Review: Kirkland Signature Premium Small Batch Bourbon

Once again, it’s time for we Americans to celebrate the independence of our nation.  Across the US, millions of people are indulging in those quintessentially Statesian traditions of outdoor barbeques, explosives, and alcohol consumption.  Admittedly, the wisdom of combining those last two concepts seems questionable at best, but the Bartender lives in an area recently plagued with wildfires, and has forgone the explosives for this year – thus allowing her to partake of libations freely.  And really, what could be more American than inexpensive and readily-available Kentucky bourbon?

For those unfamiliar with the Kirkland Signature line, it’s the house brand for Costco Wholesale‘s chain of warehouse stores.  It’s also a store brand of surprisingly consistent quality; one of Costco’s big draws is that they accept returns on anything, no questions asked – if you buy something and don’t like it, you can bring it back (and thanks to the membership system, they don’t even require a receipt).  Obviously, this creates an incentive to stock products of good quality, and the Bartender was very impressed by their vodka offering.  Therefore, when she discovered they had started carrying bourbon as well, she was extremely interested in trying it, especially as the Rebel Spouse’s stock of 1792 (his preferred brand) was currently gone.  And if it could stand up to the 1792 in quality, it represented a significant potential savings – $20 for a liter as opposed to $28 for a fifth.

Alas, Kirkland’s first impression was not positive.  At 103 proof, the stuff is extremely hot when drunk straight; what few notes come through the alcohol burn are overpoweringly oaky and sour.  Adding a bit of water, or serving it on the rocks, helps some; the flavors open up, allowing some charcoal and molasses notes through and giving it a bit more complexity.  It does, however, still burn significantly on the way down; this is pity party bourbon of the first degree.

In all fairness, it’s not without its charms – it mixes up into a perfectly decent whiskey sour, and the strong flavor would probably work very well in bourbon lava cakes.  But I wouldn’t really recommend it straight unless you enjoy the sensation of having your taste buds scalded into submission.  C+

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About Ambrosia Rose

Professional drinker, blogger, storyteller, and critic. With a healthy dollop of sarcastic wit on the side.

Posted on 5 July 2011, in Bourbon, Reviews, Whiskey and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Kirkland’s Bourbon can be best described as follows: Not good straight, mix it all you want. As a devoted straight and neat Bourbon drinker of significant experience, I cannot recommend this Bourbon. If mixed, like most any Bourbon…even Jim Beam (Eck)…can be consumed with modest pleasure. But as a consumer of fine Bourbons (and that doesn’t mean expensive…but often does) I do not find this Bourbon drinkable. Sorry Costco.

  2. Kirkland Bourbon is a Beam product. Those who like Kirkland Bourbon would put it above Jim Beam white and Jim Beam Black. Some note similarity to Knob Creek. Some would even rate Kirkland higher than Knob Creek. For me, Kirkland Bourbon was very drinkable. But then I tend to prefer bottled in bond and 100+ proof. At $20 per 1 liter which comes out to $15 for standard sized 750ml, it is a pretty good deal. Personally I would spend a few more dollars and get Buffalo Trace, Old Weller, or Wild Turkey 101.

  3. I grew up punchin’ cows, I worked in the openpit and the underground mines; worked construction too ….. while I like single malts from the homeland the most, my favorite is not whiskey (in MODERATION of course) at all, it’s the Bacanora in a three liter pop bottle I had in 1996 on the Santa Margarita Ranch, then comes (after good single malts -Irish) Wild Turkey Rye 101 and 101 Bourbon next then Rebel Yell followed by makers mark, jack Daniels et all. I thought this Costco Whiskey a fine beverage with a little branch water and chased by a Lagunitas IPA,
    Mostly I just want to say I did indeed enjoy yer blog.

  4. Steve Schneider

    I agree that it’s quite a bit too hot to handle neat. But I think the value proposition pushes it into low-B range, for me. Other tasters have noted some similarity to Knob Creek, but I think there’s a wide gap between the two. Still, it beats Beam Black, IMHO.

  1. Pingback: Holiday Recipe: Old-School Egg Nog | The Rebel Bartender

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