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Wish You Were Beer ... But Colkegan Whiskey Will Do Just Fine, Thank You
Santa Fe Spirits' Single-Malt Whiskey Puts New Mexico on The Craft-Distilling Map.
By Geoffrey Plant [ Tue Feb 28 2017 11:00 AM ]
New Mexico's burgeoning craft beer industry appears capable of infinite growth. Here in Albuquerque, new breweries and tap rooms continue to materialize like bubbles in a beer glass and year after year those breweries with a consistent, quality product find a place in a market that never seems close to its saturation point. According to Brewer's Association statistics, New Mexico is currently 11th among states ranked by number of breweries per 100,000 21+ adults, with 3.1 craft breweries for every 100,000 of-age New Mexicans (Vermont tops this 2016 Brewer's Association list with 9.4 breweries per 100,000). Clearly, craft beer has captured the hearts and wallets of New Mexicans to a degree only dreamt of by the state's wineries and distilleries, even spawning a beer-tourism industry … wait, distilleries? Wine, sure. New Mexico has a rich history of wine-making stretching from the days of the Spanish conquest to the present—world-famous Gruet sparkling wines are produced in Albuquerque—but whiskey and vodka aren't products that one readily associates with the Land of Enchantment. In point of fact, New Mexico is home to one of the very best American single-malt whiskeys on the market.
Produced by Santa Fe Spirits, a small distillery that also makes gin, vodka and brandy, Colkegan Single-Malt Whiskey made just about every top five list of American single-malt whiskeys last year. Santa Fe Spirits' Colkegan is something special to emerge out of New Mexico's small craft-distilling industry and like Marble and La Cumbre once did for local craft-breweries, Santa Fe Spirits has set a high bar for the half-dozen fellow and future craft distilleries in the state.
Scotch is from Scotland, Bourbon is from Kentucky, Tennessee Whiskey is … well, you get the point. American single-malt whiskey is an increasingly popular new category of whiskey that, like single-malt scotch, is produced from one batch of grain, fermented and distilled, aged and bottled. Most American whiskey is blended whiskey, produced (in great volume) by combining multiple casks of whiskey from multiple distillation processes. American single-malts tend to be less complex in flavor than their Scottish brethren and far smoother and more delicate than traditional American whiskeys. I should point out one thing all single-malts have in common: a price point starting at 40.00 (Colkegan retails for around 53.00).
I was afforded two different bottles of Colkegan to taste. One was from Kokoman Fine Wine and Liquors in Pojaque, NM, the other came from Jubilation Wine and Spirits in Albuquerque. Both establishments had elected to sample and taste from the various barrels single batches of Colkegan whiskey is aged in, then select a particular barrel and decide—by tasting—when its contents were sufficiently mature for bottling under their own imprimatur, Kokomon #87 and Jubilation #226. Bottles of Colkegan on the shelves of most stores are going to consist of a single batch of whiskey blended back together after being aged in about 15 barrels, most of which are always used charred American-oak casks and a smaller number of which are always new charred American-oak casks. Because new barrels impart a heavier, smokier flavor—Bourbon is aged in new barrels—than used barrels, it's fair to say the smooth-as-silk whiskey in each bottle came from used barrels and is representative of the Colkegan any consumer might purchase. Adam Vincent of Santa Fe Spirits more or less backed up this assumption, though we didn't dive into the distillery's barrel notes and bottle histories which I imagine in bound form and occupying great heights of handmade bookcases. Just to summarize, every bottle of Colkegan contains whiskey made from a single batch of malted and smoked barley which is then aged in used and new barrels, the contents of which are reunited for bottling after three to four years.
Scotch is generally aged at least ten years; according to Santa Fe Spirits, Colkegan will never be aged more than five years. Besides mesquite smoke, the main native New Mexican ingredient in Colkegan is altitude. At 7,000 feet above sea level, whiskey mellows more quickly and develops its distinct flavors in a different manner than it would otherwise. Low humidity means the barrels don't swell as much, which exposes the whiskey to more air over a shorter period. The barrels are subject to the same variety of seasons New Mexicans know so well and the region's extreme cold and warmth contribute to the whiskey's maturation. Interestingly, the “angel's share”, the whiskey that evaporates over time during the aging process, is so great as to limit the maximum age of the Colkegan. After 4 years, the “angel's share” of Colkegan can be as high as half the contents of a single barrel! The coolest thing I may ever say about a whiskey is that Northern New Mexico's weather and altitude make for a uniquely aged single-malt that can't be replicated in Kentucky or Scotland. Or Ireland, for that matter.
And Ireland, my friends, is what the taste of Colkegan brings to mind. With a more straightforward and less smokey flavor and mouth feel than scotch and lacking the harsher, tannic “pow”, of American whiskeys, Colkegan immediately reminded this drinker of Irish single-malt whiskey. Both Kokomon and Jubilation have a sweetness in the aftertaste , with Kokomon #87 being slightly more vanilla in flavor and reminiscent of the black labeled Bushmills, while Jubilation's #226 has slightly more complex flavors comparable to the least smokey of single-malt scotches, Bruichladdich. The mesquite smoke really does contribute to a heavier, pelt-like mouth-feel that sustains the gilded sweetness of this wonderful New Mexican whiskey without any of the saltiness that many associate with the words “single-malt” (i.e. scotch). Each sip of this airy new-world whiskey introduces some slight peppery flavors that finish nicely with its overall sweet character and on the whole put Colkegan on par with the finest whiskeys I have tried. Colkegan borrows from other single-malt traditions, but in style and character this New Mexico whiskey helps carve out a niche for for the fledgling category of American single-malts, something Santa Fe Spirits and New Mexico should be proud of.
Not Your Average Bug's Life
Wednesday, Mar 1: Cirque du Soleil: OVO
By Megan Reneau [ Tue Feb 28 2017 10:00 AM ]
A theatrical circus show following the life of insects.
Monday, Feb 27: International Polar Bear Day
By Steve Bahama [ Sun Feb 26 2017 10:00 AM ]
Learn more about polar bears while watching feedings, listening to enrichment and zookeeper talks.
The Daily Word in Antivenom, Chinese Robocops and Bee Sports
By Joshua Lee [ Sat Feb 25 2017 7:39 AM ]
So British physicist Brian Cox says that if ghosts were real, we would have seen evidence of them through the Large Hadron Collider. Here's a Gizmodo article with legitimate criticism of Cox's comments (I still don't think I believe in ghosts, though).
A boy in Australia was saved by the largest dose of antivenom ever administered after he was bitten by a funnel web spider.
Whoa! Mars is developing rings from its moons!
Some scientists taught some bumblebees to roll a ball. Not only does it say something about their ability to learn complex tasks, it also looks awesome.
Here we go: The Chinese have built a robotic police officer. I think I've seen this movie.
NASA announced the discovery of seven earth-sized planets only 40 lightyears away. At least three seem to be able to sustain life!
Courtesy of the Artist
Feb. 23-March 1[ Sat Feb 25 2017 12:15 AM ]
At some point during the progression of meta-
Ever wonder what it would be like to tour Willy Wonka's factory? I imagine it's a little like Explora's Science of Beer night on Friday, Feb. 24. Maybe after the beer tasting, you'll suddenly be lifted off the ground. Or maybe you'll just be tipsy. Either way, it's guaranteed to be a good time. For this 21 and over event, you get free run of the whole museum plus beer-related experiments and Marble Brewery tastings. Move over Charlie Bucket, there's a new sheriff in town. Just beware of the chocolate river and stick to the bubble table, and you should make it out in one piece. Tickets are $8 for Explora members, $10 for non-members. (Taylor Grabowsky)
Leading experts in the fields of Catholic theology, philosophy and ethics are interviewed for the documentary The Secret History of Sex, Choice and Catholics—which attempts to root out the truth behind the Catholic hierarchy's opposition to contraception, abortion, and other reproductive and sexual health issues beginning at 6pm. A free screening of the film will be shown at Harwood Art Center, sponsored by Catholics for Choice, ACLU of New Mexico and the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, will be followed by a discussion. (Devin D. O'Leary)
It's still pre-Lent and pre-apocalypse, so get your party outfit on and head over to Aliento: Carnaval 2017 this Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 7:30pm. The National Hispanic Cultural Center's Albuquerque Journal Theatre will be transformed into a television dance show of the past with musical acts from PANdemonium and the Odara Dance Ensemble. Celebrate and partake in the Carnival traditions of Cuba, Trinidad, Brazil and New Orleans. Unlike prior performances, the audience will be able to participate and join the show. Tickets only cost $17-$27, and are likely to sell out by the day of the show so get 'em while they're hot! Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Megan Reneau)
Kung Fu Buddhists
Friday, Feb 24: Shaolin Warriors: The Legend Continues
By Taylor Grabowsky [ Thu Feb 23 2017 2:00 PM ]
Zen Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple give a world-class performance of martial arts.
Good for the Sole
Friday, Feb 24: Ars Longa: Vita Brevis
By Maggie Grimason [ Thu Feb 23 2017 1:00 PM ]
Vanguard choreography in flamenco and contemporary dance by international guest artists and UNM's distinguished resident faculty.
The Daily Word in Basic Human Decency, Winning Big and Space is Neat
By Taylor Grabowsky [ Thu Feb 23 2017 12:47 PM ]
Seven Earth-sized planets discovered all orbiting the same star, so how soon can we move?
Refugees came here to escape terror. Now local refugees are worried about their safety here. Be nice to people, come on.
You can't sit with us. Richard Spencer denied entrance to CPAC.
One person in Indiana probably called in sick today, after hitting the jackpot and winning $435 million in the powerball. What would you even do with all that dinero?
Watch a live stream of police in riot gear in the Standing Rock camp. Police began moving protesters out of the camp yesterday.
Party Like it's the End of the World
Friday, Feb 24: Aliento: Carnaval 2017[ Thu Feb 23 2017 12:00 PM ]
The musical group PANdemonium takes participants on a journey through the Carnaval traditions of Cuba, Trinidad, Brazil and New Orleans.
Friday, Feb 24: Science of Beer
By Taylor Grabowsky [ Thu Feb 23 2017 11:00 AM ]
Get your beer geek on with demos, talks and fun experiments.
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Then and Now: Rediscovering Route 66 Opening Reception at KiMo Theatre Gallery
View the work of internationally recognized Laguna photographer Lee Marmon, New Mexican photographer Sondra Diepen and New Mexican painter Carol L. Adamec. Runs through 6/25.
Orgone • funk, soul • Monophonics at Launchpad
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