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Monday, April 10, 2017

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon

Updated April 11, 2017:  A Public Relations Manager who saw this review emailed me today to state that Trader Joe's Bourbon "is from Bardstown and is Barton juice," and she asked me to update this post accordingly.  Thank you for answering the question about the source.

Tax day is around the corner again, so it’s back to the bottom shelf for me until I snap out of my annual funk, or until I realize that many bottom shelf whiskies are there for a reason.

Bourbon:
Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey

Distillery:
The label claims that it was “Distilled by Bourbon Square Distilling Company, Louisville, KY” but there is no such distillery in Kentucky, let alone in Louisville.

Age:
NAS, so it should be at least four years old

ABV:
45% ABV (90 proof)

Cost:
$15.00

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Slightly on the brown side of standard amber.

Nose:
Grain, corn sweetness, some vanilla, a little pepper, only a little rye grain, and not much oak.

Taste:
The taste is young-ish, with some standard caramel and other standard Bourbony-flavors, but nothing much stands out.  It was uninspiring neat, and an ice cube or water muted whatever favorable flavors existed in the first place.  I also tried it in Kentucky Mules, where the ginger, mint, and lime took the lead and made Trader Joe’s Bourbon perfectly serviceable.

Finish:
Short and on the verge of bitter. 

Bottom Line

First, for the source, a 2013 promotion on Trader Joe’s website states that its Bourbon is sourced from Bardstown, Kentucky.  A few reviews claim that Trader Joe’s Bourbon is sourced from Barton, which would be consistent with the company’s promotion, but inconsistent with the label, which represents that it is “distilled by Bourbon Square Distillers, Louisville, KY.”  A third option we could believe is the source filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State, which shows that Bourbon Square Distillers is actually an assumed name of Buffalo Trace, with Buffalo Trace’s address in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Which is it, Bardstown, Louisville, or Frankfort?
 
Sadly, this Bourbon wasn’t good enough for me to care about the brand’s conflicting representations.  If you want cheap Bourbon for a mixer and you think that Trader Joe’s is a cool store, go for it.  Otherwise, Trader Joe’s Bourbon is a hard pass.  You’re better off with Four Roses Yellow Label, Wild Turkey 101, or Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond, just to name a few. 

Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale:  1.5

The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill.  I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings.  Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon.  Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws.  I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

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