The Most Popular Kirkland Liquors At Costco, Ranked Worst To Best

If you aren't buying Kirkland Signature spirits from Costco, you are missing out. If the thought of purchasing the big-box club's signature branded booze is not to your liking, you should know: Just because it says "Kirkland" on the bottle doesn't mean it isn't a name brand. The bottled liquor could be incredibly similar to your beloved Grey Goose or Crown Royal bottle. And if it's not, but contains the same ingredients, made in the same process, with high quality and low cost, would you give it a try? 

Thousands of Costco members are happily sipping Kirkland Signature spirits. The numbers don't lie. Costco sells more wine than any other merchant globally and is likely the largest spirits retailer as well, reports Market Watch. The data noted shows Costco sold over $4 billion worth of alcohol in 2018, and by 2020, sales jumped to $5 billion. Quite an impressive climb considering that of the 4000+ products Costco sells, only around 20 are liquor products sold under the Kirkland Signature label (via Forbes). 

Even more impressive is that only 337 Costcos (out of more than 800 worldwide) sell spirits. Since Costco is not a producer, the company sources signature spirits from outside distilleries that produce high-quality, custom labels created to their specifications. According to Forbes, the brand aims to provide a similar product to the recognized labels we love at a more affordable price. Yet sometimes, they are off the mark. As such, you should know which Kirkland Signature spirits you can steer clear of and which are worth adding to your bar cart.

14. Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum

Please skip the spiced rum, as this is nothing like what spiced rum should be. The Rum Lab shares that traditionally spiced rum is produced by macerating natural herbs and spices into white rum, infusing flavor similar to how gin is made. The macerated rum is then aged in oak barrels, creating deep flavors and a complex palate, with the spices lending the brown color. Anything less than this process is a "rum with natural flavors," a label that retailers must note on the bottle per the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

In years past, Costco sourced their rum from a distillery on the island of St. Croix, which then sent it to the U.S., where flavorings and caramel color were added, creating the spiced flavor and dark color, per Best Tasting Spirits. We tasted this bottle, and although it isn't an authentic spiced rum but a rum with added flavors, it was manageable. Reviewers on Reddit share that Costco seems to have changed formulas in recent years and claims abound that bottles are now flavored artificially and have distinct notes of charcoal, tobacco, and burnt wood. Certainly, Kirkland lacks the nuance and complexity of quality spiced rum. If you find yourself with a bottle in your liquor cabinet, use it for cooking instead of drinking, adding smokiness to spiced rum cake.

13. Kirkland Signature Silver Tequila

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, tequila and mezcal sales are up 30.1% in 2021 over the previous year. They add it is the fastest-growing spirit category in the United States. Both spirits are categorized together as they are both crafted in Mexico from the sugars of agave plants, notes Vinepair. The Kirkland Signature Silver Tequila bottle states it is made from 100% blue agave distilled and filtered twice for smoothness. However, reviewers on Tequila Matchmaker write that the silver tequila leads with a vegetal, medicinal, alcoholic bite. That spiritous sting reveals itself in many liquors produced under the Kirkland Signature label but especially makes the tequila unpleasant when sipped solo. Per a Seattle Times panel of tasting experts, it also gives off an unfamiliar sweetness.

Silver tequila should have subtle roasted agave, fresh flowers, and pepper notes. This store-bought tequila leads with alcohol. However, it is inexpensive at under $15 for a 1.75-liter bottle as of February 2022, per 20 Something Finance. If you purchase, do so only to mix with your evening cocktails.

12. Kirkland Signature Añejo Tequila

You can skip the añejo tequila. Though inexpensive ($20 for a 1-liter bottle per Thrillist), Kirkland doesn't stand up to other options. Making any tequila takes time, but especially añejo. The best of this tequila is made from 100% blue agave (via It takes seven years for agave plants to mature before harvesting for tequila, and the average agave plant only makes ten or so bottles of tequila. After distillation, añejo tequila must be aged in oak barrels, similar to the aging of bourbon or whiskey, anywhere from one to three years, as noted by Alkypal. The type of oak and length of aging affect the richness and depth of flavor of the spirit.

Añejo (meaning aged in Spanish) is often considered a sipping tequila, best served neat or perhaps with an ice cube, versus the widely produced, cocktail-friendly tequila categories that are silver and reposado. Though made from 100% blue agave and aged for one year in a barrel, Kirkland Signature añejo doesn't have the full character of truer añejo tequila options. Forbes adds the taste has more artificial flavorings than roasted agave and toasted oak, tracking closer to vanilla and spice, possibly from wood chips added during aging. If you are sipping your añejo straight, it is worth the higher-end splurge.

11. Kirkland Signature London Dry Gin

The appreciation of this gin is subject to each palate. Every gin contains signature flavors, mainly in some combination of juniper berry, herbs, florals and botanicals, citrus, or fruit (via BBC Good Food). However, there are hundreds of options within these broad categories: apple to berry, lemon to orange, fresh mint to dried mint — everything in-between is any flavor combination imaginable. Determining the best gin is the consumer's preference. But, with any gin, you want to ensure the quality is there.

Rumors speculate Kirkland Signature Gin is made by either Tanqueray or Gordon's, each highly regarded London gin producers (via Thrillist). And in years past, the Kirkland Signature gin received high marks, including a silver medal from Tastings. However, recent reviews on Reddit from loyal Kirkland Signature London Gin drinkers say it has become undrinkable. They note the gin has piney, acrid, rose bush flavors, of which none are enjoyable. Though it is an affordable option, between $18 and $25 depending on a 1.75-liter bottle (location depending), go ahead and spend a few extra dollars on the good stuff. Like the Queen of England, if you enjoy a dry martini after lunch you will thank us for dodging this bottle.

10. Kirkland Signature Irish Whiskey

Of the approximately 20 Kirkland Signature spirits Costco sells, half are brown spirits as of 2021 (via Forbes). When Costco began liquor sales under the Kirkland Signature label, they kept the production sources under lock and key, notes RV and Playa, which led to years of speculation and taste tests trying to discover who made what and where. Like all of Costco's spirits, the origin point of their Irish whiskey is a mystery. However, the bottle label includes language that this is, in fact, an Irish-made whiskey, which means specific rules and regulations are required.

Whiskey Advocate shares that for a spirit to be Irish whiskey, the mash must have malted barley included, and it has to be distilled and aged for a minimum of three years in wooden casks in Ireland. Irish whiskey must also be devoid of additives, with water and e150a caramel coloring being the exception. Though one reported as a 2019 "best buy" from Wine Enthusiast, more recent reviews suggest Kirkland's version of Irish spirit has the burn of a high alcohol liquor, without the weight or body to support it. shares that the 80-proof whiskey lacks the recognized aromas expected from a barrel-aged spirit, like honey, vanilla, and spice. The flavor offers slightly more character — dried fruit, warm spice, and caramel poke through — but the overall hit of liquor dominates the whiskey when sipped straight in cocktails.

9. Kirkland Signature Blended Scotch Whisky

A signature spirit of Scotland, Scotch whisky (without the "e" unlike Irish whiskey), is produced in the country's northern region, normally in either Speyside or Islay. Scotch whisky makers from Islay use peat soil in the drying of the barley used to make Scotch whisky, per Distillery Trails. Peat gives the whisky style its specific wet, smoky, earthy quality. The organic material peat is one of the characteristics of every bottle of Kirkland Signature's Blended Scotch whisky, leaving a forest floor and damp athletic sock aroma to the spirit.

An 80-proof spirit, as noted by the Whiskey Vault, Kirkland's Scotch is relatively thin, lacking complexity, with a musty, loamy bouquet. At best, it is similar to Dewar's White Label. This earthiness leads to candied apple and dried fruit flavors that produce an unexpected sweetness on the palate. However, it lacks the texture and density you would hope for in whisky. Whisky Advocate gives the whiskey an 84-point rating. Wine Enthusiast follows with an 86-point rating, agreeing that this bottle does produce the distinct peat note along with oak, likely from a short period of barrel aging and the heated bite of alcohol. If you buy this, your best bet is to add it to your cocktails instead of sipping straight.

8. Kirkland Signature Barton 1792 Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Secrecy aside, Costco has recently opted to include producer names on the packaging of select spirits, thus highlighting partnerships with leading distillers to club members. One of the most recent collaborations is with Kentucky's Barton 1792 Distillery. The oldest fully-operating distillery in Kentucky, Barton 1792 Distillery began in 1843 by producing corn, wheat, malted barley, and rye bourbon whiskey expressions from their Bardstown, Kentucky home.

Last year Costco began a partnership with the distiller, stating that bourbon from the award-winning, legacy producer will be available on a rotating basis. The Scotch Snob shares that the spirit is reminiscent of other Barton whiskies, noting that Kirkland's has a point of sweetness on the front end, like fruit punch, a relatively thin palate washed with subtle charcoal and cherry, and a distinct alcohol burn on the finish. The Whiskey Raiders add it reminds them of an oatmeal cookie, which is great if you love toasty treats. It is not the most interesting bourbon on the market, but for the price, it is a good base for an old-fashioned or classic Manhattan cocktail.

7. Kirkland Signature Irish Cream Liqueur

Irish cream liqueur is whiskey, cream, and sugar. What is not to like about that? Add some ice, stir it into your cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and soon you'll be doing an Irish dance. Kirkland's Irish Cream is good, and Reddit reviewers share our opinion. The liqueur is reminiscent of the world's best-selling, high-end cream liqueurs, with a velvet finish and melding quality that benefits your drink. Many note that it may be even better than popular brands like Bailey's, adding that it is the "cream of the gods."

Best Tasting Spirits writes that the liqueur melds layers of chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel with a thick texture. Bonus, if you live in a state that only allows wine or beer sales outside of a liquor store, you can still find this option in-store at Costco (via Better Tasting Spirits). As it turns out, there are two versions of the creamy, dreamy liqueur. One version has 17% alcohol and is made with Irish whiskey, similar to the production of traditional Irish cream liqueur like Bailey's (via VinePair). The other is a wine-based liqueur with 13.9% alcohol marketed as Kirkland Signature Irish Country Cream. The latter is slightly sweeter than the whiskey-based offering. Reviews say both are good, and we agree.

6. Kirkland Signature Sour Mash Tennessee Whiskey

Costco wants you to know the Kirkland Signature Sour Mash Tennessee Whiskey is good. The company typically doesn't share details about many of its spirits. However, with this one, a video was released to tell customers exactly how this spirit is made and just how flavorful it is. The gentleman sharing his enthusiasm for the Kirkland Sour Mash whiskey in the video, Mike Williams, is the Master Distiller for Tennessee Distilling Ltd. His name appears on every bottle of the spirit. Williams shares that Kirkland Signature is produced in the traditional Lincoln County process, where the distilled whiskey drips through a layer of thick sugar, maple, and charcoal. State laws require all Tennessee whiskey to be made in this process (outside of Pritchard's Distillery, a brand that Distiller notes have been grandfathered in). 

The Lincoln County process mellows the alcoholic burn of the whiskey while filtering and purifying the spirit. Kirkland whiskey is aged in charred barrels, which gives it the spice, vanilla, and caramel notes that Forbes says come from four years of aging. The noticeable result is a smooth, sweet whiskey delivering the flavor profile you would expect from Tennessee whiskey. Most tasters will place it somewhere between Jack Daniel's and George Dickel in terms of body and character. Kirkland Sour Mash Tennessee is a good pick, especially at $20 to $40 for a 1-liter bottle, depending on your state, per Forbes.

5. Kirkland Ready To Drink Golden Margarita

Per the Distilled Spirits Council, the fastest-growing alcohol segment in the country in 2021 was the pre-mixed/ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails category. The classification leaped from a $489 million industry to a $1.6 billion industry, enjoying over 42% growth last year. Kirkland's ready-to-drink Golden Margarita serves the purpose for a fraction of the cost of the name brand options, around $12 for a 1.75-liter bottle compared to $20 for similar brands.

In our opinion, the pre-mixed cocktail has an authentic taste accompanying the bite of sharp tequila. This sweet, slightly sour thirst-quencher is a summer favorite mixed with the blend of lime juice, cane sugar, and triple sec. Despite maximum flavor, the Kirkland Golden Margarita has a moderate alcohol content of 12.7% ABV per serving, similar to a glass of wine. While this still won't be the same as the top-shelf margarita from your favorite Mexican restaurant, all it needs to become a satisfying refresher is ice and a glass. Plus, the cost of a full bottle will likely be the same as just one of those high-end restaurant orders. 

4. Kirkland Signature Blended Canadian Whisky

The style and character of Canadian whisky distinguish it from neighboring styles to the south. Though similar to American bourbon whiskey (with the "e")— they both use a significant quantity of corn in the production — Canadian whisky (without the "e") has always contained a high percentage of rye, which is responsible for creating the signature flavor (via Sip Dark). The most popular brand of Canadian whisky is Crown Royal, and according to Forbes, it is one of the top-tasting brands as well. Fortunately, Kirkland Signature Blended Canadian Whisky shares comparable characteristics and flavors. It is full but not paunchy, and it doesn't bite so much as it presents boldly.

Kirkland Signature Canadian Whisky is a solid option if you are a fan of whiskey from north of the border. Oak-cask aged for six years, the whisky integrates vanilla, cinnamon and clove spice, and toffee, per another Forbes review. Add that it costs a fraction of the named brand options (anywhere from $20 to $30 for a 1.75-liter bottle, compared to double that for Crown Royal), and we consider this a qualified choice for any bar cart. Thrillist doesn't share as much enthusiasm, finding it a little thin and dry. Still, most agree that if you are a Canadian whisky fan, this is a solid option at a good price.

3. Kirkland Signature American Vodka

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, vodka is one of the most popular spirits sold in the U.S. Costco members agree, as vodka is also the top-selling liquor at Costco stores (via MarketWatch). Reports say that Kirkland Signature American Vodka and Tito's Handmade Vodka are the most popular spirits sold at the wholesale club. Costco's American Vodka is created from corn and certified for production by the LeVecke Corporation in California, per Liquor Laboratory. The process involves the spirit being distilled six times for smoothness, which creates a neutral product with a subtle but apparent edge of 80-proof alcohol.

The best-selling vodka in the country, Tito's Handmade Vodka, is also made from corn, has a neutral flavor, and is an 80-proof spirit, per Vinepair. Interestingly, both of the most popular spirits sold in Costco are American-made vodka produced from corn, both with 40% alcohol and capable of delivering a smooth yet pronounced presence. Yet, the Costco brand sells for around $12 for a 1.75-liter bottle, and Tito's sells for $28 per Cosco Fan. It is fairly clear which is the better buy in this economy. Kirkland's American Vodka will be a perfect addition to your Sunday morning Bloody Mary or spiked lemonade.

2. Kirkland Signature French Vodka

Over the years, many have speculated over whether Kirkland Signature French Vodka is Grey Goose. It is not, though Munchies has reported similarities. Kirkland Signature and Grey Goose come from the same Cognac region in France and share the same water source, the Gensac Spring. However, Grey Goose claims to use a private well in the area. This water source is important; Used in every bottle of vodka, water is an essential ingredient in the production of the spirit, shares Clos 19. Adding water reduces the alcohol by volume of vodka after distillation, bringing the level from mid-70% to 40%, the minimum to be sold as vodka in America.

Using the most pristine water will create a completely neutral spirit, the goal for many vodka distillers. Despite being similar, Grey Goose executives adamantly deny that their vodka is found in Kirkland Signature bottles, USA Today reports. However, the brands are very alike in flavor, with a clean, soft palate and subtle taste. BuzzFeed taste testers chose Kirkland Signature French over Grey Goose. Aside from a comparable style and taste, Hip to Save shares that Costco's brand costs about $20 for a 1.75-liter bottle. Grey Goose will likely set you back about $50 for the same volume. Be sure to pick up the package with the red label versus the blue label, as red signifies the French variety.

1. Kirkland Signature Speyside Sherry Finish Single Malt Scotch

The longer the Scotch whisky is aged in a barrel, the less is available to be bottled due to natural evaporation over time. Such loss is otherwise referred to as the "angel share," per VinePair. Up to 2% of the barrel evaporates to the angels per year, meaning when the spirit is finally bottled, up to 40% of the original volume has been lost. Well-aged single malt whisky is rare and often expensive, and exceptionally uncommon bottles can cost well over a reasonable budget (via Food and Wine). We think there should be a place for this, along with accessible options too. Kirkland Signature Speyside 20-year-old Sherry Finish Single Malt Scotch whisky is the latter, at less than $70 a bottle (via Forbes). is crafted by aging malted barley from a single distillery in barrels over an extended period. 

Kirkland Signature Speyside Single Malt Scotch whisky starts with aging in used bourbon barrels before finishing for six months in barrels previously used for Oloroso sherry, per the Scotch Snob. This aging process, combined with Speyside's regional characteristics, imparts dried fruits, toffee, brown sugar, and caramel flavors in the flavorful spirit. However, they are not as pronounced as you would expect from a Scotch whisky of this age, with the bite of alcohol that lingers throughout. The Whiskey Vault agrees, noting it is slightly hollow on the palate. Still, we believe this is one of the most beautifully matured Scotch whiskey options for the price. With a 92-point rating from the Whiskey Advocate, the Scotch whisky was one of the best bottles sampled in a blind tasting by the Seattle Times