A Big Taste of Aspen at The Little Nell

Private jets, wine cellars, private mountain clubs, 5-star dining, international elite, and lots of snow, of course, we’re talking Aspen, Colorado, the top destination for relaxation and adventure in the middle of the mountains. My favorite part of visiting Aspen is the moment I check into The Little Nell. It is an experience I sincerely look forward to all year round. Nestled between the white snow-capped mountains, this quaint, luxurious hotel feels like home the second I walk in. Every time I arrive, the staff greets me and remembers me by name, as if we are long-lost friends reunited at last. After checking in, I like to relax and unwind in the main lobby with the fireplace crackling loudly, the smell of wood burning, and the somber sleeping mountains outside the grand windows. Between the hotel suites, private residences, accommodations, and luxury amenities there is really no place like it. The Little Nell serves as “home away from home” for some of the most sophisticated and wealthy people in the world, especially during peak Ski season from December to March, and festival season in the summertime. Though, even with all it’s accolades, being the only AAA 5-Diamond and Forbes 5-Star hotel in Aspen, The Nell (as regulars call it) still has a warm and cozy ambiance for all their guests. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, you’ll appreciate that The Nell is the only hotel with Ski-in, Ski-out access to Aspen Mountain. My choice is snowboarding and after a few treks up and down the mountain; I’m ready to recover at the private Aspen Mountain Club with a shot of whiskey and a cigar. Atop the mountain, I’ve found this is the best place to sit in awe and admire one of the most beautiful views in the United States.

Christopher R. King at the private Aspen Mountain Club / Christopher R. King top of Aspen Mountain
The Seafood Tower at the Ajax Tavern

The newly renovated Ajax Tavern sits at the base of Aspen Mountain and is an excellent place for an apres-ski. The Ajax Tavern debuted their new look on June 7th. Personally, my favorite place to dine is Element 47. I relish the opportunity to throw on a nice dinner jacket and bask in the elegance of this five-star dining experience. The name Element 47 is a clever nod to the heritage of both the hotel and the city of Aspen, representing silver: the 47th element on the periodic table. Considering Aspen’s history is rich from its roots in silver mining, the name is fitting for the soul of Aspen. Between breakfast, brunch, or dinner, there are six different menus to choose from throughout the day. The dinner menu is packed full with impressive, mouthwatering delights, but Executive Sous-Chef Keith Theodore never disappoints with my favorite dish; the Sourdough Rigatoni with wagyu tataki, mustard greens, and shiitake. I would literally fly there, just for this dish! I should also mention that Element 47 has one of the best wine programs in the country and is a longtime recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the wine pairings suggested by my good friend Carlton McCoy, Master Sommelier and Wine Director in the past years. I love to catch up, share stories, share laughs, taste different wines, and explore any new wines from their glorious wine cellar of over 24,000 bottles. I look forward to meeting the new wine director Chris Dunaway who will be taking over for Carlton.

Enjoying a bottle of Ornellaia at Element 47
Christopher R. King with Executive Sous-Chef Keith Theodore

Something I genuinely appreciate about The Little Nell is that they extend Aspen experience and culture beyond just your stay at the hotel. With events like the Heitz Cellar Legacy Dinner, Food & Wine Classic, and Mountaintop Yoga, they provide a wide array of activities that invite you to get involved. This past summer they partnered with DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. to host a cycling trip through Burgundy, France where participants got to cycle through scenic countryside led by cycling legend Christian Vande Velde, with wine tasting arranged by the new wine director from Little Nell, what a treat!

The Sourdough Rigatoni with wagyu tataki, mustard greens, and shiitake

Considering The Little Nell is barely turning 30 years old this year, I am thoroughly impressed with the rich culture and respect it has garnered over the years. I know that when I check into The Little Nell, I am checking into my home. From the top-notch service, divine culinary experience, wine selection, and of course mountain access, this hotel treats their guests like royalty. To celebrate it’s 30th anniversary the hotel will be hosting planned activities spanning from Thanksgiving through Easter so stay tuned for their announcements coming soon, it’s definitely a celebration you won’t want to miss. I will be there, will you?

The Little Nell residence suites

‘85 or ‘88 – Super Tuscan Vintages Are An All-Time Favorite

For most wine connoisseurs, the 1985 Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido is considered the best Italian vintage in history. While I do agree that the 1985 vintage is impressive, I personally prefer the 1988 vintage. 1988 Sassicaia was also the great Italian Oenologist, Giacomo Tachi’s favorite vintage, as he considered it to be better than the 1985. I couldn’t agree more. I genuinely enjoy the concentration and aromas of this wine. It has intense, yet succulent scents of red fruit and is bold with tannins that just linger with sweetness in your mouth. Sassicaia wine is from Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast, which is considered one of Italy’s most prestigious areas for wine. I’ll never forget arriving in Bolgheri for the first time. The crisp air, beautiful lush views of Tenuta San Guido, surrounded by history and passion, it was an energy I will never forget.

As we passed through the lush Cypress trees flickering by, entering onto the Tenuta San Guido grounds, just off the Tyrrhenian coast, I felt the intense aroma of this legendary estate. The vibrant green grass tucked pleasantly between the aged stone buildings, housing hundreds of years of winemaking secrets. Once we arrived, I was greeted by the familiar smile of Priscilla Incisa Della Rochetta, a rare occurrence, as she is the granddaughter of the legendary Marchese Mario Incisa Della Rochetta behind Sassicaia. Mario Incisa, the visionary, created the first Sassicaia wine as a private release over 60 years ago. And now, I was face to face with his granddaughter for a private tour of the grounds. I felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and deep appreciation for this opportunity.

Pricilla and Christopher R. King

Once we began the tour, I learned all about the family history and rich culture that makes this family wine so unique. Of course, as you may already know, I’m a huge believer in the power of three and so is the Rochetta family. Their passion for good wines and thoroughbred horses resulted in their trinity today that is Sassicaia wine, the Razza Dormello-Olgiata thoroughbred farm, and the Bird Sanctuary Padule di Bolgheri all within the Tenuta San Guido grounds. They also have three vineyards on the estate; the original Castiglioncello, Sassicaia di Sotto, and Aianova. The grapes from all three vineyards are blended together and aged to obtain the distinctive taste of Sassicaia.

Sassicia wine cellar in Bolgheri Italy

Although the entire experience felt surreal, it wasn’t until we stepped into the cellar that I was overcome with emotion. Surrounded by hundreds of French barriques; the temperate room smelled like an immense concoction of fermenting grapes and French oak. We passed through the aging barrels and as my guide spoke, I started to reflect on the heritage of this family and the wine they’ve created.

Christopher R. King at Sassicia in Bolgheri Italy

Plenty of people can create a wine, but it was only here at Tenuta San Guido, that a wine LEGEND was created. Originally, Mario Incisa wanted to make a wine just to suit his family’s taste, the Cabernet-Franc blend at the time was unheard of in the Tuscany area. His creation marked the beginning of an era for what we now call the “Super Tuscans”, an audacious Bordeaux style wine in the Tuscany for a community that until then, was accustomed to lighter, more rustic wines.

1985 was a phenomenal year for the Tuscan area, especially for winemakers. The “Wine Gods” graced the coastal area with an extended cool season which allowed the grapes to reach full maturity resulting in a non-hectic harvest. The warm Tuscan sun complemented by the coastal breeze created the perfect ambiance for a well-balanced wine. The vintage now, years later, delivers a lush, calm, and rich flavor, allowing the drinker to revisit the cool weather of 1985. It is this vintage specifically, that time and time again appeases the taste buds of sommeliers worldwide, receiving 100 points in tastings from renowned wine critics. But most importantly, it is one of my favorites. Much like it’s older brother, the 1988 vintage is satisfying in taste delivering a full, evolved, but not overly dense flavor. I favor the subtleness of the 1988 vintage over the 1985 though, they’re equally as impressive and will not disappoint.

To me, this wine and vintage exemplifies the culture and heritage of Sassicaia and the heart of Marchese Mario Incisa for what he wanted to create for his family. Going against the grain to create a flavor and culture unique to the region, resulting in a DOC Bolgheri-Sassicaia that we know today (Notably, the only wine from a single estate to have its own DOC). Now I revel in any opportunity to taste this wine and you should as well.

Christopher R. King collection of corks

How to Enjoy Caviar like a King

One of my favorite ways to wind down at the end of a long busy day in the summertime is to sit outside with chilled Champagne, complimented with a tin of fresh, robust caviar. This pairing is a perfect blend of sophistication and refreshing flavor. Whether it’s a congratulatory treat at the end of a long day or the finishing touch to a charcuterie board, I turn to caviar whenever I’m craving a unique taste and texture. An experience with caviar truly ignites all the senses and gives that ultimate feeling of luxury. Naturally, this Russian delicacy that has historically been a favorite of czars and emperors alike is now one of my go-to indulgences.

Enjoying Petrossian caviar, with blinis, and a bottle of Rosè Cristal Champagne

When it comes to quality caviar, I pay attention to the production of the caviar, the region it’s from, and the grade of the caviar. Caviar can only be a good as the fish that it came from. A quality producer of caviar, sources exclusively from the finest quality Sturgeon roe and pays attention to the maturing process to ensure the fish are reaching their peak level of maturity for producing rich flavored caviar.

You may have heard the term “black caviar” or Beluga caviar referred to as the most expensive and desirable caviar. Though historically this may have been true, due to the overfishing of wild beluga to the point of near extinction, Beluga caviar is now illegal in the US, and unfortunately, no longer produces the best quality caviar. Another rarity is the Beluga-albino roe, often referred to as “white caviar” or“almas” which translates to “diamond” in Arabic. Almas Iranian Caviar is considered to be the most expensive caviar in the world and is packaged in 24-karat gold tin. This caviar can cost up to $25,000 for one kilo (2.2 pounds). Albino sturgeon are becoming more and more difficult to come by since the genetic disorder only affects a few members of the species, and since wild sturgeon are in danger of extinction. More brands are turning to farm-raised albino sturgeon. As a matter of fact, nowadays, caviar is mostly produced by farms. Farm-raised sturgeon are raised in clean, pristine waters with restricted diets and allowed to reach peak maturity, resulting in the highest flavor and taste. As a by-product of this shift, top quality caviar will be an Ossetra or Kaluga caviar, depending on your taste preferences. A tin of Ossetra or Kaluga caviar can range anywhere from $65 to $2,000 depending on the quantity and grade.

Tin of Petrossian Special Reserve label Kaluga Huso Hybrid $504 per serving
Tin of Petrossian Special Reserve label Ossetra $394 per serving

The sensory experience of tasting Caviar is like none other. The subtle yet salty taste, rolling over the tongue and popping against the roof of the mouth with a buttery sensation, the subdued sea aroma; it forces you to be fully present within the flavor itself. Fresh, high-quality caviar, the eggs will be sturdy and glistening, ready to pop and separate when you put them in your mouth. For those with a sophisticated palate who enjoy exploring the many different flavors of a fine wine, then you will not be disappointed with a good Ossetra or Kaluga caviar which can consist of up to 15 different flavors from beginning to finish. Ossetra caviar will have a bold nutty but juicy flavor with a clean finish. Whereas the Kaluga, for me is reminiscent of toro, with a smooth buttery sensation and a lasting finish.

A Caviar Risotto with caviar, trout roe, parmesan, crème fraiche, chive oil, and capers from Petrossian Boutique in Los Angeles

When I’m in Los Angeles or New York, I’m sure to stop by the Petrossian Boutique to get my caviar fix. As a world-renowned purveyor of caviar for over 100 years, they are my most trusted source for top-shelf caviar. The boutique itself has a quaint French appeal; you immediately feel like you’ve stepped off an alley in Paris and into their cafe. Petrossian has a rich history in caviar since the 1920’s, when Parisians were deeply infatuated by Russian culture, the Petrossian brothers decided to introduce the delicacy of caviar to the great city of Paris. To this day, the Petrossian name demands respect by the elite worldwide for their reputation to deliver premiere caviar.

Sampling caviar with blinis with Crème Fraiche at Petrossian Café in Los Angeles

When sampling caviar you’ll want to use a Mother of Pearl spoon. Eating caviar with a silver spoon is taboo. The metal is said to have reactive qualities that might spoil the taste of the caviar. Besides just sampling though, you’ll find that caviar can be used to complement many different dishes. In the morning, I will sprinkle some caviar on my poached eggs for extra texture and flavor. In Italy, several restaurants make a fantastic spaghetti with loads of caviar on top; I enjoy recreating this dish in the comfort of my home here in Los Angeles. The authentic Russian delicacy, caviar with toast and butter only, is also a great dish. Of course, there’s always the classic blinis with Crème Fraiche, topped with caviar. I encourage you to indulge and see what you like best. Though for me, a true caviar lover, I enjoy tasting this unique caviar like the kings and emperors of centuries past by eating it straight from the tin with a spoon and no garnish.

Vicuña: One of the Most Coveted Materials in the World

I was in Loro Piana years ago when I first learned of vicuña. I had picked up a sweater, and it melted in my hands like butter. I immediately bought a few items including one of their scarves, which I wear every time I’m in Aspen or on an unusually cold day in New York. It’s practically weightless but keeps me incredibly warm.

Vicuña Scarf
Christopher R King Vicuña Scarf bought during his trip to Peru

While to those that have not experienced it, it may not be the most obvious status symbol of wealth. However, for those that do know and appreciate the value of this rare material, there is nothing else like it in the world.

Loro Piana Vicuña Sport Coat
Loro Piana Vicuña Sport Coat

Vicuña clothing was originally made only for the most elite in ancient times. This ancestor to the modern alpacas was a wild species that was sheered every few years to produce the best wool on the planet. It is also the smallest of the Camelids family and lives at altitudes over 10,000ft. Vicuña wool is fine and contains fibers that are hollow and that interlock in a way that holds in warmth without the extra weight.

Loro Piana Vicuña Coat Lining
Loro Piana Vicuña Coat Lining

The wool from these creatures is like no other in its ability to protect one from nature and in its comfort. Imagine the indigenous peoples of Peru parading their elite around in warmth and comfort. The Inca believed that the vicuña was a representation of a woman whose hair was made of fine strands of gold. At a production of only 9 ounces of raw fiber every two years, of which only 5 ounces can be used, vicuña is produced much more slowly than other natural ones. The material is so great because unlike sheep’s wool and other materials, vicuña do not produce lanolin which makes it light and hypoallergenic.

The regulations that surround the incredible vicuña fiber have been crucial to the production of the wool. With the conquest of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador began the massive devastation of the population of vicuña. In the 1960’s the estimated population was down to roughly 6,000 vicuñas. In a cooperation between U.S. groups, the World Wildlife Fund, Peruvian governmental organizations, and others the creation of a team to protect and increase the number of the wild animals helped to get the population up to over 70,000 in the Andean region. In 1994, once the numbers of wild vicuña were high enough, the wool began to be sold worldwide at a premium price, and the ban was lifted on the sale of vicuña fibers by the Peruvian government. The idea was to directly financially support the community that had brought them back from almost extinction. All of the sheering and production of fiber has to be done ethically so that the animals don’t get hurt.

Loro Piana Vicuña Jacket
Loro Piana Vicuña Jacket

Today prices for vicuña wool are more than $2,500.00 USD per yard, and a single scarf can cost around $4,000.00 USD. This is an experience that is an investment in a piece of clothing that will be with you for life. There are only two options for purchasing vicuña yarn from South America on the world market. These two companies are Loro Piana, owned by LVMH, and Agnona. If they don’t want to sell to a company, they can merely force you to go to the other who can also turn you away if they like. There are also limits to how much material they will sell to any one vendor.

Loro Piana Vicuña Top Coat Lining

Reserved originally for royalty, and known for its rarity, unique softness and warmth, the value of a vicuña article cannot be overstated. You are getting the best. This is one of the finest and most exclusive materials, and worth every dollar.

The Beauty of the Baccarat Hotel

I have always appreciated old world history and amazing attention to detail and style. Immediately after walking into the Baccarat Hotel, the distinct smell of a signature perfume greets you with a welcoming invitation. Having a memorable smell is a detail I can appreciate; certain scents can trigger memories. The experiences that I have had, related to The Baccarat Hotel have created so many incredible memories worth revisiting from time to time. I love the Baccarat Rouge 540 fragrance, created in a collaboration with world class, perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian. I purchased a bottle just to spray it in my bedroom, bathroom or office so I can get that NYC luxury hotel experience. Just the hint of the scent can bring back the memory of designing one of my creations in the hotel room and inspire me to explore it further.

Le Gran Salon West View Baccarat Hotel New York City
Le Gran Salon West View Baccarat Hotel New York City

The Baccarat brand was created over 250 years ago in France by order of King Louis XV. It has teamed with celebrities of film and music to bring this iconic brand into the modern era and to keep its relevance. From its foundation in mirror and glass making to the creation of chandeliers, hotels and even a fragrance collaboration, Baccarat has captured the imagination of those who see it. The Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan doesn’t stray form the brands level of quality.

Le Gran Salon East View Baccarat Hotel New York City
Le Gran Salon East View Baccarat Hotel New York City

The entrance to this hotel is a subtle one, but it quickly escalates as you step off the elevator into Le Grand Salon room filled entirely with Baccarat crystal. Overall, the hotel has over 8000 glasses made of Baccarat crystal. When I arrive in NYC, which is usually in the evening, I love to unwind in Le Bar or Le Petit Salon. These are excellent spaces to enjoy a drink or a meal. My favorite dish to order is called the Cheese and Charcuterie paired with a glass of burgundy. The selection of drinks and food are diverse, with something for everyone with good taste. My suggestion is to always order “The Grilled Hanger Steak.” The heirloom lentils and celeriac puree that come with it are the perfect comfort food after a long day.

Cheese and Charcuterie in Le Petit Salon
Cheese and Charcuterie in Le Petit Salon

In the main floor of the hotel, hang some of the most beautiful chandeliers I have seen, made exclusively of Baccarat crystal. There are 17 chandeliers in the hotel, all Baccarat and one that is made of wood. It is such a relaxing feeling to enjoy a drink under such luxurious craftsmanship. Matthieu, the wine director, quickly became a dear friend over all my stays here. If you like to watch a bottle of champagne get sabered, then just ask him. We discuss wine, champagne and burgundy, often over laughs and shared experiences. He has plenty of knowledge that compliments an outstanding wine list, a detail that can create a memorable experience. And of course, each decanter and glass is the heavy pure Baccarat crystal.

Christopher R King in Le Bar Baccarat Hotel New York City
Christopher R King in Le Bar Baccarat Hotel New York City

The detail of Baccarat extends to each room, including Baccarat glasses in the bathroom. The rooms are very detailed and have spared no expense in the details to ensure a comfortable and unforgettable stay. Their presidential suite was creatively designed with each element thoroughly thought out and executed perfectly, from the fox fur chair in the bedroom to the beautiful view of NYC I get sitting at the desk while I work on the new designs and concepts for CCCXXXIII.

Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bathroom Baccarat Hotel New York City
Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bathroom Baccarat Hotel New York City

The beds are so comfortable and the bed linens are high quality like I have at home.
My room had a romantic, yet homey, feeling like a high-end upper east side penthouse. The lighting and décor are by far some of the best in city. Most of my design meetings in NYC take place in my suite, so it is nice when you can be comfortable while getting things done. We can easily plow through deadlines and projects list while we drink still water from Baccarat crystal glasses as we stare out into Manhattan through the oversize, floor to ceiling windows in pure luxury and comfort.

Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bedroom Baccarat Hotel New York City
Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bedroom Baccarat Hotel New York City

The Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan is a hotel recommendation I can feel confident in giving to anyone who is looking for a luxurious and memorable experience while in New York City. This is truly one of the very best hotels I have visited in New York in the past 15 years. The design and functionality of the rooms creates an environment unlike others, and it’s a place that I look forward to returning to time after time while on my travels, for both business and pleasure.

Bulgari Hotel: My Milanese Home Away from Home

When you travel, it is often hard to capture the sense of ease and comfort that comes from being in your own home. Spaces that I have personally cultivated in my homes help me to relax and enjoy a moment of calm in an otherwise hectic lifestyle. The Bulgari Hotel in Milan has found a way to capture this feeling of security and comfort with the added perks that only a luxury hotel provides.

Christopher R. King in his Bulgari Suite

As one of the oldest jewelry houses in Italy, Bulgari has defined itself as a brand that offers only the finest artisan-crafted goods. The label was founded by Sotirios Voulgaris in 1884 after he had moved to Rome with little to no money. The beginning of the brand was dedicated to capturing the style, class, and essence of early Greco-Roman design, which implemented bright colors, ancient coins, and intaglios. After more than 130 years, the easily identifiable creations possess a quality that few other jewelry houses have been capable of expressing.

Bulgari Suite Dining Room

Bulgari has always relied on the close relationships with its wealthy and often celebrity clientele. This association led many world-famous women to become collectors of the works over the years. Princess Grace of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn are just a few of the more notable collectors of the unique and dazzling line. And it is no wonder. It truly has the best to offer in Milan.

Christopher R. King in Bulgari Bar

From this foundation sprung a line of products that still range from sunglasses to watches and fragrance. The creation of the exclusive luxury hotel in Milan was born out of this obsessive desire to provide luxury that spared no expense, from the 4,000-square foot garden in central Milan to the spa and the optional Maserati pick up service. The rooms give a respite from the chaos that exists outside the walls of the 18th-century structure. The warm interior lighting and décor give you the feeling like you are in your own home. As a businessman, I appreciate the little details like the personalized business cards they provide with the hotel address and the cigar lounge where I can relax with a glass of wine and cigar, after a long day of meetings.

Bulgari Suite Bedroom

The hotel was created to be a jewel among Milanese travel destinations. Since I frequent Milan for CCCXXXIII, I appreciate that it is conveniently located to my meetings, yet just a quick trip to some of my favorite places. I can spend the day working with the local artisans on my designs, visit Lake Como and still be able to enjoy a dinner on the hotel’s stylish garden patio with some of the notable fashion personalities.

Bulgari Suite Bathroom

My favorite place in the entire hotel has to be the wrap-around terrace, one of the best features of the spacious Bulgari suite on the top floor. I love starting my day with an espresso on the balcony, overlooking the view and reviewing my latest designs. The bathrooms in the suite offer oversized tubs, giving you a relaxed ending to a 15-hour workday. The staff is so attentive that every need is met, with warmth and effortlessness. Some hotels around the world, even luxury ones, leave me feeling like I’m not entirely at ease. Here, I feel like I’m staying at a great friend or family member’s home where I can come and go as I please and really “just be.”

Bulgari Lobby

Why I Love the Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Bentley is a name synonymous with luxury, but for me, like everything it is about the details. In my opinion, the new Bentley Mulsanne Speed is the perfect example of luxury and performance. Claimed to be the most powerful four-door car worldwide, the experience of driving this vehicle is both exhilarating and comfortable. You can barely hear the engine hum as it races at an impressive top speed of 190 mph, as you sit back in the sumptuous leather massage seats. But that is just the beginning of why I fell for the Bentley Mulsanne Speed.

I have always loved luxury cars. Pick any six-figure sedan, and I have owned it. For me, it is about the details. From a design perspective, I was blown away by the quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into the Bentley Mulsanne Speed. Of course, Bentleys are known for their exquisite design and state-of-the-art touches, and this model doesn’t hold back. The moment you open the door and have a seat, you notice it even smells different. Instead of the usual new car smell, you are enveloped by this distinctive scent of high-quality leather.

Like a handcrafted briefcase, every part of the exterior and interior have been perfected. The interior is a masterpiece of its own. The seats and door pads are made from diamond-quilted perforated leather hide, adding a luxurious yet sporty touch to the vehicle. The entire interior has an incredible amount of the most supple leather with custom options to design to your specifications, so you can create your own experience. Giving the car that unique Bentley image, the brand logo is stitched onto each seat. The drilled alloy sports pedals ensure an eye-catching sporty interior as well. The glove boxes are all lined with leather, including the entire inside of the trunk. It has four umbrellas to ensure all guests have one.

Every aspect of this car has been fashioned with operational beauty in mind. The exterior has matrix grilles, a chrome radiator grille, a wing vent, and B wing vents, all adding to the famed, sleek Bentley look. Subtle “B’s” are incorporated throughout the entire vehicle.

Matrix Grill of Bentley Mulsanne Speed
Bentley Mulsanne Speed Matrix Grill

Not only is it designed like a piece of art, but this ultra-luxe sedan runs on a 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, moving the vehicle smoothly from 0 to 60 mph in a blink – 4.8 seconds to be exact. The engine can generate 530 bhp at 4,000 rpm and 1,100 Nm of torque. If you know your stats, that makes the Mulsanne Speed the highest torque car out of any luxury sedan.

There’s no way a car weighing almost 6,000 pounds should be able to accelerate so smoothly, yet the Mulsanne Speed offers complete driving satisfaction, including massage capabilities in all four seats, assuring you are completely relaxed before you reach any destination. Only a few hundred Mulsanne Speeds are available for sale each year in the US. So if you’re one of the lucky few who owns this six-figure vehicle (priced at almost $400,000), you know what I am talking about right now.

I have been known to be a luxury car collector and have owned cars from Rolls Royce to Aston Martin and have a love for all of them, including the Bentley. But it is not about the status for me. It is all about the experience it provides when you drive the car. Each car has been designed with the driver’s pleasure in mind. Every detail has been considered, touching all of the senses and assuring complete user satisfaction. That is true luxury.

Christopher R. King getting in his Bentley Mulsanne Speed

A Sensory Experience that Goes Beyond Taste

When I explore and write about success and luxury, I’m always looking for brands, products, and locations that are the best in the world. The Macallan Distillery’s 62 year old and 65 year old single malts in exquisite Lalique crystal decanters are definitely in that category. Without question, they represent the pinnacle of Scotch distilling achievement.

Like the finest wines or most desirable cigars, the best single malt Scotch whiskies are a sensory experience that goes far beyond taste to smell, touch, and even sight. Scotch connoisseurs the world over know and respect The Macallan, and for good reason. Its 62 year old and 65 year old single malts are some of the oldest bottlings you’ll find.

Known and loved for its sherry influence, The Macallan uses the finest Spanish Oloroso sherry casks made from European oak and some American oak. While they now offer Fine Oak and Double Cask expressions, their traditional sherry-cask-aged bottlings remain the most popular.

To say The Macallan is iconic is an understatement. Agent 007 sipped 50 year old Macallan with his nemesis in the 2012 film, Skyfall. Macallan stills adorn the Bank of Scotland’s £10 banknote. The Macallan 64 in 2010 sold at Sotheby’s New York for a record-breaking $460,000, and four years later, a bottle of The Macallan M fetched $628,205 at a Hong Kong auction. This isn’t just a major player in the world of extraordinary single malts—The Macallan is the player.

Founded in 1824 as one of Scotland’s first legally licensed distilleries, The Macallan was born when farmer Alexander Reid leased eight acres from the Earl of Seafield, and set on the path of world-class distilling when it was bought seven decades later by Roderick Kemp. Today, The Macallan Distillery has surpassed Glenfiddich to become the world’s largest single malt Scotch producer, second only to Glenlivet.

The Macallan Distillery’s reputation has been helped by the collaboration with Lalique to release six of its oldest and rarest whiskies in custom decanters. Each decanter was designed and created to capture the essence of one of the distillery’s Six Pillars. The first was a 50 year old, followed by expressions aged for 55, 57, 60, 62 and 65 years.

The decanter for the 62 pays tribute to the centuries-old Easter Elchies House, known as Macallan’s spiritual home. The 65’s decanter, capturing Macallan’s Peerless Spirit, reminds me of a brilliant tiger’s eye.

When nosing the 62, I’m always struck by how gentle it is for 53-percent alcohol—smooth on both the nose and palate. The sherry cask imparts a sweetness that carries notes of rich toffee and raisins. As I inhale deeper, I find apple and blood orange followed by cinnamon, ginger, and dark chocolate. The finish is long and heavy, which I love, given the amazing aromas and flavors it imparts. This is an incredibly complex whisky that pairs beautifully with a fine cigar.

The 65 is an intense and true walnut color. I say “true” as the distillery adds no caramel coloring, something Scotch whisky purists relish. On the nose, balanced yet powerful aromas of honey, cinnamon and dates come forward. I catch the cinnamon and Madagascan vanilla swirling in the glass as I breathe in—and I’m not even halfway through this experience.

The Macallan 62 & Macallan 65

The smoothness is no surprise from a Macallan of this age. What is a surprise is the hint of peat, which was once used for drying on the malting floor. Resting for decades in a sherry cask softens the peat, so I only pick up a slightly smoky taste. The finish is rich and long, ending with notes of dark chocolate and, again, delicious honey.

There really are no other whiskies in the world that compare to The Macallan 62 or The Macallan 65. I revel in these amazing, rare single malts after a long day of going over designs. I have them at £10 in Beverly Hills, where they’re served in Lalique glasses. I especially enjoy my Macallan 65 while having a Partagas Habana No. 2—it’s a perfect pairing.

Some say whiskies aged beyond 25 years lose flavor from too much time in the cask. I believe this misses the reality of the cask aging process. Each year, day, hour, minute, and moment in the cask changes the whisky. Some changes are powerful, others subtle. These two fine single malts rested in casks for more than six decades, so you’ll see, smell, taste, and feel every one of those changes.

Distilling, aging, and bottling fine single malt Scotch whisky is a true art. Take my word as a connoisseur: the experience of these expressions goes far beyond the liquid itself.

Christopher R. King enjoying the Macallan 62 & Macallan 65

Designing A Custom Wardrobe

One of the first lessons that I learned as a successful entrepreneur was that you have to dress for success. When I first became truly successful, I decided I needed to create a wardrobe that communicated to people something about my personality and what set me apart from my competition. That has always been my unwavering attention to details and my discipline to execute to perfection.

So how do you communicate this through clothing?

For me, it starts with the fit. If your clothes don’t fit right, then it shows you don’t care. It says that it wasn’t worth the extra step or extra money to make sure the hem fits right or the sleeves hit the wrist at the right place. It can even be a form of a distraction if you are always pulling at the fabric that isn’t fitting correctly. But when you walk into a room wearing a suit with a perfect fit, there are no distractions. The only thing people are going to notice is that you know what you are doing.

But beyond fit, you have to talk about fabric. I am lucky enough to be able to wear clothing made from some of the finest, rare fibers in the world. And as a result, I have honestly come to appreciate them. This also communicates to those in the know that you have refined taste and an appreciation for real luxury goods, not just labels.

I also need to be comfortable, which is why I eventually started keeping a tailor on retainer. If I’m sitting in a meeting, conscious that my shirt feels too tight across the back, I can’t focus on a project’s finances or timeline. I need to be as comfortable as I am confident.

After years of having my clothes tailored, I made the confidence-building leap into custom bespoke tailoring with companies like Kilgour on Savile Row and the venerable Italian fashion house Brioni, which offers an exclusive bespoke service dedicated to creating your personalized wardrobe. When you are selecting Savile Row or an Italian fashion house, you know that all these garments are modeled and handcrafted with unparalleled craftsmanship and highly trained master tailors.

Brioni for example, offers more than 800 variations of wool, light cashmere, wool and silk in a wide variety of colors and patterns. You can select your fabric, model, cut, and fit, as well as lapel shape, buttons, lining, shirt collar, and cuffs either in the VIP room at any Brioni store or the comfort of your home or office. Lifestyle, ergonomics, gait, and body type are all considered before a new pattern is designed from scratch.

Christopher R King during a Brioni Fitting

Its codes of craftsmanship are rigorous. Creating a Su Misura suit for a client is a 220-step process. Buttonholes are hammered by hand; jackets pressed more than 80 times to contour fabric to a client’s body.

Just becoming a Brioni master tailor is an arduous process, with barely a dozen students accepted into its Scuola di Alta Sartoria school in Penne, Italy, every year.

Another building block of my wardrobe is Tom Ford, which produces suits known for being edgy and masculine. Before launching his line, the Texas-born Ford was the creative director of Gucci for what I consider some of its best years.

Tom Ford suits are structured and inspired by Savile Row tailors (although produced in Italy), while Brioni suits are in the Italian design tradition. Brioni and Tom Ford have both designed suits for heads of state, powerful executives, and James Bond. I also love the trimmer cut suit with the deconstructed jacket by Brunello Cucinelli for the summer months to stay cool and still sharp enough for business. But even the best suits, the best fabric, and the best fit doesn’t communicate everything. It is also how you put it together, the watch you wear, the briefcase you carry, the shoes. But now as the founder and designer of a new luxury company, I can create pieces for my wardrobe that I only dreamed of doing before. It is just a matter of time before I can share all of that with you.

Leica: Picture Perfect

The comparison made between the buying of a Leica camera and the purchase of a luxury car is well-earned. The quality and craftsmanship were apparent from the first time I picked up my Leica Q.

Much like a Greubel Forsey, the Leica is a precision crafted masterpiece. Any brand that takes this level of detail and craftsmanship gains my respect. For me, there is no substitute. I first heard from a good friend about his experience with the camera, but at that time I wasn’t sure anything mattered more than megapixels, aperture, shutter speed, and whether the camera was digital or a traditional film camera. For me, I have always loved photography and believe that to capture a story; you have to be able to visualize it. So, when I heard about the history of the Leica, I was intrigued.

The beautifully designed form of the Leica Q and its weight felt right in my hands from the first time I picked it up. It was immediately clear that this was no ordinary camera. The precise German engineering was far superior to anything I’d experienced in a camera before. Since its founding in 1924, Leica has designed and created traditional film cameras that have captured the imagination of professional and amateur photographers alike. Now, Leica produces the most sophisticated digital cameras in the world. There is a distinct pleasure gained through the use of a precision instrument employing the most exceptional mechanisms and attention to quality.

In the years before the start of WWI, Oskar Barnack created the original prototypes that would give rise to the legend that is Leica. Ernst Leitz was so impressed with Barnack’s design and craftsmanship that he forever attached his name to the soon to be an iconic instrument. The new Leitz camera was branded “Leica.” The Leica premiered at the 1925 Leipzig Spring Fair and was an immediate success. After WWII, increased foreign competition along with reduced costs dramatically impacted the European camera industry. However, professional and serious photographers remained loyal to the brand as Leica maintained its commitment to uncompromising quality and innovative design.

Not only does my Leica produce near perfect images, but it has the weight and feel that so many newer digital cameras lose. I love knowing that I’m using a device that has evolved from camera designs that have taken some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. It feels like tapping into the creativity of photographers of the past. Leica uses only the finest lenses, leaving crystal clear images that genuinely represent reality in a snapshot.

In today’s world, it is a rarity to find luxury goods made by hand to exact specifications that will last for years and years while continuing to outperform all others. Leica cameras do all of this in spades. My Leica camera pushes me to be a better photographer. When it comes to the price of these exceptional works of art, it takes only a few minutes in my hand or a few snaps of the shutter to realize that the end product justifies the cost.

Leica Q Camera
Leica Q

Moments captured with a blur or with the wrong lighting are everywhere. I scroll through Instagram and Facebook and am often surprised that people post the photos that they do. Essentially, they must have a strong desire to share that millisecond of their lives with the world, but more than 95% of those milliseconds captured in digital photography are not worth keeping. With my Leica Q, I know the photographs I capture will be preserved with pure clarity, always ready to remind me of that exact moment in my life. Picture perfect.