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Tuesday
Feb282017

Three New Hits from OMC

What's that you ask? I'm sorry, there must be a bad connection or something, as I can't hear you clearly. What are you asking?

Are there any new hits from OMD?

Hmm......

I didn't think OMD was even still performing together, but—no—I don't think there are any new tracks to get excited about. Even if there were, do you honestly think they could do any better than the theme song from Pretty in Pink: "If You Leave"? That's about as good as it gets, in my opinion. That song pretty much somes up my melodramatic eighties nostalgia in one neat little package.

I mean, it's so romantic in so many ways! Picture the high school prom. Molly Ringwald is alone and dismayed, but not undetermined. She and Duckie roll in as a duo, hell bent on showing the rich kids a thing or two. No matter how shallow she thinks Andrew McCarthy and James Spader are, she's not going to let them get to her. By the way, is it just me or is James Spader simply playing a young Donald Trump in that movie? He's got the comb-over, the sneer, the wardrobe, and he's totally......wait....what?

What's that?

Oh...you said OMC. I thought you said OMD, as in Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark. You meant to ask do we have any new OMC hits, as in new selections from Old Malt Cask. As in single malt whisky.

Yeah, sorry. I did think that was a rather weird thing to ask, but I was so excited about the potential of being asked about OMD, one of the quintessential new wave romantics of the decade. Yes....we do have some new things to talk about:

Fresh off the boat! Three new outstanding and well-priced superstars at 100 proof on the nose. Check it out:

1996 Allt-a-Bhainne 19 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky $79.99 - While the market for mature, sherry-aged single malt whiskies continue to soar, we're using our wits to secure outstanding under-the-radar single cask selections and save our customers some serious dough. Allt-a-Bhaine is a Speyside distillery that's part of the Chivas Blended empire and the whisky rarely sees the spotlight as a single malt release. It's never been released by Chivas as an official brand, but it does pop up every now and again on the independent market. While the malt itself is classically Speyside in character with vanilla, fruit, and a sweet malty note, this particular sherry butt from the Old Malt Cask series drinks more like a Macallan or Glenfarclas release with its dark caramel and toffee flavors. At 100 proof, the spice is dialed up and pronounced, but it's no match for the supple and unctuous character of the sherry that coats the palate in a wave of decadence. Our pricing continues to blow away anything comparable on the market and we're confident that malt lovers everywhere will find the quality their looking for in this selection, even if the distillery name itself is unfamiliar.

2009 Talisker 6 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky $49.99 - Of the few young Talisker casks we're been able to procure over the years, this one tastes the most like what we expect from the Skye producer. It's loaded with equal parts salt, smoke, fruit, and sweet malt character with a spray of sea water on the finish, reminiscent of the rugged island terrain. Finding independent editions of Talisker is not an easy task in this market, so we're keen to jump on any opportunity that arises, but when the cask itself is a refill sherry hogshead rather than just a standard oak cask, our enthusiasm rises even further. While the sherry character isn't overtly pronounced, it melds softly into the blend and adds a lovely accent of stone fruit to that maritime influence. Fans of the distillery should be excited to taste something new and flavorful from one of Scotland's truly legendary producers. (I just tasted this again, by the way, and it's damn fine stuff).

2009 Caol Ila 6 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky $49.99 - While the market for mature casks of single malt Islay whisky has dried up over the last year, there are a number of value barrels like this 6 year sherry hogshead release from Old Malt Cask that emphasizes the youthful fruit and smoke of the famed island stalwart rather than richness of age. The refill sherry hogshead accents the inherent roundness of Caol Ila quite splendidly and at 100 proof there's enough potency to push the peat and the salt through all that creaminess. Those looking for a concentrated and unique single barrel experience will be pleased by how different the 6 year tastes next to the standard 12 year edition, but loyalists to Caol Ila will recognize instantly its trademark character of fruit and smoke. 

-David Driscoll

Monday
Feb272017

February Eavesdropping

As some of you already know, I'm a pathological eavesdropper. It's a side effect of my outgoing personality because there's a part of me that wants to join every single conversation possible; therefore, I'm always honing into what's happening around me. I simply cannot help being nosey and listening in on other people's dialogues, especially when I know they're talking about something ridiculous. That being said, let me share with you some of my favorite quotes of the week:

-Stoner checking out at Walgreen's in San Mateo buying a single packet of Zigzag rolling papers: Can I give you my phone number to make sure I get credit for this purchase?

-Guy shopping for whiskey with his friend in Redwood City store: They must be changing their focus. They don't even carry Elmer T. Lee or Black Maple Hill anymore. 

-Lady ordering brunch for herself and her young daughter next to me at the Plant in Burlingame: Do you guys have a child's menu gluten-free salad?

-Woman tasting gin with friends at Four Pillars distillery in Australia, looking at bowl of juniper berries on the table for decor and correcting one of the staff members: No, these are actually peppercorns. I'm pretty sure I know the difference.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Feb262017

R.I.P. Bill Paxton

And I was just watching Tombstone for the 9,123rd time last night.

Sigh.

Bill Paxton played some of the best loudmouth assholes of the eighties in supporting roles. Chet (pictured above) from Weird Science. Private Hudson in Aliens. Severen in Near Dark. But he was versatile and funny as a leading man as well. I always enjoyed Twister for some reason—probably Paxton's charm—and would watch it whenever it came on TBS on Saturday afternoons (it was a good warm-up before heading out to the bars). He went on to more important roles in Apollo 13 and a real breakout in HBO's Big Love, but when I think of Bill Paxton now after his sad and untimely passing, I still think of Chet. Weird Science was one of the weaker John Hughes vehicles (with a plot that gets weaker each time I think about it), but it was saved by two things: Oingo Boingo's fantastic theme song and Paxton's over-the-top commando antics as the jerk older brother who couldn't wait to give his struggling sibling a hard time. 

I laugh just thinking about Chet in my head. Looking at that photo now I'm smiling in remembrance.

R.I.P. Bill.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Feb232017

New Baraillon Vintages Arrive

While I wasn't able to get to Armagnac last year, David OG found some time to go and visit our friends at Baraillon, dig through their incredible selection of old stocks, and bring back a few new offerings for the store. These are traditionally our most-beloved releases with Bourbon drinkers each year as the style is rich, dark, and heavy on the palate. His notes are below:

The magical and rustic Domaine de Baraillon returns with two new vintages that remind us once again why this tiny farm in the town of Lannemaignan should be considered one of the world's finest producers of Armagnac. Monsieur Claverie cultivates his tiny vineyards by hand and distilling on his own still just as his father did before him. The Domaine is run by Monsieur Claverie and his daughter both of whom spend time in the vineyards, but equally so tending to the ducks, pigs and other produce. The Claverie family has been situated on this site since 1748, considered the top quality sub-region Bas-Armagnac production right on the border between the departments of Gers and Les Landes. Locals refer to this special enclave of the highest quality soils as, "Le Grand Bas-Armagnac." The current proprietor, M. Paul Claverie, has expanded the Domaine's brandy producing vines to nearly 16 hectors, split between the three main brandy varietals (Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc, and Bacco) as well as Colombard, Merlot, Cab Franc and Gros Manseng for the vin de table. In 2001, after achieving her degree in Viticulture and Oenology, Monsieur Claverie's daughter Laurence returned to the domaine to continue the tradition for another generation. The Claverie's are cultivating and distilling some of the finest brandy in the world and have vintages going back more than a century, yet they remain incredible affordable. The house style is rugged and rustic, yet balanced and complex.

1987 Domaine de Baraillon 29 Year Old K&L Exclusive Armagnac $79.99 - The exceptional '87 vintage has become prolific in the Gers and elsewhere in high quality growing regions in Armagnac. Just now reaching maturity this wonderful brandy has everything you want from middle aged Armagnac. The nose is this wonderful balance between rich exotic savoriness and dried sweet fruit. Cigar box, cedar, sandalwood covered in stewed fruits, candied plums and dark black tea. On the palate we get subtle nuttiness and wonderful oxidized fruit (slight oloroso note), which build into a big spicy finish. Exhibiting great texture despite the relatively low proof and a building dryness as it travels the palate. It's so drinkable and appealing its down right dangerous. Stay at home with this one.

1976 Domaine de Baraillon 40 Year Old K&L Exclusive Armagnac $129.99 - Even after years of doing this, I'm still flabbergasted that we're able to bring you such high quality old brandy for this outrageous a price. After 40 years in the barrel, this brandy is reaching levels we'd describe in french as surmaturité (overripe in the context of grapes) but in this case we're talking about those ultra rancio flavors that only the oldest of aged product exhibit. Here we're in the realm of a great old Oloroso, with a splash of old Madeira added in for good measure. Dark nutty, roasted coffee beans, the thickest fruit compote and the most subtle hints of wild honey and dried herbs. The palate remains lifted although it's very dry and not as nutty as the nose might imply. Still on the dark woodsy flavors, a little bit of air tames the intensity on the palate nicely. That wonderful subtle Baraillon funk and oak spice take over and build into a big warm spicy finish. This is not one for those with a sweet tooth, but represents serious old school full mature brandy.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Feb212017

K&L Exclusive Maker's 46 Launch Party

This past November we visited Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky to engage as one of the first participants in their new Maker's 46 custom barrel program. Utilizing different types of oak staves with various levels of char, we were able to follow the example set from the standard Maker's 46 expression, yet customize it with our own personal selection of oak types and preference for their placement within the cask. Bottled at cask strength, the resulting whiskey has recently been shipped to CA and we're planning to premier the official K&L edition at Hard Water on Thursday night, March 2nd. Guests will not only get to try the new release, but also the standard Maker's Mark 46 side by side, as well as munch on the fine cuisine provided by Hard Water's kitchen, and sip on Bourbon cocktails mixed by their crack team of bartenders. A night out in the city with delicious food, fine Bourbon, and high-end drinks for only $25 per person? Yes, please! Only forty spots are available. Tickets are non-refundable after purchase. There are no paper tickets for this event; your name will be placed on a guest list.

I'll see you there!

K&L Exclusive Maker's 46 Launch Party @ Hard Water, March 2nd @ 7 PM - $25

-David Driscoll