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Rated B Reviews Scotch Whisky Whiskey

Review: Kirkland Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 16 Years Old Bourbon Cask Matured

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kirkland 16 years old single maltEvery time Costco’s Kirkland brand releases a single malt Scotch whisky without revealing the distillery that made it, tongues start to wag. Prices are generally well below retail — though today’s 16 year old is higher than the mystery 20 year old released just three years ago — so whisky enthusiasts often grab a bottle to see if something wonderful has been sleeping in the stacks and stacks of pallets.

A departure from recent whiskies that have generally seen some time in sherry casks, this latest Kirkland release is a 16 year old matured exclusively in bourbon casks. It’s a Highland malt — which basically means it could be from almost anywhere — and the use of bourbon casks, which are ubiquitous in Scotland, offers no guidance, either. Producer Alexander Murray has a long history of releasing whiskies like this.

Let’s give it a taste.

Malty on the nose, there are aromas of honey, toffee, vanilla, and coconut, plus a touch of menthol. The body is traditional and wholly expected for a bourbon-cask aged malt whisky of this age and provenance. Chewy nougat, more toasted coconut, and lightly leathery notes endure for a while. The mouthfeel is rather flat and restrained, though that may largely be a product of it being bottled at just 80 proof. The whisky kicks up a slight sweetness on the finish that hints at fresh green apples, a touch of lemon (think hot tea with a slice of citrus), and caramel sauce — adding a little nuance. It’s pleasant and fairly clean — and improves with time in the glass — but on the whole it’s largely an uneventful dram.

So, what is it?

While Costco has had a lengthy relationship with Macallan, this doesn’t much resemble it. The whole affair is just a bit too flabby for Speyside, I think, leaving me to wonder if this doesn’t hail from somewhere a bit further afield and without a ton of notoriety — Glen Garioch, Glencadam, or Deanston, even — although it’s worth noting that Murray did produce a 16 year old Dailuaine for Costco last year.

80 proof.

B / $49 / costco.com

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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5 Comments

  1. Jeff November 25, 2016

    I wonder if its Aberlour. They have a 16 year Highland.

    Reply
  2. Rodney Gabriel May 18, 2017

    It says Alexander Murray right on the label.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Null May 18, 2017

      Alexander Murray is not a distillery, it’s an independent bottler. They just bottle this for Costco, they don’t actual distill the whisky.

  3. Maurice August 25, 2017

    Just bought it. It sucks. Should have spent twenty bucks more foe Lagavulin or Hibiki.

    Reply
    1. Slim Charles September 25, 2017

      I bet if it was in a different bottle you would love it. Snob.

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