Kirkland Speyside 18, Sherry Cask Finish

Kirkland Reserve 18

Kirkland is Costco’s private label brand used for everything from baby formula to 14 pc nativity sets (please keep the baby Jesus and his parents away from flame or heat source). This, however, is whisky, not recommended for babies and not, as far as I know, one of the gifts of the Magi. It is from the Speyside but as the distillery is not specified it could literally be from one of scores of candidates. This was matured in bourbon casks and finished in sherry. I’m not sure if it’s still available.

Kirkland Speyside 18 (40%; sherry finish; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Somewhat generic sherry notes–light caramel, a hint of maple syrup, some toffee and a touch of orange peel. The muskier fruit from the palate never shows up on the nose but it is quite balanced and pleasant.

Palate: Very thin mouthfeel, rather watery. The first impression is kind of blah but then there’s some unexpected fruitiness (tinned peach, some melon). Evanescent at first, it expands a little with time but never develops real intensity. And there’s a bit of a metallic edge.

Finish: Medium. No real development but the fruit sticks around for a bit.

Comments: I was hoping to like this more as I am always in favour of very good deals but I’m not able to be very positive on the whole. The nose is quite nice and belies the low strength but the palate is too watery and the finish is barely there. With even just a little more weight I might have liked it a lot more. It’s not bad by any means, but unless the thought of an 18 yo whisky for <$40 really appeals, you can do better in the Speyside with younger whiskies like the Balvenie Doublewood or the Aberlour 12; you could certainly do better for even less money by buying the Tomatin 12, which it’s not actually very far away from; indeed, it’s close enough to the bourbon-sherry profile of the Tomatin 12 and 18 that part of me wonders if this is the older Tomatin 18 stock (from before it got upgraded to 46%) watered down further and priced to move; however, Tomatin is not in the Speyside as per the SWA. Whatever it is, I would certainly not recommend two bottles of this over one bottle of the 46% Tomatin 18.

Rating: 80 points.

Thanks to Alpha for the sample!

5 thoughts on “Kirkland Speyside 18, Sherry Cask Finish

    • Aha. Though I’m sure there are lots of other distilleries that have also put out sherry/bourbon malts with similar profiles. This one, I think, is a test of how much importance you give to age. On the one hand, it’s a fabulous price for a 18 yo (though I don’t know if it’s still around) but you could pay even less for a much younger whisky that’s at least comparable.

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  1. My Costco offers now a very similar bottle at slightly updated price ($37 or $38), still 18yo, same color – but the label says “Highland” instead of “Speyside”. I’d speculate that it’s the same liquid but someone figured out that Tomatin is technically not in Speyside.

    I am not going to buy it, my Kirkland bottle is still half-full 9 months later. Nothing wrong with it, as you note, it’s just not my style.

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