Knick Knacks/Updates

There's a lot going on in the booze industry at this time of year. The Fall allocations get released. The mighty collectable Bourbons hit the shelves (or the raffle in our case). People start thinking about buying their loved ones a special bottle or two. And things really start to ramp up in our retail locations.

I'm already seeing a big head start for this year's holiday season. There are more orders everyday in our queue and more emails in my inbox. And we're only mid-way through October. We're looking good right now as far as preparation goes. I've got all my important, high-volume spirits items re-enforced and ready, with plenty of reserve bottles filling up every nook and cranny of the warehouse. We've got our two biggest drops of K&L exclusive whisk(e)y already processed and on the shelves. It's looking good right now. I'm very optimistic today after getting the entire store clean and tidy last night. I feel refreshed and ready, like you feel after you wash all the dishes and vacuum in your house on Sunday. Everything just looks nicer and that feeling of satisfaction sustains you through the afternoon.

Here are some tidbits you might be interested in:

- Four Roses 125th Anniversary has come and gone. We got our allocation. Ran our raffle. That's it. I didn't try it, but I'm sure it's amazing: a marriage of one 18 year old cask with two 13 year olds.

- Diageo and I are continuing to work together in the name of better booze business. We just brought the Talisker 18 back in stock and it's $129.99 -- lowest price in the state from what I can find online. I just tasted the recent batch and it's just as good as it always is. This was a benchmark whisky for me for many years. I still really love it, despite the higher price. Perspective always helps. Now that Mac 18 is $200 and Yamazaki is $155, I don't feel as bad.

- We're expecting our Glendronach and Benriach casks to hit the store in another week or two. Anyone who loves peated whisky might want to pick up the Benriach before we end the pre-order pricing. I think it's the second best cask we found this year, after the Jura.

- We're off to Kentucky this Tuesday. Expect a whole week of live blogging with photos. We got Diageo to open up Stitzel Weller, so that should be a fun day of pictures.

- Speaking of Bourbon, our Faultline Bourbon is selling much faster than I expected (but, hey, it's also much better tasting that I expected). It's proof that flavor is king ultimately. If we said it tasted it great and it didn't we'd be in trouble, of course. I called John Little and he's working on a second batch that will be identical to the first. We hope that'll get here before Xmas.

- The second batch of Fuenteseca tequila (also identical to the first) should be here within the next few weeks as well. We're not taking pre-orders, but rather we're going to just take it in and let it fly. I've been really proud of the public response and honored by the chance to involve myself in this project. I'm excited another 600 people will get to try it.

- I've heard some people saying they think the Pappy theft was just clever marketing. As if the Van Winkles needed more people lusting after their whiskey. If there's one brand that needs less marketing and excitement, it's the Pappy products.

- I recently re-tasted the Armorik single malt whiskies from France and was very impressed. They've made some changes at the Bretagne distillery and it's really turned this whisky around. The son-in-law of the owner, David Roussier, has taken over the cask selection and blending operations, as well as the sourcing of the barrels. I think the new versions are right up there with Yamazaki 12 and some of the lighter Japanese whiskies. The new 2002 vintage they plan on releasing soon is very good. I tasted my small sample again last night to make sure I wasn't hallucinating the first time around. We've got the revamped Classic Whisky (aged almost 7 years in refilled American Bourbon casks, and finished in Oloroso Sherry casks for three months - $49.99) back on the shelf in Redwood City and I am eagerly anticipating the new vintage release. This is one of the most impressive and fastest brand revivals I have ever experienced. I was feeling very, very sarcastic going into this meeting (I told their importer Christine I didn't believe her when she said they were better now), but that's why you have to taste everything. You can't know unless you taste. I'm glad I did!

- If you're a Spanish brandy or sherried rum lover (heck, any kind of sherry lover), you might be very interested in some of Nicolas Palazzi's new sherry-aged spirits. Working in partnership with Equipos Navazos (the Pappy Van Winkle of the sherry world, if there were such a thing) we've already been tricking out some of the Oloroso-aged Spanish brandy (not cheap at $70 for a 375ml, but utterly divine). Equipos Navazos is a group of bottlers that make extremely high quality, single barrel, unfiltered sherry. The fact that he's using their used barrels is insane and very exciting to us Sherry fans. Keep your eyes peeled for the rum.

Is the full moon affecting anyone else? I felt like I was having weird dreams and crazy nostalgic memories all night long. Maybe that was the booze though. And the stress. And that tab of LSD that Jim Barr slipped into my wine glass at our staff tasting.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll