As you may recall, the theme for this week’s whisky reviews is 20+ yo whiskies from distilleries located in different production regions of Scotland. The week began with an official release of 20 yo Arran—Brodick Bay. It continues today with a 23 yo from the Speyside. Which distillery exactly in the Speyside? I’m afraid I can’t tell you as this was a private label bottling for Costco by Alexander Murrary and as with most/all such Costco releases, no distillery is specified. This was matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in oloroso sherry (which is hopefully the only explanation for the dark colour of the whisky in the sample bottle). I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Costco’s Kirkland-branded single malt Scotch releases. I believe I’ve only ever reviewed one other—this 18 yo, also from the Speyside. I didn’t think very highly of that one, finding it to be too watered down in every way. Will this at a more respectable 46% abv (ignore the abv on the sample label—it’s an error) have more oomph/character? I certainly hope so.
Kirkland 23, Speyside (46%; from a bottle split)
Nose: A little nondescript to start. There’s some oak, some malt, some dried orange peel and then some dried leaves. With more time there’s a bit more fruit (apricot, plum). A few drops of water pull out more of the malt
Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose with a bit more intensity. The texture suggests a lower strength than it was bottled at. A little more of the orange peel as it sits but nothing really of very much interest. With more time the oak develops a sourness that’s not very much to my taste. Okay, let’s see if water improves this any. Well, it pushes the oak back and brings out some black tea but I can’t say it’s very much more interesting.
Finish: Medium. Nothing new develops here except the oak turning a bit spicier; thankfully, the sherry doesn’t separate. Longer with water but it’s the oak that mostly expands.
Comments: The best I can say about this is that it’s inoffensive. If you want a dark 23 yo whisky on your shelf and don’t want to pay very much for it then one of these Costco releases is just the ticket. But if drinking it is what you’re more interested in, you might be better off looking for a younger whisky that does more for close to the same price.
Rating: 81 points.