December 4, 2018
Distillery: Unknown. Sourced by Alexander Murray & Co
Type & Region: Scotch, Scotland, UK
Composition: Unknown blend of malted barley and other grains
Aged: 24 years in used bourbon barrels
Price: $40-50 MSRP (750mL)
From the back of the bottle:
“Combining the knowledge of some of Scotland’s master distillers, and using only the purest waters from Scotland’s Highland lochs, this Kirkland Signature Scotch Whisky was matured for almost a quarter of a century in hand-picked ex-Bourbon Oak casks. The result is a blended Scotch that is dark amber in color with aromas of freshly sliced aples and malted barley. It is full-bodied with notes of toffee, dried fruit and oak. These flavors linger on the palate and give way to a long, smooth, warming finish.”
Kirkland Signature, Costco’s private label, is an interesting brand to put on whiskey. While you get the opportunity to drink older whiskeys at lower prices than the brand name stuff, you sacrifice knowing the source. This 24 year old Kirkland Blended Scotch, like all Kirkland Scotch, is sourced and bottled by Alexander Murray & Co. There are rumors about the Scotch’s source, but I won’t waste your time speculating about it. A quick Google search will tell you what people are guessing, and this article by Punch Drink provides more insight.
The main thing you need to know is that blended Scotch whiskey (or whisky) is a blend of multiple single malt Scotches, grain whiskeys, and neutral spirits (sort of like vodka). Examples of blended Scotches include Johnnie Walker Black and Cutty Sark. Other Kirkland Signature products are excellent, so how does this Kirkland Blended Scotch compare?
Kirkland Whiskey Lineup of Reviews
At first smell, I predominately get notes of the unaged neutral grain spirit that provides a slight chemical, industrial, and metallic smell, followed by light notes of apple, honey, and bready malt. I also get unexpected hints of sherry-aged dark fruit and honey (because it’s bourbon aged). The nose is light as a whole. Swirling amps up the grain alcohol smell and introduces eraser dust. Since it’s 40% alcohol, it doesn’t overpower my nose but it does overpower the light pear, peach, and cherry fruit scents. The alcohol imbalance eases up as the liquid subsides, allowing more honey, peach, papaya, and chocolate malt to finally emerge, greatly improving the smell.
As a whole, the nose is not good. It would be significantly better if it weren’t lathered in the metallic and unpleasant alcohol smell and the fruit notes carried any punch. It’s a marginally upgraded Tullamore Dew Phoenix. Alcohol is not an inherently bad smell, it just needs aging to round out the sharpness and other traits to provide balance. All of that is lacking in the Kirkland 24.
I immediately taste light chocolatey and malty biscuit with a little fruit and alcohol. It’s not too bad. “Chewing” releases a little more defined and rounded cherry, apple, citrus, and honey flavors, but chocolatey malt still forms the base. Unlike on the nose, the alcohol is very subdued as expected from a 40% whiskey. After swallowing, the stronger chocolate and malt flavors give way to light fruit, citrus, grass, biscuit, and wood notes in the aftertaste. The wood, floral, and grass notes linger the most.
Thankfully Kirkland 24 is pleasant to drink and tastes a lot better than it smells. It’s malt-forward with a nice dose of fruit. It’s main flaw is that the flavors are weak and not particularly complex, disappointing for something with a 24-year age statement. One thing I noticed: this had to have been finished or blended with something aged in sherry casks, right? I know some bourbons have cherry notes (EH Taylor Small Batch), but I haven’t had ex-bourbon aged Scotch with the same trait.
All-in-all Kirkland blended Scotch 24 is decent but disappointing given its age statement. When I think of a 24-year old Scotch, I think of bold yet refined flavors and scents that have had ample time to mature into adulthood. I think this blend has way too much neutral grain spirit that strips away much of the base Scotch’s wonderful character. It’s a real shame because there could be something really great underneath. In short, the age statement looks cool, but you’re better off spending your money elsewhere.