London: Day 1 – Transatlanticism

The Airbus 380 is an incredible machine. Two decks of pure humanity. A flying fortress. The quietest and most deceptive takeoff known to man. What a flight! I never even realized we were in the air. That million ton monolith just carves through the sky with impeccible force. And when we came down, state of the art metal and mechanics grinding upon the runway, suddenly I was in jolly old London town. What a trip! The weather was perfect. The air was crisp and clean. I couldn't wait to get out there.

Which London blender had been working on samples for good ole K&L? How many London-based bottlers do you know of? I caught a cab out of terminal five and OG got his ride from terminal three. We met at the Compass Box headquarters, prepared to taste some serious hooch.

John Glaser was out of the office, so we met with assistant whiskymaker Gregg Glass. He had prepared a few possible K&L concoctions in preparation for our arrival. When we sat down we were presented with two initial possibilities. The glass on the left was the clear winner. We didn't need to taste anything else after it. How about a blend of 30 year old Caol Ila with a first-fill sherry butt of 19 year old Glen Ord? Mother of God! Burnt campfire smoke, twigs, savory leaves and foresty notes, rich creme brulee, a note of smoldering ashes. WOW!!! David and I about freaked out. "Yes! We'll take it." Duh. Get ready for this as-of-yet-to-be-named little whisky later this summer.

We had jetted straight over to Compass Box from the airport, so we still needed to get to our hotel and lay down our luggage before the next appointment. We had a 5 PM martini session scheduled with Doug McIvor (better known as Macgyver) at the Dukes Hotel, located in one of the more posh London locales. We were cutting it close. It didn't help that David OG lost his brand, spanking new iPhone 6 in the cab, which required us to track down the driver and get it back. Nerves don't fail me now!

No sooner did we sit down and shake hands with Doug, when our friend Alessandro Palazzi pulled up the martini car, broke out a frozen bottle of BBR No. 3 gin, a container of house-made vermouth, and proceeded to whip up some epic libations. Given my state of exhaustion and current level of nourishment, I was quickly taken under the spell of this potent potion. I was flat out debilitated. But, boy oh boy, was that one tasty martini!

The Dukes Hotel is a pretty legendary place to grab a drink. It's an old-fashioned joint. The type of place that does things the "right" way according to tradition. In fact, the Dukes Hotel is where famed British spy novelist Ian Fleming would sit and order martinis, the likes of which would be repicated in the famed James Bond novels. This was the original inspiration!

After some bar snacks and some serious boozing, the three of us headed over to the local pub for a pint of bitter, before David and I walked back through Chinatown and helped ourselves to some spicy goat and roasted duck. What a first night! One K&L exclusive already in the bag and some serious drinking with old friends to round out the experience. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings! I'm zonked. Signing off!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll