August. It's hot. Most people are really thinking about gin and tonics, rather than single malt, so how many folks are in the mood to blow two hundred bucks on a serious bottle of Scotch? 

With the exception of a delicious eight year old Talisker I'm saving for later, everything from this next round of Old Particular will be over twenty years old (with one that's over forty!), so if you're in need of a few value whiskies to hold you over I'd recommend grabbing the 12 year old Benrinnes we just released, as well as this little Bunnahabhain number. To the naked eye, it might be the palest ten year old malt I've ever seen, but what it lacks in color it makes up for in character and proof.

2007 Bunnahabhain 10 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $49.99 - Those interested in truly learning what the term "refill hogshead" refers to will get exhibit A with this new 10 year old Bunnahabhain release. Clearly the vessel had been used a number of times before it was filled with cask strength whisky from Islay, offering little in terms of richness and weight. That's OK, however, because Islay whiskies carry so much character on their own that often little oak is needed to showcase what is already a quality malt from Bunnahabhain. At 55.2%, this is the quintessential rocks whisky, brimming with sweet grains, crisp fruit, and just a pinch of sea salt on the palate. While the initial sip offers simplicity, the finish is where the whisky dials up its most potent punch with a flurry of sweet spices and subtle smoke. This single cask edition of Bunnahabhain is a far cry from the supple and weighty whiskies released under the distillery brand. It's a fresh and unadulterated look at what Islay spirit tastes like in its purest and cleanest form; charming and engaging from front to back. 

-David Driscoll