Well, it looks the part. Nice golden hues and has all the right statements on the label. Aged 7 years, Small Batch, 103 proof, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, so you would think this is pretty good stuff just from the look. But as we all know it is getting increasingly difficult to judge a book by its cover…
I found this picture and a review of this new Kirkland Signature whiskey at Matthew Rowley’s excellent blog, Rowley’s Whiskey Forge. There he details his taste experience with this, unfortunately, less than stellar bourbon. His first question was who makes it. After some investigation he concluded that this is a Jim Beam Distillery product. It looks like a higher proof version of Beam’s Black label bourbon. Beam Black is aged 8 years, but it is only 90 proof.
I’m not a huge fan of Beam Black, because I think it is too astringent and has far too much wood notes in the flavor profile. Kind of like sucking on an unflavored tooth pick. As it turns out these off flavors are intensified in the Kirkland bourbon offering. It really got panned by three experienced whiskey drinkers in Rowley’s review. Too bad. It looks like its heart is in the right place with everything else, but perhaps these are somehow less desirable barrels in the rick house that they have chosen for this juice. It is like the opposite of Knob Creek, or some of their other small batch offerings where they select the honey barrels to achieve their desired flavor profile. Who knows, there might be something off in the mash too.
Unfortunately, living in Idaho, the only places that can sell hard alcohol are State run liquor stores, so I haven’t seen this spirit before, and I’m not likely to get some any time soon. But the fact that Costco is getting into hard liquor sales is a sign of something unique as well. I know that they have Firestone Walker making beer for them, and my understanding is that it is pretty tasty stuff, I’ve also seen their Kirkland wine as well, so why then would they allow a sub par bourbon with their name on it?
It just all seems a little strange to me. Obviously they make money doing it, or else they would stop, but why go to the trouble of contracting for a whiskey when it tastes bad. There are plenty of other good tasting $20 and under bourbons out there, looking at you Ancient Ancient Age Ten Star. So it seems to make little sense to me.
Have you seen this bourbon? Have you tried it? what are your thoughts on this whole thing? For me, I think that Kirkland should stick to making giant tubs of mixed nuts and leave the bourbon to the pros.