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Thursday
Aug282014

Speechless

I do my duty as a spirits buyer. I try everything from every major brand (even the flavored vodkas), even if I'm more prejudiced and less open-minded than I like to think I am. So when my sales rep Jannette brought me the latest Patron tequila release (a brand we do not carry at K&L), I did my due diligence: 

I poured, swirled, sipped, and spat.

Then I did the same thing again. And again. And again. Back, and to the left.

What the hell? This can't be right. 

"No," I mumbled to myself.

"What?" Jannette asked. 

"These are....they're.....they're really, really good," I stuttered in disbelief.

I just tasted these again before writing this—these new Patron tequilas that utilize only stone-crushed agave in their recipes (otherwise known as the tajon or the tahona process). There are many distilleries that still crush their agave with a huge rolling rock, carted around a large pit by an old donkey. It's definitely romantic and it's a more traditional process, but I've never seen it make such a huge difference in quality.

These Roca Patron tequilas are so good they're almost perfect—and I don't say that willingly. I don't really want to say that at all. I've never been a backer of Patron and I have no love for their regular line of tequilas. There's absolutely nothing motivating me to say what I'm saying right now than my own professed love for agave spirits and my desire to share that love with others. But you've got to give credit where credit is due. These are soft, delicate, easy-to-sip tequilas, but they pop in all the right places and they don't taste sweetened, manipulated, or artificial. I keep looking for a weakness, but I can't find one.

I'm going to spend the rest of the day making sure I'm not crazy before bringing these in. If it indeed turns out that my mouth is not malfunctioning then I'm going to put these on the shelf and stand by them.

Full notes at that time. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep pondering this unexpected turn of events. It might be another case of "the Empire Strikes Back."

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Aug272014

Venus de Santa Cruz 

We just picked up an exciting new local distiller called Venus Spirits, located in nearby Santa Cruz. Sean Venus has taken over the old Sarticious space and installed his own 600 liter Spanish alembic still to make a number of interesting concoctions. On top of his marvelous gin, he's almost ready to release a tequila (labeled as agave spirit, of course) and a single malt down the road once the whiskey meets the proper maturity level. We're really excited about getting our hands on those two products when the time comes.

In the meantime, check out the Venus Gin. It's a snappy, fresh, citrus-oriented spirit at a very good price point. The creaminess of the gin is quite lovely and the lavender comes strong on the finish.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Aug272014

R.I.P. Pierre Laporte

David and I were very sad to learn last week that one of our newest Armagnac producers, Pierre Laporte from Domaine Pouchegu, recently passed away from cancer. Charles Neal and I knew he had been sick, which was why it had taken so long to get our 1986 vintage bottling together, but none of us understood the severity of the illness.

We will drink in your memory, Pierre! Your brandy is simply amazing and will continue to live on in the bottle.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Aug262014

Photo of the Day: Beaujolais

One of the great parts about visiting Michel Couvreur in Burgundy this past Spring was that we got to go to Beaujolais and visit some of Charles Neal's wine producers. Rather than pinot noir, the Beaujolais wines are made from gamay—a juicy red varietal that makes utterly-drinkable expressions. We got to walk through the vineyards of Domaine de Colette just before sundown and look out into the rolling hills. Then we sat down, ate some Beef Bourguignon, and drank about ten bottles of Beaujolais to our heads!

I really, really want to go back next year. Beaujolais is like the Armagnac of French red wines: quality products, low prices, rustic personality. Good stuff (and that Couvreur K&L whisky should be landing any day now!).

-David Driscoll

Monday
Aug252014

Writing Every Day

If you're not embarrassed about something in your past, then you're either an incredibly careful and precocious person, or you're very inwardly-focused. I was formerly the latter (at least I like to think "formerly"), but today I feel a strong sense of resentment for my younger self; mainly, because I despise the qualities I once embodied when I encounter them in people today. I listen to people talk sometimes and I think, "Jesus, did I really sound like this at one point?" and then I remember the parties in high school, the desperate ploys for attention in college, and the clumsy encounters of my early twenties. There can be no embarrassment when you think everything you say is important.

I may be overly hard on myself at times about this issue, but at this point in my life I cannot stand listening to people babble on and on about their achievements, or about an award they won, or about where they graduated from, or how if it weren't for them...blah, blah, blah. Needless to say, that was me for most of my late teens and early twenties. I thought that when I told people something about myself they would inevitably see and admire the person I was describing. If I told them I was good at sports, they would think I was good at sports and nothing more. If I said I was smart and had read many important books, they would without a doubt believe that I had an intellectual mind. They would of course take all of my words at face value, and follow every minute detail I was describing, never for a second straying from the message I was broadcasting, because that's how the world worked for me back then: I talk and you listen.

Little did I know.

Today, when someone talks my ear off about how many trophy bottles they've tasted, or about how they've visited every major winery in Napa, I'm definitely not thinking about what a masterful grasp of wine this person must have. I'm thinking, "How much longer do I have to listen to this guy talk until he shuts up?" But that's not what they think I'm thinking. They think by telling me all of this impressive information that I'm internally wowed by what they have to say—that I'm hanging on every wordjust like I believed was the case concerning my own accolades all those years ago. But I'm not impressed, nor is anyone else for that matter. We're just politely waiting for you to finish. That's what people are really thinking when you talk about yourself in that manner. The fact that it took me almost thirty years to realize that is embarrassing.

So when people ask me today, "How do you find the time to write so often?" I say: it just comes naturally. But really what comes naturally is the internal fire that burns inside of me to distance myself from the past. Each post that I write is a chance for me to move beyond the selfish naiveté of my youth and into a more outwardly-focus. It's the reason there are no pictures of me on this blog. It's the reason I don't have a Twitter account or a Facebook page. It's why I so often write about manners, the attitudes on the internet, or terrible conversations I've eavesdropped upon.

I told someone earlier today, "We can never fully mature into adults until we remove whatever chips are on our shoulders." I have a giant chip on mine concerning my past, and it's that weight that motivates me to write this blog every day. I'm hoping that the spotlight my writing ultimately generates will force me to think about my remorse, and that each instance will serve as a reminder of what I am working towards.

Each day I log in and hope I can think of something to say about my personal experiences without the desperate need for validation from others.

Oh, I'm sorry, did you think this was a blog about alcohol? :)

-David Driscoll