It Begins: Tasting @ Martins West - EVERY Tuesday

Starting this coming Tuesday, we will begin a weekly tasting at Martin's West here in Redwood City.  There will only be one whisk(e)y available per night, but it will be something new and exciting and, even better, we will sell it at cost - no mark up.  What does that mean?  It means that starting at 6 PM, you can come over and drink the new Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix with me for about $3 a pour.  You get the standard 1.5 oz and not a little baby 1/4 oz tasting portion.  There are no reservations and you cannot order seven shots for yourself all at once.  I have no problem however with multiple pours so we'll keep filling your glass until we run out. 

This is a great way to meet up, chat, taste new whiskies, and keep things affordable.  If you're in the area, just come in and have a taste then you can be on your way.  Or stay, have a burger, and chill out.  It's up to you.  I promise you that by this summer, Tuesday nights at Martin's West are going to be the biggest thing on the Peninsula for whisky fans. 

I'll see you there.

-David Driscoll


Friday Podcast #4 - Cooley's John Cashman

I'm getting ready to call Todd Leopold on the phone this morning when I check my email and see that Todd has fallen ill.  Rescheduling is never a problem, but Friday is podcast day! What will I have to offer instead?  I then remember that Cooley's brand ambassador had wanted to meet up today and I was not going to be at the store.  A quick phone call to my rep told me that they would be in San Mateo a little after noon.  "Why not stop by my house then?" I replied.  I set up the mic, put out the glasses, and we did the podcast from my living room! 

Available for download here and also on iTunes for regular subscribers.  Listen below if you want to use our embedded Flash player.

If you need to catch up on the old podcasts they are available here.

-David Driscoll


Diageo Dynamo #2

Back to my tasting notes on the Diageo Limited release bottles.  Today, Auchroisk 20 year, which has seen very limited bottlings as a DB, this being only the second in its 35 year history.  The first is of course the Singleton of Auchroisk, which was sold only in the UK.  We actually have reps out here claiming that the Singleton we get here (Singleton of Glendullan) is actually from Auchroisk, but my knowledgable tasting partners from LAWS squashed that theory pretty quickly (Glendullan is of course its own distillery and therefore would be illegal to put its name on something that isn't actually from that site).  Anyway back to the whisky:

Auchroisk, being somewhat of an enigma, had me on the edge of my seat.  This bottling is aged in a mixture of American and European oak.  The nose was exceptionally rich and buttery at full strength, if a touched closed down.  Aeration helps.  Hints of tropical fruit, toffee, nutty rich flavors of sherry poke through the veggie oil and butter.  A touch of water adds to the fresh fruit character.  On the palate, it's weighty but not the the point of being sticky.  Sweet sherry, baked fruit, ripe apple,  and vibrant woodiness.  Anymore than a drop of water is too much for this stuff even at a hefty 58.1%.  The age has rendered it exceptionally delicate and its body crumbles with the addition of any more than the most minute drop of water. Definitely one of the top malts of the night, although a touch idiosyncratic as there was some descent within the group.  All in all a really interesting bottle. 

Auchroisk 20 Year Old 2010 Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky 750ml - $179.99

-David Girard


Barrel Buyin'

I've made it known to you all (and to the vendors as well) that we are in need of some barrels.  Not empty barrels, by the way.  Casks full of brown water that will be bottled exclusively for our wonderfully loyal customers, then offered at a discount for the seventy or so people in the Whisk(e)y Club.  It's not that no one answered the call, it's that no one stepped up with anything worth buying!  Until today.  Even though I was at work before 6 AM, counting bottles in the dark winter (albeit more like summer now) morning, I still met up with a few appointments.

Dennis Tobin from Sazerac came by today to taste me on some Buffalo Trace barrels (yes, Sazerac and I are getting along fine now, thank you) and he brought the goods.  David OG and I like to confer with one another before going all the way, but we have no problem defering to one another if one of us needs to go deep with a sweet opportunity.  I pulled the trigger on what was obviously a fantastic barrel of bourbon. I'm in a "less is more" phase right now, prefering elegance to power, so I went with the most gentle, beautiful, soft, and gentle selection they had.  This is such a creamy and seductive barrel of Buffalo Trace so I look forward to offering some $20 deals in the near future.  Watch out for this one, it's a real keeper.

More bourbon coming, yet still no single malt.  My brow was beading down a mean sweat as I looked over my February whisk(e)y club member options.  I've been swimming in great bourbon as of late, but the Scottish selection has been light (hence, the trip to Scotland coming this March).  Duncan Taylor, whose octave program seemed like such a fantastic thing last year, has come under new distribution and they have been dedicated to working with us on better pricing, the main reason we weren't interested previously.  Today I went through the incredible samples they sent me and I was specifically looking for deals. Far and away, the best whisky was a 1998 12 Year Old Imperial, a Highland distillery owned by Pernod that never sees the single malt scene here in the U.S.  The intense maturation in the octave has this malt brimming with vanilla bean on the entry with a kiss of sweet grains over the palate before giving way to a delicate finish.  The best part is that the cask strength is down to 48% which means you can enjoy a robust, unadulterated flavor without having to add water. This should be in stock mid-February. 

What a day! I'm on the couch now with a Hibiki and soda watching Food Network, confident in the fact that we just got two fantastic barrels everyone is going to love.

-David Driscoll


Tuesday Tasting Notes 

Finally got a chance to taste this new Glenglassaugh that is now being imported again to the U.S. and, man, is it ever tasty.  The 26 year is off the chain good, a malt built for me in every way - oily and chewy, dried fruits with vanilla and honey, herbal elements on the midpalate, and a long grainy finish.  Superlative stuff, but for $265.99 it had better blow me away!  I bought a few for the store in case anyone out there is going to throw down for something super special anytime soon.  I might have to eyeball it for myself when I run out of super high-end juice.

Also part of the group were the two new Black Adder malts from Tomatin and Caol Ila, although the latter is bottled as Peat Reek (with an awesome Celtic warrior on the label, no less!).  Both are raw cask and bottled straight out of the barrel, both are very tasty.  I continue to be massively impressed by the Black Adder line and I really get a kick out of their bizzare labeling.  It's just so completely removed from current single malt reality, but still very cool in its own way - kind of like Naploeon Dynamite or Max Fisher from Rushmore.  The Tomatin is lean and grainy, but packed with concentrated flavor and high-proof so nothing gets dilluted.  The Caol Ila is just a classic Islay malt at full throttle for a reasonable price.  Tomatin should come in at around $90, which is fantastic for an unadulterated malt of that age.  The Caol Ila should be $69.99 or so, also a nice price for such a pure whisky.

-David Driscoll