Distillery: Santa Fe Spirits. ABV: 46%. NAS. Batch 5. Price: $49.
Good things from the land of a thousand art colonies: Santa Fe Spirits’ Colkegan Single Malt.
The man behind it is John Jeffery, who was head of R&D at Michigan State’s Distilled Spirits Program (note to self on my next degree), then master distiller at Death’s Door Spirits in Wisconsin (they of the renowned white whiskey), before landing at the very new Santa Fe, which was founded in 2010 by English-born whisk(e)y lover Colin Keegan (hence the single malt’s name).
Jeffery suggested to the Whiskey Reviewer in a great Q&A that Colkegan is a work in progress, but I say don’t wait: it’s genuinely delicious already.
They start with mesquite-smoked barley, use a mix of new and ex-bourbon barrels, and age in a warehouse where they cycle temperature and humidity swings to make up for the dry, temperate natural climate they have at 7,000 feet. They lose 40% of what’s in the barrel to the angels over three of aging, but they think it’s worth it.
I agree. The Colkegan has a mild, fruity white smoke on the nose–closest Islay equivalent might be the current anniversary bottling of the Laphroaig 15–that’s wonderfully integrated on the palate with key lime pie, graham cracker crust, and chocolate-covered cherries. There’s none of the rawness that often accompanies such young whiskey, which is an impressive accomplishment so early on. The finish is a touch short, but overall it’s such a pleasant, well balanced dram that it literally puts a smile on my face each time I taste it.
Santa Fe Spirits is experimenting with many things, including a cask strength and an apple brandy-barrel finish, which are currently distillery-only. I personally can’t wait for more.
Cheers, friends! -BO
Santa Fe Spirits kindly provided a bottle for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.