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Sunday
Feb262017

R.I.P. Bill Paxton

And I was just watching Tombstone for the 9,123rd time last night.

Sigh.

Bill Paxton played some of the best loudmouth assholes of the eighties in supporting roles. Chet (pictured above) from Weird Science. Private Hudson in Aliens. Severen in Near Dark. But he was versatile and funny as a leading man as well. I always enjoyed Twister for some reason—probably Paxton's charm—and would watch it whenever it came on TBS on Saturday afternoons (it was a good warm-up before heading out to the bars). He went on to more important roles in Apollo 13 and a real breakout in HBO's Big Love, but when I think of Bill Paxton now after his sad and untimely passing, I still think of Chet. Weird Science was one of the weaker John Hughes vehicles (with a plot that gets weaker each time I think about it), but it was saved by two things: Oingo Boingo's fantastic theme song and Paxton's over-the-top commando antics as the jerk older brother who couldn't wait to give his struggling sibling a hard time. 

I laugh just thinking about Chet in my head. Looking at that photo now I'm smiling in remembrance.

R.I.P. Bill.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Feb232017

New Baraillon Vintages Arrive

While I wasn't able to get to Armagnac last year, David OG found some time to go and visit our friends at Baraillon, dig through their incredible selection of old stocks, and bring back a few new offerings for the store. These are traditionally our most-beloved releases with Bourbon drinkers each year as the style is rich, dark, and heavy on the palate. His notes are below:

The magical and rustic Domaine de Baraillon returns with two new vintages that remind us once again why this tiny farm in the town of Lannemaignan should be considered one of the world's finest producers of Armagnac. Monsieur Claverie cultivates his tiny vineyards by hand and distilling on his own still just as his father did before him. The Domaine is run by Monsieur Claverie and his daughter both of whom spend time in the vineyards, but equally so tending to the ducks, pigs and other produce. The Claverie family has been situated on this site since 1748, considered the top quality sub-region Bas-Armagnac production right on the border between the departments of Gers and Les Landes. Locals refer to this special enclave of the highest quality soils as, "Le Grand Bas-Armagnac." The current proprietor, M. Paul Claverie, has expanded the Domaine's brandy producing vines to nearly 16 hectors, split between the three main brandy varietals (Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc, and Bacco) as well as Colombard, Merlot, Cab Franc and Gros Manseng for the vin de table. In 2001, after achieving her degree in Viticulture and Oenology, Monsieur Claverie's daughter Laurence returned to the domaine to continue the tradition for another generation. The Claverie's are cultivating and distilling some of the finest brandy in the world and have vintages going back more than a century, yet they remain incredible affordable. The house style is rugged and rustic, yet balanced and complex.

1987 Domaine de Baraillon 29 Year Old K&L Exclusive Armagnac $79.99 - The exceptional '87 vintage has become prolific in the Gers and elsewhere in high quality growing regions in Armagnac. Just now reaching maturity this wonderful brandy has everything you want from middle aged Armagnac. The nose is this wonderful balance between rich exotic savoriness and dried sweet fruit. Cigar box, cedar, sandalwood covered in stewed fruits, candied plums and dark black tea. On the palate we get subtle nuttiness and wonderful oxidized fruit (slight oloroso note), which build into a big spicy finish. Exhibiting great texture despite the relatively low proof and a building dryness as it travels the palate. It's so drinkable and appealing its down right dangerous. Stay at home with this one.

1976 Domaine de Baraillon 40 Year Old K&L Exclusive Armagnac $129.99 - Even after years of doing this, I'm still flabbergasted that we're able to bring you such high quality old brandy for this outrageous a price. After 40 years in the barrel, this brandy is reaching levels we'd describe in french as surmaturité (overripe in the context of grapes) but in this case we're talking about those ultra rancio flavors that only the oldest of aged product exhibit. Here we're in the realm of a great old Oloroso, with a splash of old Madeira added in for good measure. Dark nutty, roasted coffee beans, the thickest fruit compote and the most subtle hints of wild honey and dried herbs. The palate remains lifted although it's very dry and not as nutty as the nose might imply. Still on the dark woodsy flavors, a little bit of air tames the intensity on the palate nicely. That wonderful subtle Baraillon funk and oak spice take over and build into a big warm spicy finish. This is not one for those with a sweet tooth, but represents serious old school full mature brandy.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Feb212017

K&L Exclusive Maker's 46 Launch Party

This past November we visited Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky to engage as one of the first participants in their new Maker's 46 custom barrel program. Utilizing different types of oak staves with various levels of char, we were able to follow the example set from the standard Maker's 46 expression, yet customize it with our own personal selection of oak types and preference for their placement within the cask. Bottled at cask strength, the resulting whiskey has recently been shipped to CA and we're planning to premier the official K&L edition at Hard Water on Thursday night, March 2nd. Guests will not only get to try the new release, but also the standard Maker's Mark 46 side by side, as well as munch on the fine cuisine provided by Hard Water's kitchen, and sip on Bourbon cocktails mixed by their crack team of bartenders. A night out in the city with delicious food, fine Bourbon, and high-end drinks for only $25 per person? Yes, please! Only forty spots are available. Tickets are non-refundable after purchase. There are no paper tickets for this event; your name will be placed on a guest list.

I'll see you there!

K&L Exclusive Maker's 46 Launch Party @ Hard Water, March 2nd @ 7 PM - $25

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Feb212017

28 Years Later

One of my favorite horror movies of all time is 28 Days Later. Danny Boyle really upped the intensity of the zombie genre by allowing his infected and flesh-hungry humans to run—and run very, very fast—creating a frantic and unhinged element we never knew zombies were ever lacking. After decades of Romero-influenced, slow-moving herds, we were treated to spastic, rabid, and quick-moving zombies that only became more frightening in the film's sequel 28 Weeks Later. Robert Carlyle played the lead in that one and was forced to run for his life (literally) throughout the course of the terror. Having been inspired and thrilled by both of those films (being the zombie aficionado that I am), I'm ready to announce two 28 year old whiskies that will also force you to run, move quickly, and evade the hoards of shoppers destined to freak out over our continued post-Brexit pricing. A revamp of the supple and deliciously-hedonistic Glenturret and a new grain whisky release from Strathclyde, that really packs in the vanilla. I think our 23 year old Macallan sold out in less than twenty minutes after we sent the email last week. The email for these two is scheduled for next week and I'm expecting another bloodbath.

1987 Glenturret 28 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $99.99 - It's rare to see a 25 year old whisky for less than $150 these days, and even when we do see the occasional bottle our first instinct is often to ask: what's wrong with it? Understanding that natural reaction we had to ask ourselves: how will people respond when we offer them a 28 year old, single barrel, cask strength, Highland single malt for $99.99? We're hoping you'll be excited because we're absolutely thrilled! Glenturret isn't a household name among whisky drinkers, but for those in the know it's part of the Edrington portfolio: the group that owns Macallan, Highland Park, and Glenrothes. Glenturret is also considered the oldest distillery in Scotland, having been founded in 1775, and today it's the home of Famous Grouse: the world-renowned blended whisky in which it plays a large role. This 28 year old expression has reduced naturally down to a perfectly-drinkable 49.7% ABV and has the richness, oiliness, and concentration that only mature whisky can offer. It's full of brandied fruit, resin, supple caramel, and creamy malted goodness. Despite its old age, the whisky is surprisingly lithe and light on its feet. By no means is this a heavy, full-bodied number, but rather a classic Highland whisky with plenty of barrel-aged complexity. For the price, it's a no brainer.

1988 Strathclyde 28 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Scotch Whisky $79.99 - If there's one thing we can help take credit for here at K&L, it's been helping to remove the undeserved stigma associated with grain whisky in the Scotch industry. Maligned and misunderstood for years, it wasn't until we started launching a number of 25-50 year old releases at ridiculously reasonable prices that hearts and minds began to change. When Nikka brought their delicious Coffey Still editions to the market and people saw just how fruity and delicious these corn and unmalted barley whiskies could be, we think grain whisky finally got over the hump. Crazily enough, today our single casks of grain whisky are some of the most anticipated by our customers. The 28 year old Strathclyde absolutely soaks up the vanilla from the oak barrel and brings loads of soft caramel along with it. At 58.2% there's some power behind all that supple richness, which allows you to add ice or a bit of water.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Feb192017

Hélène Garcin Returns to K&L

As you've probably gathered from my numerous posts about her over the last year, I'm a big fan of Hélène Garcin. She's probably the coolest person I've met during my trips to Bordeaux and I keep in contact with her frequently because she's incredibly active in the American market. She's definitely not one to sit back and wait for the customers to come to her! If you're one of our Hollywood customers, then I'd recommend dropping by the store this Wednesday at 5 PM to meet Hélène and her husband Patrice who are currently on vacation in California. We've invited them into the tasting bar to meet our Bordeaux-loving customers, and being the passionate winemakers they are, they're going to use part of their holiday to drink with some of you.

You can reserve a spot here for a more than reasonable five dollars. I wish I could be there, but alas duty calls up north. Be careful, however. Hélène is so charming and so incredibly cool that you might end up walking out with more wine than you planned on. If you're new to Bordeaux, she's the best possible ambassador for the category you could start with. I highly encourage you to come by and meet her.

-David Driscoll