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Wednesday
Jul272016

50 by 50 by 50

Woohoo! We're finally sold out for tonight's event. 50 people paid 50 bucks to come to Donato in Redwood City to meet Devo's Gerald Casale, have dinner, taste his 50 by 50 wines, and sample our upcoming 50 year old Scotch from Old Particular. 

A big thank you to everyone who bought a ticket. You're going to have a great time! I'll see you tonight.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jul262016

Pay it Forward

Someone left a note on my car windshield this morning that read:

Our neighborhood is stressed for parking already. It's unnecessary to take up two parking spaces.

I was confused. When I got home from work yesterday there was no one parked in front of my house. I simply pulled over to the curb, lined myself up with the sidewalk, and turned off the ignition. It's hard to gauge your parking when there are no other cars along the more than 200 meters of uninterrupted curb to measure against. There were no driveways or red spots to take into account. But, of course, I thought most people understood how parallel parking worked. People come and go throughout the day and it's tough to know if the guy who's taking up too much space was indeed being a total hog, or if maybe there was a mini cooper parked behind him previously. How can you know for sure? 

But that uncertainty didn't stop someone from putting me in my place. This person was not only angered by my perceived parking violation, he (I'm guessing male here) went home, got a sheet of paper, and made sure to give me a piece of his mind. 

Hah! That'll show him; that space-hogging jerk. 

I'm a pretty busy guy. I move fast. I think fast. I act fast. But I've learned over the years in these situations to slow down and let the little things go, especially when you're unsure of the facts. I've definitely unloaded on people in the past, thinking I was giving someone their just deserts, only to discover that I was completely wrong in my accusation. I was the one who ended up looking like the asshole in the end. Rarely, if ever, does venting your frustration in this manner ever solve or prove anything. We're living in an era where anger and dismay are given out not only too easily, but often incorrectly. Anonymity only encourages people to be more vocal. Online review sites today are practically useless because they're little more than soapboxes for the high and mighty. Comment boards are like war zones for the utterly insecure. 

There's no need to add on to the pile. Instead of pointing out the mistakes of others, do something nice for someone instead. Buy them a bottle of whisky or something. Pay it forward. I'm going to buy my neighbor some beer. 

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jul252016

Disrupter

I read on Wikipedia once that disruptive innovations tend to be produced by outsiders—those observing a particular business model from afar who see a way to displace current industry leaders by creating an entirely new market. 

Whether or not K&L can be disruptive to the current single malt market may depend on whether you see us as an insider or an outsider within our industry. While we definitely have strong relationships within the mainframe of wine and spirits distribution, we simultaneously skirt (or circumvent) the limitations of that three-tiered status quo to eliminate those restrictions from the equation. While we work to maneuver successfully within the system, you could say we're also committing an equal amount of effort to evade its confines. It's the yin and yang of our business, so to speak.

My personal research at K&L for the last year has revolved around the stability of the single malt market and the associations I've made with my own real estate search. Some people I've talked to think Scotch is dead. Played out. Saturated. Gentrified. I disagree, however. I think the way consumers feel about buying whisky these days isn't all that different from the way they feel about buying a home; it's just a matter of getting a return on your money and feeling excited about that investment. No one wants to overpay for anything, especially when they're unsure of the quality. But nothing's more exhilarating than feeling like you're getting more than what you've paid for. Just like I think thousands of people would move back the Bay Area if houses dropped down to more reasonable prices, I think thousands of frustrated whisky drinkers would drink tons of Scotch again if there were more delicious, straight-forward, mature whiskies of quality with real age statements and no BS.

Do you think I'm right? We're going to find out this August. We're not going to be selling Port Ellen for $100, but we are going to play around with the math. It should be fun to watch.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jul222016

Mezcal Misterios

It seems like every week there's a new mezcal lable available in the U.S., which is exciting for people like me who love agave spirits. Every time I go to Oaxaca I fill my suitcase with interesting selections that aren't on the market here at home, one of which used to be Siete Misterios: a bottler of mezcal in Mexico that strives to provide traditional styles of the spirit that are 100% natural and organic in origin, with flavors and aromas that are custom to the specific species of agave. Their mezcals are not only some of the tastiest in the industry right now, they're also some of the best priced! Thanks to a new American importer, I no longer have to buy a plane ticket to get these.

Siete Misterios Doba-Yej Mezcal $34.99- The doba-yej is a blast of smoke, citrus, and stonefruit that lights up the palate like a lightning rod. It's one of the most delicious and value-oriented selections we've ever carried and is a great entry way into the genre. This is my new go-to for mixers and fun cocktails. It's so expressive and fun.

Siete Misterios Arroqueño Mezcal $99.99 -The Arroqueno expression is packed with herbal notes and bright floral tones that shape the flavor from roasted agave to a spicy finish. It's delicious stuff.

Siete Misterios Coyote Mezcal $99.99- The Coyote agave expression is fruit forward on the entry with beautiful hints of berry and spice. It turns into a more herbaceous spirit on the finish, balancing out the intensity. Truly fantastic mezcal.

Siete Misterios Tobala Mezcal $139.99- The Tobala agave expression is loaded with bitter chocolate, chile, chipotle, and all sorts of other spicy notes. It's a mezcal that delivers true varietal character in spades.

We’ve also got some new limited things from our friends at Alipus and Mezcalero—my favorite producer and bottler in the business. Check these out:

Alipus Ensemble San Andres Mezcal $69.99- From the same distiller who does the standard Alipus San Andres, comes this "ensemble" release: a rich and elegant blend including some 20% semi-wild agave bicuishe in with the standard espadin. The result is a bright, floral, and richly-textured mezcal with mild smoke and more pure agave flavor.

Mezcalero "Release #15" Sierra Negra Mezcal $99.99- Batch 15 is made with semi-wild Sierra Negra (agave americana) from Don Baltazar Cruz in San Luis del Río. Sierra Negra has a beautiful suavity in the mouth, with a long finish of spice and sweet earth. Another big winner from the now legendary series.

Mezcalero Special Bottling #2 Mezcal $129.99- Labeled as the "finest mezcal in bottle," we would be hard pressed to disagree here! Hand-distilled in October and November of 2012 by Don Valente Ángel in Santa Maria Pila from wild Dobadaan (agave rhodacantha) found on a south-sloping hillside called La Loma de la Mojonera. Rested in tank for 3+ years, the mezcal offers profound depth and an ethereal, calm delicacy. For serious fans of the genre.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jul202016

The Return of Michel Couvreur

In the single malt whisky world, sherry-aged Scotch is currently king. The richer, darker, and denser the sherry flavor, the more people go crazy for it. Whisky aficionados have become so savvy about sherry they now want to know how many times the sherry barrels have been used—was the barrel a first-fill or second-fill?—as a way to gauge just how intense the flavor might be. But before sherry-aged Scotch was all the rage and people began calling whiskies "sherry bombs," there was a Belgian man named Michel Couvreur who also loved sherry-aged Scotch whisky. In fact, he loved it so much that he started contracting his own resources from Scotland. Decidedly unimpressed with the sherry barrels available in Scotland, however, Michel decided to drive down to Spain and seek out his own casks—the freshest, wettest, most saturated vessels he could find. He then transfered the Scotch whisky into these barrels, laid them down to rest in his gigantic underground cellar, and blended those liquids to perfection once they were ready. The results were strikingly different than your standard Scottish malt. The whiskies were more delicate, silkier, softer, and rounder on the palate. They were rich and intricate, entirely about the inherent flavors of the cask. The whisky was more of a conduit. The first time we tried Michel Couvreur's whiskies back in 2007, we knew they were something very special. In the world of sherry-aged Scotch, Michel Couvreur is king.

Michel Couvreur did not live in Belgium, however. He lived in Burgundy, right in the middle of pinot noir country. His cool, cavernous wine cellar was not lined with Corton or Savigny-les-Beaune, it was filled with sherry butts and hogsheads. Not just any normal sherry barrels, mind you, but specifically older ones. As Michel's son-in-law Jean-Arnaud told us during our visit back in 2014, "We prefer to use those in which the sherry has sat for thirty or forty years." Saturated sherry butts; deeply penetrated by the sweet and supple elixir of Jerez. 

We've got a new batch of our amazing K&L exclusive peated overaged back in stock, this time cheaper than before (thanks a more direct path) and even fruitier. For those who were unable to splurge on the Compass Box "5th & Harrison" last week, this is like a baby version of that. David OG, who visited again with Jean-Arnaud last year, also worked out a deal for custom batch of Couvreur's most decadent "Blossoming Auld Sherried," a whisky so rich and concentrated with sherry it practically oozes over your palate. We threw a few other fun expressions onto the shipment as well, so check the website for other selections.

-David Driscoll