Just like there is no Trader Joe’s distillery in Kentucky there is no Trader Joe’s distillery or blending facility in Scotland. They are a NDP and they source this blend from another blender / bottler in Scotland and then put their own label on the bottle and sell it as theirs. Which I have nothing against since they’re clearly not trying to claim they distilled, blended and bottled it themselves.
Since it’s all done through 3rd parties and doesn’t seem to be a relabel of something like Famous Grouse there’s not a whole lot of info online about it, but I can tell you this. It’s $10 for a liter, mixes well in cocktails and when given to folks who like whiskey, but aren’t nerds about it, they like it. It’s cheap, it’s a decent cocktail mixer and is something you can give to folks to mix with their coke or to fill in the gaps between ice cubes in a crammed cup. Basically no matter what anyone does with it your inner whisky nerd won’t cringe and for that alone it’s worth the $10. Afraid of looking cheap because of the Trader Joe’s label? Decant it into another vessel, call it our house mixer and no one will know the difference.
Trader Joe’s Blended Scotch Review
Price: $10 (liter)
Kicking things off with some light honey, spice and red apples isn’t a bad way to go. Add in some malty notes, fruit leather (orchard) and butterscotch; you have yourself a pretty nice tasting whisky. The bite from the heavy backdrop of grain alcohol does pull things down a bit, but it’s not completley overwhelming. If tasting neat let it sit for a bit for some of the harsher notes to blow off a bit.
Here we’re starting with some muddled orchard fruit, honey, a bright ambiguous sweetness and some strong young malty notes. A bit of cinnamon heavy spice and a hint of vanilla help offset the grain that kicks up at end. It’s a bit harsh and angular, but I’m actually surprised at how un-horrific this is. I was expecting far worse.
Medium in length it’s a not-completely-terrible ride of honey, malt, wood, ambiguous sweetness and grain alcohol on it’s way out.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
The individual points are a bit off balanced and grain heavy when concentrating on them one at a time, but something happens when you sit back and experience it as a whole. It goes from being “a bit off” to largely disjointed and awkward and I can’t exactly say what is causing this to happen. It could be the thin body and almost lifeless texture mixing with the grain heavy olfactory assault, but I can’t really pinpoint it and say “THAT” so it leaves me feeling a bit perplexed.
It’s not magnificent, but it’s not gut wrenchingly horrific either. Starts off on a good note with a sweet and simple nose that doesn’t, initially, have a whole lot of grain alcohol. On the palate the grain alcohol picks up more, but it’s still not as overwhelming as it is in some blends (Johnny Walker Red). It does keep building as it’s being drunk, but never takes over to the point of obscenity. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t congeal and become a cohesive dram to me and I got very little joy out of drinking it.