A Mistep

While I commonly discuss the angst of building a whisk(e)y collection, or the perils of finishing a really important bottle, I rarely if ever discuss the emotional hazards of drinking itself.  While I was lucky enough to be born without the alcoholic gene, I still struggle with daily issues concerning how much to drink, the right time to let loose, and the effect all of this consumption is taking on my body.  On top of that, there’s the drawback of behavior modification – namely, that my increased intake of alcohol has seemed to shorten my patience and raise my overall stress level.  Much like the habit of  smoking a cigarette becomes engrained into one’s daily rituals, the act of drinking after work or on a day off has become permanently ensconced into my schedule.  Because of the frequency at which I drink, the potential for mayhem is high and needs to be controlled. 

Today was a day of serious reflection for me.  I think I’m still blowing bits of last night’s quinoa salad out of my nose after it came spewing out this morning – too much wine, followed by too much whisky.  I rarely get hung over, but I was a complete wreck for the first half of the day.  Sure, we all drink too much every now and again, but last night was about more than just decadence.  I feel like the stresses that come from considering what to drink can sometimes lead to more drinking.  Take last night’s situation for example – I opened a bottle of red wine that no one wanted to drink.  I didn’t know that no one liked red until after I had opened it and it just happened to be a somewhat special bottle.  Now that the cork had been pulled, I wasn’t about to just sit there and let it go to waste (plus, my pride had been hurt just a tad) so I proceeded to drink the whole thing myself, as if doing so would prove to the naysayers how they had really missed out.  What a terrible move.

I’ve always had a loud voice and I’ve always had a rather brash sense of humor.  The problem with having both of those questionable characteristics is that alcohol can act as an enhancer of your absolute worst qualities.  Again, after completely going over my limit and moving on to whisky, I apparently walked around my apartment complex in my pajamas saying God knows what at an intolerable level.  For someone who doesn’t get embarrassed easily, this was quite humiliating.  Not that I was in my pajamas, or that I can sometimes have a filthy mouth (both are things that would never bother me, only others), but that I had let alcohol take personality traits that I struggle to control and let it completely undo all of my hard work.  All of the attention seeking actions of a pompous young adolescent came pouring out of my mouth as fast as the booze did from the bottle.  All of the embarrassing traits of my youth that I have tried to put behind me – the obnoxious jokes, the desire for people to like me at any cost – all of them on display, like a circus sideshow.

So, as I sit here solemnly at my desk and type this confessional for the blog, I’m hoping that everyone takes their appreciation of alcohol seriously.  It’s not only alcoholics who have something to fear from over-consumption.  Everyone who has any inkling of self-respect can be in danger when the booze begins to flow like water.  I’m sure I’ll be back on the horse tomorrow evening, but every step back needs to be remembered.  Alcohol is very, very fun – when enjoyed responsibly (and sometimes irresponsibly).  However, it’s also a truth serum, a mood changer, and a possible key for unlocking some of your worst personal demons.  Make sure that you enjoy your alcohol, but also make sure that you understand its power.  It has the power to inspire, to motivate, to awe, and to enhance, but it also has the power to destroy.  I try and be a better person everyday and sometimes I forget that one of my biggest pleasures in life can also hinder me from this path.  Make sure you’re aware of alcohol’s serious potential before you get potentially serious about alcohol.  This isn’t a public safety message, it’s an attempt to spare you all from making bad decisions about life in addition to all the attempts to spare you from bad whisky.

As someone who works in the industry I feel it's important to address the realities of booze every now and again - even the negative ones.  The one positive about this experience is I realize the importance of my situation and that I get another chance to try and be better.  Alcohol can be funny that way.  Maybe that's why I keep coming back.  Not to repeat the past indulgences, but to learn from them.  As we learn about booze, hopefully we can learn about ourselves as well.

-David Driscoll


New Faultline - Soft Launch

The fourth Faultline Spirits release is here and this one is very limited - only 196 bottles total of our new 20 year old Cragganmore bottled at 49.9% cask strength.  For those of you who are unaware, Faultline is the label we use at K&L for our super exclusive releases - only the best bottles get to use the name.  Fans of our 18 year old Bladnoch will be happy about this one.  The stone fruit is there with soft vanilla and a lovely floral note.  This is soooooooooooo much better than the official Diageo release Cragganmore 21 - and it's $100 less.  At $75.99, this is a steal.  We're releasing it today on the blog for our loyal readers so grab one while they're here.  I don't believe we'll ever get around to a mass email because I don't think it will last long enough.  

Cragganmore 20 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $75.99 - Our goal when we first envisioned Faultline was to create a world class brand that bottled only world class spirits. Most retail bottlings focus on the lowest common denominator, how can we get the most saleable product for the absolute lowest price possible. Usually, that means sacrificing quality just so that you can have a big name on the label. Here at K&L's spirits department, we've decided to use a different model. We seek out the absolute finest products and bring them to you at the lowest possible price. These are products that normally a supplier would not part with for a label other than their own. We use our incredible persuasiveness and handsome good looks to convince these revered suppliers to part with some of their best stock (for no other reason that they love us!).

-David Driscoll


Kurani is Back to Talk Yak

It's been too long since we heard from young Kyle Kurani, but he's returned this week to discuss two of our new exclusive brandies.  Make sure you get to know Kyle.  He'll be running the show when David OG and I take off for Scotland in a few weeks, so it's best to stay on his good side. 

-David Driscoll


All I Want to Drink is Weller

The Pappy demand shut down our server.  We sold 100+ bottles of Jefferson's Stitzel Weller in 45 minutes yesterday.  The wheated Bourbon craze is at an all-time high, yet every day people walk right past the Weller whiskies.  Even though the Weller 12 and the Pappy 12 are pretty much the exact same whiskey (Lot B is just chosen from barrels in specific parts of the warehouse).  Even though the Antique might be the best whiskey value in the entire store.  These are not expensive bottles, which I think must throw people off.  The Weller 12 is $25.  The Antique is $19.99 (although we have liter bottles in Redwood City and SF for $25).  Buffalo Trace's wheated formula is simply difficult to improve upon, hence why you won't find me drinking much else right now.  These aren't new expressions, but they were on lockdown for a while from the supplier due to a brief shortage.  The allocations are off now, however, and I can buy as much as I like.  I'm happy to share them with you, but I drink fast and this is all I am drinking right now.  Hopefully there's enough for all of us.

-David Driscoll


Tastings Tonight + A Fun Article

Tonight in Redwood City we'll have the Isle of Jura whiskies, while San Francisco will be pouring Benriach single malts.  The events begin at 5 PM and last until 6:30.  Free of charge.

In other news, this morning I read an interesting article (in the SF Chronicle of all places!) about Mark Zuckerberg and his nonchalance regarding Facebook's profits.  I almost laughed out loud because there's so much I relate to in his approach (except for not caring about your clothes or house).  There's a certain amount of business sense to not caring about business.  While it may seem oxymoronic, if your entire business is based around your credibility then shying away from money can be a very powerful strategy. 

For the first two years that I worked at K&L as spirits buyer I never looked at our sales numbers.  I didn't even know how!  David OG and I are required to meet with ownership on a monthly basis to discuss the department, but I would literally just nod and agree when the figures were discussed.  Like Zuckerberg, I have no interest in the money.  My primary concern is expanding our selection to as many people as possible and finding creative new ways to include everyone (without invading your privacy, however).  My satisfaction is derived from customer satisfaction.  I could probably be convinced to work for positive reenforcement if my bosses wanted to save money.  My classic only-child syndrome values "Good job, David" over a fat check for some reason.

Like Facebook, our profits have increased over the last few years despite the complete lack of business sense on my part.  I believe that profits will come if you do your job well and I've left it at that.  However, once you start focusing on $ you can lose sight of the main goal: better booze, in our case.  I know that the minute I start obsessing about money is the moment I stop doing my job well.  I don't think anyone at the top of Facebook is complaining about their financial situation right now, do you?

-David Driscoll