Trader Joe’s Highlands Single Malt 12 year (2003 – 2015)

At any rate, this is an ex-bourbon single malt from the Deanston distillery. (The bottle says “Matured in Oak Casks”. Duh.) It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 at 40% ABV after 12 years of aging. Deanston’s official releases are bottled without chill-filtration, but there’s no telling what Alexander Murray chose to do when bottling this. I found it at Trader Joe’s in California for $30.

Trader Joe’s Speyside Single Malt 13 year (2002 – 2015)

Bland, and somewhat bitter. Not a successful malt. This should probably not have been saved from the mountain of “blending fodder” barrels for which it was no doubt originally destined. There are no redeeming florals, fruits, or even cloying sweets. Instead, it mostly just tastes like insipid wood and alcohol. If you’re standing in a Trader Joe’s right now, trying to make a decision, I’ll make it for you: Get the 12 year-old Highland (psst! It’s from Deanston) instead.

The Consistency Illusion

Is consistency just another whisky marketing ploy that turns out to be so much hogwash in the face of profits? Is the disappearance of available stock due to demand surge causing this severe a quality downslope, despite corresponding price increases? Is the quality degradation intentional, and being managed slowly over time in an attempt to keep consumers from noticing the “watering down” of their “consistent” products?