Do you know who makes Kirkland Bourbon? this is one of the questions our readers ask a lot. Well, we´ve got you covered.
Unless you’re a bourbon fanatic, you probably don’t realize that bourbon was declared to be “America’s native spirit” by Congress in 1964.
That means it can only be declared “bourbon” if it’s made in America. It also helps narrow down the source of Kirkland Signature Bourbon.
So, who makes Kirkland Bourbon? Kirkland Signature Bourbon actually comes from the Barton 1792 distillery, which is located in Kentucky. Owned by Sazerac, the Barton 1792 distillery has been in operation since 1879, despite its name.
This wasn’t always the case. Jim Beam was once the primary producer and provider behind the Kirkland Signature Bourbon brands.
The recent deal that Costco cut with Barton 1792, was made in the latter half of 2020 with bottles hitting the shelves this year.
Normally, it’s a pretty difficult game figuring out the hidden producers behind Kirkland Signature products. However, this one was discovered through perusing TTB federally approved bottle labels and where they were headed.
The ones on the way to Costco come courtesy of Barton.
What Kind Of Bourbon Will Kirkland Signature Offer?
Currently, there are three bourbon offerings under the Kirkland Signature label. They join the likes of Kirkland Vodka, Scotch Whisky, Spiced Rum, Tequila, Canadian Whiskey, and Dry Gin.
- Kirkland Small Batch
- Kirkland Bottled-in-Bond
- Kirkland Single Barrel
Distribution to the aisles of your local Costco began in June with all of the remaining arriving by the end of the year.
Kirkland Small Batch
Kirkland Small batch is 92 proof, 46% alcohol by volume (ABV), and is aged for a minimum of two years. Any whisky that is considered “straight” has to age for at least two years.
It’s a sweet whisky—thanks to the corn—and smooth with hints of caramel and cinnamon.
You will notice the smell of rye combined with the cinnamon flavors that follow.
Kirkland Bottled-in-Bond is 100 proof, 50% ABV, and, like the small-batch, comes in a liter size bottle.
Vanilla makes its introductions, on top of the caramel, with just a small touch of fruit when you crack open the first bottle and catch the aroma.
You’ll get more of the same with the flavor, the fruit standing out just a little bit more before finishing with a light, smoky aftertaste.
Kirkland Single Barrel
Kirkland single barrel has the highest alcohol content at 120 proof, 60% ABV. Because of the higher alcohol content, the flavor and smell will be slightly dampened, however, the aroma of vanilla, fruit, and honey are still present.
The taste is stronger, with more burn than the others. It’s not enough to completely overpower the flavors of honey and caramel but it will definitely finish with a lot more warmth than usual.
Read also: Who Makes Kirkland Irish Whiskey (All Facts)
How Is Kirkland Signature Bourbon Made – Ingredients
Despite Costco’s enormous success, including its private label, they and their partners are still restrained by one of the most Federally regulated alcohols in the States.
Bourbon has to be made in a very particular way.
The mashbill—the grain recipe—must contain a minimum of 51% corn up to a maximum of 80%. From there, the remaining grains are up to the distiller. Usually, the remaining grains are what’s called the “flavor” grains.
Bourbon typically starts out with sour mash, meaning the mash has undergone the fermenting process, followed by the addition of yeast and water. There is a minimum aging time of two years for bourbon.
Premium bourbons can be aged up to 25 or 30 years, while most fall within a timeframe of 5 to 10 years.
All bourbon has to be aged in a white oak barrel, with a charred rate of between 1 and 4—with 4 being the most heavily charred and 1 being the lightest.
Another Federal regulation stipulates that nothing new can be added to bourbon during the bottling process, with water being the lone exception.
Bourbon is also not allowed to go into the barrel higher than 160 proof and, by the time it reaches the bottle, it has to be between 80 and 125 proof.
Too much alcohol content destroys the flavor, so there are strict limitations on the proof it must be before going into the barrel, after coming out of the barrel, and before it goes into the bottle.
It’s also a common misconception that bourbon can only be made in the State of Kentucky. This is altogether untrue.
It can be produced in any of the 50 States, including Hawaii—as strange as that would sound.
However, it can only be labeled as “Kentucky Straight Whisky” if it’s made in Kentucky and nowhere else.
Read also: Who Makes Kirkland Canadian Whiskey? (Irish Whiskey vs Jameson)
Costco made a wise decision with Barton 1792, as they are a reputable distillery that’s been in operation for the better part of two centuries.
Jim Beam and George Dickel—the two bourbons previously behind the Kirkland brand—were also excellent choices.
Time moves on, however, but Costco continues to show that it seeks out the best deals with partners that are known and exceptional commodities.
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