A Guide To Costco Kirkland Liquor
Crafting a Costco Liquor Cabinet
Here are the Mule Blog, we love a good ultra-premium liquor as much as the next discerning drinker, but the fact of the matter is sometimes there’s a serious financial silver lining to enjoying discount (or house brand) spirits.
For the uninitiated – or should we say, the non-members* – Costco’s Kirkland brands have become somewhat of a cult darling in liquor cabinets from coast-to-coast. Though there’s much debate about the actual distilleries that Costco taps for their cult liquors, many experts and industry insiders agree that premium and even ultra-premium producers are swept into Costco’s production orbit simply by the sheer volume of liquor it can offer to buy. Costco then marks the liquor up by 15% or less (depending on the supplier), which is far below the industry standard of up to 45% or more. That’s a serious savings, especially when you consider that aside from the most small-scale craft brands, where that money is going is into enormous marketing budgets and distributing costs, not better ingredients.
So let’s break down some of Costco’s staple offerings:
Kirkland Signature American Vodka: Crafted in the U.S. from American grain, this vodka is distilled 6 times for exceptional smoothness and clarity. Though some drinkers might bristle at a subtle heat when served straight, this spirit has become a huge seller due to its mellow sweetness on the finish, and a veritable swiss-army knife status as the perfect option for mixed drinks. If you’re prone to hosting parties, this vodka is so cost-effective and cocktail-friendly you can’t go wrong.
Kirkland Signature French Vodka: For those that want a house brand vodka that ‘shows’ a little better, Costco has this French-style vodka. Though countless internet sources have crafted the rumor that this is indeed made by the good people at Grey Goose, most adept internet sleuths have ruled it down to a producer in the exact same region. What this means is that the pure water source used in the brand that started the ultra-premium gold rush is one-in-the-same as this bulk booze. Well-balanced, this is your go-to Kirkland product for drinking chilled, straight, or on the rocks.
Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum: Direct from the Caribbean, this rum is produced from organic raw sugar cane, giving it a malty sweetness that’s hard to resist. Blended with a secret array of spices and distilled 5 times, this spirit stands up to being drunk on the rocks, or even better, in a classic rum and coke.
Kirkland Signature London Dry Gin: Though the term ‘small-batch’ is relative here, this London style dry gin is surprisingly produced in copper stills for a truly authentic taste. For hardcore gin drinkers, the Kirkland blend of botanicals might skew too much toward the citrus side of things, but that favoritism towards mass drinkability is to be expected when you’re talking about a gin that comes in at less than half the price of comparable offerings.
Kirkland Signature Anejo Tequila: Crafted from 100% blue agave, this Tequila is double-distilled before being aged in American oak barrels. The result is a surprisingly smooth tequila with a pleasant depth of vegetal flavor. Though drinker be warned, both it’s exceptionally low price and appeal when taken as a shot might lead to one seriously over-doing it.
Kirkland Signature Blended Scotch Whiskey: Blending whiskey is an art, and much like art, each style is an acquired taste. What this scotch whiskey lacks in truly thought-provoking complexity, it makes up for in smooth, classic flavors. A combination of aged malt and grain whiskeys, this spirit evokes notes of dried fruit, molasses and just a hint of smokiness.
Kirkland Signature Canadian Whiskey: Aged 6-years in white oak barrels, this whiskey is a fantastic option because of its sheer drinkability: clean, full-flavored and as smooth as much costlier whiskeys on the market. It’s also a true Canadian whiskey, made with pure sourced spring water, Canadian grains, and imported to serve the cravings of the U.S. market.
*NOTE: At least a dozen states — Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Vermont — have laws that require membership-only stores to sell alcohol to the general public, and store policies elsewhere vary. A quick google search will tell you where you stand.