Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whiskey Wednesday: Costco Goes Macallan

Recently, while shopping at my local Costco (Los Feliz Blvd.), I noticed that they are now selling an 18 year old Macallan under their Kirkland label. The Macallan, which was going for $60, was bottled by Alexander Murray & Co., the same bottler which bottles for Trader Joe's. As you may recall, I was not a fan of the Trader Joe's bottlings by Alexander Murray, so I passed, but it peaked my interest about this independent bottler who seems to only bottle for American supermarkets.

Anyway, if you've tried the Costco Macallan let me know, because at $60, if it's good, it's still a good deal for an 18 year old Mac.


Anonymous said...

Question: what does a bottler do (er, other than put the stuff in a bottle)? Are they different from the folks who produce the whiskey?

sku said...

Good question Raven. Yes, they are different.

In the world of Scotch, there are three types of producers:

1. Distillers who both produce and bottle their own Scotch (single malt Scotch).

2. Blenders, who buy Scotch, blend it, and sell it under their own label (blended Scotch).

3. Independent Bottlers (like this company) which buy single malt Scotch from a distiller (Macallan in this case) and bottle it themselves, selling it as their own bottling of the distillery's product. (Macallan produced this Scotch and Alexander Murray bought casks and bottled some of their own).

If you're interested in further explanations, I did an entry about independent bottlers here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Now a couple follow-up questions. How does the bottling affect the taste of the Scotch? I gather "bottling" doesn't just mean pouring the whiskey from a vat or whatever into a bottle, but instead involves maybe including several types/ages of whiskey and maybe adding some other stuff as well? So when the indie bottlers do it, they don't do it the same way the distillers do, so it tastes different? That's what I gathered from your post. Am I right?

And what is the whiskey stored in before it's bottled?

I've never been a whiskey gal, despite some Scottish heritage, but after all this I may need to try some. What's a good whiskey to start with and what's the usual method of drinking it? Like, kind of glass, sipping or shooting, etc. I feel ignorant, btw.

sku said...

Good questions all. Bottling, by a Scotch distiller, usually involves blending a number of their whiskies from a number of barrels, made over a number of years. They dilute it with water and sometimes add caramel coloring, but that's all that can be added. Through this process they develop a "house style" for their particular Scotch.

Independent bottlers tend to use whiskey from a single barrel or a single year (because they only buy a limited supply). Sometimes they dilute it with water and sometimes they don't (in which case it is labeled "cask strength") and they rarely use coloring. With an independent bottling, you get to taste a single barrel which can be far different from the "house style" of that whiskey.

Scotch is aged in oak barrels before bottling.

Since you're Scottish, I would recommend starting with Scotch. Try a single malt like Glenfiddich or Glenlivet or a good blend like Famous Grouse.

The best way to drink Scotch to really get the flavor is to drink it neat (sip it, never shoot) out of a brandy snifter type glass. If you are not used to straight booze, you can add water to taste. First take a big whiff and enjoy the aroma, like you would with a fine wine or Cognac, then sip.

Don't feel ignorant!! Feel excited to try something new and tasty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Always cool to learn about something new. :)