Trader Joe’s “Kentucky Best” Bourbon Review

There I was. Minding my own business. Waiting in a socially distanced checkout line when I saw this Trader Joe’s “Kentucky Best” Bourbon. Placed exactly where you’d look when you didn’t want to stare at the person’s butt in front of you. Mid-shelf and mid-priced. Which, coincidentally, is how I’d describe the butt I was trying to stop looking at, but that’s a story for a different blog.

Trader Joe's Kentucky Best Bourbon Review

And no I don’t feel bad admitting this, I know you do it too. That’s all we do these days is drink, Tweet and stare at the butt 6 feet in front of us and wonder what 6-foot-spaced line that butt will stand in, and be stared, at next. That’s life for the foreseeable future. But let’s stop talking about butts and lines and start talking about this bourbon.

A seeming follow-up to the Barton-sourced Trader Joe’s Bourbon from a few years ago that was, kinda, meh. However, this one’s wheated and sourced by LuxCo so let’s get to it and see if this butt, is mean whiskey, does better.

Trader Joe’s “Kentucky Best” Bourbon – Details and Tasting Notes


Whiskey Details

Region: Kentucky

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Bottler: Luxco
Mash: At least 51% Corn + Wheat + Malted Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 4+ Years
ABV: 40%

Price: $25

White background tasting shot with the Trader Joe's "Kentucky Best" Bourbon Review bottle and a glass of whiskey next to it.
“Kentucky Best delivers a distinctive wheated bourbon taste – rich with caramel and honey flavors and hints of oak. Your search for smooth is over.” – Trader Joe’s

Tasting Notes

Light amber

Caramel, fruit, honey, grain, cider spice, and some oak and waxy lemon

Caramel, fruit, honey, grain, some oak and biscuity and yeasty notes touch baking spice.

Short -> Grains, fruit and honey

Not fully, light, soft and thin

Trader Joe’s “Kentucky Best” Bourbon – Overall

Aroma is unpleasant and off, yeasty, like the oak and the spirit never fully connected and they just sat at odds with each other in an underground bunker at a constant temperature to prevent anything more than surface contact; Palate follows the same spirit-forward, bottom-rick, raw grain profile that just.. doesn’t… feel… right; Finish is thankfully short, though grainy and cloyingly fruity in its short miserable existence.

I don’t like this. They need to remove the 2 from the price to make it worth what it… and even that might be asking too much.

Trader Joe’s “Kentucky Best” Bourbon – Final Thoughts and Score

This comes across like a lower quality Rebel Yell, in a different bottle, with an upcharge for the inconvenience of rebranding. It’s so sweet it’s almost cloying, it’s a touch spirity and all-around has this not-pleasant, fake, corn sweetness. It’s like if you put powdered sugar on hushpuppies. Hushpuppy beignets… that were left out for a few days. .. in a ghost town… and not even the starving rats touched them so you know something is VERY wrong with them.

It’s a few bucks more than the Wild Turkey 101, but more than a few steps down in quality. Do yourself a favor and move those eyes a few bottles left or right, I don’t know your TJ’s layout, and pick up the WT101 instead. This Trader Joe’s “Kentucky Best” Bourbon is a bottle of meh wrapped in a blanket of disappointment and thoughts of what else I could have spent $25 on (hint, WT101).

SCORE: 1.5/5

Trader Joe’s Kentucky Best Bourbon Review


This is not a good whiskey and a poor excuse for a bourbon. I wish TJ’s would stop screwing around and stop putting out crap whiskey with their name on it. They’re tarnishing what they have. Sure they get lucky now and then, like with their Irish Whiskeys, but on the whole, the spirits with their name on it is just overpriced crap. Which is astounding to say because it’s often the cheapest stuff on the shelf. TJ’s! YOU CAN DO BETTER!


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