Yesterday Fiance and I celebrated our two year anniversary by going to a nice restaurant, watching Tangled, which we watched twice through on our first date, and testing out several of COSTCO’s liquors.
Indiana is one of 10 states that in which because of some odd liquor laws you can buy liquor from COSTCO without a membership. When I learned about this deal, as well as the fact that COSTCO’s French vodka was supposedly the same as Grey Goose, I naturally decided I had to try it out. On this trip we bought a 1.75 L bottle of vodka and gin, a 1 L bottle of bourbon and scotch, and a 750 mL bottle of añejo tequila and two 24 cases of Sierra Nevada beer for only $155 including tax.
I decided to test each of the liquors out three ways. First, I sipped it plain and unchilled. Next, with one ice cube to chill and slightly dilute. Finally, I made a spirit heavy cocktail to test its mixability.
Rating scale: 1-3 would not use, 4-6 would use in a pinch, 7-10 would use proudly
Kirkland’s Signature European Style Vodka
$19.99 for 1.75 L
To put my own voice into the controversy of whether Kirkland’s French Vodka is the same product as Grey Goose, I have to say I do not think so. While it is definitely better quality than the vodkas which I typically purchase (Smirnoff, New Amsterdam) it still has a fairly distinctive, though not overpowering, ethanol nose and burn.
Straight up and on the rocks, this vodka is, well, a vodka. Its flavor is very subdued, though I did get a slightly smoky hint when straight up. I’m not much of a fan of sipping vodka and this vodka, which was less pleasant than Ketel One, by no means converted me.
It performed quite well, however, in my simple lemon drop.
2 oz Kirkland Signature European Style Vodka
1 oz Rich simple syrup
1 oz Fresh lemon juice
This vodka worked quite well in a cocktail. The lemon juice dissipated the slight smokiness that I was unaccustomed to and the vodka, while obvious in the nose of the cocktail, took the backseat on flavor.
All told, I would say the Kirkland Signature European Style Vodka is great for mixing but is not for those who wish to drink vodka on the rocks or straight up.
Kirkland Signature London Dry Gin
$19.99 for 1.75 L
Gin is one of my favorite drinks and also one where quality tends to deteriorate quickly with price, so I was very interested in trying out Kirkland’s Signature London Dry Gin. This gin has a strong juniper flavor when sipped and more subdued citrusy undertones. Like the vodka, a hefty amount of ethanol comes through the nose, but this time is mild on the palate.
I just began drinking straight gin occationally this summer, and I can say that both as an unchilled spirit and on the rocks, this gin performs admirably. If you are picky about balance in your gin, this might not be for you. But if you’re okay with juniper stealing the show, Kirkland Signature London Dry Gin is a great way to go.
It also makes a great gin rickey.
2 oz Kirkland Signature London Dry Gin
Juice of one lime
Soda water to top
Garnish with a lime wedge
The lime in the gin rickey accentuates the citrusy undertones and plays down the juniper a bit. I actually like this gin for a rickey a bit more than others that I’ve tried because the juniper, which could be overwhelming for some when drinking it alone, is able to shine through the lime a bit more vividly.
Sipping: 8/10 (for my taste!)
Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon
Bourbon was my entry into booze, so I was excited and hopefully about this bourbon. Unfortunately, this bourbon did not perform as well as the other spirits I tested. To be fair, I typically drink the higher end of mid-range bourbons (Makers, Woodford, Larceny), but I really don’t consider this bourbon worth the money we spent on it.
Consumed straight up, it did not take on the expected sweet woody taste. Instead, tannins and acetone shone through. It is fairly rough on the tongue and throat. A bit of cherry and brown sugar flavors came through.
On the rocks, however, a bit more sweetness came through and the tannic flavor subsided a bit.
I decided continue the citrus theme and make a bourbon sour.
2 oz Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon
1 oz Lemon Juice
1.5 oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish with lemon twist and wedge
I found Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon to be a perfectly adequate mixing bourbon. The addition of lemon juice and simple syrup took off the edge of the bourbon. It’s mild and unobtrusive and seems to intensify other flavors of the cocktails.
Sipping: 3/10 (unchilled), 5/10 (rocks)
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Tequila Añejo
$19.99 for 750 mL
The nose of this tequila is spectacular. It smells sweet and spicy. These components carry through to the taste. Despite the slightly stronger alcohol flavor, this tequila brings together a complex arrays of flavors when sipped straight. It begins with a slight, sweet vanilla flavor and develops into a smoky spiciness. Those unaccustomed to añejos might be off put by the taste, but the smokey warm finish is sure to win any fan of whiskey over.
Though I do typically prefer spirits chilled with at least one ice cube, I found that drinking on the rocks diminished the wonderful warming qualities of this tequila.
The warmth of Kirkland Signature Tequila Añejo also played well with grapefruit to make a lovely margarita.
2 oz Kirkland Signature Tequila Añejo
1.5 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz Rich simple syrup
Salt the rim and garnish with a grapefruit wedge
Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum
$14.99 for 1.75 L
The nose of Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum is overwhelmingly vanilla with a large dose of alcohol. The taste, unfortunately, does not vary much from the scent. While there are detectable components of molasses, clove, and cinnamon, vanilla still dominates the flavor profile. Ice did not seem to help the flavor at all. However, expecting a $15 1.75 mL bottle of alcohol to be ideal for sipping is certainly unrealistic.
At the time of testing I, unfortunately, did not have any dark sodas on hand. So, I made a classic dark and stormy. The vanilla characteristics of the rum don’t go particularly well with ginger ale, but I imagine it would do well with coke and root beer.
Dark and Storm
2 oz Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum
Ginger ale to fill
Garnish with a lime wedge
Kirkland Blended Scotch Whiskey
The nose of this strongly alcoholic and slightly citrusy. The whiskey itself is fairly smooth and lemony. The sweetness of the whiskey makes it quite approachable. It’s less peaty than scotch can be. Fiancé particularly enjoyed it both on the rocks and as a Presbyterian.
2 oz Kirkland Blended Scotch Whiskey
Half fill with ginger ale
Half fill with club soda
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by COSTCOs liquor options. They made for a yummy end of our first two years together.