David Driscoll is the spirits buyer for K&L, a chain of booze stores in Northern California. He makes regular blog posts and podcasts, reporting about new products and trends in spirits. He writes extensively and well about whiskey.
The K&L spirits blog, written mostly by Driscoll, has been added to the blog roll of this blog, if you look to the right and scroll down. The blog roll shows the five blogs with the most recent posts. The K&L spirits blog is called 'Spirits Journal.'
Driscoll is not afraid to stir the pot. Last Friday he wrote about Black Maple Hill, which he believes could be the next Van Winkle. Today's post is called 'The NAS Dilemma.' It's provocative stuff.
Driscoll, like any large retailer in a major metro, has a good feel for market trends, even more so for being in always trendy No. California. I appreciate that he told it like it is about BMH, that it's a non-distiller producer (NDP) that won't or can't reveal its sources, and that scarcity and perceived scarcity are driving the market.
You can't give BMH much credit for any of that. They are the beneficiary of forces largely outside of their control.
The older folks among us have lived through two very different bourbonian periods. In the pre-boom era, we had gallons of good, cheap, glut-era whiskey from numerous NDPs, some better and more ethical than others. We could buy whatever we wanted at will, whenever we wanted, and turn our noses up at the rest.
Was that the golden age? Maybe, but it wasn't sustainable. Now whiskey is hot and newbies are flooding the market looking for 'experts' to tell them what is 'the best,' so they can avoid any heavy lifting on their way to connoisseurship. Plenty of self-proclaimed 'experts' have appeared, eager to oblige. They don't try to educate, they can't, they don't know anything. Instead they just pass along recommendations they have heard, like Van Winkle.
That's not Driscoll. He knows his stuff and when he's uncertain about facts, he does the necessary research. Plenty of other people out there do not.
Since the instant experts need a second act, and Van Winkle has become nearly impossible to find, the search is on for the next Van Winkle. It has to be expensive to be good, and hard to get, the older the better, high proof is good too, and a Van Winkle-like back story doesn't hurt, if it can be boiled down to a few easy-to-remember bullet points.
BMH is as good a candidate as any.
And so a fool and his money are soon parted.
In addition to availability problems, the loss of age statements, and higher prices; other unpleasant by-products of the current boom have been eBay, flavored whiskeys (honey, cherry, cinnamon), white whiskeys, celebrity whiskeys, and quasi-whiskeys (blended whiskey, spirit whiskey).
On the other side, how great is it that the LDI 95% rye finally saw the light of day, even though it took a creepy outfit like Templeton to do it?
I'm old, and crotchety by nature as you all know, but I understand that dynamism usually accompanies success. They need each other. So we need to embrace change in general, even if we choose to reject some of the specifics.