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Sunday
Oct012017

Gotcha

Once again, surfing articles and interviews provide me with incredible comparative analytics. I was reading an interview by Chas Smith this evening from the most recent issue of The Surfer's Journal with former Gotcha clothing founder and surfing stand-out Michael Tomson. When asked about what went wrong with the surf apparel industry, he had this to say:

From 1998 to 2008 the industry went through a period of unprecedented growth.

There were more people surfing than ever.

With that surge in participation came an influx of new brands.

Retailers were allocating large amounts of floor space to the new movement.

Big companies were hitting sales levels in the billions and were on an acquisition spending spree, buying up brands. 

It was reckless investing, corporate swagger at its finest, and to the uninformed it looked like the industry was heading towards an impossibly bright future.

What nobody was considering was the consumer and the speed at which tastes change.

What used to be the ultimate career lifestyle became a shit show of broken dreams with a host of bankruptcies and reorganizations, and today it faces a different set of problems, that being the internet and the changing nature of the way consumers buy products, meaning on their phones and not in stores.

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Now let's look at the booze business:

From 2007 to 2017 the spirits industry has seen unprecedented growth.

There are more people drinking whiskey than ever.

With that surge in participation has come an influx of new brands.

Retailers everywhere are now carrying "craft" spirits including Target and Whole Foods.

Big companies have been hitting record sales numbers and buying out small brands and distilleries like crazy.

There's so much new development in Kentucky alone right now that one must assume the future looks bright for Bourbon.

I'm wondering: is anyone other than me worried about the fashion of alcohol and the speed at which things change?

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Sep302017

Drink with John Glaser for Charity

It's going to get very busy next week in San Francisco as we prepare for WhiskyFest Friday night and the cavalcade of ambassadors, distillers, marketing professionals, and sales reps descends upon the Bay Area. Much like you often hear about at the World Series of Poker or pool championships, it's often the side games and impromptu pop-ups during whisky week that get more attention than the actual event itself! One special addition that just came about that I might go check out myself is John Glaser's special tasting of limited edition Compass Box whiskies to help raise money for bartenders affected by breast cancer. It's happening at the Sky Blue Penthouse on Thursday the 5th at 7 PM and tickets are a reasonable $65 (especially since it's all going to charity). 

There's going to be a slew of side events like this all week long so keep your eyes peeled if you're interested in private tasting parties like this! 

-David Driscoll

Friday
Sep292017

It's Gonna Be a Helluva Day

Hopefully you're keeping your eyes glued to the product feed today because there's going to be some serious American whiskey action. New Four Roses single cask, new Bardstown Bourbon Company editions, some Rebel Yell 10 year wheated, the new impossible to find Kentucky Owl 11 year old rye....you might even see a new single barrel of the 23 year old Auchroisk I just got in. 

It's gonna be a helluva day at K&L.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Sep292017

New Four Roses Single Barrel

Part of my selections from my last trip to Kentucky the wonderful Four Roses distillery has sent us yet another stellar cask bottled exclusively for K&L. This special high rye bourbon (the "B" mashbill has 35% Rye grain) uses the spicy and delicately fruity "V" yeast strain was aged for 8 years and 7 months in the coveted M warehouse. Located on the 4th tier on the western side of this large low lying dunnage style warehouse means this cask has seen more intense heat than the majority of the casks being aged at the Coxs Creek facility on the road between Louisville and Bardstown. The result is one of the highest proof 4Rs we've seen yet, but a tiny drop of water mellows the intense spice while retaining the bold creamy texture of this special whiskey.  

Four Roses "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel OBSV (Aged 8 Years & 7 Months) Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey $64.99 - Two decades ago Kentucky bourboners were struggling to stay in business. Today, nobody can keep up with demand, and the bourbon distilleries are producing at full blast. It's true that we might not see the great old whiskeys of yesteryear for some time, but that doesn't negate the fact that absolutely stunning whiskey is coming out of Kentucky. Distillers are more collectively focused on the quality of their straight bourbons than ever. Back in January 2009, when Mr. Rutledge was distilling this very cask of whiskey, Kentucky's fortunes had already begun to turn. Many decades of decline for the country's most quintessential tipple were subsiding and the Bluegrass state had entered its current renaissance period. Things changed during this period for the consumer. No longer could ultra-aged bourbons be procured without ordeal, but those same distilleries were still producing some of American history's best whiskey day after day across Kentucky. Today we reap those benefits. This special bourbon, distilled from the flagship V yeast strain and the extra high rye mash bill, is the perfect example of how special the production at this Lawrenceburg facility was during the period. A nose of incredible power and spice, bold notes of fresh mint and sweet stewed stone fruit, exotic honey and baking spice. The palate is bold and spice driven replacing the grace of a typical cask with intensity and power.

-David Othenin-Girard

Wednesday
Sep272017

A Shocker From Deanston

While Deanston has never been a house hold name in the whisky world, even with the genre's most knowledgeable fans, it's long been a part of the Bunnahabhain/Tobermorey company portfolio now owned by the Distell group and a large chunk of the Highland whisky goes into the blend Scottish Leader, which sells quite well outside the states. Deanston has never been all that successful at K&L. I've carried it from time to time when there's room, but it's never put out anything exciting that I've tasted. Most of the time the whiskies I've experienced are dependable, but forgettable. 

However, that all changed earlier this week when I tasted Deanston's new 10 and 20 year old sherry-aged malts. 

I was downright floored by the new 10 year old PX sherry cask finished edition, bottled at a whopping 57.5% ABV with a sweet sherry note that is simply gorgeous. There's no doubt about which of their competitors they have in their sights with this new release. It's priced and crafted perfectly to square off with the Aberlour A'Bunadh, one of the boldest, sherry-matured whiskies on the market and one that we plow through here at K&L on a regular basis. That being said, Deanston has the advantage here for a number of reasons: the PX sherry butts give it a fruitier, sweeter edge than the Aberlour and the 10 year age statement is a huge bonus for whisky fans who like knowing exactly how old their malt is. Full of caramel and sticky toffee pudding on the nose, the palate explodes with dried figs and rancio notes, but the core flavors of the vanilla from the malt are never lost. This was a total shocker for our spirits department and we responded by loading up on our inventory. It's a bold step forward for one of Scotland's most overlooked distilleries.

Deaston's new 20 year Oloroso sherry-aged release, however, will draw comparisons to Glenfarclas and Aberlour with its concentrated caramel and rancio sherry notes and supreme decadence. More savory on the finish than sweet, it's one of the best new releases from the distillery that I've ever tasted (I still give the nod to the 10 year). Bottled at 55.5%, it's got plenty of heft, but it carries that power surprisingly well. If you want something more saturated with sherry, go with this. But if you want that sweet, fruity PX sherry note, the 10 will really surprise you.

I absolutely love it when something like this happens. I love seeing underachievers over-achieve!! Maybe it's the former elementary school teacher in me.

Deanston 10 Year Old PX Sherry Finish Highland Single Malt Whisky $59.99

Deanston 20 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Aged Highland Single Malt Whisky $159.99

-David Driscoll