Monday, January 28, 2013

Trader Joe's Scotch

Of late, it seems Trader Joe's has been increasing their house-label whiskey selection. Early last year, they introduced the Trader Joe's Single Malt Irish Whiskey, which was followed last fall by a Trader Joe's Bourbon. Now, they are reintroducing some private label single malts.

I say reintroducing because years ago, they had a line of Trader Joe's Scotch that was independently bottled and mostly pretty awful. Those malts listed that name of the distillery whereas the new malts only list the region; the actually distillery they come from is a mystery.

So far, TJ's has two malts: a ten year old Highland and an 18 year old Speyside. Both are bottled at 40% by Alexander Murray & Co., which bottled the previous series of TJ's malts and has also done bottlings for Costco. As with most TJ's items, the prices are extremely reasonable: $19.99 for the Highland and $25.99 for the Speyside.

Tim Read and I are doing a joint review of these whiskies, so be sure to check out Scotch & Ice Cream for his review.

Trader Joe's Highland Single Malt Scotch, 10 years old, 40% abv (%19.99)

The nose is sweet and malty with some nice fruit and white grape juice. The palate is very straightforward and malty without much else going on. It reminds me a lot of Glenmorangie 10, malty and sweet and not bad at all if a bit boring.

Trader Joe's Speyside Single Malt Scotch, 18 years old, vintage 1993, 40% abv ($25.99)

The nose on this one is light and fruity with fruit cocktail notes. The palate is also fruit forward but it devolves a sourness which lasts into the finish which also has a note of stale wine and a touch of bitterness.

These aren't going to win any awards, but they're decent for the (very cheap) price. The ten in particular, at $20, is a good deal if you want something straightforward, though I"d probably spring for five or six bucks more and get a Glenfiddich. The 18 year old has a bit more going on, but also has more flaws.

Both of these strike me as better than most of the malts Trader Joe's released in their last series, so I suppose that's progress.

6 comments: said...

Thanks for these reviews. The last time they did this was with Duncan Taylor rejects that totally fell flat. These sound a bit more palatable. I've liked their Irish single malt from day 1. A good, slightly peated Cooley.

ilium55 said...

The last batch had an Imperial that I kind of liked -- it was only about 20 dollars.

sku said...

ilium55, I agree that the Imperial was pretty decent, probably the only one I had in that series that was any good.

Florin said...

Sku, any insights into the Costco whiskies? They currently have a 20yo Speysider that I haven't tried and nobody reviewed seriously from what I know.

ilium55 said...

@Florin -- I'm not as well versed as Sku, but I have a bottle of the 20, and its actually OK. Is it the best whisky ever -- no, but for the price I would say its worth it. Its very smooth, a little sweet on the palate, and generally has the profile of an unremarkable older sherried malt. Is it as good as say GlenDronach 15? No, but its a nice whisky to have in your flask for a round of golf.

sku said...

I haven't tried any of the Costco (Kirkland) label whiskies, but maybe I'll check them out. It would be interested to compare them to the TJ's line.