Regrettably, it wasn't a good deal.
Three grown men, whiskey drinkers all, could stomach no more than a total of about 6 ounces of the stuff. At first sip, I glanced sideways at one of my cohorts only to find him doing the same to me, each of our faces frozen in disgust. The third wasn't so subtle: he actually reared his head back, grimaced, and pushed the glass away.
This was a bad bourbon. Harsh, acrid, hard to get down. But there were familiar notes to it, some that hinted at the decent drink it could have been. Although there's no indication on the label of who made it other than a reference to Clear Spring Distilling, I suspected I knew who was actually behind it. Paul Clarke, one of the editors of Imbibe, put me on to the answer — and the familiar notes made immediate sense.
According to the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the TTB), Costco's bourbon is made by Jim Beam (see the TTB certificate of label approval here). What a shame. I actually enjoy some Beam products. The regular Jim Beam, for instance, I buy by the handle as a general mixing bourbon. There's always some around the house. And, of course, I like the Red Stag — again, as a mixing whiskey — even though most flavored whiskeys are a turn off.
But the Kirkland brand bourbon? Try it if you want; maybe you'll like it. Me? Costco has a good returns policy. I'm thinking about bringing the mostly full bottle back.
Goes well with:
- Beam's Red Stag. I Confess, I...I Kinda Like It. Don't mistake the above disappointment for disliking Beam. I don't. In fact, the 1.75 liter handles at Costco, while not examples of the best whiskey in the world, are a solid deal for $19.99. When Booker's or Stagg comes down to those prices, I'll gladly wallow in them. Until then, there's JB.
- In addition to his gig at Imbibe, Paul Clarke writes, among other places, at The Cocktail Chronicles. He's worth a read.