Cut Spike 2.0

We got 450 bottles of Cut Spike's most recent whisky batch delivered on Monday. By the end of last night we'd sold more than 50% of that inventory. Within 48 hours of our notice we cleared out 230 bottles of single malt whisky from Nebraska! N-U-T-S. The good news, both for us and especially for the guys at Cut Spike, is that most of these were repeat purchases. People were begging for more, not merely scratching a curious itch. Selling the first bottle in this business is the easy part; it's the second and third bottles that take real talent and great juice. With whisky drinkers always looking for the next great adventure, getting them to recommit is not an easy task. Considering I've been emailed every week by multiple customers about the potential ETA for a Cut Spike return, I'd say these guys have created quite the buzz. People are drinking this stuff, emptying their bottles, and coming back for more.

Based on the current trajectory, I'd say we'll be sold out completely by the end of the week. That's likely all we'll see until late Spring.

Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whisky $59.99 - At first we couldn't believe our mouths. We knew that Cut Spike single malt had just taken Double Gold honors at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits competition (the highest possible honor), so obviously other people thought it was good, too. But after tasting so many mediocre American attempts at single malt whisky, we had become accustomed to the idea that the Scottish style of distillation would never be recreated here at home. There would be spin-offs, and experimental gasps at greatness, but that supple, malty profile would simply be something we needed to import from abroad. Then the folks at Cut Spike sent us a sample of their two year old Nebraskan single malt whisky made from 100% malted barley on a pot still crafted in Rothes, Scotland. Fermented at the brewery next door to Cut Spike in La Vista, the malt was matured for two years in new American oak with varying levels of char. The result is an incredible hybrid: soft, barley and vanilla-laden whisky that tastes somewhat like your standard Scottish single malt, but has its own unique character simultaneously. It's the kind of whisky that you taste once and enjoy, but then the next day suddenly crave intensely. It impresses you instantly, yet doesn't really reveal its full character until weeks later. The new oak blurs seamlessly into the malty mouthfeel, adding a richness on the finish normally not tasted in standard Scottish selections. Cut Spike is a major accomplishment for American distillation, pure and simple.

-David Driscoll



If anyone finds my exhausted, dehydrated body in the alley between K&L and the warehouse, flailed on the ground in a desperate attempt to bring one more box of booze into the store, please let my family know that I tried my best. I didn't want to collapse from exhaustion and fatigue; I really wanted to make it all the way to the 25th and say I survived the most difficult and busiest three weeks in the history of K&L. I hope I'm around on the 26th to put my feet up, have a glass of whisky, and ring in a toast to the new year.

But, FYI: if I don't make it, tell my wife and friends that I love them.

We're getting absolutely destroyed right now. I walked into the store this morning and there was literally nothing left. For a split second I thought we had been robbed, but that wasn't the case. We had actually sold that much booze on Monday while I was gone. It took me three hours just to make the store look decent, and it will take me another four to get it back to where it was on Saturday. That's just the store. Then there's the warehouse back stock that looks like a hurricane hit it.

How many more days until Christmas? Nine?

-David Driscoll


Mailbox: Whisky Advocate Winners

Rather than the standard, rubber-stamp answer I usually have to give people when the year-end whisky awards come around—"I'm sorry, we sold out of that months ago"—I've been pleasantly surprised by the amount of Whisky Advocate award winners we still had quantity of when the victors were announced; or at the very least something similar. When the Last Drop won "Best Blended" we still had a few bottles floating around for people to purchase. When Arran's Devil's Punchbowl took home best Highland/Island single malt, we still had (and maybe still have) six or so bottles on hand. When Craigellachie 17 was awarded the best Speyside malt, we at least had the 13 and 23 year on hand to steer people towards (which I wasn't even aware of until David OG told me he had just ordered them for the LA store). My favorite emails so far, however, have been in regards to the Islay whisky of the year: the 1998 Laphroaig 15 year refill sherry butt cask from Signatory.

"David, can you get this?" some emails said.

"David, have you ever seen anything like this at K&L?" some readers asked.

Have I? Do you mean to ask if would I have access to something like this?

Yes, in fact I do. We bought the sister cask to that very same Whisky of the Year winner. Distilled the same day (22/09/1998), aged in the same type of sherry butt, matured in the same warehouse, from the exact same stock as the one you're asking about (our cask was probably right next to this one). This particular cask just happens to be entirely for us (the award winner was for a shop in the UK). And, of course, we bottled it in the standard white label 750ml to make shipping orders easier (those fat bottles are a pain) and to knock a few bucks off the retail sticker. So, yes, I do have something just like that whisky in stock.

Sherry butts are big (like Kardashian big), so there's still plenty of this to go around. I'm really enjoying the Whisky Advocate awards so far! Here's to more awards for whiskies we can still get!

-David Driscoll


Back to Basics: The Irish Workhorse

Seeing that it's the holiday movie-watching season, when the weather is cold and rainy and nothing feels better than the comfort of my warm couch, I've been getting my Daniel Day-Lewis on. With a last name like Driscoll (O'Driscoll, really), it's a given that I'm going to get all sappy for flicks like My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father. When I watch this amazing actor portray characters like Christy Brown and Gerry Conlon—two guys who liked starting some shit—I realize how Irish I really am. I am a total shit-starter; especially at work. Sometimes I'll drop prices on items or buy things just to fuck with other retailers that I know monitor our site like hawks. I can't help it. There's just something innate inside of me that enjoys whipping other people into a frenzy.

As I was watching the cerebral palsy-stricken Brown drink Irish whisky through a straw, it made me want to hit the bottle myself. I dug deep into the bar and pulled out an old bottle of Bushmills 10 and got to work. Nothing is more fun than pairing cinema with booze, in my book. The more I drank, the more sentimental I became, and the more I wanted to promote the Irish boys who make this stuff. We don't really have all that much inexpensive Irish whiskey at K&L these days, which is a shame because it's such a blue collar product. It seems ridiculous to price everything in the $40-$70 range when you're talking about such basic, working-man's whiskey. Bushmill's 10 is a delicious, drinkable, quality single malt, but I can't be drinking bottles of it like water when it costs $40, for goodness sake!

I've got that itch in my belly. Let's start some shit.

Bushmills 10 Year Old Irish Single Malt Whisky (Elsewhere $40) NEW PRICE $26.99 - Go and get your Daniel Day-Lewis on this weekend. Watch There Will Be Blood and have a glass of Bushmills. I just drank a bunch of retailer milkshakes with this hot price. Aged in Bourbon and finished in Oloroso sherry. What's not to love, especially for 26 bucks?

And since I'm at it, why not just go all the way?

Bushmills 21 Year Old Irish Single Malt Whisky (Elsewhere $120) NEW PRICE $79.99 - This is just plain stupid. There is a fine line between having fun and just being a fucking idiot. I've never been very good about straddling that line, however.

If you need me I'll be sitting here on my ass, drinking Bushmills, screening Gangs of New York, and watching the drama unfold in my inbox.

-David Driscoll


Best Picture Analogies

Do you know which film won for Best Picture at the Oscars in 2004? The Return of the King, part three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Not a serious drama, nor a life-changing, eye-opening take on the human condition, but rather a fun, adventurous story about trolls, wizards, and warriors. Do you know which film won in 1996? Braveheart, an action movie with Mel Gibson about freedom-loving Scots wearing kilts and swinging clubs. In 1998, they gave the top prize to Titanic. In 1995, it was Forrest Gump. These aren't exactly films that stretch our understanding of cinema to new realms or push the boundaries of art to new limits. Not every Academy Award winning film is a complex, deep, thought-provoking experience that challenges the mind and impacts the soul. Sometimes the Academy rewards movies that are just plain watchable and entertaining; flicks that are fun and well-made simultaneously. Accolades aren't always just for the avant-garde.

I strongly believe that Midnight Run is one of the best movies ever made. Not in an ironic sense, but literally. Yes, a buddy action-comedy with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin is, in my mind, one of the most intelligent and witty triumphs in modern film-making. You can have fun while maintaining a sense of quality and style (don't tell that to whisky geeks though). Life is not a choice between entertainment or integrity. One of the best products we sell at K&L is the Blason Box of Bianco: a three liter bag of Italian white wine with a built-in tap that costs twenty bucks. It's a custom-made cuvee that gives the K&L employees exactly what they want: high quality hooch in an easy-to-consume party format. We now have pinot noir in a can, too. It looks like beer, but it's really a silver bullet filled with delicious Oregon red wine, ready for your tail-gate needs. It's where functionality and freshness collide.

Yesterday there were people asking me about the Crown Royal post, looking for a bit more insight. Some readers were shocked that the Whisky Advocate would bestow such a high score to such a simple, drinkable whisky. "Crown Royal? Really?" But why is it so hard to believe that something that tastes so good—blended or not—could garner critical acclaim to boot? Are we going to act like Terminator 2: Judgement Day isn't a good movie because Arnold is in it? Or Avatar because it launched in 3D? Or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade because James Bond plays a whimsical wimp? The world of great spirits isn't just a theater full of serious dramas and authentically-acted bio-pics. It's not a multiplex that shows only Citizen Kane and 2001: A Space Odyssey on repeat. It's not just a never-ending hall of Goddard and Kurosawa (and Karuizawa). We can celebrate accessibility without relinquishing our street cred.

There is room in the best picture race for a well-made action movie. There is room in the Michelin guide for the world's best pizza parlors. There is room in the Rock and Roll hall of fame for the Ramones. And there is room on the list of the year's best whiskies for Crown Royal.

To act like this is a shocking revelation is perhaps ridiculous, not the other way around.

-David Driscoll