Trader Joe’s Highland Single Malt (10 Year)

Trader Joe’s, via independent-bottler-to-the-Big-Box-stars Alexander Murray, has released a few interesting whiskies (and a few duds) and generally has decent prices on various types of whiskies, for a grocery store anyway. Recently while looking for Speyburn 10 (which they didn’t have anymore), I saw this bottle of undisclosed-distillery 10 year-old from somewhere the Highlands (which describes, like, most of them) which has been “matured in oak casks” like… all of them…

It’s 10 years old, bottled at 40% ABV, and costs $20. That’s pretty much all anybody knows about it.

Nose: Very floral. Apple blossom, filtered honey, white peach, green tea. The aroma is very light, though, and has a note of acetone. Reminds me of Dewar’s.

Palate: Thin body. Dried apple flesh, marzipan, and vaguely waxy honeycomb. Very little maltiness.

Finish: Fleeting, with a faint nuttiness and a reminder of the acetone. A little bitter on the fade-out.

With Water: Water heightens the acetone notes, and actually makes the dram smell watery (imagine that!). Seriously though, it now smells like bad tap water. Avoid the water with this one.

Overall: Not terrible. The floral character is present throughout, and the overall effect is light, subtle, smooth, and pleasing. For the money, this is at least as good as Speyburn 10, and won’t be a disappointment unless you’re looking for big flavor. Easy to sip, certainly capable of mixing. Still, I’m going to mark it “Try Before you Buy” not because I think you should seek out a glass before “investing” your $20, but rather that you should consider the $20 purchase as a trial run. It’s cheap enough for that. If you hate it, drown it in orange juice and Cherry Heering. Actually I’ll bet it would make a pretty passable scotch highball (aka scotch and soda).

Now if only we knew what distillery this comes from! At first I thought it might be Clynelish, but there aren’t enough waxy notes. Instead, my best guess is Aberfeldy. We’ll probably never know.

Trader Joe’s Highland Single Malt (10 Year)
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $20
Acquired: Trader Joe's in San Jose, CA, for $20.

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  • Hey, Noob!
    I’m continually glad to see you reviewing spirits that are so widely available; it helps me take out so much of the guesswork of deciding where to spend my malt money, while still allowing me to enjoy my personal journey!