Talkin' Shit

There's something very satisfying about jealous haters gettin' embarrassed on national television. I went to fourteen Warriors games last season, watched one of the most amazing basketball teams ever play night after night, cheered them all the way through the playoffs, and finally let out a huge sigh of relief when their hard work and dedication netted them the championship ring they so richly deserved. They were so much fun to watch all year long and they earned every bit of that NBA title. Then came all the bullshit. They were lucky. They didn't play any good teams. Blah bloo blee, blah bloo blah. So what have the Warriors done in response? They've come out and put down all thirteen opponents in their path, including a comeback last night that is both one of the most incredible performances I've ever watched, and one of the most humiliating defeats for the Clippers who talked trash during the off-season, then blew a 23 point lead at home on TNT. 

Nothing motivates people to work harder more than shit talking. You say I can't do something, I'm going to work harder to prove otherwise. Because, while sometimes fun and full of drama, the angry banter is really irrelevant. What matters are the results. When you're good at what you do the work speaks for itself. There's no need to comment beyond that. Last night's win was all they needed to say.

-David Driscoll


A Pair of Old Invergordons

Our beloved grain whisky label is back for another run this holiday season with new labels and an entirely new package that is—in my opinion—a HUGE upgrade over the previous version. In the past we've used the Sovereign brand to bottle all kinds of interesting things like old Ardbeg, Caol Ila, and Laphroaig, but we've decided to start focusing on grains so as not to confuse folks with our other Hepburn's Choice and Old Particular casks. Fresh off our most recent delivery are two new single barrels of Invergordon, a Whyte & Mackay Highland grain distillery that sits along the waters of the Cromarty Firth north of Inverness. For those of you who still can't wrap your heads around grain whisky, just imagine Bourbon distilled to a higher proof and aged like single malt in various types of refill barrels. It's basically high proof, column still whisky made from corn, wheat, or unmalted barley that's pumped out in mass quantities to mix into blended Scotch. Because of that rather dubious reputation for quality, prices for grain whisky remain low. But because of our extensive tasting and sampling in the genre, we've learned that very old grain whiskies can be like liquid gold—smooth, round, and complex whiskies that are wood-dominated and creamy on the palate.

Just in time for your holiday needs we've got a 27 year refill hogshead of Invergordon, along side a 50 year old fresh Bourbon cask. It's an incredible side-by-side comparison and a true introspective for anyone looking to understand more about an oft-misunderstood style of whisky.

1989 Invergordon 27 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky $129.99 - This is textbook grain whisky, nothing more and nothing less. It's fruity and round on the entry with a soft mouthfeel and a lovely note of vanilla on the finish. It's no frills, no fuss whisky. It's just flat out delicious.

1964 Invergordon 50 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky $299.99 - This is unlike anything we've had in the grain department before, something in between the Port Dundas and Cambus bottlings we've done in the past. Five decades (yes, fifty freakin' years!) in a Bourbon cask have brought out incredible richness here. It's so rich it's bordering on the nutty rancio flavors one typically finds in sherry-aged Scotch with dark toffee and complex layers of oak. Then there's the incredible price: $299. Try walking into your local liquor store and finding a fifty year old single malt for less than $600. Better yet, try finding a fifty year old whisky at all.

-David Driscoll


Copper & Kings Arrives!

We've been telling you about the delicious brandies from Copper & Kings for weeks, but now you can try them for yourself! Finally available in all three retail outlets and available online! Available exclusively at K&L in California, Copper & Kings is going be the next big thing in American micro-distillation. Think of them as the St. George or the Anchor Steam of Kentucky. Started in 2014 by Joe and Lesley Heron, the Louisville-based brandy upstart uses three gigantic Vendome copper pot stills to craft a number of different brandy expressions, both from grapes and apples. Those spirits are then blended into an aged solera system of older expressions, created from mature stocks purchased across the country from other pot-distilling brandy producers. The results are absolutely incredible and we couldn't be more excited to offer them here to our savvy consumers. We've got a variety of different spirits in stock from the Louisville company, but let's focus on the big three for today:

Copper & Kings American Small Batch Brandy 34.99 - The American Small Batch brandy is made from stocks aged 90% in ex-Bourbon casks and 10% in new American oak, for a softer, more vanilla-laden flavor profile. The brandy glides over the tongue with a silky texture, but without ever losing that punch of oak flavor or the concentration of the fruit. It's perfect at 90 proof and mixes like a dream into a number of classic American whiskey cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Try it instead of Bourbon next time you're mixing and you'll see what the fuss is all about. Copper & Kings is ready to put American brandy on the map. Not as a secondary Cognac, but rather as a bold and expressive genre all its own. 90 proof.

Copper & Kings "Butchertown" Reserve Casks Brandy $59.99- At 124 proof, the Butchertown brandy is a beast of a spirit, packing an explosion of flavor normally found in bottles of Booker's or Four Roses, rather than Cognac or Armagnac. Using older reserve stocks from the solera base, 75% of which were aged in ex-Bourbon casks, the other 25% in new American oak, the brandy is brimming with Bourbon-esque flavors: charred oak, vanilla bean, and caramel, accented with the roundness of the fruit. Try this in a Manhattan, or even a Highball with ice and soda water. We think it will become a mainstay of your bar from that point forward.

Copper & Kings American Apple Brandy $39.99 - The American Apple Brandy is made from stocks aged 90% in ex-Bourbon casks and 10% in ex-sherry, which adds a textural richness to the finish that cannot be understated. The fruit is still front and center, pure apple skin and cider-like flavors, but with a weight and supple texture that coat the palate and add richness to the backend. At 100 proof, it mixes like a middleweight--something less robust than applejack, but less delicate than Calvados. It's tailor made for a Jack Rose and for the price it's something you can sip or mix with reckless abandon. 100 proof.

I can't tell you how excited I am to have these available. I've been mixing cocktails all weekend with all three spirits, using Jen Colliau's Small Hand Foods mixers and following all the brandy recipes on her website. Brandy Milk Punches, Pan American Clippers, Bittered Slings, and more. I brought them over to a co-worker's house this past Sunday and made drinks for her and her friends. They were all begging me for the instructions by the end of the evening. You're going to be buying these bottles over and over and over again. These are not going to be brandies you try once and then move on from. They're going to be things you run out of and say, "Shit, I'm out of Copper & Kings again!"

-David Driscoll



Have you ever shared a drink with someone you know (someone who even shares the same taste as you) and disagreed completely over the quality of what you were drinking? It can be quite flabbergasting. I opened a bottle of wine with someone the other night (a white wine that I find to be quite delicious) and my friend took a sip, wrinkled her nose, and said, "I don't like that at all." I took a sip to make sure the wine wasn't corked or off. There was nothing wrong with it.

"Are you serious?" I asked, completely confused. It tasted wonderful to me.

"It has a terrible finish," she said, her mouth now a crooked line of complete disgust. I took another sip. The wine was perfect. Fresh, crisp, clean white wine—everything as it should be.

"I'm not quite sure what you're tasting," I said, trying to be polite. "I think it's great."

"It tastes like there's something wrong with it," she said. "It has a terrible, bitter finish. I can't drink it." She put down her glass.

I sat there for a minute unsure of what to do. I was in total disarray. Finally I got up, opened another bottle, and poured her a glass of a different wine. She thought it was much better, but I didn't find much of a difference between the two. That was the end of it though. There was no point in arguing or discussing it any further. She felt the way she felt. I felt the way I felt. What more was there to say?

My point? People can taste different things in different beverages and you may never know why. It doesn't matter how experienced you are. Despite the fact that both my friend and I work professionally in the trade, we could not come to any sort of middle ground concerning a very ordinary (and delicious, in my opinion) white wine—and it's not just experienced folks who don't always see eye to eye. I interact with customers all the time who don't like some of the wines they've purchased from K&L. That doesn't surprise me because you can't like everything. What does surprise me, however, is when people assume that because they don't like a wine it automatically means the wine is flawed or not good. I have to laugh when people email me in anger because I liked something they found to be unsatisfactory, but I guess when you hate a wine or a whisky and think it tastes absolutely terrible, it's hard to imagine why the person sitting across from you, sharing that same liquid, wouldn't hate it too. And the opposite is true, as well. When you love something it can be hard to imagine another person not liking it.

But that's the way things work. For every person who likes peaty Lagavulin there are fifty others who hate it. For every person who hates earthy Bordeaux there are fifty others who love it. You can fight about it if you want to, but you're not going to convince anyone you're right.

-David Driscoll


Drink & Watch: Bad Santa

I think Bad Santa might be my favorite movie ever made. Every holiday season when the weather starts getting chilly and the leaves start falling from the trees outside I like to open a bottle of whisky, watch Billy Bob Thornton drink himself silly, and laugh my fucking ass off while having a few drams myself. Ever since I discovered the Classic Bay Area Kron channel in the non-HD section of my Comcast guide (an area I rarely look at these days since I like everything as highly-defined as possible) I've been on a huge Three's Company kick. My God, does that show hold up over time! John Ritter as Jack Tripper may be even funnier to me now than he was when I watched as a kid. John's final role before he passed away was as the soft-spoken, uncomfortably conservative mall boss in Bad Santa and it's such an opposite turn from the loud, over-the-top, physical comedy he exuded as Tripper. The scenes he shares with the late Bernie Mac are like duels between two masters of hilarity, battling back and forth in a contest to see who can make the other one laugh first with just a facial expression or an odd twitch of the mouth. I watched this flick again last night and rewound John Ritter's final moments back over and over. I always find new things to laugh about each time I watch this movie, which is why I love it so much.

Of course, I got about as drunk as Billy Bob himself before all was said and done. I was texting my thoughts to a friend at the time, who responded with great news: "You heard they signed on for a sequel, right?"

I had not heard that. Bad Santa 2 in 2016? I'll have to prepare both my funny bone and my liver.

-David Driscoll