Enhanced Single Barrel Prairie 

There are times when the specs alone can be enough to sway a purchase. For example, if Buffalo Trace offered me a single cask of 12 year old Weller, I would probably agree to buy it without tasting it (in fact, I know I would). That being said, there are times when flavor alone means everything and that was certainly the case while choosing this single barrel of High West "American Prairie," a blend of straight Bourbons from MGP in Indiana and what's long been rumored to be Four Roses (whether that's still the case in the new Constellation era, I don't know). There's no info as to what's in this bottle other than what I previously knew about the whiskey upon its initial release. What I do know, however, is that about two years ago an empty barrel of the High West "Rendezvous" rye was filled with a finished batch of "American Prairie" and it was allowed to sit for an additional year and a half, marrying the flavors further and pulling from the rye residue in the wood. I tasted a sample from that very cask earlier this year and did a serious double take. At 51.3% ABV, the flavors were bold, but balanced and the spices (both peppery and sweet) were intensified well beyond what I'm used to tasting from the general release. Tasting it again now, I'm taken aback by how straightforward and delicious it is. Beyond the vanilla and the oak are hints of orange zest, polish, fresh pencil shavings, and dried herbs. If you're generally a fan of the High West whiskies, consider this a huge step up from the norm. I'd buy five more casks just like this if I could.

High West "American Prairie" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey $49.99

-David Driscoll


Winter is Coming

As promised, we're about to being moving into the Fall/Winter segment of our Old Particular single cask selections. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and that little nip in the air starts awakening our thirst for peated Scotch whisky. Let's begin with the perfect October warm up: an absolutely perfect cask of Talisker 8 year old. If you liked the Lagavulin 8, you're going to love this Talisker (especially since this one's at full proof and costs about the same).

Anyone familiar with Talisker understands its role in the pantheon of Scotland's greatest distilleries. Located on the Isle of Skye, a rugged and remote locate battered by the wind and sea, the malt produced at Talisker has always captured the imagination of whisky drinkers with its maritime flavors of salt, smoke, oil, and peat. It has also long been one of Scotland's most refined and elegant whiskies, balancing those elements with restraint and delicacy in comparison to Islay's more powerful and intense expressions like Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Talisker is a smoky whisky, full of bonfire and soot, but the standard 10 year distillery release manages to mellow out the phenolic elements with ample fruit and vanilla. It's that ability to restrain those rugged island forces into something accessible and beautiful that has made Talisker's reputation.

What this single barrel cask strength eight year old edition allows for is an unbridled and unrestrained look into the whisky's true power and potential. It's everything we know and love about Talisker, just dialed up. The first sip brings sweetness from the malted barley and oak cask maturation, followed by fruit and baking spices as well, but then the power of the proof kicks in and the peat takes over. There are notes of tar and salt, followed by more chimney smoke and earth, before those notes begin to fade and the earthier notes of pure peat highlight the finish. All in all, it's a Talisker lover's dream, but it's Talisker with an ode to Islay in terms of power and potency. I've tasted it on seven different occasions today and I can't get enough of it.

2008 Talisker 8 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $59.99 

-David Driscoll


The First of Two New Maker's 46 Barrels

Earlier this year, I went out to Kentucky with my co-worker Julio Santos to put together another barrel of Maker's 46—the amazing custom cask program at Maker's Mark that allows each participant to choose the exact recipe of staves for the additional maturation enhancement. Coming off one of the most successful and fastest-selling single casks in K&L history, I was toying with the idea of doing the same recipe again, seeing that so many people seemed to enjoy the last batch. Knowing that there was so much potential, however, to create something new and interesting for our Bourbon customers to try, the creative side of me eventually gave in and we sat down to make something entirely different. On top of that, when another retailer pulled out of their appointment earlier that same morning, we were given their barrel allocation so we ended up with two casks!

Last time around I did all American oak, hoping to dial up the inherent sweetness already present in Maker's Mark, but with all those French options I knew we had to find a way to bring them into the equation. For this barrel, we kept a high proportion of baked American oak staves (6 in total), but buttressed that sweetness with 4 seared French cuvee staves to add richness and spice rather than simply add additional sweetness. The result is a high proof wheated Bourbon that's big on the nose, supple on the palate, but drier and earthier on the finish (a la some of the older Jefferson's 18 editions of the past). While you get all that creamy wheated goodness in the middle, the French oak contrasts that supple sweetness with drier notes of toasted oak and savory spice. The result is a damn fine bottle of whiskey.

I hope you all like it as much as I do!

Maker's Mark 46 "K&L Exclusive - #1" Private Select Kentucky Bourbon $69.99

-David Driscoll


News & Notes

We're up to over $150,000 raised with our raffle and we've still got until tomorrow before we close it down. I think we're going to hit $200,000 before we're done, or at least very close. Pretty crazy! In the meantime, here's what's new in the liquor department:

- We'll have another Maker's Mark 46 custom cask strength barrel tomorrow, the result of my trip earlier this year with my co-worker Julio. We did two barrels during that visit, so I'll have to wait until the bottles show up until I know which stave recipe it is. Both were delicious during our sample tasting, and I'm pretty sure both are over 55% ABV. All you wheated Bourbon fans will want to watch for that.

- There's a chance we may see the new St. George Lot 17 single malt trickle in tomorrow as well. That will be very limited. Make sure you keep an eye on the new product feed.

- Now that it's getting cold and the weather is more appropriate for peated Scotch, I'll be bringing in some of our more Fall/Winter appropriate casks from Old Particular. There will be an eight year old cask strength Talisker making its way into stock very soon. Should be a hair under sixty bucks. The 20 year old Caol Ila and Bowmore casks should arrive by the end of the month or early November. 

- I've been trying to help my friend Gerald Casale from Devo get his 50 by 50 wines in front of some serious critics and this past week I finally got it done. James Suckling scored Gerald's new Pinot Noir a 92 in his latest review, so we decided to throw a little party to celebrate. Gerald is going to fly up from LA on November 1st to do a little private dinner at Donato in Redwood City and he's going to bring a vertical of older vintages with him. I only have space for about twenty people and I know at least seven people have already bought tickets. That means I have room for another thirteen folks if you want to party with us. You can book a seat here

That's it for the moment!

-David Driscoll


When Worlds Collide

This was a fun distraction from all the smoke and devastation last night. Last week I gave former WWE superstar Kevin Nash a bottle of Kyle MacLachlan's rosé. Kevin loved it, so I told him he should tell Kyle via Twitter. He did so. Kyle responded. Twitter fans about died.

I have to admit that I would have thought it was crazy, too. The NWO talking pink wine with Special Agent Dale Cooper? That's some serious cult crossover. That's like Fox Mulder and Wolverine teaming up to talk about their favorite sushi spot!

-David Driscoll