Scotch at Costco

For some reason I woke up at 4:30am Tuesday morning. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I read a book for a while. Then I dozed for a bit and finally got out of bed at 7am. I played pickleball at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center, but didn’t play all that well. The courts were busy and I had a lot of down time between games, so I gave it up by noon.

After lunch and a shower, I rode the Spyder over to Costco. By the way, a few people have asked me if we shower in the facilities here at Mission Bay RV Resort since we’re parked right next to them. The answer is no – we prefer to use our own shower and toilet. I went to Costco to pick up some bottled water and see if they still had the great deal on Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. They did.

I love single malt Scotch – mostly. Here’s the thing – you need to know a few things about Scotch whisky and single malt in particular. First of all it’s whisky – no “e”. In Great Britain and Japan, whisky doesn’t have the “e” in whiskey unlike the rest of the world. To qualify as single malt Scotch whisky there are a few requirements. It must be made from malted barley and no other grain. It must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. It must be distilled and bottled in Scotland. And all of the distilled spirit must come from the same distillery.

The last statement creates a bit of confusion. Single malt Scotch isn’t made from a single cask of whisky. Several casks can be blended together to form the flavor profile, but they must all be made from malted barley from the same distillery – the casks aren’t necessarily filled from the same batch. The age statement on the label – if provided – must state the age of the youngest whisky used. If the label says 12-year-old, then all of the casks blended in the bottle must be at least 12 years old.

Blended Scotch whisky is something else altogether. Blended Scotch whisky can have spirits distilled from rye or corn added to the blend – like American whiskey. Blended Scotch whisky has the same label age requirements as single malts.

Anyway, to get back to Costco, I was wanting to see if they still had 1.75 liter bottles of Glenmorangie. I discovered these at a trip to the Costco on Morena Boulevard (more about that store here) a few weeks ago. Usually you will find whisky in 750ml bottles – what we used to call a fifth. The 1.75-liter bottle is 2.33 times the “normal” bottle size. Costco has Glenmorangie here for $49.99 in the 1.75-liter bottle. That works out to $21.45 for a 750ml bottle – which I usually find in liquor stores for $36-$44 a bottle. What a deal.

Something else I should mention is about the regions of Scotland that produce whisky. When someone tells me they don’t like Scotch, I always wonder what they tried. Each region has its own character of Scotch they produce. Nowadays there are six recognized regions although there were fewer in the past. The Highlands are the largest region. You’ll find a variety of flavors in Highland Scotch – most are very clean and easy on the palate. The northern parts are more spicy in nature while the southern tends to be more fruity.

The Lowland Scotches – of which I think there are only three distilleries – produce a lighter Scotch although Auchentoshan makes a peaty, smoky whisky.

Speyside – which is really a sub-region of the Highlands – has the highest concentration of distilleries and they are known to be sweeter, flavorful and easy to drink. Speysides were my favorite and my introduction to Scotch.

Campbeltown only has few distilleries remaining although it was once a great producer. The single malts here are peaty and even salty. I don’t have much experience with them.

Islay – pronounced “eye-luh” by the Scottish – is the strongest flavor profile and usually very smoky and peaty. Islay Scotch malt is almost always dried by burning peat under the malt floor. James Bond’s favorite, Laphroaig, is a smoky monster. I bought it a few times but I just can’t come to terms with it.

Then there are the Island Scotches – some say it’s really not a region of its own. These tend to be milder versions of Islay Scotch.

So, there I was at Costco. Glenfiddich 12-year-old was my go to Scotch – a Speyside favorite that can be found in most bars. But after experimenting with a few different single malts in the last year, I’ve come to find Glenmorangie Original 10-year-old has a very nice flavor profile that’s a little more complex and oakey than the Glenfiddich.

An interesting note about Glenmorangie – they own and operate a cooperage in Missouri. They cut American oak staves and make barrels there. The barrels are leased to Jack Daniels for four years and Jack Daniels ages their bourbon in them. At the end of the lease, the barrels are shipped to Scotland and Glenmorangie ages their whisky in them.

I was happy to find Costco still had some 1.75 liter bottles of Glenmorangie on display and I bought one. I also found something that I’d discovered a couple of years ago. Costco – or maybe it’s particular to certain Costco scores – sells really high-end liquor at this time of year. They had a 41-year-old Glenmorangie on display for $6,999.00!

41-year-old Glenmorangie

I wrote about the high-end liquor here in this post. But I wasn’t ready for what I saw next. Wait for it…50-year-old Bowmore Islay Scotch whisky for $18,999.00!

Bowmore Islay for just shy of $19,000!

When I checked out, I mentioned what a great deal the Glenmorangie 1.75 liter bottle was. Then I commented about the $19,000 Bowmore and asked if anyone buys something like that. The cashier said every year they sell the high-end bottles of liquor at unbelievable prices and she thought it would sell. Wow.

The temperature reached the upper 70s Tuesday. I made my usual Tuesday afternoon happy hour run to Offshore Tavern and Grill and then Donna walked over to meet there by 5pm. We had the Taco Tuesday specials for dinner. The next few days we should see temperatures in the low 80s. We’re looking forward to a Thanksgiving visit with my youngest daughter, Shauna, from Washington, DC. Have a happy Thanksgiving wherever you are!



5 thoughts on “Scotch at Costco

  1. Stu L

    I will have to send you the high end bottles from the New Hampshire State Liquor Stores … they have stuff like this all year round. I wonder how the prices compare. I am reduced to waiting until I hit PowerBall to buy them though.

  2. Margaret Webster

    WOW Mike, Very cool information! Now when I get to Scotland, I’m a little wiser about Scotch. You talked about it like a wine connoisseur would talk about wine. It was almost poetic. 🙂 I loved the hook back to the US for the cooperage and the seasoning of the barrels.


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