Irish Whiskey Summary

I was planning on writing an article about Irish whiskey today when I got to my desk, but I woke up and found that Camper English did it for me.  Thanks Camper!  That saves me a lot of work.  Now I can write about something else!

What's interesting is how Irish whiskey is slowly becoming the next Bourbon here in the Bay Area.  For the last five years, Bourbon has been slowly working its way back into the youth drinking movement, with hipsters and young professionals everywhere ordering everything from a Pabst and a shot to a Manhattan to Four Rose's neat.  That same trend is now turning over to Irish and, as Camper points out, it's beginning to outsell single malt whisky.

The article covers all your basic info.  You'll be an expert when you're done reading.  Then get some Redbreast 12 Cask Strength before it sells out.

-David Driscoll


Odds and Ends

I've been getting my body into shape for Spring after absolutely decimating it in France last January.  Six mile runs, four times a week with a shorter 5K jaunt thrown in there as well.  Drinking for a living will tax your corporal well-being if you're not careful.  There are too many opportunities to completely turn yourself over to the Dionysian elements and go wild in a Jim Morrison-like flurry of debauchery.  As Ice Cube would say, it's important to check yourself before you wreck yourself - exercise is my way of doing so.  Drinking and exercise can completely co-exist, you just have to discipline yourself a bit.  In fact, I actually enjoy my liquor more if I've done something to earn it, i.e. start the day off with long run. 

When I'm in training mode, I tend to drink less, so I've had less to write about lately regarding my experiences.  Recently, however, we've been holding back a bit due to some inter-retail spying.  Let me state again, as I have in the past, that David OG and I have absolutely no idea what other liquor stores are up to.  I know about other liquor stores, that they exist and such, but I have no idea who works there or who runs their liquor departments (except for Amy and Amanda at Cask because they're very nice, they're down the street from our SF store, and we run in the same circle from time to time).  With all the possibilities for creativity and entrepreneurship in this business, I don't see the need to check on the competition - I love working in our stores and with our customers too much to worry about others.  Our internal focus, however, doesn't seem to be the overall trend in the business.  I won't get into specifics, but we've been pushing the envelope again recently and it seems that another store caught word of it and got a little nosy.  I got a phone call from someone who works with other stores, asking me how it is we're doing what we're doing.  No comment. 

There is such a thing as overload - too much, too fast.  We have so many projects in the works right now that it wouldn't make much sense to bombard everyone with an unobtainable amount of booze all at once.  However, yes, there are some secret projects that are almost ready to be revealed.  We can't offer everything for pre-order because who wants to constantly pay for everything in advance?  Some things need to arrive before we inform people about their existence.  Since we're almost there, however, I'll give you all quick glimpse at what we'll be seeing in the next two weeks at K&L:

- Two new items under our own Faultline label - a gin from St. George and a 21 year old single malt from Cragganmore, single barrel cask strength.

- Two sherry butts from Brora and Clynelish, bottled by Chieftain's. 

- A new cask of Four Rose's bourbon, followed by a new Buffalo Trace barrel, followed by our first 1792 Ridgemont Bourbon cask.

- Some old and rare selections, including some 1948 bottles of Old Fitzgerald (Pappy made by Pappy!)

Once March Madness is over, get ready for the following:

- TONS of new Armagnac expressions, then Cognac, imported exclusively for K&L.

- A single cask of Willett 20 year old - the last of the SW juice.

Later this summer there will be some big surprises - many casks coming to K&L from some countries we've never imported from before.

-David Driscoll


Just In Time For St. Paddy's Day

This will sell fast.  We have a big email going out in about an hour, so this gives all you blog readers the headstart.

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey $59.99 - Voted best Irish whiskey of the year by Whiskey Advocate Magazine with a 96 point review, this new and improved version of our most popular Irish malt is here just in time for St. Patty's day!  Gushing in their review, the Advocate writes: "A rich, bittersweet plummy, red berry, oaky-spiced delight, the increased strength gives an already great whiskey a richer, fuller, fruitier dimension, and makes an already complex whiskey even more complex. For me that makes it not just the best Irish whiskey of this year, but of any. An utter joy."  We couldn't agree more.  Redbreast has already become the go-to choice for serious Irish whiskey fans, but the new cask strength version only improves upon a malt that was already considered perfect.  The extra proof also allows rocks drinkers to cool down the malt without completely watering down the flavor.  Supply will be limited and demand has been through the roof so far.  We've had folks asking about this for months, so don't hesitate.  The price is fantastic and the quality is superb. Is it the best Irish whiskey ever?

Personally, I'm not really looking for cask strength with my Irish.  However, if you like the Redbreast as a highball, the cask strength really helps retain the flavor through any dillution via the ice.  Grab it while you can!

- David Driscoll


Kyle Kurani's Weekly Update

(Video is now available - no longer on private setting as it was earlier)

Kyle Kurani knows his booze.  He's the guy who keeps the Redwood City floor in check.  He tastes everything I taste and has a knack for helping customers find the perfect bottle of whisky.  He's got a lot to talk about, but he doesn't always have time to write down those thoughts for this blog.  I thought it might be helpful to start videotaping him while he's filling carts, gleaning a bit of his take on things while he's in a thoughtful state of mind.  I'm hoping to make this a weekly thing - Kyle has a lot to add to our spirits department and I think everyone would benefit by hearing perspective from a new and motivated source.

-David Driscoll


More News Tidbits

Here are a few newsworthy items from today's run at the store:

- We'll be bringing in a handful of new whiskies tomorrow - some actual bargains!  If you're looking for something cheap, delicious, and affordable, then we've finally got some new options at your disposal.  The new Concannon Irish Whisky distilled by Cooley and finished in California Petite Syrah barrels will be $16.99, something far better than Jameson that actually costs about the same.  We'll also have Sazerac's new Royal Canadian for $19.99, a veritable steal when you think about how soft, smooth, and drinkable this baby is.  Sazerac's other project, the 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon, distilled over at the old Tom Moore distillery is also coming back at a reasonable $26.99.  I've been very impressed with their new distillates - so much so that I bought an entire barrel!  We'll have that in soon enough.  In the meantime, try out the regular bottling if you've never gone that route.  Another deal of a Bourbon is the new John B. Stetson Kentucky Bourbon for $24.99, an independently bottled 86 proof drinker that's goes down way too easily.  Soft, light, with loads of baking spices, this is a great addition to the whiskey drinker's bar.  All of these are set for delivery tomorrow.

- I tasted a couple of new Hart Brother's Single Malt offerings this afternoon and was particularly impressed with their Glen Scotia 16 Year Old Single Sherry Barrel for $96.99.  Glen Scotia is one of those distilleries whose whisky either completely sucks, or shocks you because it doesn't.  This new Hart Brother's obviously falls into the latter.  Affectionately known as the "other Campbeltown distillery," Glen Scotia can also be rich and peaty, but it usually tastes rather dirty as well.  Luckily this bottling captures this distillery on one of its better days, which I actually find compelling.  It's like seeing your favorite, drunken, drug-addicted rock band making it through an entire set without messing up.  Smoky residue, oily and earthy undertones riddle this softer, more supple sherry-influenced malt.  Definitely worth trying out if you've never ventured into the Loch Lomand pool.  Also due in tomorrow.

- Tastings tomorrow!  Wednesday, as you all know, is spirits tasting day at K&L.  Free booze from 5 PM to 6:30 at the Redwood City and San Francisco stores.  We'll have Glenfarclas pouring their single malts in SF, while Laphroaig gets smoky down in RWC. 

That's it for tonight.  I hope you're all nursing one of our new Sovereign casks somewhere out there.  I can't get enough of them right now.  I'm nipping on the Girvan, loving the grains over rocks.

Nighty night.

-David Driscoll