Is There a Doctor in the House?

Just got back from our outstanding dinner with Dr. Bill Lumsden, head of whisky creation for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg distilleries.  It was a blast.  We ate well.  We drank well.  What more do you need?

The Dr. is in high demand these days.  He travels all over the world doing presentations like these and his time is valuable. He's a great speaker and we were lucky to have him.  60 people got to talk with him one on one and pick his brain about what makes his whiskies so special.

La Boheme in Burlingame did an excellent job as well.  The staff was on it and the food was great.  Just about everyone who left told me how surprised they were about the quality of the meal.  Many said they would go back again in their own time.  I guess my little secret is out now.  La Boheme has been so great about hosting us that I almost hate for anyone to know how good of a job they can do.  Especially for the reasonable price of $75.  Our guests were treated to 12 glasses of whisky, pan-seared foie gras, a tuna tartar salad, a choice of seabass, rib eye, or duck, and a dish of pastries for dessert.  I thought it was an outstanding value. Everyone else seemed to agree.

Thanks to Dr. Bill, LVMH, and La Boheme for making this evening happen.  Our K&L customers thank you.

-David Driscoll


Breaking & Entering Bourbon Is Here

OK – more big news that has reshuffled our schedule.

We just bought the distributor out of the new St. George “Breaking & Entering Bourbon” but the big shipment got delayed until tomorrow.  I am getting about 240 bottles today (of which over 100 have already sold) and that's everything in they have until next week.  Let me explain why this is a big deal.

First of all – St. George is looking to become the Compass Box of American Bourbon.  Most of us don’t realize that many of our favorite Bourbons -i.e. Black Maple Hill, Johnny Drum, Hirsch, etc – are already blends of numerous different whiskies from unknown distilleries.  The difference between them and St. George is that St. George WANTS you to know that.  They WANT you to understand what they’re doing.  They think their special blending skills are EXACTLY what makes their portfolio so strong.  They’ve succeeded.

For the last few months I’ve been meeting up with Dave Smith and his trusty palate Anthony Rosario for updates on this project.  I’ve been kept up to date every step of the way and I’ve been very excited about the results.  I was not ready for it to be in stock this week, however, so I was a caught a bit off guard when they said it was available.  People are going to go nuts for this, especially the bars who are frustrated with the frequent out of stock problems of BMH.  I know that a bar in the East Bay bought the first 15 cases which was why my order didn’t show up yesterday as originally planned.

What does it taste like?  It’s the epitome of handcrafted.  Every flavor is in check and every texture seems to have been thought out.  Just when you think it’s going to be a bit too thin, the fruit jumps out.  Just when you think it’s going to be too sweet, the spice kicks in.  It seems perfectly designed for the Bourbon drinker’s palate.  It’s neither rich, nor lean.  Neither full-bodied, nor light.  It’s like Baby Bear’s porridge – just right.   Cloves, cinnamon, dried fruits, charred oak – it’s all there.  The finish is graceful and the flavors are precise. 

The price is right too.  $33.99 for this stuff.  They’re not telling who gave them the booze, but it’s more than one distillery.  This is the beginning of a fantastic product from two guys who take tasting very seriously.  I’ve tasted with Anthony and it’s like hearing a master seminar about your tongue.  Their dedication shows.  I’m excited for everyone to taste it.

If you want me to put in an order to hold for you please let me know.  We’ve moved the Cognac email to next week and the big list will get an email about the Bourbon tomorrow instead.  This will sell very fast once the 450,000 person database gets the info.  Anything from St. George, like the gins, blows out of here due to both their and our super loyal customer bases.  This isn’t like a “single barrel” thing where you have to get it now because it’s limited, but I have the feeling that what is available is going to go quickly due to both retail and restaurant/bar demand.

-David Driscoll


Faultline Launches! Our Very Own Cognac

As you can see from the photo above, we’ve finally received our amazing single barrel, cask strength Cognac from France and the juice is freaking unreal good.  We can’t label the age statement on the bottle, but for you insiders I can tell you: it’s about 19 years old and it’s from the Borderies area of the countryside.  Nicholas did an amazing job sourcing a barrel this good and you’re all going to benefit from the hard work it took to get it here.  It’s not easy finding people in Cognac to do this type of thing.  Single barrel brandy is not the rage in France.  Actually, it’s not the rage anywhere, but when you find something as good as this there’s no way you’re going to blend it!  It doesn’t taste like 61% because it’s so fruit-forward and expressive, but great spirits are all about balance – this is one of the greats.   

I’ve tasted the new Faultline Cognac about five times now and each time has been different.  The nose is incredible – caramel, intense cloves with cinnamon, stewed apricots, harmonious!  The palate is lighter than the amber color suggests – lively bits of toffee come in at first, but then the whole spirit turns spicy with herbs, baking spices, vanilla, and even some citrus!  It’s wild, but the Cognac never loses its composure.  Bourbon drinkers should love this.  Adding some water only softens the heat and opens more of the flavor! Best of all, this is something that absolutely no one else is doing, let alone selling.  For proof of what you’re drinking, here’s a link to a video of Nic Palazzi filling it himself in the countryside.


Here’s the deal however – there are only 200 bottles of this.  10 have sold already and we have an email going out to the big list tomorrow.  These may last the month, or maybe only the rest of the week.  I’m not sure how the rest of the K&L database is going to respond to the email, but I expect it to be a big hit.  If you’re interested in one of these, now is a better time than later.  $129.99 for a 19 year old, single barrel, cask strength, unfiltered Cognac.  It's definitely worth it.

-David Driscoll


Busy Busy Week

Welcome to the busiest week of the year for Bay Area spirits.  WhiskyFest will decend upon San Francisco this Friday night and many a distillery rep will be in town all week for various side projects.  There will be special seminars (like our blending class with Compass Box master John Glaser), intimate dinners with intriguing characters from the industry (like our dinner with Ardbeg distiller Bill Lumsden), and various meet and greets with high-end retail chains (like our Heaven Hill tasting this Wednesday!).  It's going to be hectic. 

On top of all these whisky events, there are other interesting stories this week.  Our first ever Faultline Spirits release has landed and I couldn't be more excited.  I'm hoping that people make some time for one very special Cognac in a week dominated by whisk(e)y.

As if the events of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday weren't enough, this Sunday is the official judging ceremony for this year's Good Food Awards, which has now expanded to include spirits.  I'm going to be tasting and judging on a panel that includes names like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters!  Clearly I'm not going to be giving my opinion about food like they are, but I will have a say in all things distilled.  Do responsibly-sourced base materials result in better booze?  I'm hoping to find out and properly award those who have made some. 

Also, all you NorCal people are going to have a chance to meet SoCal partner-in-crime Mr. David OG.  He'll be flying in this Thursday as the two of us team up for a week of power tasting.  We call him "OG" because he's actually killed two people, but was legally acquitted on both charges.  Don't mess with him.  Mr. Othenin-Girard and I will both be at WhiskyFest and at various events around town this week so please come say hello if you see us.

Make sure to enjoy this amazing week for Bay Area spirits enthusiasts!  It's going to be epic.  If you need any ideas about where to go or what to do, feel free to drop us a line.

-David Driscoll


K&L Co-Sponsoring Whisky Blending Class w/John Glaser

Since our dinner with Ardbeg's Bill Lumsden sold out a month ago, what are all the other K&L shoppers to do Thursday night before WhiskyFest hits?  How about a private blending class with Compass Box guru John Glaser?  That's right!  On Thursday October 6th - from 6 PM to 8 PM - at the Boothy Center in San Francisco, you will have the chance to learn how to blend your own whisky like a pro.  The materials are provided and you'll walk out with your own creation.  Blending is perhaps the trickiest part of creating a great whisky, so come and learn the secret art of doing so from a man who has proven that he knows how.

Tickets are $65 and are available here.  H from Elixer Bar is running the show that night as David OG and I will be at the Ardbeg dinner, however we want to make sure there is plenty for everyone to do!

-David Driscoll