Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey Review

I am Mr. #RespectTheBottomShelf. I’m not afraid of “cheap” whiskey, and, in fact, when I see something super-affordable, it piques my curiosity.

Trader Joe's Bourbon Review Header


  • DISTILLER: Undisclosed, but evidence points to Buffalo Trace's Barton 1792 Distillery as the source
  • MASH BILL: Undisclosed
  • AGE: No formal age statement, but as a "straight whiskey" it is at least two years old.
  • YEAR: 2016
  • PROOF: 90 (45% ABV)
  • MSRP: $14.99


NOSE: Sweet Candied Corn | Marshmallow | Oak | Astringent

TASTE: Young Oak | Spice | Cinnamon | Caramel

FINISH: It becomes obvious this is a younger Bourbon. Despite the candied nose, there’s a burn, but it is a short burn. What follows is a cough syrup taste that sticks around and makes me do the bitter beer face thing.

SHARE WITH: Friends who have been drinking a lot and you want to see if their taste buds are still working. You know, for a good laugh.

WORTH THE PRICE: I’ve had much better for less.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: If you’re looking for something as a mixer where Bourbon isn’t the dominant ingredient, like a cola, this might be worth having. For the most part, I’d rate this a bust. For my fellow Bourbon & Banter writers, I took one for the team.

OVERALL: While Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey offers highly desirable appearance qualities, in the end, what counts is how whiskey engages with my palate. Adding a splash of water improved the experience, but even so, I found this Bourbon to be an overall disappointment and earns its position on the bottom shelf.


Straight Whiskey. Priced Right. When we decided it was time for Trader Joe's to have a Bourbon Whiskey with our name on it, we knew we had to go to Kentucky's best distillers to get it done right. And so, after tasting a number of different submissions, we fell in love with what would become Trader Joe's Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey.

Produced for us in Bardstown, Kentucky (in Nelson County), our Bourbon is sweet, fruity and spicy with hints of brown sugar and oak—it is aged for a minimum of two years in new (charred) white oak barrels. Its finish is long, appreciably spicy and dry, with accents of vanilla that linger on your tongue.

We think Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey stands up well next to some very high-end Bourbons, and we're proud of our price of $14.99 for each 750ml bottle, significantly less than you'll pay for "big name" Bourbons of this quality.