Labor Disputes of Love
I’ve been trying to find time to write more on the blog, but everything that shows up seems to be flying out the door. Nothing worse than spending the morning writing a blog post for a bunch of products that are sold out before the end of the day. Part of the problem is that our customers are more tuned in and turned on than ever before. The website is a warzone. People posted up at work for the 8-10am receiving rush. Push that meeting till after lunch. Update the CC and get parked on the page of that special product you want. CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK...YASSSS!!!!!
I know that ritual and the alternative. The deafening silence of defeat. Those rare bottles slipping right out from under you. The product page taunting you with that waiting list button. Customers are getting creative, writing code to place automated orders. Spending hours refreshing the new product feed. Making sure you're logged into your wife's, your brother's and your mom's account. But my most successful online customers are the ones who are thorough and committed to drinking well above all other concerns. You don’t need to have the fastest fingers to get killer stuff from K&L, you just need to be a bit more open minded.
We’ve loaded up on some incredible products over the last couple of weeks, but these three barrels of Four Roses are easily the best bourbons in the store right now! I held off on marketing those products because of a politically sensitive situation at the distillery. Thankfully the distillery and their workers have come to a tentative deal to resolve the current impasse. I’m finally prepared to remind everyone how freakin' AWESOME these whiskies really are. Tons of people have already jumped on board, but these casks represent some really unique selections unlike any we've done before.
One barrel is nearly gone without any effort on my part, but there’s more to them than just stats. These three are from a set of five barrels that I selected alongside the magnanimous Al Young at the bottling facility in Cox’s Creek last spring. I’d invited our resident Kentuckian, Illya Haase, to attend the days festivities, and we were both surprised to learn from our host Mandy Brown that Al himself was planning to drop in for the tasting!
Mr. Young is part of the Kentucky old guard (no offense Al) who are few and far between these days. All in this generation seem to be characterized by their encyclopedic knowledge and willingness to share it with the growing crowds of interested partisans. There’s very little that’s obscured or off limits when talking to Al. But even more interesting and exciting than the history of the various distilleries and the inner workings of the industry, is just getting to know the man. Al has worked with Four Roses for over 50 years in nearly every capacity, and there’s a reason he’s stuck around so long, he’s just so damned personable.
Al’s days serving as the quality control manager have served him well in the tasting room, and evaluating product with someone on this level is always a great honor. He's a pretty busy guy, so when he offered to stick around for the tasting we knew we were in for something special. Not only does Al insist on tasting everything blind, he’s very careful not to influence your opinions with his own. He guides the tasting somewhat. Eliciting our tasting impressions. Asking us which we don’t like—usually the easier questions when you need to pick among several winners. What we looked for in a single barrel? And what we liked to drink at home?
This was the first experience I’d had at Four Roses where the recipe, ages, warehouses, and strengths did not influence my decision in the slightest, and, when we revealed our top five, there was overlapping consensus on four of the five barrels. We were shocked and honestly Al seemed pretty surprised too. The whole experience just reaffirmed our love for Four Roses and how proud we are to have such a unflinching partner willing to bottle bourbon with no bull.
Just the way we like it. We’re also really relieved that they’ve come to an agreement with their workers, who deserve to be paid properly especially considering the roll that this distillery has been on recently. I know that NO ONE wants them turning off those stills. We’ll all be feeling it ten years from now if they ever do. There should be two more barrels hitting NorCal before the end of the year, but after that we won't make it back to Cox's Creek until at least March of next year. This means the next round likely won't be available again until June 2019.
In addition to these magical casks, we also have a tiny bit of 13 year old Knob Creek still hangin’ around. Like all their single barrels it’s labeled as 9 Year but somehow we keep snagging these older ones and they’re just staggeringly good - deep, dark, round and nutty. Thank god Beam doesn’t seem to know what to do with these old stocks.
We’ll take ‘em. Massive quantities of incredible whisk(e)y, brandy, rum and more are hurtling toward us from across the globe. Stay tuned for the wettest whiskey season to date.