Wednesday
Oct162013

Feedback

I want to first thank everyone who came out to Bar Agricole for our little party last night. We had about 70+ people in the house and the event went very smoothly. Thanks to all the K&L customers who tasted, said hello, and talked with Kyle and me about the brandies. I really appreciated the turnout and the positive things everyone had to say about the spirits. It's great to know that we're making some headway with these bottles and that others besides ourselves are gravitating towards these selections.

It's always tough to be your own hype man because no one ever believes what you say. Why would they? Of course David likes it. He's the one selling it. When you get the confirmation from people, especially from discerning customers who know their booze, it always makes us feel great. Here are some of the nice things I've received via email lately from our wonderful clientele:

About the new K&L Signatory Laphroaig cask:

Just got my shipment today. Did a side by side with my 1990 Signatory Laphroaig 19 year. Yours blows it away! Both are Signatory cask strength, yours however had a bigger mouthfeel and texture and it far more interesting with intense lemon custard. Once again, I thank you! My 19 year was $180.

About the new Faultline Bourbon:

Well done on this. Opened up a bottle for dinner last night with several friends. The Faultline was the favorite of all but one of us (and second place for her) over recent NAS Black Maple Hill, Four Roses small batch, and last year's K&L Rock Hill Farms barrel.  I give the edge to the RHF on the nose, but none of those come close to the Faultline on the finish.

About the new Fuenteseca Tequila:

This stuff is outstanding. I'm writing you now more than 5 minutes after my last sip and I can still taste everything. The finish is long and flavorful, not sweet and woody.  I could write more, but I need to go pour myself another dram. I have already put two more bottles on my wait list. You have hit it out of the park with this tequila blend. Kudos to you.

There's also a great new review from Kevin at the Tequila Tourist, who gives a very straightforward and accurate account from an unbiased third-party.

About the new 1979 Faultline Blended Whisky:

The Faultline 32-year blend was amazing.  Drank it on Sunday.   I need another bottle.  How close are you to selling it out?

Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences with us. It's nerve-racking sometimes to tell people about how excited you are for your own spirits releases because everyone always assumes you're in it for the money and sales. I'm in it for the feedback, however. I'm a feedback junkie. Thanks to all of you for feeding my habit and believing in what we're doing out here.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Oct152013

Two New Casks on the Shelf

Unfortunately we didn't have any leftovers from our Jura and Imperial casks, but the first two Signatory whiskies from this year's crop have hit the shelves. We're processing the Miltonduff and Glenlivet casks today, so those should be here this week in addition. For now, check out what we think are two of the best whiskies we have in stock -- period.

1991 Cambus 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky $109.99 - Here we go! After two years of hunting for a replacement to our wildly successful single grain Girvan, we've finally found a cask of grain worthy of our discerning customers. Cambus is among the most difficult-to-find grain distilleries, for a couple of reasons: it's been closed since 1993, and it's rumored to be at the heart of the Johnnie Walker Blue bottlings. No surprise that it's difficult to find--if Diageo is relying on this whisky to produce one of its most sought-after blends, it will certainly be controlling as much stock as possible. Occasionally, small lots slip out of the blender's grasp and into our glass! Here we have a super-high quality grain in all its awkward splendor. This nose is all oak spice and vibrant fresh fruit. Clove, coriander, freshly grated nutmeg, apple skins, under-ripe mango. On the palate, the fruit takes over, plus vanilla cake frosting, and the baking spices remain subdued, with a bit of coconut and some fresh oak notes. A perfect example of why sometimes, we must not blend all of the grain. (David Othenin-Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer)

1997 Laphroaig 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $115.99 - We love Laphroaig. Everybody loves Laphroaig (if they don't hate it). Not a lot of people on the fence regarding Laphroaig. That's why it's really hard to get. It's really expensive as well; this is both cause and effect. We've seen prices go up, while quality has remained consistent. We took on a middle-aged Laphroaig last year and sold it for what seemed like a reasonable $140. Now we have another cask of Laphroaig and it's difficult not to oversell it. If we're always so effusive about every whisky we taste, people start to question our judgment. So, I'm just going to say that this is top-tier Laphroaig. It's in that prime moment between the intensity of a young Laphroaig and that depth of the older offerings from this legendary distillery. This was the whisky that we spent time wringing our hands about because we were expecting to be paying the same price as our 18 year from 2012, but somehow we were able to get the price down to something far more reasonable. It won't last, and it will go down as a hot deal in our single barrel history. Don't miss it! (David Othenin-Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer)

We'll see you tonight at Bar Agricole for our big brandy party!

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Oct132013

Only Two Days Away!

Are you ready for the brandy party of the year? Are you ready for five dollar cocktails made with the finest French spirits, sourced directly by your friends at K&L and Bar Agricole? Are you ready for a flight of three brandies: 1993 Miquer Armagnac, 1998 Baraillon Folle Blanche Armagnac, and the new Bouju Fines Saveur Cognac?

We're hoping you'll join us at Bar Agricole this Tuesday evening starting at 7:30. Charles Neal will be there. Thad, Eric, and Craig will be there. I'll be there with Kyle in tow. Bring some $5 bills. We'll be selling $5 pours of brandy, or all three for $10. We'll have the entire outside patio to ourselves and the weather should be lovely. A classic Fall evening in the city with some of the best French spirits you can imagine.

Come hang out!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Oct122013

Rutledge's Choice

If there's anyone in this industry I want to be like, it's Jim Rutledge. He is absolutely one of my biggest mentors. Not because I want to make whiskey like him (which I wish I could, obviously), but because of the kind, friendly, and open-hearted way he treats everyone he meets. He will bend over backwards for you and he's happy to do it. I watch him and the way he handles his customers and I take note.

When I was having trouble finding a cask of Four Roses single barrel I liked, Jim sent me an email saying, "What's up?" I told him that all of the samples they had been sending out were good, but that I was being picky. I was waiting for the gut feeling I get and the excitement that goes through my spine when I taste something superlative. Jim told me, "Well I'm going to drive out to the warehouse tomorrow and pick your samples myself. I'm sure I can find something that will excite you." And so he did. And now that whiskey is here.

There's nothing out of the ordinary or unique about this whiskey, no ripe banana notes or soft cherries, and nothing new. This OBSV cask is simply straightforward, classic, and honest -- much like Rutledge himself. Creamy vanilla, a healthy dose of spice, lots of sweet wood on the finish with a touch of burnt sugar. It's a whopper, too, at 61.6% and 10.5 years of age. It's not a Bourbon you absolutely need to have -- there's nothing collectable about it and it's not something we haven't seen before. It's probably a Bourbon that you'll want, however. I want one, at least.

In stock now.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OBSV Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon $59.99

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Oct122013

E-Confrontation

"Most people who go to the opera hope there's no one in their seat, that there's no problems. If I go to the opera I HOPE someone's in my seat." - Cedric the Entertainer

We all know that person who's always upset about the current situation. Hell, I've been that person before. The one who sits you down for a ten minute, one-sided conversation about how everyone on the road is an idiot, about how they were in a hurry and some jackass cut them off, and how if everyone would just follow the rules the world would be a better place. What's funny, however, is that these are usually the same people who have to put up with ungrateful servers when they go out to eat. And obnoxious customer service at the department store. And that guy who took their ticket at the movie theater, what a jerk! What terrible luck these people have! Always stuck in traffic and dealing with the worst people in the world. Everyone's out to get them. Everyone else is always in the way, always treating them rudely, and never doing what they should be doing. But then you start to notice a pattern. These people tend to attract confrontation. Could it be that they're possibly confrontational? I mean, no one can be that unlucky, right?

Some people are simply looking for a fight. When you work in the customer service industry you have to recognize this and walk away when you see it because confrontational people seek out interaction. Who's gonna get it today? Who's going to dare argue with me? The more you try and reason with them, the more they'll simply look for weakness. The reason we have to listen to a ten-minute diatribe about the morning commute is because there was no one with them in the car when it happened. They need a target and an audience at all times: someone to unleash their anger upon, and then someone to sympathize with them about why they did it. A lesson needs to be learned and they're the ones who are going to teach us. When we get it wrong, they're here to tell us why. When we're being impolite, they're here to put us in our place. And if you're a blogger, or someone who other people actually listen to, then you're the enemy because why should anyone listen to you when they could be listening to them?

I communicate with a fair amount of other bloggers regularly, not just those who write about spirits, and it seems that everyone has their own experience with these people, be it in the form of a nasty comment or a critical email. As one friend told me recently: "We live in an age where information is more widely available than ever before and that information empowers people. It makes them dangerous."  I laughed out loud when he said that because it's so true. The majority of confrontational emails I receive are usually aimed at correcting something I've written about, regardless of whether I was actually wrong or right. As someone who puts themself out there on a blog, you have to be ready for this type of interaction, but you don't necessarily have to give these people the forum they so desperately desire. The people that are generally the most upset that I don't allow comments on the blog are almost always the ones who want to tell me off, to teach me a lesson, and punk me out in front of my readers. The ones who actually want to add something constructive to the conversation will generally just send me an email because it's not about winning.

And that's what most confrontational people are looking for: victory. They were right, we were wrong. Just admit it.

Of course, if you just walk away and say nothing, you're always better off. Confrontational people usually interpret silence as acknowledgement that you don't have an answer for their assertion. You've got no comeback. Admit defeat. When in reality, we're thinking about what we're going to eat for dinner later and which whisky we're going to drink afterwards.

Oh...I'm sorry, were you saying something?

-David Driscoll