Orphan Barrel Bonanza!

REVISION: I should note that we received conflicting reports about the mashbill of the Old Barterhouse. The Whiskey Advocate reported a while back that all the mashbills are the same (non-wheated), but Diageo told me repeatedly that the formula was wheated, hence why I wrote that in the description. I wrote those notes a while back when I first tasted the whiskey and forgot to update them before we did the email, so since the mashbill is indeed 86% corn, 6% rye, and 8% barley, I apologize. I was going off what the brand told me at our appointment (which we all know is not always the best thing to do!).

David OG and I were talking about an interesting phenomenon on our last trip to Scotland, regarding how we get our deals done for K&L: namely, the idea that being a spirits buyer can't be that hard, right? Has anyone ever said to you, "Hey, you take good pictures. I should get a camera like yours." No? Well maybe they've said, "Hey, I like your outfit, I should shop where you shop." The insinuation when someone gives you that type of "complement" is that you're only as good as the camera you use, or the store you shop at -- there's nothing of your own talent or skill involved. 

The same type of conversation happens when David and I make something happen for K&L. "Wow, good deal, someone must owe you guys a favor," a person will inevitably mention. Or.....maybe we just know what we're doing? How else would we track down a gangload of the two hottest whiskies to hit the market this year, in quantities that will allow you all to snag a bottle without entering a raffle or diving over your opponent? You think these just fell into our lap?

So how did we get them? camera, I guess.

Barterhouse 20 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey $89.99 (NOTE: this item ships as a 1.5L) The mysterious 20 year old expression arrives! The Old Barterhouse is the most talked about American whiskey of 2014 and its got the gusto to back up the hype. The rich, spicy, and full-bodied palate bursts with sweet vanilla and creamy corn, showcasing the richness that only 20 years in a new charred barrel can offer. This is as close as you'll get to Pappy 20 and it's about $40 less per bottle. Consider yourself lucky if you managed to get one.

Old Blowhard 26 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey $169.99 (NOTE: this item ships as a 1.5L) I can't remember the last time we saw a 26 year old Bourbon at K&L - even when the good old days of mature Bourbon were in full swing. To find an American whiskey with this level of maturity and for this price is shocking, especially in this bare market. The ethereal Old Blowhard is almost ghostly in its elegance. It's not rich, powerful, or in-your-face. The Blowhard is soft, delicate, and simply graceful in its profile - the wood flavors are haunting, rather than blunt. I've never tasted another Bourbon like this whiskey before, and I don't know whether I will again considering the scarcity of older stocks. This will be one of the most coveted bottles we sell this year.

-David Driscoll


I'm Talking to the Other Guys

Let me describe the scene to you: there are these guys, they act like customers so that they can get on to our insider email lists, they read this blog obsessively, but really they have their own stores and their own work to do, so they try to use all of our public information against us. If we run lower margins to create a buzz, they run and complain to the brands like little tattle-tales, saying we must be getting insider pricing. If we use our skills to acquire better allocations of difficult to find products, they whine about how K&L must be cheating the system. More importantly, they prey on our every word and whim to see what we're doing next by infiltrating our newsletters and sales blasts, hoping to God they can get a head start on the two Davids.

Well, guess what? I'm on to you guys! You're going to have to change up your strategy.

Nevertheless, I'm gonna drop a few bombs today in your honor. Check back later today for some fun stuff.

So long everybody!

-David Driscoll


One Week Until We Party

I was practicing my chops last night in preparation for next week's Olmeca Altos "limeless" tequila dinner. After testing out a number of martini-like cocktails, I found I really liked the Hernandez -- taken from the OA website -- which uses:

2 oz. Olmeca Altos blanco

0.5 oz of sweet vermouth

0.2 oz of maraschino liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters

1 dash Angostura

The influence of the sweeteners are very mild and the bitters accent the spiciness already embedded in the tequila itself. It really drinks like a subtle, yet elegant tequila martini because, ultimately, that's the dominant flavor you're tasting. For those coming to our big party next Tuesday night at El Sinaloense, you'll be getting one of these the minute you walk into the place. I'll be behind the bar mixing away while you get settled into your seat.

We still have a few seats left if you want to join us, although I'm fine with our numbers right now considered I'm already on the hook for thirty Hernandez cocktails!

-David Driscoll


Don't Forget to Enjoy Yourself

The K&L Redwood City crew enjoying a beer at the end of a long day

The idea that we always need to be achieving something is a very American concept. In the novel Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche notices that people in the United States "spend a lot of time doing, instead of being." Many of us are thinking about the next task, rather than the current moment, and we tend to quantify those accomplishments to help give them meaning. I am very, very guilty of this.

Due to my recently-overloaded schedule, I haven't been able to do much running lately, but I did find some time yesterday to do about seven miles. I had been thinking to myself, "I need to exercise. I'm going to gain weight if I don't get out there soon." Like many Americans, I associate "healthy" with "thin" and I'm often more worried about my calorie count than my body's basic nutrient needs. These are natural associations that go along with a very American way of living -- counting numbers, calculating stats, thinking of life as a series of equations that need to be solved.

My French friend commented on this phenomena the other day, telling me: "It's because you all grow up watching baseball, keeping track of batting averages, and figuring out who's best based on statistics rather than on-field play. Us? We play soccer. We don't care about the stats. We basically just run around for a while until something good eventually happens. That's a metaphor for French life, really."

When I got back from my run yesterday morning I was in a great mood. I had forgotten the other main reason why I like to go jogging: it makes me feel amazing! It's not just about maintaining my weight, making sure I burn off the necessary calories, and keeping my metabolic rate high. Those are the statistical aspects I tend to obsess about, but they're all secondary to the sense of happiness that blankets my soul after I finish a long route.

My French friend was right. If I run long enough, forget about all the statistical benefits, and focus on the moment, something good always happens eventually. I end up remembering that running is an enjoyment, rather than a responsibility. There's an easy analogy for whisky embedded in that philosophy.

-David Driscoll


Ardbeg This Wednesday!

Don't forget -- this Wednesday in Redwood City is going to be an Ardbeg celebration. You'll be able to taste the 10 year, the Uigeadail, and the Corryvreckan -- for free! -- and you'll get to check out the new Ardbeg motorcade.

More importantly: we will be offering super-duper Ardbeg discounts for those who come and do the tasting. If you come pose for a photo with the roadsters we'll give you a coupon that will entitle you to the lowest prices we've ever offered for Ardbeg whiskies (and our prices are already low). If you know you're going to want a bottle of Ardbeg single malt, you might as well come by. I've heard there might even be a television crew.

We'll start a little before 5 PM and probably continue until closing. See you there!

-David Driscoll