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Wednesday
Apr072010

New Bruichladdich Line-Up!

Some exciting news on the Bruichladdich front.  I was the first in California to taste their new line up this morning which should be available here in a month or so.  These are the whiskies and my impressions.  Speaking for myself, and a few of you who I have spoken with about this, I've been a bit put off by Bruichladdich's pricing and their vast inventory as of late (how many can you really afford to buy and how different are they really?), but this lot was truly spectacular and got me very excited for their arrival.  If you are interested, send me a line and can do a pre-order for you.
 
2003 Bruichladdich Organic Single Malt Whisky 750ml $79.99 - Made from 100% organically farmed barley this whisky, also labeled "Anns An T-Seann Doigh" (made in the traditional manner) is another exciting young whisky from the modern post-2001 era of Bruichladdich.  Aged 6 years in bourbon cask and peated at a very light 3 ppm, this dram is energetic with spice, hints of grain and malty cereal, along with richer tones from the barrel influence.  Very tasty and very fun.  46% ABV
 
Bruichladdich Links Series Valhalla 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $79.99 - Aged in bourbon with acing in Barsac casks from Chateau Climens, this is classic Bruichladdich flavor.  It's rich with flavor, but not overly sweet.  Completely balanced and should satisfy any fan of the traditional distillery style.
 
Bruichladdich Cuvee C Margaux Cask 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $105.99 - An orange-amber color from the wine cask influence, this is 16 year old is perhaps the most impressive of the Cuvee First Growth series, with gorgeous flavors of dense, chewy dried fruits.  The flavors of the claret really mesh well with the bourbon aged dram and swirl over the palate. This is one of the better cask enhancements that we've seen from the distillery.  Very very good.
 
Bruichladdich Cuvee D Haut Brion Cask 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $105.99 - An orange-amber color from the wine cask influence, this is 16 year old has a bit more sweetness than than Cuvee A, B or C, but still has gobs of chewy dried fruit and loads of complexity.  The flavors of the claret really mesh well with the bourbon aged dram and swirl over the palate. This is very very good whisky from one of our favorite producers.
 
1989 Bruichladdich Black Art Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml $154.99 - Wow, this is as bizarre as it is wonderful!  An unbelievable rose-red color with a fresh red fruited nose showing hints of baking spice and vanilla, this whisky was aged orginally in bourbon and then enhanced with assorted and undisclosed wine barrels, making its recipe a total secret.  The intial sip shows a bit of caramel and sweetness, but then the red fruit kicks in again and flushes it out all the way to the finish.  Bottled at 51.1%, adding a drop of water only enhances the aromas and flavors.  This is one of the most fascinating whiskies I've had all year.
 
Bruichladdich Legacy Collection Series VI 34 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml $450.99 - Only 1704 bottles of this classic 34 year old elixer were produced.  A true standout among the classy and elegant whiskies we have ever carried, this all bourbon cask-aged malt has the complexity on the nose that only older and distinguished drams can offer: soft honey, spices, oil and wax, grains, cereal, and more - all swirling in and out of your senses.  The palate shows all of these profiles and more with touches of citrus and white fruits.  Delicate, dainty, and refined, this bottle belongs on the shelf of the most serious of serious collectors.  A true masterpiece.
Wednesday
Apr072010

Back From New York - Ready To Work (drink)!

Lombardi's classic Margherita

I'm back from the honeymoon in NYC and, no, I did not go to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, nor did I visit the Met.  When we go to New York it's for two reasons: eating and drinking.  I've done the touristy stuff in the past, so I leave with zero guilt about culturing myself while away from home.  Two things you have to do when you go to the East Coast are eat some serious Italian pie and order a real deli sandwich.  I think that Lombardi's pizza and Katz's Deli set the standard for Gotham and are completely unavailable in any edible form on the West Coast.  A funny aside - just before posting this I read this article in the NY Times about people who cannot eat without taking a photo of their food first.  I'm now trying to reassure myself that in spite of this post, I am not a obsessive-compulsive, self-indulgent food blogger who is waiting for some reader to comment, "Wow, that looks delicious!" or "Ooooh, I'm jealous."  This is my job, people!  This is work related, right?  In any case, I'm meeting with Bruichladdich this morning to taste all the new stuff so I'll post that later.  - David Driscoll

Katz's pastrami on rye with a knish and pickles

Monday
Mar292010

Whiskies of the World Recap

This place was so packed that I didn't have much of a chance to taste, but I did enjoy seeing some old friends and talking one on one with some of the great distillers who came to pour their whiskies.  I was most impressed with the MacKillop's Collection, primarily the 1989 Scapa which I thought was the best dram I had all night.  Not much more to add other than it was a good time out and I'm glad we were the retail sponser.  Here are a few of the pictures I took.

-David Driscoll

My whisky of the night: Scapa 1989

Mr. MacKillop presenting his fantastic line upMy good buddy David Perkins from High WestKent Fleischmann from Dry Fly in Spokane, WA

Saturday
Mar272010

Lunch With Roughstock & Prichards 

I got the chance to sit down with the makers of Roughstock Montana Whiskey & Prichard's Distillery yesterday at Martin's West in Redwood City.  Brian and Kari Schultz have put their heart and soul into opening their own distillery in Bozeman, Montana and taking advantage of all the grain growing within their great state.  I got to pick their brain about why they got started and what motivated them to begin whiskey production which was very interesting.  Bryan, with his background in engineering, originally thought about the brewing business, but told me that there's simply too much beer in Montana to go around.  He was told by local restaurants and retailers, however, that if he were to produce a whiskey it would immediately find a place on their shelves.  A few years later he and his wife have produced their first aged distillation to positive reviews.  You can view more info on their website by clicking on the link above.  The Roughstock is on our shelves as of this moment and I'll be curious to hear how the Bay Area receives it after Whiskies of the World tonight.  I think it's one of the more interesting new American whiskies I've tasted and it definitely stands out in a crowd.  Phil Prichard has been tweaking the standard whiskey formula as well releasing his Double Barreled Bourbon last year, which sees multiple maturations in different casks.  His newest venture is a Single Malt Whiskey made with 100% malted barley that just hit our store this week.  It is aged in new charred wood like a bourbon, so it still has the spice you would expect along with the cereal malt of a Scotch.  He plans on releasing some new liqueurs in the long term to go along with his outstanding rum products and whiskies.  Look for them tonight at Whiskies of the World!

 -David Driscoll

Friday
Mar262010

10 Most Influential Spirits List

I'm on phone duty at the moment and that is always a good time to browse the internet in between rings.  The New York Times today was talking about the idea of lists and how the blogging atmosphere really enjoys this activity.  One list that I read recently and had fun pondering was the 10 Most Influential Books In Your Life - the words that changed your view of the world.  I like lists like that because you get to debate impact rather than qualit, and importance to the greater picture rather than best and worst.  For instance, I would argue that Boogie Nights is one of the finest films ever made, but it isn't my favorite by any means, whereas Real Genius I could watch everyday while admitting it isn't a great picture.  The writers who did their Top 10 books recommended not dwelling upon the idea, and recommended going from the gut, so that's what I'm going to do.  I have 10 more minutes on phones to write this so here are the ten spirits (not in any order) that changed how I look at distilled liquor.  Feel free to add your own list to the comment option below.

1) Ardbeg Corryvreckan - who knew whiskey could be so lean yet so flavorful?

2) Arette Reposado Tequila - this is when I "got" tequila.

3) Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Bourbon - this is when I understood why bourbon could be expensive.

4) North Shore No. 11 Gin - gin elegance redefined.

5) Bruichladdich 15 Year Sauternes Cask - Susan Purnell let me try this - my first real single malt experience and still one of the best ever.

6) Germain Robin Grappa of Zinfandel - the best grappa I have ever tasted. Distillation excellence

7) Germain Robin XO - Cognac from pinot noir is a beautiful thing

8) Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal - awesome distillation and so pure

9) 2001 Bruichladdich Resurrection - proof that awesome whisky can be very young sometimes

10) Camut 12 Year Calvados - I never knew that barrel and fruit could be so balanced.

-David Driscoll