On any list of Costco best buys, you’re sure to see their liquor department singled out for praise. While Costco does sell a fair-sized selection of name brand booze at bargain prices, most of the applause seems to be for its Kirkland Signature label, the “store-brand hooch” that Vice says is even good enough for bartenders.
One of the reasons why Kirkland Signature’s spirits line tends to be just as drinkable as premium brands is because, in many cases, it may have the same manufacturer. Kirkland rum possibly comes from either the same distillers who bring us Cruzan or Captain Morgan, while its gin may be nearly identical to Tanqueray or Gordon’s. What’s more, Kirkland Signature Canadian whiskey seems to be made by Crown Royal.
Still, not all of the Kirkland Signature liquors are winners. While many are well worth the price, others are … well, about what you’d expect from generic booze. Worth buying if all you’re looking for is a cheap drunk, but best passed up if you’re concerned about quality and taste.
Kirkland Signature liquors you should stock up on
Kirkland’s French vodka is a best bet. Kitchn calls it “the hands-down favorite of all Kirkland spirits.” And one vodka connoisseur on Reddit described it as being “a bit smoother and more neutral than Grey Goose in side-by-side comparisons, although admitting this “can be both good and bad (good if you want your vodka as neutral as possible, bad if you are looking for distinctive flavors).” Overall, though, they found it to be comparable to the much higher-priced brand.
Kirkland’s blended Scotch whiskey is also pretty darn decent for the price. Eater classifies it as “a standard go-to well Scotch in many a cocktail bar [that] will mix well with soda water or ginger beer,” while Sipology describes it as “full-bodied, mild and dry,” with notes of “toffee, oak, [and a] touch of smoke.”
The small-batch bourbon from Kirkland is another must-buy if you’re bourbon drinker who enjoys a good bargain. Wine Enthusiast says this bevvie is “ideal for mixed drinks” with “plenty of toasty flavor and … a fiery dose of alcohol heat.”
Kirkland Signature liquors you should skip
Eater claims the Kirkland signature spiced rum is artificially-colored rather than coming by its caramel hue by natural means — and suspects this may intensify any hangover the drink produces. A Redditor finding fault with it characterized it as “way to sweet … God awful in rum and cokes.” Proof 66 awarded it a mediocre 467 out of 770 points, with their only positive comment being that its “relatively high 92 proof … signals it would stand up well in dilution.” One commenter on that site found it “gross,” with a “smoky spicy ashtray flavor,” while another called it “cheap and bitter” and claimed it caused an “instant headache each time.”
The Kirkland Signature añejo tequila is another clear loser. Eater says it’s “essentially tequila-flavored vodka with a dose of artificial coloring to mimic the barrel-aged color,” and speculates that it, as well as the similarly-colored rum, will leave you with some serious day-after regrets. The Seattle Times was equally unimpressed, declaring: “Costco’s anejo was the worst of the 13 bottles [of bargain-priced booze] we sampled.” None of the testers thought it tasted like tequila at all — one thought it was cheap brandy, while another claimed “it could pass for an experimental oak-aged gin that some hipster had distilled in his mom’s garage.” Sounds like you’re better off giving this, as well as the knockoff Midshipman Morgan, a big miss.
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