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


A Bere Market

The market went from bull to bear over the last week, but don't let that get you down. The new 2008 vintage of Bere Barley from Bruichladdich should help erase all your fears and ease any of your long-term doubts. Bottled in 2017, this nine year old edition is bottled at 100 proof and is made from the old "viking" grain, now grown for Bruichladdich on Islay at the nearby Dunlossit farm. I dug out my original email from Jim McEwan, back when they originally unveiled the Bere Barley project some time ago, made from an ancient strain supposedly brought by Norse invaders when they occupied the Hebrides during the 9th century. Here's what Jim told me back then:

The Bere is so young and pure, no make-up just as nature intended. Its history, honesty, and the harmony of guys working on a dream which the consumer can experience and wonder just how the seed survived since the 9th century, brought by the Vikings to Scotland. What a living timeline!!!!! It's incredible and once again it's Bruichladdich that recognised this is a national treasure and cannot be compared. A miracle in a bottle from a seed that was planted over 1000 years ago.

As you might imagine, Bruichladdich doesn't want a lot of oak or sherry getting in the way of their superstar barley, so the 2008 edition is light on its feet. The nose is wonderful, full of sweet grains, lush vanilla, and lots of oak spice. The palate is more of the same with notes of ginger and sweet bready notes on the finish. I think growing and milling the Bere strain has been the hardest part of the process for Bruichladdich. They've been doing this since 2006 and they've only managed five successful harvests over the last decade, meaning there's not a lot of this whisky in barrel. The first time they tried to mill it, the toughness of the dense grist about broke all their equipment! 

This is probably more for serious Bruichladdich fanboys like myself that those of you looking for the next rare superstar. This isn't a big, thick, heavy, or mouthcoating whisky. It's all about the nuances of the grain and how it presents a different profile compared to the standard barley strain used in Scotland. This is one of the few concept projects that I think lives up to the story and I always look forward to another new release.

2008 Bruichladdich Bere Barley Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky $89.99

-David Driscoll


117.1 Proof

These Whistle Pig cask strength barrels do it for me every single time, no matter how often I taste them or how many bottles I've already consumed. When you taste this recent 117.1 proof barrel that we just brought in, what will grab you the same way it grabbed me is the initial sweetness right off the bat, bolstered by the higher than normal ABV%. It lights up your tongue and primes it for the peppery rye spice that follows, giving you the vanilla and sweet oak before hammering home the herbaceous essence of the grain. I don't think I'll ever tire of buying these casks for K&L because I just about never tire of drinking them. There's no limit for how much cask strength 10 year old WP my mind can handle, only my liver can decide when enough is enough.

Whistle Pig 10 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" 117.1 Proof Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey $89.99 - Only 130 total bottles from this cask. 

-David Driscoll


Astrid Hubert's Calvados Returns

If you were getting thirsty looking at all those live photos from Normandy last month, I've got you covered. Our new batch of Hubert Calvados just showed up, only ten days after I tasted a bottle with Astrid herself at the domaine. The latest blend is based primarily on the 2008 vintage with bits of 2006 and 2010 blended in. It's textbook Astrid—friendly, feminine, but with a bit of a spicy kick. At thirty bucks, to think we can offer an apple brandy of this quality that's mostly 9 years old with 11 year and 7 year added for good measure is astounding. There's a reason this is the top selling Calvados in our store's history. 2000 bottles and counting!!

Domaine Hubert "K&L Exclusive" Pays d'Auge Vieux Calvados $29.99

-David Driscoll


Mull This One Over

Peaches and cream, that's what they should call this new 22 year old Tobermory, bottled for us by Sovereign. It's loaded with fresh stone fruit and a rich creamy texture, to the point that I think even my wife is going to enjoy this one. Tobermory is on the Isle of Mull just across from Oban and it makes a similarly light and vanilla-laden malt. This particular single barrel edition is right on point: a very delicious expression of a textbook Scotch malt character, nothing weird or out of the ordinary, just damn good whisky, with age, at full proof, at a hot price. This will not be the bottle that you drink a tablespoon from every few weeks. You're going to pour fingers of this stuff and it's going to be empty before you know it. Dangerously drinkable liquid.

1995 Tobermory 22 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $89.99 - On the Isle of Mull, just north of Islay along Scotland’s west coast, is host to one of the most unassuming of distilleries called Tobermory, a malt that has quietly made outstanding, straightforward Scotch whisky since 1798. Never the most bold or brash of single malts, neither the loudest nor the most assertive, Tobermory does make a smoky island whisky called Ledaig, but the flagship malt is a fruitier, maltier expression that really starts to sing after two decades in wood. With this 22 year old single barrel edition bottled for us by Sovereign, the oft overlooked attributes of Tobermory come into full focus, beginning with an arousing bouquet of nectarines stewing in freshly-milled barley. That stone fruit goodness emirates from the glass in waves, morphing into a sweet nectar of honey and peach on the palate. The vanilla from the oak aging starts to shape the whisky on the mid-palate, adding spice and richness toward the finish where the barley becomes the star. The malty, creamy finish is lifted by the 50.8% ABV and that extra proof tingles the taste buds for minutes. There’s nothing new to be had from this exceptional Tobermory expression, just a classically-flavored malt whisky for a fabulous price. In a market currently full of anomalies and unique flavors, this is the bottle you’ll return to again and again.

-David Driscoll