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.

7 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.

morlock said...

So much more difficult to cite Sku as my authoritative Interweb source when I have to answer the question.