The Spirits Direct program is connected with Total Wine & More stores. It is also a bit of a misnomer. Most of what falls under that banner is a “house” brand. Except for states that don’t allow exclusivity, you cannot buy a Total Wine house brand anywhere else. Other spirits that fall under it include Angel’s Envy, a brand that can be widely found anywhere.
The aggravating thing about Spirits Direct is how Total Wine pushes it. Ask a store associate about a Spirits Direct bottle, and they’ll often tell you, “It is the same thing as [insert brand you recognize].” You need to know that, no matter the label, it isn’t the same thing, and I’ve been chastising Total Wine about this for years. Total Wine is fully aware that I do. We’ve had discussions. Considering they have not changed their business practices, I’m not a company fan.
Despite my disdain for Total Wine, the Spirits Direct program is hit-and-miss. I’ve had good and bad sipping experiences and have been fair and frank with my reviews.
Why am I blathering about Spirits Direct and Total Wine today? There are two reasons; first, I’m a firm believer in educating the whiskey consumer; second, I’m reviewing Kilbrin Irish Whiskey, which is part of the Spirits Direct umbrella. The Kilbrin Distilling Company is a non-distilling producer (NDP) and was founded in 2017 as part of Quality Spirits International. QSi provides Total Wine with several Spirits Direct whiskeys, even gin.
Specifically, I’m reviewing Kilbrin’s flagship Irish Whiskey, a blend made from malt and grain whiskeys. Like most Irish whiskeys, it is triple-distilled and aged at least three years in wood. QSi kept any other information close to its vest. Bottled at 40% ABV (80°), you can expect to spend about $19.99 on a 750ml. That opens the door for possible entry to my #RespectTheBottomShelf realm.
Fortunately, much of the Spirits Direct whiskey selection is available in 50ml tasters, so if you want to experience what it offers, you can do it cheaply. I believe I paid $1.99 for the one I acquired.
The only way to know for sure if Kilbrin is worth the money is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get to it!
Appearance: I sipped this Irish whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. I have no idea if e150A caramel coloring has been added; however, it is presented as classic gold in my glass. A thick rim formed slow, wide tears.
Nose: The aroma comprised grass and lemon rind. I also pulled floral notes. Drawing the air through my lips offered a taste of vanilla.
Palate: A medium body introduced my palate to flavors of vanilla, lemongrass, almond, and pear. I had difficulty discerning which hit the front, middle, or back. It was more of an all-or-nothing event.
Finish: Beyond the vanilla that carried through, ginger came from nowhere and remained for a short finish.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Several bottom-shelf Irish whiskeys outperform Kilbrin and provide a far better experience. This sipping adventure was utterly unremarkable. Perhaps it is good for a mixer, but that's not something I seek out. I felt like I was drinking whiskey for the sake of drinking whiskey, and that’s never a good thing. Save your money, and buy something else, because Kilbrin is a Bust. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.