The day I discovered Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It promised to be the union of two of my favorite things, Trader Joe’s and bourbon. What more could I ask for? On top of that, a full 750ml is only $15. I have to admit (if you couldn’t already tell), that I was quite excited to get this bottle home and give it a try.
Everyone’s first question is always going to be, “who makes Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey?” Well, luckily for us, this one isn’t much of a mystery. Trader Joe’s Bourbon is produced by the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, KY. Owned by one of our favorites, Buffalo Trace, the Barton distillery is best known for producing 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, Ten High, and Very Old Barton. (special thanks to Sku’s Recent Eats for a lot of this info). As with these things, the Trader Joe’s Bourbon isn’t simply a relabeled version of one of these other three produced at the same distillery. Instead, it is a different blend, often made up of barrels that weren’t right for their regular brands.
Now onto the important part. Nothing I’ve said yet matters unless this stuff is actually drinkable. I’ve had plenty of cheap bourbon in my day, some of which was awful and some of which was truly a delicious bargain. Unfortunately, I’d put this one somewhere in the middle. The flavors were primarily that of caramel and oak, and it was not nearly as smooth as I would have liked.
Overall, I’d say that this is an average bourbon. It isn’t horrible and would probably work in mixed drinks or even some punch. That being said, this is not a bourbon I would want to take neat. If you’re willing to look around, there are definitely better $15 bottles of bourbon out there.