UPDATE: New Barrel Announcement

If you read the earlier post below, you'll see that we are bringing in a very special cask, but these guys were so good about getting the pricing ready that we can already add it to our pre-arrival campaign.  So, here it is - live and for sale with a ten dollar discount if you order in advance!

1994 Bruichladdich 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Ardbeg Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky - PRE-ARRIVAL $99.99 - One of our good-natured business deals from Scotland ended up providing us with the chance to secure a single barrel of something quite special and unbelievably rare - an unpeated Islay whisky aged inside the cask of another peated Islay whisky!  This 16 year old Bruichladdich spent its first 13 years in hogshead, lending it the standard vanilla and sweet grains the malt is known for.  For the last 3 years however it sat soaking up the flavor from a barrel which had formerly held some super-smoky Ardbeg whisky.  The residue left inside the wood was enough to turn a mild-mannered Bruichladdich into something smoky and aggressive.  Very light in color, the nose is a combo of fresh malted barley and vegetal peat moss aromas.  The palate is lean and mean with spicy pepper and wisps of smoke meandering in between the salty vanilla notes inherent in the malt itself.  The finish is all peat smoke, but it's an unfamiliar smoke - not peated Bruichladdich, but not Ardbeg either.  As a fan of both distilleries, I find this marriage of the two styles exciting and utterly fascinating. This will be a big hit with Islay fans and collectors everywhere.

NOTE: This is not an offical Bruichladdich bottling.  We are sourcing this from an independent source.  ETA of arrival is 11/15/11

-David Driscoll


Thursday News

Viktor from Importers Without Borders came by today to taste us on the new blanco tequila from Hacienda de los Diaz.  We've always had their tasty reposado, but it's always been completely overlooked.  I think their new white version will be a bigger hit because we tend to do better with the pure spirit and this is one beautiful expression.  Very clean and quite soft, but packed with citrus, baking spices, and cloves.  I think blanco fans should take note because this will please an awful lot tequila drinkers.  Very, very good.  On the shelves now as I immediately bought it from him seeing that he had a few cases in his car.

Why is my finger hiding the name of the independent bottler?  Because this came to me from another super secret source and we're trying to add it to our Faultline collection.  I'll tell you, doing business with people you like and spreading good will tends to come back around in a karmic fashion.  What's so special about this little vial of 16 year old Bruichladdich you might ask?  Well, for the first 13 years of its life this single malt spent its upbringing in a hogshead just like any other basic whisky.  However, for the final three years of its maturation, this thing has been (and still is) sitting in an ex-Ardbeg cask and the peat from the residue has slowly made its way into this mild little Bruichladdich.  The conjunction of these two flavors is exactly what you would expect - mild vanilla, salt, and sweet grains mixed with vegetal peat moss, smoke, and charcoal.  It's familiar, yet at the same time totally unfamiliar.  Can you say ultra-rare and super collectable?  Oh, and it's good!  Add this to the second batch of pre-arrivals we'll be sourcing before Christmas - should be $99.99.

-David Driscoll


St. George Visit

Always one of the best views of San Francisco, the northern tip of Alameda holds one of the Bay Area's most prized establishments - St. George distillery: the home of Hangar One vodka and the mad laboratory for distillers Lance Winter and Dave Smith.  It had been a few months since my last visit, so I wanted to keep up with what was happening with these guys, as well as finalize the deal for what will soon be a new gin collaboration between St. George and K&L.

Right when we walked in, the distillation of gin was in full effect.  Fresh off the still, we were able to taste the future Mt. Tam gin, which was created using only local botanicals from the local nature reserve.  Terroir is an important concept to Lance and Dave, so they wanted to create something that reflected their local environment.  We were able to put in a glass and experience the gin at full proof - the flavors are vibrant and amazing.  This will be a big release when it is finally done.

Lance climbed up to the botanical basket and talked about the herbs and spices that were foraged for the new gin. 

Meanwhile, Dave resurfaced with a stainless steel tank full of another delicious gin that was the result of a previous experiment.  This is the future Faultline Spirits gin and the juniper flavors are bright with peppery accents. It is scheduled for a Fall/Winter release if all goes well.  Hopefully, we all will be making your holiday spirits a bit brighter.

Getting back into the single malt barrel room was another main reason for our visit to the distillery.  The success of last year's K&L/St George single malt release was so impressive that the pressure has been building for another similar bottling.  However, I don't want a future release to be anything like the previous one so that expectations can be managed. 

Dave brought out the rubber hose and started taking pulls of the barrels to coerce the malt into the glass.  We tasted a few younger releases at first that really caught my attention.  The quality of the booze going into the barrel at St. George is so superb that even the younger whiskies sing.  One of the best we tried was a two month old distillate of Sierra Nevada Bock beer that lit up our palates - full of earthy, skunky, beery flavors that danced all over our tongues.  If St. George ever got into the Bierschnapps market they would put everyone out of business in a heartbeat.  No one is even close to their level right now.  Another barrel that wowed me was a four year old malt that had spent two years in ex-bourbon and then an additional two years in Port - dynamite stuff that plays a role in their standard single malt, therefore probably not an option for a single barrel release.  There are plenty of fantastic choices here however as long as the public is open to a younger whiskey. 

Perhaps the most surprising moment of the day came when Dave poured me something out a giant green jug and I immediately recognized it as bourbon.  "Oh my God!  You guys made a bourbon!" I screamed.  It was delicious and it tasted unlike any other flavor on the market, so I was super excited.  Then Dave said, "Well, technically it's not ours, but we blended it."  That's when he revealed to me that St. George was currently preparing to become the Compass Box of American whiskey - an organization dedicated to sourcing the finest possible bourbon casks and then marrying them into unique blends of original flavors.  I couldn't have been more shocked or more excited.  The bourbon in the jug was definitely bourbon, but had a light, fruity character that was typically more subdued in other brand-market options.  It tasted like no other available release, yet still satisfied my bourbon desires.  It was exactly what they had hoped to do, and hopefully will please the public as much as it pleased me.  They're shooting for a $35 price point, which I think is fantastic.  This is a program to keep a watchful eye on.

At the end of the day we devoured some Betty's Bake Sale chicken sandwiches - a local phenomenon that has people lining up around the corner in the East Bay.  Wow, amazing eats.  Crispy batter, succulent white meat, fresh cole slaw with vinegar and jalepeños.  I couldn't eat it fast enough.  We sat outside, talked about the future projects with excitement, and admired the view.  It was tough going back to the store afterward.  Not quite as fun as hanging with the lovely folks at St. George.

-David Driscoll



Tuesday Tasting Tonight!

Come and taste the Glen Ord 12 year old from James MacArthur tonight at Martin's West in Redwood City.  Should be around $3 a glass for a very rare Diageo-owned distillery.  Come and join us!  I won't be there too long, but you can sit and stay as long as you like!

-David Driscoll


Miracle Mile Bitters Co.

When Louis Anderman first stopped into the store with a little brown vial, I knew it was the start of something special.  Louis is one of the most committed cocktail amateurs in the country.  When I say amateur, I mean like an Olympian.  He is a wealth of knowledge regarding classic cocktails, mixology, and gastronomy in general.  After a long and exciting developmental stage he’s stepped into the professional arena.  His products have been passed around the LA Bar scene for what feels like years (although it's only been a few months now) and he’s got a strong following with several of the city’s top bartenders.  They’ve already become ubiquitos across the finest establishments and this is without any marketing whatsoever.  By no marketing,  I don’t just mean he wasn’t advertising it or selling it under the table, he literally gave it away to friends and somehow it popped up in bars across the city.  It’s been featured on countless blogs and was featured in multiple cocktails at this year’s Tales of The Cocktail.  I’ve seen this product develop from a simple hobby into one of the finest bar phenomenon in years.  Exciting, authentic, and exceptionally high quality, the Miracle Mile Bitters Co. is producing world class products that will be standards for master mixers worldwide very soon.  We’re lucky enough to be the first major retail store to offer these bitters.  Supply is very limited so please don’t wait. 

Castillian Bitters 100ml - $15.99

This Iberian style bitter is hard to pinpoint.  There’s a definite orange peel element, but the subtlety of the other flavors is delightful.  Some coriander, cardamom, bitter roots maybe gentian, angelica give the nose an earthiness.  The nose is not powerful or overwhelming and is contrasted by the strong herbal notes on first entry.  On the palate a clear anise/wormwood character comes through with a warming herbal quality.  The garrigue elements are familiar and very appealing. 

Suggested application:

The Oaxacan Angel

2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1 barspoon Ojio Agave Nectar
2 dashes Miracle Mile Castilian Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Created by David Kupchinsky, Eveleigh.

Yuzu Bitters 100ml - $15.99

This exotic citrus bitter is one of my favorites.  Exceptionally easy to use and eminently appealing, the Yuzu bitter is unlike any other on the market.  Yuzu originated in Eastern Asian and looks something like a miniature grapefruit.  The flavors are complex and fall somewhere between Lemon/grapefruit and tangerine.   While the yellow citrus rind and grapefruit aromas dominate on the nose, the palate brings a depth of spice that belies the olfactory expectations. 

Suggested application:

This or That

2 oz Death’s Door Gin or White Whiskey
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Small Hands Orgeat
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
3 dashes Yuzu Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice.
Created by Matt Wallace, Harvard & Stone

Sour Cherry 100ml -$15.99

The Sour Cherry bitter is probably the easiest to consumer on its own.  The nose is all freshly crushed cherry skins, fragrant red berries, but without any medicinal/cough syrupiness.  The palate feels like cherry juice squeezed right out of the hand, but develops into a strong bitter cherry pit finish.  You’re left with a bit of green cherry flavors, like chewing on the cherry stem.  Should be very interesting addition to many cocktails, particularly stuff that calls for maraschino or one of the Cherry liqueurs - Roi Rene, Heering, or Maurin. 

Suggested application:

(Variation on) Variations on a Theme

2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Campari
1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino
3 dashes Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
Stir with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Adapted from a recipe by Beta Cocktails.

Chocolate-Chili Bitters 100ml - $15.99

MMBC’s most popular flavor is a reinvention of the ever popular Chocolate Mole bitters.  Bittermens has an exceptional Xocolatl bitter, but it doesn’t capture the interplay between the heat of the chili and the depth of the cocoa bean that we get with Miracle Mile.   There’s strong clove and cinnamon on the nose with the chocolate taking a bit of a back seat.  On the palate, the heat of the chilies is stupendous and framed perfectly by intense baking spice.  The black as night bitter chocolate shines through on the mid-palate and builds to a crescendo around the spice and heat of the chili.  The finish almost feels like a bit of sweetness is poking through by it quickly disappears behind the lingering capsaicin.

Suggested application:

Clockwork Orange

1 1/2 oz No. 3 London Dry Gin
1 oz Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Stirrings Simple Syrup
2-3 dashes Mirachle Mile Chocolate-Chili Bitters
Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Created by Brady Weise, 1886.

-David Girard