Review: Kirkland Highland Single Malt 16 Years Old Bourbon Cask Matured

Review: Kirkland Highland Single Malt 16 Years Old Bourbon Cask Matured

kirkland 16 years old single maltEvery time Costco’s Kirkland brand releases a single malt Scotch whisky without revealing the distillery that made it, tongues start to wag. Prices are generally well below retail — though today’s 16 year old is higher than the mystery 20 year old released just three years ago — so whisky enthusiasts often grab a bottle to see if something wonderful has been sleeping in the stacks and stacks of pallets.

A departure from recent whiskies that have generally seen some time in sherry casks, this latest Kirkland release is a 16 year old matured exclusively in bourbon casks. It’s a Highland malt — which basically means it could be from almost anywhere — and the use of bourbon casks, which are ubiquitous in Scotland, offers no guidance, either. Producer Alexander Murray has a long history of releasing whiskies like this.

Let’s give it a taste.

Malty on the nose, there are aromas of honey, toffee, vanilla, and coconut, plus a touch of menthol. The body is traditional and wholly expected for a bourbon-cask aged malt whisky of this age and provenance. Chewy nougat, more toasted coconut, and lightly leathery notes endure for a while. The mouthfeel is rather flat and restrained, though that may largely be a product of it being bottled at just 80 proof. The whisky kicks up a slight sweetness on the finish that hints at fresh green apples, a touch of lemon (think hot tea with a slice of citrus), and caramel sauce — adding a little nuance. It’s pleasant and fairly clean — and improves with time in the glass — but on the whole it’s largely an uneventful dram.

So, what is it?

While Costco has had a lengthy relationship with Macallan, this doesn’t much resemble it. The whole affair is just a bit too flabby for Speyside, I think, leaving me to wonder if this doesn’t hail from somewhere a bit further afield and without a ton of notoriety — Glen Garioch, Glencadam, or Deanston, even — although it’s worth noting that Murray did produce a 16 year old Dailuaine for Costco last year.

80 proof.

B / $49 / costco.com

Kirkland Highland Single Malt 16 Years Old Bourbon Cask Matured

$49
8

Rating

8.0/10

6 Comments

  1. Jeff on November 25, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I wonder if its Aberlour. They have a 16 year Highland.

  2. Rodney Gabriel on May 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    It says Alexander Murray right on the label.

    • Christopher Null on May 18, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Alexander Murray is not a distillery, it’s an independent bottler. They just bottle this for Costco, they don’t actual distill the whisky.



  3. Maurice on August 25, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Just bought it. It sucks. Should have spent twenty bucks more foe Lagavulin or Hibiki.

    • Slim Charles on September 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      I bet if it was in a different bottle you would love it. Snob.



  4. Gordon on December 9, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    The 16yo single malt bourbon cask is produced by Tullibardine distillery, Blackford, Perthshire.

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