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Thursday
Jun042015

Picture Me Rollin'

In his hit song "Picture Me Rollin'", the late Tupac Shakur says: "Any time y'all wanna see me again, rewind this track right here, close your eyes, and picture me rollin'." He was letting all the haters out there know that he was out of jail, free again, driving in his 500 Benz, and loving life; no longer behind bars. If you wanted to know what he was doing, he was driving down the freeway with the top down. He was not sitting in a dark cell.

As for myself, I am not sitting behind a desk, doing mindless inventory work on my computer. I'm drinking booze and writing stuff down while I listen to music, actually. If you want to picture what I'm doing right now, I've got three bottles of Four Roses open on my desk, Tupac bumping on my iPhone speaker (guess which song?), and I'm writing the following tasting notes. Any time y'all wanna see what I'm doing, check out the above photo, close your eyes, and picture me tastin'.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OESV (10 years & 11 months) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon $66.99 - As long as the country's best Bourbon distillery allows us to keep buying delicious single barrels, we'll keep taking them! This is brightest and the boldest of the three new casks; the most powerful at 60%, the most vivacious with lively spice, and the most expressive. At nearly 11 years of age, there's plenty of richness, but the palate is surprisingly lean in the face of all the punch. There's a blast of cinnamon, a jolt of toasted oak, and then a dusting of fresh pencil shavings on the back end. With water, these core flavors soften and then integrate beautifully. This would be a fantastic rocks whiskey because the inherent vanilla flavor, buried deep in its core is released when the proof is tamed.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OBSV (10 Years Old) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon $66.99 - This 10 year old cask of formula OBSV is remarkably soft and rich on the entry, with accents of pepper and pencil shavings towards the finish. The mouthfeel is creamy and supple, yet the flavors of the Bourbon itself are never sweet or decadent. There's a bit of burnt sugar on the finish, but most of the whiskey's core flavors are herbaceous and spicy. It's an incredibly intriguing dichotomy, and one of the more fascinating casks we've chosen in some time. At ten years on the nose, it's right in the sweet spot.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OBSF (11 year & 8 months) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon $66.99 - I know we're just getting into summer, but this cask has fall written all over it. The nose is an explosion of mulled spices and dried leaves with a blast of vanilla towards the back. The flavors on the palate are savory at first, with bits of bitter herb cloaked in charred oak. The finish is deceptive in its intensity, beginning slowly with soft accents of dark vanilla, and building methodically towards the encore. Baking spices, cocoa, and whisps of peppercorn. It never boils over, however, finishing with grace and subtlety, even at 56.1%. Lovely stuff.

-David Driscoll 

Thursday
Jun042015

Today We Are All Warriors

 

We're ready. We've got our colors on. 

The K&L phone staff is ready to take your call. Get yourself a case of booze and put your yellow shirt on. It's game time tonight!

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jun032015

GO DUBS!!!

While we're not the "official" liquor store of the Golden State Warriors, we sure take care of many key personnel within the organization. Many from the team's staff enjoy drinking good booze, and many of the K&L staff members enjoy watching Steph Curry shoot lights out from the three point line, night after night. It's a mutually beneficial relationship between our two companies. Basketball is a popular topic of conversation around the Redwood City store. Two of our owners are former high-school standouts from the SF Peninsula, and our customer service manager Joel was once a teenage baller in the town of Olympia, Washington. Needless to say, we're all HUGE Warriors fans here in the North (including Joel now that Seattle is without a franchise). Someone from K&L is at Oracle Arena for just about every game, and you can spot many employees wearing official Warriors gear while handling a carry-out or taking a phone call. We've watched this team blossom right before our eyes this season and we couldn't be more proud. Only the finals stand in our way from NBA Championship glory!

On behalf of K&L, I want to wish all our friends at the Warriors the best of luck in the NBA Finals, beginning tomorrow night here in the Bay Area. We'll be cheering you on, booze in hand, screaming our heads off in support of our team.

GO DUBS!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jun022015

┬íViva Los Vivancos!

Jalisco is a lot like Scotland in that there are a number of great distilleries you've never heard of making booze on contract. Personally, Benrinnes comes to mind when I think of one of my favorite single malts that doesn't have an actual brand, but is available under many different guises. When I think of my favorite tequila distilleries, NOM 1414 Felicianos Vivancos would be right there in the top three in terms of overall quality and diversity of delicious flavor—and I wouldn't be alone in that assessment. There's a reason why industry experts like Jacob Lustig and David Suro have turned to the Vivancos when sourcing liquid for their personal projects, and there's a reason why their two tequilas—ArteNOM and Siembra Azul—continue to be two of the most popular brands we sell. The Vivancos are known for their quality Arandas agave, their dedication to long, slow fermentations (with classical music blaring to stimulate the yeast), and their rich, supple spirits that glide across the palate with supreme delicacy.

When I visited the distillery last year with some of my industry pals, I was really taken aback by not only the quality of the base tequila, but also how that quality carried over into their aged expressions—even barrel by barrel. It was because of that afternoon spent sampling casks with Sergio that my desire for single barrel expressions of Vivanco tequila began to grow, and luckily I had been working with another small label in California that felt they could facilitate such a request.

Gran Dovejo tequila is a small California company with close relations to the Vivancos, and I've been working with Frank Mendez and his team for years. It's because of our long history that they allow me to cherry pick premium casks of Vivanco añejo juice for our K&L exclusive spirits program, and—believe me—I'll take whatever I can get when it comes to NOM 1414. Usually there's nothing in stock at K&L that can top these single barrel editions of Dovejo, but David Suro's new 10th Anniversary Reposado is right there neck and neck this time around. Why is this particular reposado so good? Because David decided to dump in a bunch of 3+ year old extra añejo to add extra richness, yet wanted to declassify that juice down and stick with the reposado label. The result is magical. You get extra-mature flavor for the price of the standard reposado.

Both are currently in stock and ready to go, but to add an extra little cherry on top, I've worked out a new deal on the Gran Dovejo to get the blanco and reposado down to a magical price for the time being. Mendez is planning to change the entire brand over to the tall, thinner bottle in the photo above, so in order to help them along with that goal I decided to buy up a large chunk of the current rectangular shape. I'll pass that savings along to you all, so that everyone can enjoy in the splendor that is Vivanco tequila. Check it out:

Siembra Azul 10th Anniversary Reposado Tequila $49.99 - Already one of the best tequilas we sell, David Suro's Siembra Azul decided to dial things up a notch in celebrating ten years of business. The 10th Anniversary Reposado combines a standard reposado batch of Vivancos tequila with older barrels of 3+ year old extra añejo juice, to create the richest and rounded reposado you've ever tasted. The nose is a haunting bouquet of baking spice, butterscotch, and pepper with hints of toasted oak lingering in the background. The palate is a delicate wave of subtle spice, black pepper, and roasted agave notes, with a finish that's both robust and clean. There's never a trace of sweetness or vanilla, as the palate is dominated by a dry and dusty spice that teases decadance, but restrains itself in favor of elegance and balance. It's a monumental tequila, truly worth of celebrating a decade in the business.

Gran Dovejo K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Añejo Tequila $59.99 - After more than a year of effort, restarts, and failed label attempts, our single barrel of Gran Dovejo Anejo tequila is finally here and ready to drink! 216 bottles were yielded from one Bourbon barrel at Felciano Vivanco distillery in Arandas, Jalisco -- also the home of ArteNOM 1414 and Siembra Azul. The difference with Gran Dovejo is that Leopoldo Solis oversees all production, and as one of the workers told me at the distillery this past Spring: "He is the very best. Everything he makes is the best you can drink." I can't say I disagree with that statement. Gran Dovejo remains one of the best kept secrets at K&L. Distributed by the Mendez family out of the Central Valley, this isn't a big time operation with much reach. It's very much a niche item and we're happy to be the first retailer to work directly with GD on an exclusive expression. Our single barrel offers a flurry of black pepper, sage, savory herbs, and a faint whisper of baking spices, yet the palate is never hot, spicy, or fiery in any way. The texture is delicate, the alcohol completely tamed by more than a year in oak. The wood acts more like a modifier in this tequila, rather than the focus. It's an anejo expression that bridges the gap between pure agave flavor and top-shelf luxury. We also begged the Mendez family to change their packaging so that we could more easily ship our bottles and they complied with a beautiful new, sleekly-styled bottle that should please fans of booze aesthetics. Very limited.

And new limited time pricing....

Gran Dovejo Blanco Tequila $34.99 (NORMALLY $42) - Frank Mendez called me one day and told me he'd like to come present his new family project: Gran Dovejo tequila.  While Frank and his cousin don't come from a tequila making background, they consider themselves aficionados and feel the same exasperation I do towards the current state of Big Tequila. They said to themselves, "if we're going to do this, we're going to do it right - no cutting costs, no hiring a giant factory to mass produce flavorless swill, no catering to Costco, no parties with celebrities, just good tequila." In order to do so, they tracked down Leopoldo Solis Tinoco (one of the great master distillers in Mexico) to help bring Gran Dovejo to life. Leopoldo was so satisfied with the final result that he offered to put his name on the bottle as a sign of approval. The blanco is outstanding - vibrant, expressive, bursting with citrus, flowers and spices, but finishing cleanly. The blanco is always the test of any tequila and passes with flying colors. This is easily the most exciting blanco I've had in over a year and it will speak to any true tequila sipper out there - a benchmark for white spirits.

Gran Dovejo Reposado Tequila $39.99 (NORMALLY $50) - The Reposado is the most understated of the bunch--mild mannered, hinting at greatness, but never unleashing its full fury. I enjoyed it and found it to be quite tasty on the finish, long and gentle.

The fact that we're offering a discount on the best tequila in the business is crazy, but I'm not complaining. You get a producer that needs to switch distribution or bottle shapes and deals can happen. Take advantage of it.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
May312015

Choose Wisely: The Quest for the Cup

I got a lot of emails from readers who enjoyed my usage of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in one of the more recent posts. One response said, "David, I appreciate how you use movies as metaphors to make your point. It really hits home." I appreciate the positive feedback, and I'm glad many of you enjoy reading those posts as much as I enjoy writing them. The Last Crusade has a particularly special place in my heart, and I know that film like the back of my hand. What's funny about Indiana's third adventure is that the film's final scene—where the team must choose the correct grail—is pretty much a metaphor for my everyday life (NOTE: if you've been living under a rock since 1989 and you have no idea what I'm talking about, click on the above video and skip to 1:37 on the timer). While the vast majority of our customers come into the store, look around, grab a few bottles, then head for home, there are always a few who severely struggle with that ultimate decision; staring at the wall in agony, beads of sweat running down their faces. Some, like Donovan, look for the most regal of all bottles, thinking the best booze will be in the most ornate of receptacles"Truly the cup of a king." Others go into pure archeologist mode, thinking they can outsmart the third and final test by choosing the most humble of all labels; as if the entire shelf is a gigantic test of their intelligence—"It would not be made out of gold." But what they all have in common is the fear that, should they "choose poorly", their life is going to end and they'll end up nothing but an exploding pile of dusty old bones; just another victim of the game.

As for me, I'm like the knight: I'm forced to just sit there and watch the process go down; day after day, year after year. It's not always an easy thing to take in. Unlike the knight, however, I'm allowed to offer assistance—and I'm always happy to do so. However, I'm not someone who believes that finding the Holy Grail is the ultimate goal of shopping for a bottle of booze, so in these instances I'm more like Sean Connery when he sees Indy struggling to reach the cup. I'm going to hold your hand, attempt to pull you out of the abyss, and say:

"Indiana.....Indiana......let it go."

It's not about fortune and glory, kid. It's about illumination. 

-David Driscoll