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Monday
Apr242017

Kentucky Ho!

I'm on a roll as of late. I've been on a plane almost every week since February and it's not stopping in April, nor will it stop in May or June. I'll be traveling off and on until mid-July, so I'm going to need to find another gear, settle in, and make sure to get my beauty sleep. The open road awaits! This morning I'm at SFO early awaiting my flight to Louisville along with this journey's partner-in-crime Julio Santos. Julio runs all of the operations in Redwood City and is a huge help to the spirits department in terms of managing inventory and keeping track of all my orders. Since he loves Bourbon and has taken a real shine to whiskey over the last few years, I thought I'd bring him along for the ride this time. We're scheduled to land in the Big L later this evening where we'll grab dinner and a few drinks before catching a few Zs. We've got a full day at Maker's Mark tomorrow putting together a new custom batch of Maker's 46 at cask strength. Considering our first experiment sold out in a matter of hours after sending the email, I'm assuming the demand is there for another round. 

As usual, I'll be reporting from the road. Let's see if Kentucky has a few surprises up its sleeve this year.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Apr232017

White Burgundy Secrets

I don't quite yet have the same experience with Burgundy that I do with single malt, but I can share a few secrets with you over my evolution into one of our regional specialists. Where do I look when I want white wine that tastes really expensive, but still clocks in under fifty bucks a bottle? St. Aubin, my friends. It's the Brooklyn to Montrachet's Manhattan. I'm not sure how much longer that will last, however.

I've got a few selections here if you need a party showstopper. Just remember who made you look good. But don't tell anyone. Just coolly say: "Oh yeah, I've been drinking St. Aubin for years. It's the only real value left in Burgundy."

-David Driscoll 

Sunday
Apr232017

Same Folks, Different Genre

If you follow the news, or more specifically politics, you start to notice trends. You notice that the guys (and it's almost always men) who talk the loudest about an issue tend to get caught doing the very opposite of what they say they stand for. For example, the guy who speaks the loudest about morality usually gets caught doing something completely immoral. The guy who leads the committee on ethics is discovered doing something entirely unethical. The puritan demanding transparency eventually has the most to hide. It's ironic, yet it happens all the time, which often forces me to ponder about how ironic it actually is. At this point, haven't we figured out the pattern? It's just over-compensation, isn't it? An evolutionary trait—like how small dogs often have the loudest bark to make up for their lack of size. 

There's a tendency for insecure humans—those who know they're doing something particularly wrong or indecent—to compensate for the guilt or shame they feel by attacking the same character flaws in others. It's like a form of denial or redirection, and I see it happen so often today that sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode (although I do live in the world capital of smug, so that's probably a big part of it). In the food and wine industry, we have our own versions of over-compensation anger, when a person who's feeling particularly uptight about their own anxieties lashes out at someone else. Examples? There are plenty....

- People who grew up in America eating McDonalds, microwave dinners, and bologna sandwiches and are for some reason embarrassed by that history tend to have food over-compensation, so they go around proclaiming their love of French delicacies and various organ meats as a defense. If you order a vegetarian option in front of them, they'll probably call you out or ask what's wrong with you. "What's the matter? You don't like fois gras?" (queue a hearty condescending chuckle). 

- People who grew up in America drinking Bud Light, wine coolers, and various other flavored spirits, yet want to pretend like none of that ever happened, tend to have alcohol over-compensation. They've read a list of what's considered cultured and appropriate, and—believe me—they've memorized that list to a T. If you dare drink something sweet and fruity, prepare for a lecture on dry wines and an unsolicited list of opinions about them.

- People who grew up in America without foreign language training and feel insecure about that lack of cultural preparation can often over-compensate with an in-your-face display of foreign awareness. That's a Bay Area specialty for anyone who's never visited. I've been invited to numerous French contests in my life, where people try to prove how French they are and how much French they know. In theory, I would have avoided these situations had I known I was heading into one, it's just that no one told me in advance. They simply said, "Hey, why don't you come over for dinner?" 

For the majority of us out there who drink because we like to get drunk and have fun, it can come as a shock when over-compensation takes over a party or an entire restaurant, but believe me it happens. All you can do is smile politely and back away slowly. 

Image result for gob arrested gif backing away

-David Driscoll

Friday
Apr212017

New Springbank Arrivals

This is one of those situations where everything sells off the web before we even have time to taste the bottles or provide notes, but just so I can say that I warned you in advance: new Springbank limited edition whiskies have landed at K&L and here's the rundown. There's a new 11 year "Local Barley" expression (50% of our allocation sold within ten minutes of arrival, but there are still a few bottles kicking around). There's also a new 25 year old superstar rarity as well, along with new batches of Springbank 12 year cask strength and Kilkerran 12 year. I'm always a big fan of the 12 year Springbank, and I'm a huge nut for the "local barley' editions, so I'm squirreling away a few bottles for myself along with the staff. I'm hoping to taste samples of these next week, so hopefully there are still a few bottles left to tell you about once that happens!

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Apr192017

Four Roses Exclusives Return

Our final two barrels from last fall’s Kentucky whirlwind have just rolled into the store. Bottled in March, these two just cracked the 10 Year mark by a hair. They serve as a wonderful comparison of how each of the Four Roses mashbills influences the bourbons final flavor. Both were fermented with the V yeast strain which offers delicate fruit and a rich creamy texture. We often talk about the B mashbill as being "high rye" content, but in fact ALL of the Four Roses Bourbons have an exceptional amount of rye. Even the E mashbill contains something like 15% rye in the recipe, which is at or above the levels seen in Buffalo Trace's "High Rye" recipe bourbons like Blanton's, Elmer, and Rock Hill. Of course the B Mashbill deserves it’s title as the High Rye mashbill with a massive 35% Rye in the blend.  

With demand through the roof we're seeing fewer casks available and those on offer are younger than before. Four Roses at 8 years old can be every bit as delicious (if not more) than something at 10 year, but there is certainly a psychological effect when you see that 10 year mark on the side of the bottle. Some geeks swear there’s a mystical threshold so important that simply by crossing that line a better bourbon magically transmutes into existence. We know better of course, but these two whiskies won't help my argument.

Four Roses "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel OBSV (Aged 10 Years) Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon $64.99

These OBSV's are becoming harder to find every day. The distillery probably makes more of this recipe than any other because it is used in their flag ship "Single Barrel" product. Nonetheless we see this recipe very infrequently when tasting at the distillery. So when they roll one out to be bottled at Cask Strength we take note. It's even better when we get in there and taste a real stunner. OBVS is generally very good and it's a profile we love. Usually shows tons of fruit and tons of spice with a balanced creamy texture. This fits right in that profile and will likely sell very fast. It's barrel #34-4I and came out of warehouse GE. Only 156 bottles available.

Four Roses "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel OESV (Aged 10 Years 2 Months) Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon - $64.99

This OESV recipe is easily one of 4Rs' most consistently good. That V yeast strain is really attractive with the lower rye content. It's an approachable style without any of the awkwardness that some of the other yeast strains can exhibit. This cask is all bright fruit and sweet oak. A slight dustiness and a pinch of mint on the nose keeps it from being a total fruit bomb. Maybe not as bold as the OBSV but what it lacks in power it more than makes up for in finesse, complexity and elegance. These two casks are really fun to taste next to each other and contemplate the nature of bourbon and maturity. This barrel #6-2N came out of warehouse TS. Only 108 bottles available.

-David Othenin-Girard