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Wednesday
Apr272016

BOOM: Jack Daniels Buys Glendronach

Now we're getting serious with this whisky revival, folks. I already wrote about all of Scotland's independent bottlers building new distilleries. Now get ready for the deep-pocketed global brands to start buying them. I've known this had to be coming for some time. The Benriach group simply got an offer they couldn't refuse from Brown-Forman: $415 million for the trio of distilleries in the portfolio, Glendronach, Benriach, and Glenglassaugh. Who's next? That's the real question.

Kilchoman to Bacardi? Arran to Sazerac? I'd wager this is just the beginning. 

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Apr272016

New Kilchomans

Two new Kilchoman whiskies hit the store this week. One now a full-time item, the other quite limited.

Kilchoman "Sanaig" Islay Single Malt Whisky $69.99- The newest full-time release from Kilchoman distillery located on Scotland's island of Islay is called "Sanaig" and takes the standard Machir Bay release and adds an additional dollop of sherry aging. The traditional Bourbon cask maturation is complemented with an additional ten months in Oloroso sherry butts, adding both richness and texture to the whisky. The result is a chewier, denser, sweeter, and more decadent experience, but one still full of all the flavors that make Kilchoman what it is: smoke, peat, salt, and earth. 46%

Kilchoman "Evolution" Islay Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $139.99– A monster of a single sherry hogshead from Kilchoman chosen by Impex, the brand’s importer to the U.S. Bottled at 58.7%, distilled on Sept 1st 2011 and bottled on Jan 20th 2016. Big smoke, big peat, big power.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Apr262016

Sake Tasting in SF Tomorrow

For five bucks tomorrow evening you can come by our sparkling new tasting bar in San Francisco and taste some very nice sakes with the folks from Vine Connections, our main sake importer. We're starting at five PM sharp and we'll run the event until six-thirty. Featured will be:

Yuho Eternal Embers Junmai $24.99

Fukucho Forgotten Fortune Junmai $16.99

Fukucho Moon on the Water Junmai Ginjo $36.99

Tensei Song of the Sea Junmai Ginjo $34.99

Mantensei Star Filled Sky Junmai Ginjo $29.99

Tentaka Hawk in the Heavens Junmai $24.99

This is a great chance to get your feet wet, or try some new expressions you might not have had. Plus, you can ask questions galore as Jonas Carlson will be in the house answering all queries from beginners to experts. Come by and join us!

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Apr232016

Funny 

I've written here before about the fact that I get a lot of email—like an insane amount of correspondence at all hours of the day. One of the funnier ones this week was from an anonymous reader who asked if I really even went on these trips I often post about, seeing that I was never in any of the pictures. I responded by typing: "I'm the one taking the pictures, so I'm never in them." 

"Then maybe you don't really go," this mysterious person wrote back. "Maybe someone is just sending you photos and you're just some guy writing the copy."

I laughed out loud when I read that. I'd never even thought about the possibility of doing something like that! That would save me from the sleep depravation and fatigue I'm generally consumed by these days, for sure. My problem, however, is that—while I don't consider myself a professional photographer—I'm very picky about the pictures I use here and over at On the Trail, so I prefer to take them myself. I've also followed a rule for the last seven years or so concerning personal images, which is something along the lines of: the blog should definitely not look like a cheesy Facebook page. I hate photos of people posing, smiling, holding bottles, and doing what could be done anywhere, at anytime, in any situation. 

Here's me in Scotland! Here's me in Japan! Here's me with this distiller! Yawn....

In any case, to ease your mind, I dug out this photo from Château Latour that my colleague Phil took in the tasting room. It's the only proof I have that I was ever really in Bordeaux.

But it might actually be just a tasting bar in San Francisco (which is why it's a boring photo).

-David Driscoll

Friday
Apr222016

Catching Up With Singani 63 

One of the coolest things about having done the Drinking to Drink Interviews over the past year or so is that just about every participant has kept in touch since. They'll drop me a line every now and again, or reach out when they're coming into town. In the case of Steven Soderbergh, we've kept in touch pretty regularly via email since first meeting back in 2014. I've been curious to know how his Singani 63 brand is developing, and he's always interested in bouncing an idea or two off this old retail-oriented brain. When he invited me to dinner last night I wasn't about to say no (even though I was still sorely suffering from a ten day Bordeaux hangover). I met Steven and some of his pals over at 1760 on Polk Street in San Francisco where the chef had prepared a little Singani 63 food and cocktail pairing. Now that it's been over a year since Singani 63 has been available in the California market, we're starting to see some serious creativity with the versatile spirit in the culinary scene. I was definitely curious to see the progress.

Snap pea cocktails seem to be all the rage right now! My friends over at Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park have one on the menu, and to start off our voyage at 1760 the gang had prepared a similar concoction. You wouldn't necessarily think a pea cocktail would be delicious (especially because it sounds like pee), but it's quite wonderful. That fresh flavor balances beautifully with the fragrant flavors of Singani. I'm adding this one to my to-do list at home.

Each course was paired with a signature cocktail and I have to say I was quite impressed with the food over at 1760. These scallops were to die for, and the small plates we were treated to throughout the evening were all outstanding. The fennel and napa cabbage were the perfect side note to the snappy snap pea flavors. Cocktail pairing is definitely a thing.

Throughout the evening the restaurant made about six different Singani 63 cocktails and each of them was completely different from the next. "This is the exact type of presentation you need to be doing on a full time basis," I told Steven towards the end of the night. "It really hammers home how fun Singani is to use as a base spirit and the more people begin to understand how to use it, the more people you're going to have drinking this stuff." 

But I think he already knows that.

-David Driscoll