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Wednesday
Nov082017

You Eyes Do Not Deceive You

HUGE Armagnac return today with bottles going back years and years from a customer that was never able to ship or pick up his GIGANTIC haul. 

It's getting picked off the queue like crazy, but there's still a lot of great stuff available like a string of 1996 Pellehaut selections (the 17/18/21 year olds bottled in different years) and Baraillon back vintages, plus a few Golden Devil rums and other knick knacks. Have a close look.

Wait until I load in his Signatory single casks from Bowmore, Laphroaig, and Caol Ila tomorrow. Make sure you watch that queue! 

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Nov082017

Time to Read the Little Book

We all know about the legendary Booker Noe, the former master distiller at Jim Beam and the namesake of Booker's Bourbon, one of the most iconic American whiskies there is. Then, of course, there's his son Fred Noe, the current master distiller at Beam who has continued in his father's footsteps and carved out his own niche in the industry by carrying the torch into the modern Bourbon boom. Between Booker and Fred, it was going to be tough for anyone to follow in the footsteps of this legendary father and son duo, especially the next generation of Noe kin, but I have to give it to young Freddie Noe: he knocked his first shot at succession right out of the park, over the fence, and into the Ohio River. Freddie, or "Little Book" as he's known amongst his family members, has put together his first foray into the whiskey world and I'm instantly a big fan of his work. I've had the chance to try it now on three different occasions and I've enjoyed it immensely each go-around. But what is it, you ask? Let's break it down.

Freddie is known as "Little Book" due to a resemblance to his grandfather, but he's also named his whiskey "Little Book" linking it to the brand Booker's as well. It's another full-throttle, 60% ABV+, massive assault on your taste buds, but it's not a straight Bourbon like Booker's. Looking to add something new to the genre, Freddie blended the following whiskies together:

- 13 year old corn whiskey

- 6 year old malt whiskey

- 6 year old rye whiskey

- 4 year old Kentucky straight Bourbon

The result is a blend of straight whiskies that for all intents and purposes tastes exactly like Bourbon, even if it isn't. It's not some wacky, weird, craft-oriented approach to make something completely new. I'm nosing it right now as I type this and—if I didn't already know what I was drinking—I would guess Bourbon without a doubt. It has that corny, grainy nose that whips through the nostrils with tons of new oak. The palate is rich and spicy, blistering with baking spices and classic Beam texture, but with a fatness from the malt and extra spice from the rye. It's freaking delicious. I think blending skills are going to be what separates the men from the boys as the whiskey glut continues to grow and the Little Book is one beautifully blended whiskey. 

More importantly, it's clearly a Beam product. It has all the hallmark flavors of Booker's and Basil Hayden's with just a few small tweaks in terms of sweetness and spice. Batch #1 just hit the store and we've got plenty for the time being, although I will be allocating it for now until we can confirm more inventory. 

As a side note, we'll have Freddie Noe in our San Francisco store on Wednesday December 6th for a meet and greet, plus a book signing and tasting event. Stay tuned for more info on that, but in the meantime I'd grab a bottle of this:

Little Book 2017 Release "Batch #1 - The Easy" Blended Straight Whiskey $74.99

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Nov072017

Tuns of Fun

Every year the Balvenie Tun 1509 is one of the most anticipated single malt releases of the year, and I annually kick myself for not buying one in retrospect. David Stewart and the gang pick out a bunch of interesting barrels from the distillery and famously marry them in the giant Balvenie oak "Tun" (a massive marrying vessel) until the whisky is ready for release in the Fall. We just got our limited selection of Batch #4 into stock, complete with a tasting diagram that details the characteristics of all 23 casks used in the blend. It's bottled at 51.7% this year and for my taste buds it's one of the spiciest "Tun" releases I can remember, both in terms of sweet and savory spices. The finish is all toffee and Oloroso flavor, but it's dry and robust rather than sweet and unctuous. Balvenie is pretty much where Macallan was a decade ago: about to explode on the world market, but still relatively affordable for the quality and age. I'm wondering if this is the last time we sell the Tun 1509 series for less than $500? It's a 23 barrel blend for the entire world, for God's sake! That's not much.

I've got 24 bottles with a one bottle limit per customer while they last.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Nov062017

Back on the Trail

Let me tell you something I learned this week: the most interesting man in the world is NOT the Dos Equis guy. It's Bill Foley, owner of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the billionaire businessman behind some of California's most successful wineries. He also can fly a military jet, build a missile, and argue a legal case before a judge in a court of law. Eat your heart out, Bruce Wayne!

Since we're talking more about life and not necessarily drinking, I'm putting this particular interview over at On the Trail, so feel free to jump over there if you're curious.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Nov052017

The Big Leagues

I'm sure every industry has their version of it, but I've never really worked in any other business but booze and lately it seems like I've been getting my share of "big leaguing." To big league someone, if you're unaware, is when someone tries to show you up in public by either acting too cool for school or trying to put you down while others are watching. Part of it's on me. As an outgoing, talkative, and relatively friendly person, I invite that type of response from assholes everywhere. My personality is like a dog whistle for dickheads. I have a photographic memory for faces and I have no problem approaching people I haven't seen in twenty years like it's only been a week. I'm the guy who remembers every customer in the store and comfortably calls them by name, even if they don't remember mine. That's exactly the kind of situation where someone might look to big league you and act like they have no idea who you are.

Even if they know exactly who they're talking to.

The Bay Area booze industry is RIFE with that type of behavior and I have little tolerance for it, which is why I don't go out all that often these days. I can laugh when someone tries to correct me or call me out for something I've said or written, but if someone who I've met several times acts like they don't know who I am, I get seriously annoyed. When I get big leagued like that, sometimes I can't help but big league them back. I'll give you an example of something that happened this week:

I was at an industry event talking to a colleague, when I ran into an old distiller friend chatting with another man that I recognized. Out of politeness, my friend introduced me to that man even though we already knew each other.

"We know each other," I said with a smile. Then the man looked me dead in the eye and said: "Oh, have we met?" 

I sighed. 

After I recounted to him exactly how we had met and interacted, he laughed and said: "Right, that must be it."

Then I couldn't help it. 

"Yeah, it's either that or maybe it's the signed copy of your book on my desk at work; the one you sent me in the mail with the inscription in the front handwritten by you, explaining to me how my blog and my writing really inspired you in your pursuing your own. It could be that, too."

He blushed.

-David Driscoll