This Is Who Really Makes Kirkland Tequila

Costco members who have been lucky enough to shop the liquor selection at the big-box retailer know there are some top-notch finds among the Kirkland brand liquor bottles. Some are so good, like Kirkland tequila, that you might even wonder if it is made by the same distilleries as your favorite high-end brands. And you wouldn't be wrong in that speculation. After all, Kirkland doesn't actually make its own tequila but contracts it out.

Costco is known for taking inspiration from some of the most popular brands of liquor in the drink industry to make its own spirits. The Kirkland brand of bourbon is made by Barton 1792, and Kirkland vodka, made by Leveke Corp, is often compared to Grey Goose Vodka. And while impressive, you might also be surprised to learn about the distillery behind the retailer's tequila. 

While the same company makes the tequila for all Costco locations to maintain consistency, the distillery in question changes more often than you might realize. The most current distillery to make and supply the three types of tequila that are available at Costco is Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia in Tesistán, which is located just outside of Guadalajara.

This is where Costco's tequila is made

Because Costco is so secretive about the suppliers it uses for most of its liquor brands, the only way to tell who is making the current bottles is to check the identification number, or Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM). These numbers signify that the tequila was authentically made in Mexico, and bottles labeled with NOM 1173 are products of Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia. 

While NOM 1173 is the primary tequila hitting Costco shelves at the moment, some bottles of NOM 1142 tequila could still be available. This former supplier is La Madrileña. But because this distillery no longer produces tequila for Costco, the bottles are being phased out. 

Ranging from $20 to $30 per bottle depending on the style, this tequila isn't the deal it once was for tequila fans looking to sip and savor the liquor. However, for those who plan to simply use the liquor in a cocktail where the tequila will be masked by other ingredients, it is a decent option. 

Past distilleries Costco used

Before Costco contracted Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia and expanded its tequila selection, a distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, Fabrica de Tequilas Finos, was behind the Tequila Anejo sold at Costcos. At the time, Costco's Tequila Anejo was considered to be one of the best bottles available at the big box retailer. With the switch, many Costco members have found that the available tequilas are not as good — and more expensive. 

Another distillery that has contributed tequila to the Kirkland Signature proprietary brand is Destiladora del Valle de Tequila (Casa Maestri), which is located in the town of Tequila within the Jalisco region. It's easier to understand why the tasting notes and quality can fluctuate once you realize just how many tequila distilleries have made tequilas for Costco. 

So, if you want to double-check what you are buying at Costco, look for the NOM number on the bottle and look it up online for reviews and information. At least you will know what to expect from the bottle before buying.