Tastings Tomorrow

Please join us for another week of in store, "educational" tastings!  FREE of charge beginning at 5:00 PM and lasting until 6:30 PM.

In the San Francisco store we will have:

Leopold Bros. Distillery from Colorado - Todd Smith will be in the bar pouring the American whiskey, the amazing gin, and the new maraschino liqueur. 

In the Redwood City store we will have:

Kilchoman Single Malt Whisky - Val from JVS will be pouring the newest release from Kilchoman, the Smokehead from Islay, and another whisky selection.

See you there!

-David Driscoll


St. George Gin Test Run

St. George is touting its Dry Rye Gin as the bold, juniper-packed expression of spice that the Botanivore and Terroir gins do not possess.  While it may be the case that the dry rye has twice as much juniper as the other two, it certainly doesn't taste that way.  In fact, I'm sipping a dry martini consisting of 100% dry rye right now and I really don't get a mouthful of juniper.  What I do get, however, is exquisite.  What I get is a gin that tastes completely different on the way out than it does on the way in.  This gin is tailor-made for rye whiskey lovers and let me tell you why - it starts off with the classic London-style, dry and herbal note, but immediately after it hits your tongue it morphes into a malty, white-whiskey-like attack that finishes with the cloves and cinnamon-red-hots of something like the Bulleit rye.  It's unlike any other gin I've ever had.  It's like a gin and a whiskey combined into one.  It's utterly delicious.  I'm going back in for more right now.

UPDATE: just made my second cocktail with an absinthe rinse and a dash in the mix.  That's the move.  This is like a dry Sazerac cocktail gin martini!

-David Driscoll


When Rarity and Quality Collide

Our magnificant cask of Ladyburn arrived today and I snagged one bottle out of the batch to taste with the staff before sending the rest over to the processing center.  We hyped this whisky to the moon, so much so that it sold out completely despite no one having ever tasted it but David and myself.  The fact that the most expensive whisky we bought happened to be the first to sell out caught us completely off guard, as we were nervous about anyone buying it at all.  Nevertheless, our descriptions and enthusiasm won over the curiosity of our loyal customers and the bottles flew out of inventory faster than we could have ever imagined.  Now all we had to do was make sure that the whisky we delivered matched the expectation we created.  I popped a bottle earlier today and I'm thoroughly relieved to report that it's just as magical as I remember.

When Val drove up with the cases, I breathed my first sigh of relief because when we originally purchased the cask from Signatory they were working with JVS to import and distribute it.  However, about two months ago Signatory decided to terminate their relationship with JVS without naming a new distributor for California.  This happened after we sold out the barrel and sent us into an immediate panic.  How the heck were we going to get the bottles if they were no longer working together?  Luckily we managed to get both sides to agree to one final shipment and the whisky has now arrived in our warehouse, safely and securely.  Val, who likes to collect many of the bottles he imports, was in the rare situation of not having tasted one of his own imports.  I brought him back to my office for a sample and he rejoiced over what he held in his glass.  He bought two of the extras we had and shook my hand. "This is truly amazing whisky," he replied before leaving.

The amazing thing about this Ladyburn cask is that the rarity alone justifies the price tag.  The distillery only operated between 1966 and 1975 and today supplies are definitely scarce.  While Ladyburn is one of the more difficult malts to find, it isn't necessarily sought after for its quality.  Made in the typical Lowland style, the flavors are soft, easy, and deceptive.  Had this cask been bottled twenty years ago there may have been little nuance to savor.  Today, however, the gentle style of the Lowland seems to have benefited from a long sleep inside an old bourbon cask.  When David OG and I saw this barrel in the Pitlochry warehouse, we wanted to taste it simply because it was Ladyburn.  Neither of us had ever tasted anything from the distillery and it was merely an educational curiosity.  We never expected it to actually taste as good as it did.

If you watch the whisky auctions like Bonhams, occasionally a bottle of Ladyburn 12 will show up and sell for well over $5,000 a bottle.  This is 100% due to the rarity of the bottle.  I've never heard of Ladyburn 12 being one of the great malts of all time.  What's great about our cask is that you can actually drink it and savor the fact that rarity and quality have come together to provide one of the most pleasurable drinking experiences I've ever had. 

-David Driscoll


Big Tasting Day

Some of the older Malt Trust bottlings are available once again, albeit this time at some more realistic pricing.  My assistant Kyle and I drove over to the distribution warehouse to taste through the line up once again, but didn't find too many winners.  The stand out is clearly one of the two 1979 Caol Ila casks available, a 51% strength malt that does justice to the 25+ crowd of Islay all-stars.  Lots of campfire smoke, but a good underlining of vanilla that transforms the peat into a baking spice and cinnamon note.  Very good.  Should retail for around $179.99 instead of the $230 we last saw it at.

Now that Anchor has bought out San Diego's Preiss Imports, I now have a NorCal rep who can actually bring me the bottles to sample!  How exciting!  He stopped by today and we all about slobbered over this 20+ year Cognac from the Cointreau cellar.  Huge, lush, rich, supple, layered, intensely honeyed, and more.  It won't be cheap, probably $235-ish, but man was it good.  Probably need to keep a few of these on hand.  A fun day overall!

-David Driscoll


St. George Gins Will Arrive Tomorrow

Apparently the whole world knows about the Friday release date for the three new St. George gins.  Unfortunately, no one from the their distribution knew anything about it and failed to mention to me.  No worries though, as the barrage of phone calls and voicemails from excited customers put me on the trail and I have secured copious amounts of each product for delivery tomorrow.  Here's the scoop:

St. George Botanivore Gin $30.99 - From St. George distillery: Botanivore Gin (our "botanical eater") earned its name because it's loaded with botanical ingredients. We distilled 19 different botanicals to compose this spirit (no small feat!) and the resulting gin is beautifully balanced and vibrant. Lance compares this gin to an orchestra where all the components are working in harmony. Deliciously herbacious and bright, Botanivore is a versatile addition to any gin cocktail.

St. George Dry Rye Gin $30.99 - From St. George distillery: Dry Rye Gin has twice as much juniper in its recipe as either of the other two St. George gins, and a base of pot-distilled rye that provides structure and spice. Warm bass notes of pepper and caraway give Dry Rye Gin an intriguing depth of flavor, while the rye provides a sweet maltiness reminiscent of a genever. Try our Dry Rye Gin in your favorite cocktails that call for either gin or rye or sip it straight for a gin experience like no other.

St. George Terroir Mt. Tam Gin $30.99 - From St. George distillery: Terroir Gin is our ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State. Distiller Lance Winters has a passion for exploring place and memory through distillation, and the aromas of the coastal forests on California's Mount Tam were what inspired him to start making gin in the first place. Terroir Gin has an intense earthy, woodsy nose and flavor derived from Douglas fir, California bay laurel, and California coastal sage complemented by bright, citrusy top notes. This is a unique and proudly Californian gin with a sense of place and poetry.

I really have no idea how fast these are going to sell, but if the phone demand is any clue then it could be fast.  I would get it early if you are interested.

-David Driscoll