Private-label whiskies sold at big box and national grocery stores like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Total Wine & More can offer some of the best values on the shelf—if you know which ones to buy, that is. Whisky Advocate’s tasting panel blind-tasted over 40 different whiskies, ranging from scotch and Irish to bourbon, rye, and Canadian, to determine which bottles offer the best quality. Our top scorers are listed below, along with links to the full set of whiskies that we tasted from each store.
The Truth About Big Box Whiskies
Total Wine & More
Glen Fohdry Aiteal an Òir 12 year old Speyside single malt scotch—91 points, $38
Perfumy fruits, soft spices, light nuttiness, and warm malty flavors come together in a perfectly proofed whole.
Glen Fohdry Làn-abaich 21 year old Speyside single malt scotch—91 points, $80
Bright, clean, and lively, with flavors of citrus, berries, milk chocolate, and delicate floral notes.
Shieldaig 18 year old Speyside single malt scotch—90 points, $47
Flower bouquet, candied fruit, nuts, and sweet oak combine for a light but lengthy flavor experience.
Olde Point 4 year old blended Canadian whisky—88 points, $15
Sweetly fruity with pleasing pastry crust notes, along with nuts, caramel, coconut, and polished oak.
Full list of Total Wine reviews
Trader Joe’s Glen Moray 16 year old Speyside single malt scotch (Distilled in 2001)—90 points, $40
Layers of rich fruits, gentle spice, cigar wrapper, chocolate, and oak come together in a symphony of flavor.
Trader Joe’s Ardmore 10 year old Highland single malt scotch (Distilled in 2008)—87 points, $33
A generous but gentle peatiness pervades this herbaceous and citrus-forward whisky that’s well-balanced with spice and oak.
Trader Joe’s 10 year old Highland single malt scotch—87 points, $26
The smokiness of a cigar wafts through Juicy Fruit, saline, and candy notes into a toasty oak finish.
Full list of Trader Joe’s reviews
Kirkland 20 year old Sherry Cask Finished Speyside single malt scotch—92 points, $58
A classic sherry bomb, with milk chocolate, raisins, brown sugar, hazelnuts, cloves, almonds, and plenty of oak.
Kirkland 7 year old Tennessee Straight Bourbon (Batch T-1796)—91 points, $30
Big-boned and assertive, it has full flavors of orange peel, root beer, gingerbread, cooked berries, and well-integrated oak.
Kirkland 18 year old Sherry Cask Finished Speyside single malt scotch—90 points, $54
Lush, well-aged, and richly sherried with flavors of candied violet, nougat, ginger, and orange oil.
Full list of Costco reviews
Granndach 12 year old blended scotch—86 points, $24
A swirl of sherry flavors—plums, chocolate, dried fruit, and sugared nuts—mingle with gingerbread, oak, and chocolate-covered raisins.