News & Notes

If you didn't make it out to Hard Water for our Westland Peat Week party this past Wednesday night, we missed you. It was such a great scene. The weather was cold, the lights from downtown San Francisco illuminated the palor through the windows, and the spirit of the holidays was in the air. The incredibly photogenic Matt Freerks was also there, doing his best Mad Men impression, and guiding the festivities as director for the Seattle distillery. Michael Lazar whipped up some of the best Old Fashioneds any of us had ever had (people were buzzing about his drinks the entire evening), and Erik Adkins brought out plate after plate of waffles topped with fried chicken and pickles. This won't be the last time we party on the Embarcadero this winter. I'm getting another event in the works for January as we speak.

In what has to be the biggest surprise of the year for me, my former colleague and spirits lover Mike Barber walked into the SF shop this past week and let me taste his new rye whiskey. I was veeeeeeeeeeeery skeptical. I was thinking, "there's no way in hell that Barber made a batch of decent whiskey on his first ever try," but I was the one with egg on my face by the end of the meeting. Mike has been making wine for years at his Barber Cellars facility in Petaluma. If you're a K&L wine club member, you've probably tasted his Mr. Beast zinfandel at some point. He's a talented dude. However, making rye whiskey is an entirely different game and I had no idea Mike was even dabbling in distillation.

"You know how I've always been obsessed with Anchor's Old Potrero, right?" Mike asked me as he poured me a glass. "Well, I set out to make my own version." You can get the full story here on Mike's website, but I have to say, this whiskey is absolutely delicious. It's soft, jam-packed with vanilla, explosions of baking spices and Christmas accents, and it finishes with richness and oak. I'm almost dumbstruck just typing about it now. It's also unfiltered, so it's slightly hazy in color, but don't let that scare you away. If you're looking for an alternative to Pappy 13, this is not for you. If you're looking for big, bold, spicy, high proof Kentucky rye whiskey, this is also not for you. If you're looking for a fun, delicious, and locally-made specialty whiskey that might even be better than the Old Potrero, this is your guy. This is the first ever batch, so it's from one single barrel. It's also a half bottle, FYI. 

Barber's Single Malt Rye Whiskey 375ml $39.99 - Former K&L employee Mike Barber has always been obsessed with Anchor's Old Potrero rye whiskey, but we didn't know how obsessed until he was until he walked back into the store a while back with a sample of his own version. Mike had been making wine at Barber Cellars in Petaluma even while working the K&L sales floor during the week, but he had a secret side project: distillation. After an insane amount of research and test batches, Mike developed his own mash bill and recipe for one of the most expressive, delicious, and unique ryes on the market and one of the only single malt ryes in America. We had to taste it to believe it, but we couldn't deny our palates. This two and a half year old single barrel edition is the first release from Barber Cellars and it's a creamy, mouthwatering whiskey full of rye bread flavor and plenty of baking spices. What's more impressive is that the whiskey is made from 100% malted rye and was made painstakingly by hand. Through sweat, toil, trial, and error, Mike developed an entirely singular and backbreaking system of mashing, fermenting, and sparging the sticky, hot, unworkable mess that is a malted rye mash. The result is a spirit that is a rich and spicy one-of-a-kind American whiskey experience. Bottled without filtration, it's a slightly hazy and textured rye with loads of vanilla and character.

If you missed out on the Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza, I just located a few more bottles. If you want to get a bottle of Booker's before it goes up to $100, we've got tons. If you want to get the jump on our new Cuban....damn it, I keep saying that. If you want to get the jump on our new batch of Faultline  "Caribbean" rum, it's in stock again. It should help you get into the Sancti Spiritus of the holidays (wink wink). 

And if you need help with anything else, you know where to find me!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll