Who Really Makes Your Favorite Costco Alcohol

Costco is known for bringing good deals to consumers. Those who have a membership to the warehouse-style store are always sure to find high-quality products at affordable prices. There are many benefits of a Costco membership and one is the access to products from their house brand Kirkland Signature. Many of these items have a devoted following and many customers consider them better than the name-brand originals.

One of the places where Costco's own brands really excel is in their alcohol department. According to Market Watch, Costco's much-loved alcoholic beverage department has shown skyrocketing growth over the years and raked over $5 billion in 2020. Costco offers a wide range of products, from beer and wine to hard liquor, to pre-made mixed drinks. While they carry brand-name alcohol, such as Tito's vodka, it is their Kirkland Signature that truly excels. Consumers love their Kirkland liquors.

But it begs the question, who actually makes them? It is no secret that big-name companies often manufacture store-brand products, and then the store places its own brand label on them. As Costco does not own distilleries, breweries, and wineries all over the world, we wanted to find out who makes our favorite Kirkland alcohol.


First up is Kirkland Vodka. Costco produces two house-brand vodkas. One is a French Vodka, while another is an American Vodka, and the two are notably different.

Kirkland's French Vodka has had a cult-like following for a while. And for a good reason — it is delicious. In a blind taste test conducted by Kitchn, Kirkland French Vodka came out as the top vodka. Because of this high quality, rumors have circulated for years that Kirkland French Vodka is actually just rebranded Grey Goose, another French vodka. However, according to USA Today, Joe McCanta, Grey Goose's Global Head of Education has denied these claims saying, "No, Grey Goose Vodka does not produce nor privately label Kirkland vodka. This is a viral claim that has circled Grey Goose for many years and it's completely false." 

That being said, it is hard to deny the similarities between the two vodkas. They both hail from the same region in France and even use the same water source (per Vice). However, Kirkland French Vodka is now reportedly made by the Gayant Distillery in France (via Drink Stack).

Kirkland American Vodka is a little easier to track down. While not as beloved as its French counterpart, Kirkland American Vodka still brings vodka flavor at an even lower price. Rumors have circulated about Kirkland American Vodka being made by brands such as Tito's, which Costco also carries. However, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Costco American vodka is bottled and distributed by the LeVecke company in California, a company that also makes liquor for stores like Kroger and Safeway (via Liquor Laboratory).


Scotch exudes a type of refinement and class as an alcoholic beverage. Hailing from Scotland, a land with a centuries-old tradition of producing whisky, it may seem odd to buy a grocery store brand Scotch. But as anyone who has tried Kirkland Scotch knows, it is absolutely worth it. Costco has even seen a bump in Scotch sales since 2020 (via Market Watch).

According to Forbes, Costco currently has five house-brand Scotch whiskies. This includes blended Scotch whisky of varying age statements and single malt choices. Blended Scotch is made by mixing together different scotches, a combination of grain and barley varieties, to create a balanced blend. A single malt, on the other hand, must come from the same distillery (via VinePair). Unlike Kirkland Vodka, where the production origin remains somewhat murky, Kirkland's Scotch lists right on the bottle that its products are produced by Alexander Murray & Co. As Forbes notes, they act as the blenders and bottlers, sourcing barrels of whisky from all over Scotland.

Canadian Whisky

Those who enjoy Canadian whisky have probably had Crown Royal, which Forbes reports is by far the most popular Canadian whisky in the United States. It is unsurprising then that Kirkland Signature tastes remarkably similar to Crown Royal. This could be due to the producer trying to match the flavor, much as Kirkland's Scotch producers try to mimic the top-selling Scotch in America, Dewar's. This may be the case, but Kirkland Signature does not just taste like Crown Royal. It is produced by the same distillery, Gimli, located in Manitoba.

While tasting similarly and being made by the same distillery, Forbes does point out that this does not make the two whiskies exactly alike. Differences in blends, aging, and ingredients can be found even within whiskies that are otherwise similar. That being said, in a blind taste test, Liquor Laboratory found that Kirkland Signature had a similar taste to Crown Royal but was a hint spicier. A taste tester for Forbes agreed with this sentiment. Both seem to agree, though, that the taste difference is negligible.

Irish Cream

Especially during the holiday season, it is wonderful to sit down with a nice cup of Irish cream. Irish cream is just what it sounds like — Irish Whiskey and cream mixed together to make a rich and warming treat (via European Bartending School). The most famous is Bailey's Irish Cream, but many different companies make their own version, and as it turns out, there aren't just one but two Kirkland Irish creams available at Costco, which has spurred some confusion.

The difference is subtle, but on the bottle, you see one is called Kirkland Signature Irish Cream Liqueur, whereas the other is Kirkland Signature Irish Country Cream. The former is a traditional whiskey-based Irish cream, whereas the latter is a wine-based "dessert wine." The reason for the two different creams might be that the wine-based one can be sold in states where liquor can not be purchased in grocery stores.

Kirkland Irish Cream Liqueur is listed as a product of Ireland. It has a 17% alcohol content, whereas the Irish Country Cream is a product of the United States and only has 13.9% alcohol (via Instagram). Some have speculated that the Irish Cream Liqueur is made by Bailey's, though some reviewers on Best Tasting Spirits said they could taste a slight difference. As for the Irish Country Cream, it is still unclear who the manufacturer is.


Costco has been through a number of tequila manufacturers since they started offering their tequila-based products. Currently, Costco offers three types of tequila. The first is silver, which is clear in color and is typically not aged (via Vinepair). Reposado is aged for up to a year and begins to take on a bit of color. Finally, they offer an añejo tequila, which is aged for between one and three years and takes on a deep caramel color.

Because bottles require an official number given by Mexican regulators, the tequila's NOM must be on each bottle. This makes it easy to identify tequila manufacturers. According to Forbes, Kirkland has partnered with both La Madrileña and Fabrica de Tequilas Fino for tequila production. However, the tequilas are currently produced by Santa Lucia. Forbes suspects they switched to Santa Lucia to accommodate not only the high volume of tequila that Costco requires but also as a way to keep the price down while still producing quality tequila.


Wine is one of Costco's biggest sellers when it comes to alcoholic beverages. In fact, Market Watch notes that wine makes up half of all of Costco's alcohol sales. Costco carries a range of wine products, and as they told Market Watch, those wine products have only grown since 2020. So who is making Costco wine? The answer is not just one winery, but a slew of them.

According to Yahoo, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau registry shows E&J Gallo Winery as a producer for Kirkland California Wines. But it only gets more complicated from there. E&J Gallo Winery actually sources wine from other California vineyards in addition to making their own varietals, so it's unclear whether Kirkland uses their house wines or sourced wines. As far as Costco's Italian offerings go, they are linked to importer Ethica Wines. This company expertly sources wines from the most popular regions all over Italy. This means that while Costco's wines are carefully curated, the exact vineyard of their origins remains a mystery.

Of course, wine comes from more than just California and Italy. Liquor Laboratory reports that some of their French and Spanish wines are sourced through Misa Imports. One Spanish variety is made from tempranillo grapes from the vineyard Bodegas Vina Solorca and the rosé hails from France's Olivier Sumeire winery. No matter where it's sourced from, Costco is always striving for quality wine at an impressive price.

Spiced Rum

When someone says spiced rum, it is impossible not to think of the Captain. Captain Morgan, that is. Of course, if you really want the Captain for your next spiced rum drink, you can head to the store and pick up a bottle of the name-brand liquor. However, as Costco blogger Costcuisine points out, you can get the Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum for cheaper. This, in addition to its strong vanilla notes, can make it a perfect budget-friendly base for cocktails like rum and coke with a twist. 

Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum is made from sugar cane which is distilled five times (via Tuscany Wine, Spirits, and Craft). It also packs a heck of a punch at 92 proof. While the Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum is comparable to Captain Morgan, the back of the Kirkland bottle says the product was bottled by Sazerac company. These spirit experts are also responsible for producing other cult-following brands like Fireball, Buffalo Trace, and Southern Comfort.

London Dry Gin

Costco gin is a London Dry style of gin. London Dry gin is made from a neutral base spirit that has added botanicals during the distillation phase. After that, nothing but water and sweetener may be introduced to the mix. In addition, no artificial flavors are allowed according to EU law (via Craft Gin Club). Despite what the name implies, London Gin does not have to be made in London and can be made anywhere in the world as long as the guidelines are followed.

This would seem to give a large range as to who makes Kirkland Signature London Dry Gin. However, given the volume needed to supply Costco, there are two brands that are highly speculated, Tanqueray and Gordon's (via Liquor Laboratory). DC Flynt MW Selections has said that they do the distribution of Kirkland products. However, Kirkland gin has similar flavor profiles to Tanqueray and Gordon's, both of which are produced by Diageo distilleries. Given the enormity of the Diageo brand, it's not too far-fetched to believe that they make the Costco gin as well.


For a whiskey to be considered a bourbon, it must meet some specific standards. First, it must be made of at least 51% corn mash (via CNBC). Second, it must be produced in the United States. Third, no additives other than water can be added, including no colors or flavors. Finally, it must also be aged in new oak barrels and can not be less than 80 proof or more than 125 proof prior to aging. With such exacting regulations, those who go for a bourbon want to know what they are going to get. Maybe this is why the bourbon market has continued to grow year after year (via IBIS World).

Kirkland Signature Bourbon, like many of their other alcohol, has seen its fair share of speculation around who actually produces it. Jim Beam used to be the primary source of bourbon (via Liquor Laboratory). However, Kirkland branched out to George Dickel to also make some of their bourbons as well. But the speculation can be laid to rest, as the Kirkland bourbon states right on the bottle that they are made by Barton 1792, who is owned by Sazerac and is one of the world's premier producers (via VinePair). This means that the line that includes Kirkland Signature Small Batch, Single Barrel, and Bottled-In-Bond gives buyers great value and outstanding quality.

Irish Whiskey

It takes a little digging to figure out who produces the Kirkland Signature Irish Whiskey. As Forbes points out, the term Irish whiskey is regulated which means that the whiskey must be produced in Ireland. This narrows down the producer to some big-name Irish companies like Kilbeggan, Bushmills, Tullamore D.E.W., and Irish Distillers Ltd. To narrow it down, you have to look further into the composition of the Kirkland Irish Whiskey.

First, Kirkland Irish Whiskey is triple distilled and is likely a mix of malted and unmalted grain. This knocks out Kilbeggan and Bushmills. Additionally, Tullamore D.E.W. did not start producing house whiskey until 2014, making it unlikely to supply Costco. Finally, we are left with Irish Distillers Ltd., which Forbes and Liquor Laboratory agree is the likely producer. Irish Distillers Ltd. is the largest distillery in the country and makes several brands. However, the maker is known best for their top-selling brand Jameson, a name synonymous with Irish whiskey. This means it is possible Kirkland Signature Irish Whiskey shares ingredients with Jameson, though the two whiskeys are likely not the same.

Hard Seltzer

Hard Seltzer is having a moment. It seems like every day, a new brand is coming out with a hard seltzer. We can see why as the market grew by over 137% in 2020 (via The Spirit Business). It is not shocking then that Costco wanted to jump on the hard seltzer bandwagon. After all, the company already sells its own non-alcoholic Kirkland Sparkling Water.

Costco's hard seltzer comes in four flavors, mango, black cherry, grapefruit, and lime. Many people have assumed that Kirkland Signature Hard Seltzer is repackaged White Claw, which commands a large portion of the hard seltzer market. Both those who have researched disagree. Liquor Laboratory, Best Tasting Spirits, and Find Me a Brewery all agree that it is likely Costco hard seltzer is made by Patco Brands, which makes an array of alcoholic canned and bottled drinks. Clearly, they are doing something right, as reviewers seem to really enjoy the hard seltzer, and the price cannot be beaten.

Golden Margarita

Margaritas are a near-perfect cocktail. They are cool and refreshing, a little tangy, and according to MPL Brands, they are the top cocktail in America. But sometimes, whether it be for brunch or dinner, even though you want a cocktail, you do not want to make one from scratch. Thankfully, the good people at Costco have a solution. They have produced a bottled margarita cocktail.

A typical margarita is made with lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur. Of course, sweeteners and other ingredients can also be added. Finding the source for Costco's bottled Golden Margarita poses a similar problem to Kirkland's Irish Cream, as there are two versions. Once an agave wine-based version and once a tequila-based version. Thankfully, the producer of Kirkland's wine-based Golden Margarita does not shy away. MPL Brands proudly lists Kirkland Golden Margarita on its website as one of the brands they manufacture.

The Kirkland Signature Golden Margarita made with tequila is a little harder to pin down. RV and Playa suggested Fabrica de Tequilas Finos as the possible source for the liquor. However, as Forbes notes, Costco uses multiple suppliers across Mexico for their tequila. These pre-mixed margarita bottles don't need to be labeled with a NOM number like pure tequila. So, it's impossible to track the source of the liquor and the cocktail could be made with tequila from any supplier.


Beer is a reliable seller for Costco in the alcohol department, accounting for about a fifth of sales (via Market Watch). Kirkland always strives for affordability, but not to the detriment of quality. The same thing goes with their beer. Costco's Kirkland Signature beer, which can be found in an American Pale Ale, an Indian Pale Ale, a Stout, and a Brown Ale, is proudly labeled as "craft brewed." That is a mighty big claim coming from such a large company that's entire business model focuses on bulk. According to USA Today, a craft brewery is defined as a brewery that produces less than six million barrels of beer per year. So how does Costco meet its supply needs while still providing craft beer?

It is all a matter of who actually makes Kirkland beer. In this case, it is two separate breweries. Hopfen Und Malz Brewing Co. also known as Gordon Biersch brews beer for the West Coast warehouses. On the East Coast, Bricks and Barley Brewing Company in Steven's Point Wisconsin produces the craft beer variety pack for the big box retailer.