Product Review: Trader Joe’s Scotch


From the trendy food store that brought us the glory of “Three-Buck Chuck” (Charles Shaw wine for $2.99) and so many other tasty and organic goodies comes their very own blend of scotch-whisky. This store has long been famous for their wine selection and wonderfully creative food items, which covers such a wide variety and stretches across many nationalities. While Charles Shaw wine has become famous due to Trader Joe’s import of them to stores nationwide, it does not bear their brand on the label. None of their liquor ever did, if I recall correctly. However, with visits to their location in Westfield (currently under reconstruction since a winter storm caused a roof collapse), they are apparently getting in on the action with their own liquor labels and branching out to include way more than wine. There were now different types of whiskey, topping out at $23.99 for a bottle of single-malt scotch, while more exotic liquors such as the Peruvian Pisco came in at a very reasonable $18.99. Being a big scotch fan, I settled on a one liter bottle of “blended scotch whisky”, out of curiosity, which was an eye-opening $10.99.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit saying to myself, “How good can this actually be?” as I pulled it off the shelf. But for that price, I figured why not give it a try? Worst case scenario, I would just use it in mixed drinks with soda where the taste would be masked. Still, there was a small part of me that chimed in to my subconscious, “Well, Greg, you’ve loved everything else from Trader Joe’s. Maybe this won’t be any different.” Sure enough, the angel on my shoulder was correct. This ultra-cheap scotch is just as good as any other middle-tier kind I have had. It blows the cheap, nasty, big-bottled Clan Macgregor right out of the water, and even eclipses a slightly more pricey McClelland’s single-malt.

It would be a safe assumption that this scotch was probably aged only 4-5 years (there is no age statement on the label), but the color is very deep, and much darker than, say, Dewar’s, which leads me to believe it might be aged a little longer. The label bears note that it is produced in partnership with Hamish Robertson & Co. in Scotland, and the liquor itself is “sweet and clean, with hints of honey, apple, and toffee.” I might not go that far, but the finished product is at first soft on the palate with a late bite. The aroma is nice, comparable to many other decent scotches I’ve had. Its pretty smooth considering the price. Try it on the rocks paired with spicy Indian food. It leaves a sweetness on the palate and will cool your mouth. Much better than red wine with your meal. It also makes an outstanding Rob Roy…or two or three.


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