Quick Quips

The last two days at K&L have been two of the most challenging in my seven year history at the store. We're down five people right now in Redwood City due to vacation, injury, or illness, which makes it difficult to get much done. Throw in the fact that we had some huge deals going down Tuesday and Wednesday, and it gets tougher. Add on the fact that I was responsible for the staff training this week (which means a few hours in SF in the morning, and then back down to RC in the afternoon), and you've now carved five hours out from the eight hours I have to get my normal work done. It's been a total shitshow, but I'm still standing somehow.

Amidst the chaos yesterday (three people picking up GIGANTIC 400+ bottle orders simultaneously—a freak occurance that just about crippled the sales floor), Sean Venus came in to pour his fantastic Santa Cruz gin for the public. He picked a tough day to garner an audience though because the Giants were on at 5 PM in the do-or-die Wild Card showdown with Pittsburgh. Despite the drama of the post-season happening live on TV screens across the Bay Area, Sean pitched his own no-hitter right there in the Redwood City store, or should I say he batted 1.000? Nine people came to taste his product, and all nine of them bought a bottle. Either Sean is the best salesman in the world, or his gin is just that damn good. I think it's the latter. If you count the two K&L employees who went in to taste, then he was 11 for 11. They both bought bottles as well. Amazing. Never been done in K&L spirits tasting history.

We had a few Maker's Mark Cask Strength bottles to allocate yesterday, so I decided to use trivia to decide the winners. Those who could tell me where Patrick Swayze's character Dalton from the movie Roadhouse went to college were allowed to buy a bottle. Google makes this all way too easy, however, as I had more than 300 people with the right answer in a matter of minutes. I'll have to rethink that strategy, or come up with a harder question!

Our George Dickel 14 year old cask also arrived. As of this morning (about five minutes ago) there were seven bottles left of the original 108. A very small, concentrated cask of Tennessee goodness. Hopefully you got one.

The Macallan Rare Cask also landed and we managed to grab a decent allocation. The number one question, however, is: how old is it? You'll never know. But if I haven't prepared you enough with this blog to handle that anxiety—the burning fear that you might be overpaying for a young whisky that actually might taste amazing if you just stop worrying about it—then you'll never be ready. All I can tell you is that it tastes like quality, first-fill sherry casks of Macallan. They said they blended together various ages of their best butts and it tastes to me like they did just that. I thought it was polished and quintessential Macallan single malt with extra sherry concentration. Macallan can and will charge a premium for their whisky, so it's no longer about age at this point. Macallan has already become the whisky version of Lafite or Mouton-Rothschild. Good booze, but it will cost you. People were asking if it was better than the 18 year. For me personally, yes. But as Kyle said to me: "If Macallan did an 18 year whisky from entirely first-fill sherry casks it would be $1000, not $270." Very true. And people would buy it instantly.

I'm expecting more madness today. A big batch of Michter's new Toasted Oak finished Bourbon is landing in our warehouse—a standard Bourbon finished in new toasted oak, kind of like a Cognac finish. Our blending project with Michel Couvreur is also due in; the marriage of sherry casks with peated Islay whisky, selected from the finest barrels aging in the side of a Bourgogne mountain. How old is it? I have no idea. We're back to the Macallan situation again. If you need to know how old it is you're going to miss the point. Simply put: we tried to make it taste as good as we could, while trying to make it cost as little as possible. Hopefully we achieved that goal. The choicest sherry butts from Michel Couvreur are not cheap, however.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll