Robert Parker Tackles Bourbon

I know many of you do not drink wine, but I'm sure you still know who Robert Parker is. He's the guy who made the 100-point rating system inseparable from alcohol. He's the guy who can single-handedly make or break a Bordeaux vintage. He's the former lawyer who decided to become a professional wine critic because he thought wine reviews were too closely linked with the people selling the product. His Wine Advocate, a paid subscription service, is now the most widely-read service of its kind in the world.

And now he's coming for Bourbon. Guess what just went out to more than 50,000 people? I'll leave you all to speculate what's been happening at K&L since this article was released:

I became enamored with a television series called Justified, starring and produced by Timothy Olyphant and co-produced by the well-known criminal writer Elmore Leonard and his son.

Moreover, the bourbon drinking antics of the many violent episodes of this sensational series that takes place in Harlan County, Kentucky are a prominent sideshow. A little research had me on the chase for Pappy Van Winkle, the most difficult alcoholic beverage to find in the United States. If you think I'm joking, try and find a bottle, especially of the 20-year-old and the very rare 23-year-old bourbon. They are much more difficult to find than esoteric and limited production French wines such as Romanée-Conti, Montrachet or Petrus.

But persistence and knowing a lot of people in the wine and spirits business finally paid off as I was able to secure a bottle from a Washington, DC wine merchant, who shall remain anonymous in order to prevent him from being inundated with requests since he receives so little of it.

What started as a fun distraction to see what was so special about Pappy Van Winkle led to a full throttle inspection/conquest of bourbon. To tell you the truth, I have never been a big fan of liquor, but I was blown away by the quality of the top bourbons. They are every bit as good as a great cognac or Armagnac ... and I'm not kidding!

While the following list is far from comprehensive, there is no question this is fashionable as well as profitable area in the marketplace as the single barrel and limited production bourbons seem to fly off retailers' shelves as quickly as they appear.

In any event, I hope this off-the-cuff article (which probably did more damage to my liver than 35 years of wine consumption has) is helpful to readers. I highly encourage those who don't know how good a sip of bourbon, no ice, can be to check some of the following out.

Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection 1993 Barrels Rediscovered Sour Mash Whiskey Blue Grass; aged in white oak Blue Grass Cooperage; Bottled at 17 years and 7 months of age; alcohol 43.6%; 90 proof
One of the more aromatic bourbons with a light amber color, this experimental batch from Buffalo Trace has sweet, but not overwhelming aromas of toast, vanilla, maple syrup, honey and a crème brûlée-like richness. Full, long and persistent with a touch of heat, this impressive, beautifully rich and textured bourbon possesses a long finish. 95 points

Woodford Reserve Distiller Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Labrot and Graham; 90.4 proof with no indication of age
Lots of caramelized fruit and whiffs of vanilla and spice emerge from this medium amber-colored Kentucky bourbon. It is potent in the mouth with the wood spice dominating the other flavors, and a hint of sharpness and pungency. While very good, too much heat and sharpness emerge from this bourbon. 88 points

Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey; Bottled 12/27/12; 93 proof; from the Blanton Distillery Co., Frankfort, KY with no indication of age; Packaged in a squat, designer bottle with a horse and jockey on the cork-finished top.
Smoky, woodsy, caramelized flavors of brown sugar, honey and maple syrup include a hint of wood. With a light to medium amber color, a full-bodied, gorgeously textured, fleshy, broad, savory mouthfeel, and no harshness, this is either a brilliant master blend or a bourbon with some serious age. If the latter is the case, they should promote that fact on the label. Velvety, opulent and age. If the latter is the case, they should promote that fact on the label. Velvety, opulent and stunningly complex, this is one of the most complex of the Kentucky bourbons I tasted. 97 points

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey from the Sazerac Co., Frankfort, KY; 132.4 proof; 66.2% alcohol; uncut and unfiltered
This medium dark amber-colored straight rye whiskey exhibits spicy, earthy, woodsy aromas. It is a penetrating, full-bodied, slightly sharp, pungent rye whiskey that carries its heat remarkably well for its high octane firepower. It offers a distinctive rye taste that is not as sweet as that found in top bourbons, but is very interesting. More of a cultivated taste, it is an impressive whiskey that somehow manages to remain well-balanced even with this degree of power. 93 points

Colonel E. H. Taylor Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon; 100 proof; from the Old Fashioned Copper Distillery, Frankfort, KY; packaged in a tall, handsome bottle that looks like the bourbon version of the bottle used by Sine Qua Non winery in Ojai, CA
A medium dark amber color is accompanied by a spicy, earthy nose exhibiting aromas of honey, wood spice and a touch of smoke. There is no harshness to this superb bourbon. It displays a velvety, full-throttle outhfeel with noticeable, but not distracting alcohol. Caramelized, smoky, honeyed flavors coat the palate and provide a beautiful, complex sipping beverage. 95 points

Jefferson's 18 Year Old Presidential Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Batch #6, Bottle #80; distilled from wheat in Fall, 1991; 94 proof; 47% alcohol
This is a medium dark amber-colored whiskey with big, full-throttle, projected aromatics of smoky caramelized honey and candy corn. It is a gorgeously full-bodied, powerful yet silky-textured bourbon with no hard edges. Penetrating, pungent and spicy with beautiful honeyed flavors as well as a long finish, this terrific bourbon is one of the stars in my tastings. 96 points

Bulleit 10-Year Old Bourbon Frontier Whiskey; Bulleit Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY; 45.6% alcohol; 91.2 proof
Medium amber-colored with a woody, peppery, spicy nose as well as a less caramelized character, this bourbon exhibits honeysuckle and molasses-like notes. It is a good, competent, reasonably attractive, medium-bodied, spicy, slightly angular effort that lacks the palate persistence and personality of the best examples of Kentucky bourbon. 86 points

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve; 20-Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; 90.4 proof; 45.2% alcohol
Medium dark amber in color with a big, smoky, spicy, woody nose displaying notes of caramelized citrus, honey and maple syrup, this bourbon hits the palate with wonderful sweetness, expansiveness and richness, and not a bit of burn or harshness as well as a long, persistent finish.  It is stunning on its own merit until you taste its more renowned and more expensive, virtually impossible to find, bigger brother, the Pappy Van Winkle 23-Year Old Family Reserve. 95 points

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23-Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Bottle #7851; bottled at the old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, Frankford, KY; 95.6 proof; 47.8% alcohol
This is the legendary Kentucky bourbon that is the Château Latour of bourbons. Pure perfection, it is nearly impossible to find and retailers hate to have even a couple of bottles because it creates problems for them given the demand. Truth be told, it is everything one would want in a bourbon.  With a deep amber color, it is one of the darkest of the Kentucky bourbons and boasts a strikingly intense, room-filling smorgasbord of aromas ranging from subtle smoky wood, caramelized orange rind, maple syrup, molasses, crème brûlée and cappuccino/coffee-like smell. Full and rich with profound sweetness, persistence and no hint of harshness or angularity, this prodigious bourbon could sit alongside the finest cognacs ever produced. It offers a remarkable tasting experience ...to be sipped, savored and like all the top bourbons, never diluted or served on ice. 100 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Bourbon Whisky 20 Barrels made with Corn and Rice; 45% alcohol; 90 proof; bottled after 9 years and 5 months in barrel
This light amber-colored bourbon is restrained and subtle with notes of smoky wood and a bit of intensity, but it lacks the personality of other Buffalo Trace Experimental lots. It is a more delicate style of Bourbon that, while interesting, is not what one expects from this fascinating beverage that merits more attention. 86 points

Maker's 46 Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Finished with Oak Staves; 94 proof
A medium dark amber color and an oaky nose are found in this bottling from Marker's Mark. It seems to dress up and exaggerate the wood more than I cared for. In the mouth, it reveals some nice sweetness and softness, but again, the wood dominates. It is certainly a good bourbon, but it is not worth the price of admission. 88 points

Lincoln Henderson Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels; 86.6 proof
Offered in a striking package, the Angel's Envy, which represents the expression for the evaporated portion of bourbon that goes with aging, has a delicate, refined nose of spicy wood, caramelized tropical fruits and spice. In the mouth, it is elegant by bourbon standards, silky smooth and persistent as well as surprisingly subtle, gracious and refined. If that's what you're looking for, and persistent as well as surprisingly subtle, gracious and refined. If that's what you're looking for, give this bourbon a try, but its understated personality will be something you either love or find lacking. 90 points

Buffalo Trace Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 10-Years Old; 45% alcohol; 90 proof
A sensational Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, this single barrel project is a powerful, pedal-tothe-metal, balls-to-the-walls style of bourbon that has been aged 10 years and has 45% alcohol, which makes it 90 proof. Seemingly bigger than that in the mouth, it is full-bodied with lots of caramelized citrus, maple syrup, smoky crème brûlée and cappuccino-like notes as well as terrific fruit from the fermentation. The wood is only a complementary aspect of this velvety textured, full throttle bourbon. It appears to be a classic. 95 points

Black Maple Hill Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon Sour Mash; 47.5% alcohol; 95 proof
I don't know much about this offering other than it is called a Limited Edition and comes from the Black Maple Hill Distilling Co. in Bardstown, KY. A foresty, earthy, foreboding style of bourbon, it possesses a dark amber color and a powerful, spicy, peppery personality displaying hints of maple syrup and caramelized fruit. Unctuously textured, rich and concentrated, its style reminds me somewhat of the 20-year old Pappy Family Reserve Bourbon, but of course the Black Maple Hill is far less expensive and easier to obtain. It is an impressive, rich, persistent bourbon with no hard edges and a long finish. 96 points

Willett Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey Sour Mash Pot Still Reserve; bottled in a distinctive Captain's like bottle
There is little information available on this Willett bourbon, but it reveals plenty of spicy, smoky wood notes, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and an attractive delicacy and gracefulness with no hard edges. Although not the greatest bourbon I tasted, it is a very fine, competently made, impressive offering. 92 points

Old Bardstown Black Label 90; 90 proof
Believe it or not, this bourbon came close in taste, texture and smell to the more expensive, virtually impossible to find Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Old Kentucky Bourbon. Wonderful rich, honeyed, caramel, toffee, maple syrup, wood spice, smoke and vanilla notes are found in this fullbodied, broad, rich, medium amber/tawny-colored bourbon. 94 points

Johnny Drum; 86 proof
This is a soft, velvety, light garnet-hued, well-balanced, smooth, medium-bodied bourbon with plenty of caramelized nut-like characteristics. I liked it quite a bit. 89 points

Rollins Creek; 100.1 proof
A sensational small batch bourbon, this fiery offering exhibits lots of apricot and orange marmalade notes intermixed with honeyed citrus. There is a bit of heat, but it is not that aggressive. Some peppery, earthy, smoky notes make for an impressive aromatic explosion. If the aggressiveness were toned down just a trifle, it would be even greater. 94 points

Noah's Mill Small Batch Boutique Bourbon; 114 proof
Remarkably silky, as smooth as cashmere and creamy textured, this bourbon offers lots of smoky marmalade, caramel, toffee and new saddle leather-like characteristics. It is a fabulous, intriguing, distinctive bourbon. 96 points

Buffalo Trace 23-Year Old French Oak Experimental; 90 proof
A whopping aromatic explosion is nearly beyond belief. Amazingly, it is not the least bit hot or burning. This bourbon was aged 23 years in French oak barrels, and the result is a full-bodied, light amber-colored bourbon that I would call the Lafite Rothschild of bourbon. Delicate, nuanced and precise with lots of honeyed fruit, toffee, molasses, caramel and a subtle note of chocolate, this bourbon's remarkable smoothness must be a result of its extended aging. It is almost impossible for a wine lover such as myself to believe that a bourbon could be this complex and nuanced. 97 points

Old Pogue Master Select; 91 proof
Another small batch bourbon, this sensational effort is a fiery, full-bodied bourbon with a medium amber color as well as lots of vanilla, smoke, marmalade, spice and caramelized citrus notes. Very aromatic, rich and heady, but not overly hot, this is a superb bourbon. 95 points

Abraham Bowman TPS Private Label; 147.5 proof
Packaged in a distinctive, squat bottle and at 147.5 proof, I was somewhat fearful of having my olfactory cells and palate scorched. That was not the case. This highly caramelized, deep ambercolored bourbon is remarkably smooth and silky with lots of pungent wood spice, vanilla, molasses and crème brülée-like notes. Persistent and long, this is a tour de force in jet fuel-styled bourbon, an ounce or two of which won't kill you. 94 points

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch
Obviously Four Roses produces a lot of bourbon, but their Limited Edition showed better than the Maker's Mark 46 (for which I had high hopes, but it did not hold up against the great stuff with which it was tasted). The bottle is mediocre looking compared to some of the other packaging from the boutique producers, but the bourbon exhibits a powerful perfume of sweet caramel, toffee and a flowery character. The aromas are followed by a silky, round, spicy, generously endowed, fullbodied bourbon that goes down easily. I assume this has been aged in oak a lot longer than the basic Four Roses, and that shows in its softness. 92 points

George T. Stagg
A tall, narrow bottle is striking as is the vibrant stag horn label. I forgot to write down the alcohol of this bourbon, but I assume it is pushing 100 proof given its powerful, rustic and rugged style. It is a beefy, pedal-to-the-metal bourbon with slight astringency as well as plenty of sweet caramelized earthiness, foresty, barbecue smoke, and rich, candied coffee and honeyed flavors. This is fullbodied, rich and impressive. 93 points

Parker's Heritage Collection 2012 Mashbill Blend
Apparently this is no longer being produced, but it comes in a great looking package with a wax capsule over top of a cork-finished bottle, a striking label, and an interesting bottle shape. Powerful, rich and silky smooth, it reveals notes of honeyed wheat, smoked caramel, fig and a hint of molasses. This is an impressive, textured, full-bodied bourbon. 92 points

Hudson Baby Bourbon; 375 ml bottle
This comes in a squat package that is quite attractive, but it was one of the most disappointing bourbons I tasted. Somewhat diluted, simple and harsh, it was over-matched by everything around it. Don't go for the sexy, squat bottle which is more about packaging than quality. 82 points

High West Whiskey Campfire
I threw this in because this distillery in, of all places, Park City, Utah (better known for skiing than high quality spirits), is apparently a fascinating operation. They make a pre-blended Manhattan that is a killer, but the two whiskies I tried included their least expensive, Campfire. It is a silky smooth blend displaying hints of a Highland-like peatiness intermixed with sweet caramel, subtle wood smoke and spice box. The richness, full-bodied flavors and sweet versus spicy flavor profile make this an interesting, delicious sipper. It would be a shame to waste it over ice and mix it as a cocktail. By the way, I have not tasted it, but apparently at the distillery you can purchase their 12-,16- or 21-year-old rye whiskies, which are hors classe for their category. 91 points

High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey
A sensational offering of a younger rye blended with a much older rye made from both rye and barley malt mashbill (53% rye and 37% corn), this is a sweet, smoky, spicy, flamboyant whiskey that is full, rich and intense, but not the least bit harsh. Just about everything I have tasted from High West in Park City, Utah is impressive. 94 points

Evan Williams 23
A spectacular as well as super-expensive bourbon (a bottle will set you back about $400, if you can find any), this offering was aged 23 years in oak. It exhibits lots of caramelized honey, sweet crème brülée, molasses, maple syrup, wood spice and smoke. 95 points

A. H. Hirsch Reserve
Cork-finished in a straightforward bottle style (unlike most of these limited production bourbons), this Reserve spent 16 years in wood. From a distillery in Pennsylvania, this expensive ($325 a bottle) bourbon is rich with lots of spicy wood, thick, juicy, fiery, smoky notes intermixed with caramel, honeysuckle, chocolate and espresso. Although it may not be worth the money, it is unquestionably outstanding bourbon. 93 points

Thanks Bob! Can't wait to try some of that Rollin's Creek.

-David Driscoll


Absolut Credit Where Credit is Due

I love it when a brand-oriented whisky customer comes into K&L and I get the chance to talk with them about all of the smaller independents. Nothing feels better than turning a new drinker onto the lesser-known spirits of the world. Almost nothing. There's one thing I actually enjoy even more. I really get a kick when a brand known for bulk production and cheesy gimmickry actually delivers a product that tastes good.

I love it when Glenlivet makes a good whisky. I love it when Tanqueray releases a good gin. I love it when gigantic brands show that they're still capable of making something inexpensive, but tasty.

In order to make sure this type of experience can still happen, I make sure to take as many tasting appointments as possible. I taste everything. I'll taste chocolate chip cupcake liqueur if someone wants to bring it into the store and pour it. I want to know what's out there, even if we're not going to sell it. That's why I was actually excited to taste the new Absolut Vodka releases this week. Even though we don't carry one of their products at K&L Redwood City right now, I'm always willing to reconsider if something catches my eye.

First off was another batch of the very-successful, limited-edition San Francisco Vodka $19.99we saw a few years back. We carried this when it was last released and people really enjoyed it. The nice thing about the Absolut flavored vodkas is that they're rather mild in their intensity. The fruit and herb infusions are actually quite delicate and well-balanced. It's flavored with grape, dragon fruit, and papaya. You can just add tonic water or soda and this stuff tastes great. I played around with it last night and made a few fun warm-weather concoctions.

This guy, on the other hand, is absolutely (no pun intended) fucking dangerous. The Absolut Cilantro $19.99 is far more gin than it is vodka. However, since there's no juniper maceration, it can't legally be gin no matter how much it resembles it. For $20 this is my new party bottle for 2013. My wife and I took down more than half of this last night in a variety of different forms. With lemonade and soda - fantastic - the cilantro still really cuts through the lemon and lime. With tonic water - it might as well be a gin and tonic because that's what it tastes like, but again with a heavy cilantro note. In a Bloody Mary - so much better than using straight vodka, but not as herbaceous as using gin would be.

Laugh at me if you want to, I'll be finishing this bottle on my patio tonight. And then I'll be buying another one. It's like 92 degrees in Redwood City right now, so I'm not drinking anything brown.

Perhaps most stunning (if you like vodka) was the new Absolut Elix $49.99(for a liter). Taking a page from the craft spirits movement, Absolut has answered the call for locally-sourced, "handcrafted" (whatever that means these days - in this case I think they're referring to the fact it was manually distilled on a copper still) spirits by offering one of their own. The Elix is made from all-estate (apparently Absolut owns a number of fields in Sweden) grown wheat. It's bottled in a nice package and proofed down to 42.3%, which to me means that they actually tinkered with this thing at various levels to find the one that tasted best, rather than just dropping it down to the defacto 40%.

I personally like the challenge of vodka - not as a consumer, but as a retailer and consumer guide. Have you ever tried recommending vodka to someone or offering advice on what to select? You can't talk about flavor, so you've got to talk about everything else: mouthfeel, texture, perception of heat or alcohol, etc. Regardless of how you feel about vodka, there's no denying that millions of people love it. Not just in mixers, either - straight up, on the rocks, in a martini. As a professional boozer I love the challenge I face when trying to identify what a particular customer enjoys about Belvedere, or Grey Goose, or Ketel One. There's a reason people like what they like, but since vodka is basically flavorless you have to figure out what that is. For this reason when we do the Good Food Awards judging I always chair the vodka committee.

In any case, back to the Elix, I was quite impressed with how clean the spirit tasted and how soft and creamy it felt on the palate. For $50 a liter I think it certainly stands out in a pack of other similarly-priced, high-end distillates. The fact that it's locally-sourced and all-estate is a nice selling point, as well.

So Absolut is back at K&L with three fun new products that make drinking fun. That's what drinking is supposed to be about - fun - so I'm going to carry them!

-David Driscoll


2013 K&L Exclusive Cask Scotland Pre-Arrivals Begin

Look above, my friends. Behold....the Signatory warehouse in Edradour Distillery in Pitlochry, Scotland. Home to hundreds of incredible whiskies of various ages, from many different distilleries, some still in existence and others now but a memory.

Without a doubt, regardless of which David you ask, both OG and I will tell you that this facility is the motherload for good single malt whisky. Signatory has barrels of impeccable quality and they're total sticklers about what they select and purchase. The only problem has been pricing. We always leave Signatory with a feeling of jubilation, an elated sense of joy about possibly bringing some of these fantastic single cask expressions back to California.

Until we see the pricing.

Ugh. The high is over.

But something changed this year. I don't know if it was the fact that we had paid our dues, or maybe our collective charm, but all of a sudden we were back at the negotiating table with a huge sense of optimism. Everyone was willing to play ball if we took enough casks to make it worthwhile.

And......boy, oh boy.......we would take fifty casks from Signatory if we had enough cash. Quantity wasn't going to be an issue, just price and availability. We gave them a list with our offer. Our offer was accepted. A deal was struck.

David and I are still on cloud nine from this purchase. We keep calling each other, wondering if we're missing something or if maybe we're forgetting to add in some kind of fee, but it looks like we're now in the clear to start selling these whiskies on pre-order. If you're new to the K&L pre-arrival process, here's how it works:

- We sell you the whisky now. You pay for it up front. This will reserve the bottle for you.

- The pre-arrival price will be cheaper than the in-store price when it arrives. By purchasing in advance you are getting a discount. Usually it's about $10 to $30 a bottle.

- You'll get an email saying your order is complete if you purchase a pre-arrival bottle. Then, when the whisky arrives, we'll send you a letter and an email telling you your bottle is ready.

That's it!

Every week we'll release one or two new whiskies to the general public and you can decide if that one looks good or not. We're really excited about our Signatory deal, so we're going to start with what David and I both think is one of the best deals we've ever found.

1989 Isle of Jura 23/24 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $99.99 - David and I just couldn't believe this when we tasted it. This was clearly the best Isle of Jura we'd ever tasted. This whisky has it all. It's vibrant and expressive. I get tons of stone fruit framed in subtle phenolic robes. The nose is so powerful and clean, you almost don't want to move on, but you'll thank God you did because the palate is just so classy. Bright citrus, savory wisps of smoke, touches of saline, fresh oats, and now some tropical fruits. We totally were expecting a very high price tag on this baby. It was FAR better than we'd been used to seeing from this distillery, although we knew they were capable of producing some world class stuff. It also wasn't particularly young, so we just expected an exorbitant price for this cask, but the normal experience of receiving stupidly over-priced quotes only for us to bitch and moan until they drop the price slightly just didn't happen this year. The result was an excellent whisky at a VERY fair price. We keep thinking it's too inexpensive, but isn't that what makes it so exciting? (David Othenin-Girard. K&L Spirits Buyer)

David D adds: 2013 is going to be the year that we bring value back to our single malt customers. If the brands aren't going to do it, we'll have to fly over to Scotland and make it happen. This Isle of Jura cask is purely underpriced. And how often does a whisky get underpriced in a hot market? Aromas of toffee and cake frosting drift headily out of the glass. A bit of earth, maybe? The hogshead was likely a Bourbon cask because I get wood spice and Bourbon flavors. Fruity notes on the palate with a long, delicious finish of toasted nuts. What a stunner. I never knew Jura could taste like this. For the price you might wanna buy two.

150 bottles available at the pre-arrival price.

That's it for now! More hot Signatory deals coming soon!

-David Driscoll



One of my favorite bands in the modern music scene is a group called Deerhunter from Georgia. Their psychotropic, melancholy, eerily-beautiful sound never ceases to inspire me, no matter how many times I listen through their material. When their first album Cryptograms dropped back in 2006 I was instantly a fan. I made it over to their tiny show at Bottom of the Hill in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, stood alongside a few dozen other admirers, paid about $10 for my entrance fee, and quietly sipped my beer while watching the show from about ten feet away. It was utterly fantastic.

When Microcastle was released in 2008, I was completely overwhelmed by how that album spoke to me. It's like the music was written directly for my inner soul and my deepest fears and anxieties. I'd never felt so terrified, yet so illuminated while listening to rock music. When they announced their San Francisco date for the tour it was for a larger venue than before: The Great American Music Hall in the Tenderloin. Tickets were $25 this time around and the crowd was much larger. Both shows sold out quickly and I needed to make sure I was at my computer at 10 AM the day tickets went on sale. There were about five hundred people at this show and it wasn't as easy to see from where I was standing. Nevertheless, I still had a blast and left the show totally invigorated.

Two years would go by before Deerhunter released their third album: Halcyon Digest - a brilliant mix of atmospheric mood with pop sentimentality. Their American tour would once again bring them to the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Tickets were still around the same price ($30), but the word had since spread about the band though the music world: these shows were not to be missed. I decided to pass this time around because the show I wanted to attend sold out quickly and I didn't feel like fighting the crowd. My previous experiences would be enough to sustain my current admiration for their newer material.

Since 2010, Deerhunter have been all over the world. They're currently planning a European tour with plenty of festival appearances in support of their soon-to-be-released album Monomania. I'll definitely be picking up a copy of the record when it's released, but I'm probably not going to make it to their next Bay Area show. Deerhunter has been on Conan O'Brien now and Jimmy Kimmel Live. They're becoming superstars in the independent music scene and rightly so - they're an incredibly talented, exciting, and interesting rock band. However, I know that the next stop for Deerhunter will be the Fox Theater in Oakland or the Fillmore in San Francisco. They've gathered enough of a following now to carry that kind of demand. Tickets will probably be about $40 or so and I'm sure they'll put on a great show.

At that show there will be tons of new fans. Fans who maybe just discovered them recently. Fans who will be thrilled to see Deerhunter play for the first time. They'll pack the floor, push their way to the front, and struggle to get as close as possible, the way most general admission shows work. Since I've already seen them twice, however, and I was lucky enough to see them when they were still starting out, I'm not sure that any new experiences with Deerhunter will ever be able to outdo my previous ones.

How did Deerhunter, a small, oddball band from Georgia, become a big player in the music scene? First off, they were good and their sound refreshing. More importantly, however, was the fact that they quickly became internet darlings. All the music blogs and indie sights like Pitchfork would gush about their music on a weekly basis. In today's new age of instant information, the word spread quickly. No one needed to pick up a magazine or hear about Deerhunter at a friend's party because the information was being spread by amateur music bloggers faster than any word of mouth could ever achieve.

That's the thing about the internet these days. When people like something, they write about it. They take pictures of it. They tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, and text message it. When a small army of enthusiasts begins spreading the word about something new, exciting, good, and fun, it's human nature for the rest of the world to want to share in with that experience. When the demand for Deerhunter's music went up, the ticket prices went up with it. The competition for those tickets made the availability more scarce.

One thing that hasn't changed with success, however, is the quality of Deerhunter's music. I'm hoping that their upcoming release will continue to challenge me and inspire me as the previous albums have done. However, there will probably come a time when I simply go back and listen to the ones I already have. Unlike whiskey, music can last forever no matter how many times I listen to it.

Personally, I'm excited for Deerhunter and their success because they've earned it. I've got no problem with their new-found popularity. If I had wanted to keep their music and performances to myself, I probably shouldn't have written a blog post about how amazing they are. I probably shouldn't have written internet reviews about how awesome their albums are. I probably shouldn't have taken Facebook photos of myself at their concert. It's funny how that happens. People spend all their time filling the internet with information about how wonderful something is and then get upset when the world takes notice.

For some people sharing their enthusiasm is a wonderful thing - until other people start actually sharing that enthusiasm.

-David Driscoll


Had To Share This With You

I was a big baseball card collector as a kid and, as I just sat down at home to read the New Yorker, I found the first article deals with the recent sale of a Honus Wagner baseball card – a piece of cardboard that recently sold for $2.1 million dollars. The Honus Wagner card was the Holy Grail of baseball cards in the 1980s when I was still collecting. Knowing what I now know about whisky, I can only imagine where the hobby is today. The article focuses on the fact that the most recent purchaser, a man named Ken Golden, bought the card for investment purposes, rather than any actual love for sports memorabilia. Read on:

"It's my belief that none of this is an investment," Jonathon Gallen, a sports-memorabilia obsessive who supports his hobby by running a hedge fund, said the other day. Goldin had invited Gallen to look at the Wagner – "like a drug dealer invites an addict to his party," Gallen said – but he wasn't interested. "Calling it an investment is just to rationalize your purchases to your wife," he went on. "I am in no doubt warped but not warped enough to pay two million for a baseball card."

Gallen once worked in the memorabilia business, and has spent some time thinking about the economics of the trade. The high-end memorabilia game, he said, has been overrun by "checkbook collectors" with little emotional attachment to the merchandise. The influx has sent memorabilia prices soaring, with a recognizable accomplice: Professional Sports Authenticators, the Moody's of the card world, which gives number grades to the goods, making it easier for untrained eyes to invest. Sound familiar?

Oh man, does it ever!!!!!!!!

"Both securities and baseball cards have attracted a great deal of money from people who really don't know the fundamentals of the securities or the cards," Gallen said. "In both my job and my hobby, I listen to my own voice. It's like having someone tell you whether your girlfriend is a seven or an eight. Well, does she make you happy? Is she pretty to you? What difference does it make?"

Just something to think about. Somewhere out there, baseball card geeks are having the same conversation on their own blogosphere, taking quotes from our writings, and using them as analogous antedotes for their own esoteric conversations.

-David Driscoll