Scheduling Your Dollars

Since the new releases, sales promotions, and crazy deals are flying fast and furiously (more so than Vin Diesel himself) right now, I thought it was a good time to help everyone plan their purchases. Most of us are on some sort of fixed income, so it's nice to know what's ahead. Obviously the big boy Bourbons are dropping soon, but those will not be available online -- only through our insider raffle. What else is coming down the pipe?

- Diageo's Talisker Storm should be hitting retailers next week with a circa-$80 price tag.

- Our Glendronach 18 and Benriach 18 year old casks should be in stock by Thanksgiving.

- Our Glen Garioch 14 year old whisky (not available on pre-order) should be here by early December.

- Our last drop of direct French spirits featuring our new Calvados and Pouchegu Armagnac should be here before the month is over.

- We've got a second batch of Faultline Bourbon coming (first one is about gone) and the second batch of Fuenteseca Tequila should be here soon as well.

- David OG's Four Roses barrel selections should be here before December.

- David D's Henry McKenna selections should follow suit.

What isn't going to be here before the holidays are over? Most likely all of our Faultline single malt pre-orders. The government shutdown pretty much destroyed us because we still needed label approval on our four biggest casks. Those casks would fill the container we needed to get on the ship that would get the whisky to Oakland by December. Without label approval and no government to approve our labels, we missed the deadline. If you needed one of the Faultline whiskies as a gift, or if you just don't want to wait until January, you can contact me for a refund. We apologize about the mess.

What's still here that's almost gone? A few things. I don't know if we'll do year-end awards this year or not, but if I had to choose a whisky of the year I think that the Glenmorangie Ealanta would be on my shortlist. That's based purely on my own personal taste. The rich, soft, decadent style of that new oak-aged single malt really hit my palate in all the right places. As David and I continue to infiltrate the world of single barrel booze, I'm becoming much more partial to marriages. I don't think any one single barrel of Four Roses is as good as the LE Small Batch, much like I don't think any single Glenmorangie cask I've tasted is as good as the Ealanta (for those clammering that we should have bottled one single 21 year old Fuenteseca tequila, I can promise you that not one of those barrels tasted as good as the resulting marriage). The one great thing about single cask whisky is that it teaches you about limitations. One can only go so far with a single barrel, and only achieve so much. The blending of casks is the only way to go further, in my opinion, and the Ealanta was maybe my favorite I've tasted this year in the single malt realm. We've still got a bit of that left, but it's about done.

By the same token, I think the best brandy I had this year was the Darroze 20 year old Assemblage -- a marriage of various Armagnacs by Marc Darroze -- and that's almost gone as well. While I'm much more interested in the terroir of a single estate, there's no denying that the best tasting Armagnac on our shelf is not the result of one estate. But, of course, flavor isn't always everything. That's why blind tastings are fun, but ultimately pointless for me. Even if I choose the Charles Shaw "Two Buck Chuck" as the best in the lineup, I'm still not going to buy it. There are other factors that help me determine what I want to drink (like who made it and how). I think that's what ultimately hurts the Darroze 20 in its quest for larger fanfare, as good as it is. In trying to understand more about Armagnac one is ultimately limited by not knowing what's in it and who made it. The same thing goes for blended or vatted whiskies. I think if more people knew that KBD was dumping 20 year old Heaven Hill into their Noah's Mill there would be a bigger audience for those whiskies.

But they don't say that on the label.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll