From ArteNOM to Panama-Pacific

As many of you may know, Jake Lustig of ArteNOM tequila fame is one of my best friends in the industry. He's been telling me for years about an extension of the line he was working on, a rum project, that would create a similar independent label for South American spirits. I was very excited to learn last week that the rums had landed in San Francisco and were ready to be shipped. If you'll remember Jake's philosophy concerning tequila and mezcal, he's a big fan of clean, pure-tasting spirits, so don't expect to taste a big sweet version of Ron Zacapa here. These rums are dry and robust, mellow and sippable, but easy to like and very reasonably priced. From Panama's famed growing region of La Provincia de Herrera, these rums are distilled from estate-grown sugar cane molasses, then barrel-aged in 220 liter ex-Bourbon casks. Imported directly to CA by Haas Brothers in San Francisco, it's an incredible new step into another exciting genre for Jake.

Panama Pacific 9 Year Old Rum $27.99 - Aged for nine years and imported directly to CA by Haas Brothers in San Francisco, it's an incredible new step into another exciting genre for Jake. Fans of Zafra and El Dorado 8 year will be extremely pleased by the rich and woody profile, but dry and clean-tasting finish. This isn't a caramel laden dessert rum in any way. It's an old-school cigar smoker's delight.

Panama Pacific 23 Year Old Rum $54.99 - The 23 year is a smooth and silky revelation that relies on the quality of the distillate rather than the introduction of caramel or sweeteners. It finishes robust and dry on the palate with a savory note and hints of pepper and spice. True 23 year old rum for a ridiculous price that can stand on its own merit. Everyone should own a bottle of this. 

-David Driscoll


The New D2D Interviews

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the Drinking to Drink interview series is getting re-branded and moved over to the On the Trail blog for extensive purposes. While I've loved getting down to the root cause of alcohol appreciation with all these interesting folks, the title and subject matter have limited the scope of what I've been able to talk about and—more importantly—who I've been able to talk with. Today we've got a great conversation with the young Christoph Andersson who already in his mid-twenties is producing chart-topping hits for artists like G-Eazy and Devon Baldwin, while maintaining his own electronic-based side projects. Christoph loves drinking Beaujolais and Burgundy, which is what originally caught my eye. Plus, he's a big fan of K&L. Seemed like a no-brainer, right?

Read the interview here: On the Trail with Christoph Andersson

-David Driscoll


The Crazy Life

My life has become suddenly quite crazy over the last six months. For some insane reason, my name is being circulated throughout the business world as one of competence. It's like someone flipped a switch and sent a jolt of positive electricity surging toward the K&L spirits department. People are calling me to talk about stuff. All kinds of stuff. Do I want to discuss the industry? Would I mind sharing some ideas? Would I like to consult on a project? All this professional-sounding, business-related adult speak that I used to associate with Wall Street movies as a kid in the 80s (including the movie Wall Street). So when John-Paul Dejoria, the multi-billionaire mogul who founded both Paul Mitchell and Patron Tequila invited me down to his house in Malibu, I was a little taken aback. But I wasn't going to say no, of course.

So I flew down, drank a few beers, looked at the ocean, and conducted a new interview for the archive. I've got three new celebrity conversations ready to post, actually, but we'll be moving them over to the On the Trail blog starting tomorrow. There's a multitude of reasons as to why, but let's just say that the title "Drinking to Drink" tends to scare some people (including a very famous British pop star who decided to back out at the last minute). So we're going to call it, "On the Trail with...".

Soon I'll be posting "On the Trail with John-Paul Dejoria," but only after I get over the entirely surreal experience and come back down to earth. No sooner was I leaving JP's house when I got two more phone calls from other LA-based colleagues about potential projects. By 11 PM I was on Hollywood Boulevard, hanging with my friends Mark and Jonnie Houston, drinking cocktails with the silver screen's finest.

How in the hell did this all happen again?

-David Driscoll


Come Taste Rippon This Week! 

I continue to advocate on behalf of my friend Ryan Woodhouse who continues to supply me with the best wine at K&L—hands down. One of my favorite people is in town this week: Nick Mills, from Rippon Winery. He's going to do two public events at K&L while he's here: 

San Francisco: Thursday 3/3 @ 5-6:30pm

Redwood City: Friday 3/4 @ 5-6:30pm

The tastings are $5 per person and you'll taste:

2013 Rippon Riesling Lake Wanaka Central Otago $24.99

2007 Rippon "Rippon" Pinot Noir Lake Wanaka Central Otago $44.99

2009 Rippon "Rippon" Pinot Noir Lake Wanaka Central Otago $44.99

2011 Rippon "Emma's Block" Pinot Noir Lake Wanaka Central Otago $79.99

2011 Rippon "Tinker's Field" Pinot Noir Lake Wanaka Central Otago $89.99

That's a pretty stellar line-up for five bucks, but what do I know? Not only will you get to taste great wines, you'll get to meet the man behind the wines. Nick Mills worked at DRC for God's sake! Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: the most famous, respected, and revered wine producer in the world (read Ryan's On the Trail post here). He's a hoot, and he knows a lot about farming, skiing, and being a generally cool dude. 

I wish we could do awesome events like this in the store with spirits, but the CA spirits tasting license is so restrictive. At least you can taste some great wines though. Make an effort for this one. It's really worth your time.

-David Driscoll


Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

If you're anything like me, you watched the Oscars last night and gawked at all the stars walking down the red carpet. "Wow! Look at Charlize Theron, she has great style," you might have said during the pre-show, regarding her Christian Dior dress and the incredible bling adorning her fingers and draped around her neck. She did look amazing. And there's nothing quite like watching tens of thousands of dollars sparkle under the Hollywood spotlights. There's one very, very, very important thing to keep in mind, however, while idolizing the icons of the silver screen and their glamorous wardrobes: they didn't buy any of these things, nor do they own them. Hell, they didn't even pick them out! A stylist picked out the dress, got it on loan from the designer, and borrowed a year's salary worth of diamonds that will all be back in the jeweler's safe by sometime this afternoon.

"Wow, I wish I could own that necklace," your wife might have whispered while munching some popcorn. Well guess what? Charlize Theron said the same thing last night.

It's important to remember that most wine and spirits critics don't actually pay for the products they taste. Everything is comped 100% of the time. Of the 5,000,000 new amateurs who started reviewing wine and whisky this year, many of them are either doing so in exchange for samples directly from the brands, or trading 50ml sample vials with one another in the mail. Everyone appears to be buying and enjoying their booze, but most people I know who write about alcohol don't buy very much these days. Just like the stars you see on television don't buy clothes, they receive clothes. Actors and actresses are living, breathing, walking advertisements for brands and designer labels. Not that I have a problem with that whatsoever. If I could take photos of Charlize Theron drinking K&L single malt selections I'd be there in two seconds. If I could get Kim Kardashian to Instagram herself with a bottle of Faultline gin we'd be sold out by the end of the day. That's how the fashion industry works, and the booze industry (like I've said many times) is no different. It's all about trends, public perception, and marketing, but we all like to pretend taste is what's most important.

I tasted a lot of great products last week, but what did I actually buy? I'll tell you, and I'll continue to tell you periodically in a new column I'll be calling "Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is." I have enough free booze on my desk right now to last me until 2039, and if I really wanted to I could drink for free for the rest of my life. But that would mean drinking what's available rather than what I actually desire and I'm not enough of a cheapskate to make that sacrifice. In the fashion world, the most popular articles talk about where the stars actually shop, rather than what they wear during the awards season. So without further ado, here's what I spent my own hard-earned money on this past week:

- one bottle of Caol Ila 12 single malt whisky

- one bottle of 2009 Les Allees de Cantemerle (now sold out)

- twelve bottles of 2012 Thomas Coyne mourvedre

- two bottles of 2014 Bodegas Puelles Rioja blanco

- two bottles of 2009 Louise Brison Champagne

And a bottle of Campari, but I buy one of those every week.

-David Driscoll