The First Must-Have Malt of 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the best new whisky I've tried in months and the most exciting release of 2018 thus far: the Bunnahabhain 14 year old Limited Release Pedro Ximenez Finish, bottled at 54.3%. Not only is it going to send sherry bomb addicts into a sugar-induced coma, it's going to have Macallan and Glendronach drinkers scrambling into an all-out bunker war for who can acquire the largest stash. Aged in refill sherry butts, then finished for three years in PX sherry butts (the sweetest sherry of them all), you immediately get a toffee-laden mouthful of dripping wet suppleness, bolstered by the sea salt of the Bunnahabhain brine. Imagine a big salted caramel in whisky form, oozing across your palate and sliding ever slow slowly down your gullet with each sip. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Take into consideration that this is an official distillery release, limited in quantity, immense in quality, and clocking in at a fantastic 108.6 proof, all for a hundred bucks. 

The question you should be asking yourself now is not whether to buy a bottle, but rather how many?

It's awesome, to say the least. I've been sipping on it for five straight days now and I've yet to get tired of it. Staunch Islay fans may lament the lack of heavy peat, but there's just the slightest hint of phenolic smoke on the finish, interlocked with all the dried fruits, sweet syrup, and creamy malt character. They only made 5900 bottles of this for the world and I've already drained two of them, so they're disappearing as fast as I can drink them. 

If you even remotely like sherry-matured single malt, you're going to want at least one bottle. However, if you're a serious sherry head I would strongly advocate for multiples. I can promise you you'll be kicking yourself down the road. The level of saturation and sweetness, coupled with the proof creates quite the harmonious balance. This is the type of whisky that got me excited about single malt in the first place more than a decade ago. If you haven't guessed already, I really, really like it. Bravo Bunnahabhain!

Bunnahabhain 14 Year Old PX Sherry Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky $99.99

-David Driscoll


R.I.P. Delores O'Riordan 

Forty-six is way too young. Break out the Irish whiskey tonight and pour a little out for dear Delores. Her voice was always so powerfully haunting.

-David Driscoll


Hidden Vegas

Now that I'm a part time Las Vegas resident, I've started receiving repeated questions from friends, co-workers, and customers alike asking about where they should eat "off the Strip" when they head out to Sin City. First off, I would never tell anyone to avoid Las Vegas Boulevard because it's a veritable wonderland of culinary delights, endless entertainment, and incredible cocktail bars. I love it. I'd go there every single night of the week if I had the energy and the liver space. If you're too cool for the Strip, maybe look into staying at the same hotel as the people who don't watch TV instead. I think it's right next door to the B&B for people who only drink alcohol because of the complex flavors, not to get a buzz on. You'll fit right in there.

However, if you're a veteran of all the major clubs and casinos, you've seen all the shows, and now you're looking for additional ideas beyond all the glitz and the glamour just to change things up a bit, I've got a great watering hole for you—literally. Head out to Summerlin and get onto Charleston, hang a left and make the drive to Red Rock. It's not far outside town; only about a fifteen minute ride from my front door to the park entrance. Go about ten and a half miles around the loop and park at the Pine Creek Trail lot. Make sure you've got a tall can of beer or a bottle of white wine, then start walking. 

It's all open desert for the first mile or so, nothing but cacti, scattered brush, cottontail rabbits, and the sun blazing down upon you. As you get closer to the mountains, however, it begins to change dramatically. 

When you reach what looks like the foundation of an old house (and is), that's when you can start to hear the water. Believe it or not, there's a pure mountain creek running through the middle of what you thought was the dry, barren Mojave desert. That's why old Horace Wilson originally homesteaded here in 1920: it's close to water! What's left of his house still remains for hikers like you and me to ponder over, marking what was likely once a beautiful place to live.

The deeper you go past the Wilson homesite and into the canyon, the greener and fuller it gets. It starts to look more like Yosemite than the desert terrain you saw only minutes earlier. When you get to what looks like a triangle shaped campground, hang a left towards the sound of the water and begin making your way through the boulders, trees, and over what looks like a dry river bed. You'll get there if you listen closely to the rustling of the creek. 

When the clearing opens up into the rocky creek with its crystal waters running down towards your feet, pull that tall can out of your bag or coat pocket and plop it down in one of the numerous pools. If you're out in winter like we were today, it should get cold in ten minutes or less. There are dozens and dozens of great places to sit, take in the sights, and relax. Don't worry about the sun because you're deep enough into the canyon at this point so that the cliffs block out the heat. Let the trickle of Pine Creek calm your nerves and ease your senses, while you sip that cold brew in peace and solitude.

Once you've drained your beer, and finished the two-plus mile hike back to the parking lot, you're going to be hungry. Lucky for you, there are about 400 amazing breakfast spots between Red Rock and the Strip. I try and go to a different one every time I'm there. Today it was Rise and Shine on Flamingo. Man, did that bone-in ham steak hit the spot. From there it was a frozen Margarita crawl through Summerlin, bolstered by endless chips and salsa. There are countless scores of great places off the strip to sip those slushy delights. I can fill you in on those spots later if you're interested.

Needless to say, there's a lot going on in Las Vegas besides slots and shots. Most people think it's just a seedy cess pool in the middle of arid nothing, and I'm more than happy to let them go on thinking that. As a native Californian, I've heard countless people lament the idea of ever leaving the state or being forced to move from the Bay Area. "I would miss all the natural beauty," is a common utterance. I haven't missed it one bit because I've learned Vegas has some pretty special places. I've never been happier. 

-David Driscoll


The Russell Legacy in a Barrel

Back in late August, with the heat of the Kentucky summer in full swing, Eddy Russell, his dad Jimmy, and I dug through about ten barrels to reach this cask, #998, located in the heart of the H warehouse at Wild Turkey Distillery. When it comes to the Kickin' Chicken, I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel with our barrel selections. I'm not searching for the anomaly or the unique gem that stands in contrast to what made Russell's Reserve famous. I wanted classic, true to form Bourbon that tastes like vintage Wild Turkey and that's exactly what I got from this 9 year old single cask. Everything in harmony, just dialed up in proof. Vanilla, oak, creamy corn, and that youthful vigor that pops on your palate like a bag full of cinnamon candy. Jimmy Russell doesn't like any Bourbon older than 10 years old, which I think is awesome. I'm trying to be more like him (living large after six decades in the booze biz), so with this cask I relied completely on his guidance.

Eddy did most of the heavy lifting. I snapped photos and drank. While I've got a few barrels coming down the pipe, I wanted to start with #998 because it was one of my absolute favorites. If you've ever dipped your nose into a box of cinnamon red hots and inhaled all that sweetly-spiced goodness, then consider yourself well prepared for this one. Originally filled in October of 2008, we bottled this baby right after its 9th birthday, right about the time Jimmy Russell believes these Wild Turkey whiskies show their best. Emptied at 118.4 proof, everything about this whiskey showcases the textbook and trademark characteristics of the distillery style: loads of baking spices, vibrant oak tannins, creamy corn, and a finish of both savory pepper and sweet vanilla. Getting to select a barrel like this with the father and son duo is about as fun as our job gets-if you don't count the part where we actually get to drink it. Only 120 bottles from this tiny, concentrated cask.

Russell's Reserve K&L Single Barrel #998 Kentucky Bourbon $59.99

-David Driscoll


Double Your Pleasure

I know a number of folks who missed out the last time we snagged some of Martin Cate's special Smuggler's Cove blend and are going to be stoked we just got another allocation in from the man himself. We blew through 200 bottles in a matter of hours a few weeks back and I'm happy to announce that we've got another 120 or so to offer out if you didn't get your fill from before. In addition, I'm going to highly recommend that you buy the new Real McCoy Limited edition virgin oak 10 year rum we just received into the warehouse as well. It's by far the best rum from Real McCoy I've had thus far and for me it's a much more drinkable specimen than the coveted 10 year old Criterion edition Foursquare released last year. Here's the thing: I get why people freaked out over that Madeira-aged Criterion. It was a very nice bottle of rum, but my personal bottle of Criterion is still about 70% full because I'm at the point in my drinking career where a monster ABV% doesn't necessarily appeal to my late night desires. Contrast that with the 10 year virgin oak edition, a blend of 12 year old ex-Bourbon casks and 10 year old full term new oak matured rum that melts across my palate with the greatest of ease at a perfect 92 proof. I'll let the cask strength kids have their fun with the high-octane stuff, while my 38 year old palate enjoys this rich, round, and more mellow elixir. Yum...........

Foursquare Distillery "Real McCoy" 12 Year Old "Smuggler's Cove Limited Edition" Rum $49.99 - This special edition of Real McCoy rum from Foursquare distillery was put together by Martin Cate at Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco and is a tiny blend of just two ex-Bourbon barrels, bottled at 46% ABV rather than the standard 40%. Foursquare distillery on the island of Barbados is quickly becoming a sensation in the aficionado world of rum drinkers and tiki specialists for its pure, unadulterated flavor and transparency as it pertains to age statements and additives. 

Foursquare Distillery "Real McCoy" 10 Year Old Limited Edition Virgin Oak Rum $59.99 - Using rums aged in both ex-Bourbon casks and brand new oak barrels, then dialing the ABV from 40 to 46%, this is the richest and most vanilla-laden edition of the Real McCoy yet. There's more sweetness, more molasses, more spice, and more weight than the standard 12 year edition despite the younger age statement and the rum finishes with a Bourbon-like kick. The blend is comprised of the two wood types, aged separately and then blended together. The ex-Bourbon matured component is all 12 years of age, while the virgin oak-aged rum was matured for the entire decade in new oak, Even though it's labeled as a 10 year old rum, a large proportion of the rum is actually 12 years old. This limited edition produced only 3000 total bottles for the world and we were lucky enough to grab a large chunk of it. Grab a bottle while you can!

-David Driscoll