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Tuesday
Mar202018

Groovy Gravy

We've sold more than 60 bottles of this baby in the last hour with no press, no email, and just an empty link on our web page (with a 1 bottle limit), so don't wait too much longer if you want the Committee Release edition of the new Ardbeg "Grooves." Bottled at 51.6% ABV, this groovy little number was matured in "intensely charred" wine casks, producing "heavy grooves" on the surface of the wood. 

Ardbeg "Grooves - Committee Release" Islay Single Malt Whisky $139.99

-David Driscoll

Monday
Mar192018

The Fourth and Final Winter Pig

For the last day of winter, I bring you the final installment of the four cask Whistle Pig cycle: the 118.2 proof beast from the North. This 59.1% ABV expression is the biggest, boldest, and most complex of the bunch. There's an equal amount of big sweet vanilla, dill, and peppery herbaceous character in full effect. The near 120 proof heat makes this whiskey a powerful beast to deal with and there's a lot to unlock with a few drops of water. There's a graham cracker finish that bolsters the clean rye flavor with beautiful balance, making this easily the best rye whiskey in the store right now. It's quite special. I hope you all love it, as I'm sending all my best Bourbon/rye customers right now in this direction.

Whistle Pig 10 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel 118.2 Proof Cask Strength Rye Whiskey $89.99 - This is the fourth and final cask from our Winter edition single barrels of Whistle Pig 10 year and this particular cask comes in at over 118 proof and packs a big dollop of both sweet and savory spices in addition to all the rich oak flavors and vanilla. With dill, pepper, and sweet baking spices on the finish, this 59.1% beast of a whiskey brings the power and the punch for those who like their rye potent. It starts with rich and decadent aromas of vanilla and sweet oak, but it ends with a fireworks display of savory and herbaceous splendor.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Mar162018

One, Two, Three...Four Roses

Few distilleries offer a more satisfying and successful single barrel program than the exceptional Four Roses Distillery. This brand has been on fire, not only because of the amazing pricing we offer on their flagship products, but because they've committed to producing the highest quality bourbon no matter what. It seemed for a while that stocks had become dangerously tight. The little distillery outside Lawrenceburg was cranking at full steam, but there isn’t enough juice to go around. The program has blocked new applicants and participants are now required to visit their Cox's Creek facility to select their barrels. This is the sort of restrictions that we LOVE because it means we get to visit our great friends in KY and enjoy the whiskey straight out of the casks with a side of salty tortilla chips. 

Since those dark days, it seems things have regulated somewhat. The distillery is expanding and the barrels that they've been rolling out have been absolutely delicious. I'm convinced their just giving us the good ones cause they like us so much, but maybe it's simple coincidence. This last batch was EXTREMELY hard to pick. At least four of the eight barrels were absolutely delicious. Two were classic solid Four Roses, two were very odd ball outliers. Ultimately, I had to let go of a bizarre young 8.5 year old whiskey that tasted just like Armagnac in favor of the other outlier an ultra woodsy, borderline herbaceous OESV from a leaking barrel. It won't be everybody's cup of tea, but certainly will speak to a select few hardcore heads. Either way, we won't be getting back to KY until at least May so this is it for 4Rs Single Barrels until summer. Grab ‘em while you can.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OBSV (10 Years Old, 10 Months) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $64.99

This was the oldest whisky in the batch which I was sure would make it to 11 years before we bottled it, but it was bottled 1 month and one day early so it sits a reasonable 10 years and 10 months. This cask was aged on the east side of warehouse G and is bottled at a seriously powerful 127.2 proof. This is REAL high for Four Roses since the whiskies entry proof is lower proof than most distillers in Kentucky and likely the result of a particularly hot and dry position in the warehouse. The whiskey itself is filled with tension and depth, but shows lovely nuance of dried stone fruit and exotic spice on the nose. The high proof is not obvious on the plate, but the chewy texture reminds us that this is some serious stuff. The flag ship OBSV whiskey from Four Roses offers a wonderful balanced experience combining the intense rye spice and sweet fruit that Four Roses is renowned for.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OESV (10 Years Old) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $64.99

I'm a huge fan of the V yeast strain so when I noticed this cask, right around ten years old, I knew it would be right in my sweet spot. The usual soft fruit and subtle spice this cask was totally out of the profile. I should have known seeing the funky weathered and warped barrel. The color in the glass was an immediate give away as well. Two or three ticks darker than the other nine casks and much woodsier, the nose is full of pepper and bitter herbs—thujone, gentian and exotic roots. Cigar box, old leather and burnt sugar continue in full force. The palate is rightfully intense and downright spicy with a building cinnamon and clove quality that's nearly overpowering. This is one for those who like them dry and spicy. The dark bitters aromas on the nose don't translate to the palate however and it keeps from feeling astringent by some brown sugar and honey notes. With such an odd ball flavor profile and ugly gnarled barrel, I should have known that this barrel was a leaker, but I was nonetheless astonished when I found out that this barrel on turned out 108 bottles.

Four Roses K&L Exclusive OESK (9 Years Old, 7 Months) Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $64.99

This great little OESK is the most familiar of this round of casks. This recipe is almost always one of my favorites and shows up in the standard Small Batch in a big way. The nose on this one reminded me a lot of this year’s Limited Edition Small Batch with tons of orange liqueur, stone fruits, sweet corn, menthol and oak spice. After the high proof of the other two this one starts easy and hints that it will be sweet and easy, thanks to the opulent nose and the easy entry. But the finish goes in a different direction completely, building a big warming spice on the back palate and finishing with a deep fudgy note at the end. Not the most exciting on paper, but a real star in the glass. 

-David Othenin-Girard

Thursday
Mar152018

40 Years of Splendor

For the K&L whisky faithful, these are the moments you live for: those opportunities when we dig out gems from Scotland's forgotten cellars, 40 years of whisky maturation from a lost distillery at full proof for $250. Grain whisky continues to be undervalued by the market, even when it's from a closed producer like Carsebridge. If this were Port Ellen it would be over $3000. But because it's grain whisky the market is unsure of what to do with it, so the price is absolutely ridiculous by comparison. I know what to do with this whisky, however, as I'm assuming all of your do, too. Drink it, and savor every last drop of it.

1976 Carsebridge 40 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky $249.99 - While most whisky fans think of Port Ellen and Brora when the DCL distillery closures of 1983 are recalled, the company that would eventually become Diageo shut down a number of other whisky facilities that fateful year, including the Lowland grain operation known as Carsebridge. Originally founded in 1798, the distillery functioned as a cooperage after it ceased distilling, but even that process was ended in 2011 when the Diageo barrel operation was moved over to Cambus. Thus, with each drop of Carsebridge that is poured each year, what little remains of the distillery's stock is slowly extinguished from Scotland's grain whisky history, making each bottle that exists just a bit more rare. This 40 year edition, distilled in 1976 and bottled for K&L in 2017, represents the holy trinity for Scotch whisky enthusiasts, the combination of price, age, and rarity that historically has sent our customers into a feeding frenzy. Rich and round on the palate with the decadence of four decades in wood, this lively and vanilla-laden Scotch almost comes across like an American Bourbon with its big oak spices and 54% cask strength proof. Laden with honey on the finish, the bold proof brings home the flavor for a minute long finish.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Mar142018

Global Tequila/Local Crisis

We’ve had a string of shocking news out of Jalisco over the last year. It all started with George Clooney, as so many things do. He managed to flip his new new tequila brand for nearly a billion dollars to the owners of Don Julio. No questions that a hefty chunk of that windfall is tied to Mr Clooney’s continued involvement as the face of the brand, but the simple fact that the intellectual property could be worth this much is astonishing. The largest drinks company in the world (who already owns a massively popular tequila brand) paid almost a billion dollars for a name, a face and some really goodwill, but didn’t actually buy anything tangible. Consider that Cuervo, the world’s largest producer of Tequila, recently raised about $900 million in an early 2017 IPO. This values that massive company at around $6-7 Billion, but they own multiple distilleries across many categories. The disparity is shocking, but not surprising considering the costs to produce bulk tequila. Indeed, prices on agave have been historically low for many years. Big producers have likely stock piled inventory while costs were cheap, while at the same time some large growers didn’t bother to harvest many fields since the cost of labor outweighed the financial gains.

But, something changed last year right around the time of this sale. Whether it was spurred on by the sale of Casamigos or simply a strangely timed coincidence, midway through last year murmurs began to build about an impending agave shortage.What does that mean for the average tequila distiller? Well, you have a few options. Either you harvest younger plants, which won’t have as much sugars and may require additional processing to extract a usable amount of energy to make them worth your time and money. You pay the higher price at market for agave and raise your prices to the consumer. You invest in new technology, like autoclaves, diffusers, efficiency experts and laboratory technicians to squeeze every drop out of the few plants that you can secure. Or most likely, you’ll do ALL of these things and hope for the best.

The situation isn’t so dire for the large landowning distillers. They’re bulk tequila business might not be turning the same profits as before, but they’re required to sell themselves agave at market prices, so now the farming business is looking pretty good, as long as they have agave to sell at all. Those large scale land owning distillers will dictate the price of agave for the foreseeable future and when they see someone like George Clooney making a billion dollars off their land and labor, you bet they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure they claw as much of those profits back as the category continues to grow.

The real savvy producers have likely stockpiled enough spirit over the last five years to continue expanding without raising prices significantly and will be in a great position to attack the market share of smaller third party brands that will be forced to increase prices to continue operating. There’s no doubt that Sauza and Cuervo will be just fine through the crisis, which isn’t projected to alleviate until at least 2021.

These two massive brands control a great deal of market share, but their certainly not the only players in Jalisco. Enter TEQUILA SUPREMO! Known in Jalisco by the trade name Casa Camarena, the house was founded in 1938 by Don Augustine Camarena, brother of the famed distiller Don Felipe Camarena who founded La Altena just a few miles away. The prominent agave growing Camarena family came from Spain in the 1700s and began growing agave in the 1860s. Just over a century later, Don Augustine’s daughter-in-law Dona Elena Herrera Orendain takes over the family distillery. Since then they’ve grown to be the fourth largest distillers by volume.

Orendain is the great great granddaughter of Don Jose Cuervo and owns more than 3 million agave planted throughout the highlands. The Camarena, Cuervo, and Orendain names ALL represented in one distillery? It must be a massive behemoth of modern gadgetry and scientific precision, right? But instead Casa Camarena is committed to producing traditional tequila the old fashioned way. For their “Premium” brand Azteca Azul, they utilize only 8+ year old highland agave. It’s roasted EXCLUSIVELY in traditional volcanic stone ovens for more than 48 hours before fermentation and double distillation on steel then copper pot stills. The result is proper highland tequila with all the fragrance and freshness that you’d expect. Now the real kicker, it’s only $17. WHAT?!?!? But why? How? An estate grown, 100% agave oven-roasted pot distilled highland blanco tequila bottled and shipped to the states for less than $17 retail a liter. It seems too good to be true, but the proof is in the pudding. As I said, this agave shortage fits precisely into someone's plan. We just need to know who!

Azteca Azul Blanco Tequila (1L) $16.99

Azteca Azul is produced by one of the finest highland distillers in the world, Tequila Supremo. Known commercially as Casa Camarena, the famous house was established by Augustin Camarena in 1938. The prominent agave growing family founded the town of Arandas and multiple distilleries in the. The woman who runs the distiller, Dona Elena Herrera Orendain, is Tequila royalty. The great great granddaughter of Don Jose Cuervo, she's built Casa Camarena into Jalisco's fourth largest distiller that you've never heard of. Despite their size their commitment to quality is unparalleled. Azteca Azul is a 100% pure blue agave matured a minimum of 8 years on of one of the Camarena's 18 agave growing estates. The agave is cooked and cooled in traditional brick ovens before being twice distilled on steel then copper stills. Tequila Supremo has also developed a process known as "Zero D," which ensures that the distillery emits no waste by composting and recycling every possible waste product throughout the process. Tequila Supremo was the first tequila producer to be 100% environmentally friendly, but their commitment to sustainability doesn't come at the expense of quality or increased cost to the consumer. Easily one of the best values in tequila and quickly becoming our staff's go to blanco for sipping, mixing, parties, gifting and life in general.

We're the only ones stocking this exceptional tequilas at this ridiculous price so take advantage!

-David Othenin-Girard