Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM
10/29 - Redwood City: Alexander Murray Single Malts
11/5 - San Francisco: Alexander Murray Single Malts
2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky1988 Blair Athol 26 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!
Alright, I know this is the "Spirits" blog, but today I'm breaking the rules because the most interesting thing I've tasted all week was not whiskey or a well-mixed cocktail, but rather an aged Sancerre. I'm a person who has learned to rise and fall with the tides of my alcohol mood swings, rather than fight them. Sometimes I just don't feel like drinking the hard stuff, or sometimes I don't feel like drinking at all, but for the last few days I've been on a wine resurgence. Looking for an excuse to celebrate Bastille Day, I pulled this homework bottle out of the fridge and gave it a whirl.
At the Redwood City store we have what we call the "Hazerai Box" which is where we put the leftover wines from an old and rare purchase. When we buy a private cellar, we buy the entire collection and if there are a few bottles included that are right on the line, we discount them heavily and put them in this box for someone to take a shot. Many times these wines are spent, done, dead. But every now and then you get an amazingly preserved bottle for a fraction of what it should cost. In this instance, I found a 1987 Paul Cotat Sancerre Chavignol, a legendary wine made by one of two famous brothers in France's Loire Valley. Why was it less than $10 and sitting in the box? Because 23 years should be over the hill for sauvignon blanc. However, there are a handful of producers in Sancerre, guys like the Cotats and Edmond Vatan, who make crisp, chalky, acidic wines that are said to turn rich and custard-like in their old age if you have the patience to wait. The question with this 1987 was: had this wine already long passed its golden years?
The answer to that question was thankfully "no" and the result was a fantastic experience in my on-going wine education. I'd never had what I consider to be "mature" sauvignon blanc, so I really had no idea what to expect. That vibrant Sancerre acidity was still there holding the wine together structurally, amazingly enough, yet the palate was rich like an old Burgundy. The combination of these two elements is very enjoyable I learned and I was grateful that I didn't have to lay this down myself to figure it out. However, since our old Loire buyer literally forced me to purchase a 2004 Edmond Vatan when I first started working here (although I had no idea what I was spending $50 on), I have a better idea of what I'm now patiently waiting for. The point here is that if you get the chance to snag one of these wines, they will surprise you with their longevity, as many wines often tend to do. Wine is a funny business in that the more I drink, the more I think most people have no idea what they're really talking about. Sauvignon Blanc is an age worthy varietal, despite what is often said.
Pisco is a somewhat neutral, simple, uncomplex brandy made from unheard of varietals and usually made in Peru (or Chile if it's a lesser substitute). It's usually creamier and less fiery than grappa, but a bit more flavorful than vodka. It's a base for a cocktail, and usually needs lime and simple syrup to make it anywhere near interesting. There is a small demand for it in the Bay Area, so we usually keep a few on hand as the now ubiquitous Pisco Punch was invented by a San Franciscan. I usually get as excited about pisco as I do about Cachaca (I maybe raise my eyebrows and say, "eh"), which is why when a representative for Encanto called me up and said he wanted to taste me on his pisco, I sighed and acquiesed, headed down to the tasting bar, and wondered to myself how I was going to let this guy down gently when I didn't want to buy his product. One sip later, I was falling all over myself, gushing about how amazing this pisco was to a guy who merely closed his eyes and smiled faintly - he had obviously been in this situation before. The Encanto pisco is something I would drink straight and really enjoy. It is produced in Peru in the Ica valley, but the entire process is overseen by some native San Franciscan bartenders, who really wanted to make a quality pisco for the current Bay Area boom. The flavors of the fruit are gentle and pure, the mouthfeel is soft and elegant, and the finish is clean without a trace of harshness. If you compare Encanto to any other pisco, you'll simply be amazed. It's pricier than other piscos as well, but worth every penny. I'm not sure how we're going to sell any other brand from now on.
Nobody at Rittenhouse or Sazerac could have predicted years ago, when they were barreling their rye, the demand that would be awaiting them in 2010. Rye whiskey is as popular as it's ever been (it may have been a bit more popular in the late 1700's, but I can't be sure) and the cocktailian crowd has a thirst for it like never before. Old Fashioneds made with rye have become a staple at every Bay Area watering hole and even higher end products like Old Potrero and High West can't seem to make enough. Unfortunately, most producers did not make enough, and they have left us high and dry this summer without anything affordable to mix with. Rittenhouse is gone until late August and Sazerac is praying to get back into stores before then. I really thought we were doomed until this little guy popped up last week and saved all of us. The timing couldn't be better as no one really has a choice, but you're really really going to like the Redemption Rye $26.99, a fantastic whiskey with a 95% rye mashbill - a percentage that is only surpassed by Old Potrero. Therefore, this is real peppery flavor country, but the barrel aging really smooths it out and adds the vanilla to even things a bit. I can't believe how good it is given all the bad new whiskies that seem to be popping up lately. This is not going to be something that rye drinkers turn to as a quick fix, but something that they stick with even after the other guys get their supplies back up. It's smoother than Rittenhouse and spicier than Sazerac. It will mix flawlessly into a cocktail, maybe even better than its contemporaries. I can't wait for people to try it.
Well it's finally here and will be in our stores as of tomorrow. For those of you who ordered the pre-arrival you can pick it up on the afternoon of Wednesday July 7th. This is a historic day for K&L and for bourbon lovers everywhere. The 1991 Jefferson's Reserve Presidential Select 18 Year Old Single Barrel "K&L Exclusive" Bourbon $89.99 is simply amazing. This is Stitzel Weller bourbon folks! Out of a single barrel! If that doesn't mean anything to you, then how about if we said single barrel Pappy Van Winkle 18 year? Stitzel Weller is the long dormant Kentucky distillery (closed in 1992) that made the whiskey most people scratch and claw just to get a single bottle of. Known for using a special wheated formula instead of the usual barley enhancer, their whiskies are known to be the richest, biggest, and most long-lasting of all known American bourbons. This single barrel bottling from Jefferson's (bottled exclusively for K&L) is no exception and is the type of whiskey people tell stories about. The nose is a monstrous beast full of rich caramel, orange, and vanilla that powers its way into your nostrils. The palate is unctuous and fat, with more richness and spice that goes all the way to the back of your tongue before staying there for a ten minute finish. Stitzel Weller bourbon is only available in small quantities and becomes more rare everytime someone buys a bottle. There will never be anymore than what exists now, so load up. These bottles will easily triple in value over the next decade, but I can't imagine anyone having the will power to keep them hidden away.