Navigation
Friday
Feb092018

The Lost Grains of Cambus

Cambus, along with Bowmore, is a distillery we will always stock from when available. One of Diageo's top grain distilleries until it was closed forever in 1993, not are the Cambus whiskies smooth and round in character from front to back, but because the distillery has been gone for 25 years now it means that every bottle consumed from this point out moves the whisky a step closer to total extinction! This 29 year comes in at 46.9% with less richness from the oak than our previous 25 year cask, but with more vanilla and nuance. In essence, if you're a fan of the Nikka Coffey Grain expression, consider this an older, full proof version for a hot price. The nose is a standard grain profile of buttery oak, but on the palate those flavors open up into toasted coconut and cookie dough. It's a mellow, easy drinking whisky and an ice cube works wonders. 281 total bottles available, minus the one I'm sipping on right now!

1988 Cambus 29 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky $99.99

-David Driscoll

Friday
Feb092018

The Stunning Fruit Spirits of Somerset

After the On the Trail post I put up earlier today, I've gone through the queue to find multiple customer orders that have all six currently-available Somerset products on them. That's incredible, but it's also telling because truth be told: you need all six products to really understand what makes the Somerset Cider Brandy Company so awesome. They're all completely different! It's not like the ten year old brandy is just a better version of the five, or the apple liqueurs are minor in their distinctions. The five year is mellow and easy-going, slightly chewy on the finish, while the ten year brandy is more like brown apple skins (it really tastes like distilled cider) with lots of that pithy character on the backend. The Kingston Black varietal liqueur is fresh and full of bright apple flavor, while the Pomona is darker, richer, and barrel-aged like a Tawny Port. Then you've got the two apple eau-de-vie macerated liqueurs that light up your taste buds with equal parts sweet and tart.

There's a lot to discover here, but unfortunately not much of it. I was conservative with my initial purchase but after watching the staff blow through the recently-arrived inventory with rabid thirst I'm realizing I grossly underestimated the demand. I'm working on another order ASAP, but for the moment there's only a few cases of each expression. Have fun!

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Feb082018

Two Years in the Making

About two years ago, my colleague Jeff Jones and I followed a tip out into the English countryside and met up with Julian Temperley, the man behind the Somerset Cider Company and a distiller of fine apple spirits as well. We were impressed by both his mature brandies and his fine apple apperitifs, so we decided to do some business. After a long and drawn-out process of getting the right bottles, working on label approval, and surviving the Brexit scare, we're almost ready to unleash our first small shipment of apple brandy from Western England.

Stay tuned.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Feb072018

Private Edition No. 9

While bold, brash, unadulterated, in-your-face flavor has dominated the market for the last five years or so with big peat, big sherry, and huge IPA-style intensity captivating our attention spans from craft beer, to Cabernet, to cask strength whisky, I have to think there's only so much further any drinks company can successfully take that direction. How much more peaty can we get than mouth-blistering Octomore? How much more sherry can you pack into a single malt than what's in the tropically-enhanced Kavalan Solist series? There's a point when hot sauce is simply too hot and begins to lose its intial purpose, which is to make my tacos taste better. Flavor is what we're supposed to be after, rather than intensity. 

Nuance, however, is still rather untapped. There's plenty of ground yet to be broken in the realm of subtle complexity. That's why I was very proud of Bill Lumsden and the team at Glenmorangie when I tasted the new Spios Private Edition last week, the ninth in the distillery's ongoing series of limited releases. Rather than change direction, cater to the populist agenda, and lose their identity, Glenmorangie went even softer on the palate with a new whisky aged entirely in ex-American rye whiskey barrels, full term. What you get is simply classic American oak aged Glenmo with just a touch of that herbaceous character we love in rye whiskey. There's a greater presence of baking spice, cinnamon and cloves, as well as loads of buttery vanilla and fruit, but the finish is peppery with that unmistakable note of rye lingering in the background ever so slightly. 

Nothing about the new Spios is bold or brash. Even the rye notes, the core selling point of the product, are more like accents rather than anything foundational. I smiled with glee after tasting this again this morning. It's nice to see a great whisky company stick to doing what it does best, in spite of what today's popular statistics might say. In the end, no one drinks Glenmorangie because it's intense. Quite the contrary. We drink Glenmorangie because it's beautiful.

Glenmorangie "Spios" Private Edition Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky $99.99 - The 9th release of the award winning "Private Edition" from Glenmorangie is a true labor of love for their Chief Whisky Creation officer, Dr Bill Lumsden. The good doctor explains that his obsession with rye whiskey (in particular the casks that had previously aged that rare American whiskey) began when famed Whisky & Beer writer Michael Jackson visited the distillery with a sample of the historical American whiskey. It was Bill's first time diving into one of the America's great spirits and at the time, sometime in the 90s, Rye whiskey was next to impossible to acquire. It took Dr. Bill a full decade to secure casks that had previously only held whiskey from Kentucky distilled with Rye as the big grain. Into he put the majestic and elegant Glenmo spirit an approximately another decade later released this special whisky. Spios, a Gaelic word meaning spiced, is as pointed with the rye casks as you might expect. Cinnamon, clove, hints of nutmeg and sweet creamy vanilla from the American oak work wonders around the fruity open Glenmo malt. For anyone who appreciates the excellent malts being released in this wonderful line of limited edition whiskies as well as single malt drinkers seeking new and exciting flavor profiles, this is a must buy.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Feb072018

Simplicity

The world is complex. But all meaning comes from wise simplification. –Derek Thompson

Someone asked me the other day what I would say I do for a living. Beyond selling booze, more to the essence of what I think my job is. I told that person: "I simplify things. I take a vast world of endless possibility and I break it down into a more easily comprehendible explanation." In a nutshell, that's been my life since I was a grad student, then an elementary school teacher, and now an industry professional.

That being said, I've been feeling lately like I'm not very good at anything other than staying busy. I've been wondering if I could do anything else with my life if given the chance, which is why my mother recommended that I read a new book by Atlantic writer Derek Thompson called Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. She thought I might find a bit of meaning from a business-oriented book that tackles the science of viral success in our modern age. I have to admit thus far that when I'm not utterly horrified by what I'm reading, I'm finding a lot of inspiration in what Thompson has to say. 

He writes: "...audiences are hungry for meaning, and their preferences are guided by an interplay between the complex and the simple, the situation of new things and a deep comfort with the familiar."

It's nice to know there's still translation work available in this world, even if it's no longer for masters of foreign languages. It's basically just simple curation. Find the essence of something and help others understand why it's important. 

-David Driscoll