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V.26 No.12 | 3/23/2017

Restaurant Review

Sugar and Spice

And almost everything nice at Le Bistro

Everything at Le Bistro is of the highest quality, each singular ingredient living up to a high standard.

Food News

Famously Delicious

Hotel Andaluz makes a fabulous announcement, Red Rock Roasters teaches us about the finer things in life, Dion’s gets recognized, a local chef is a finalist at the James Beard Foundation awards, a rare meal at 99 Degrees Seafood Kitchen and the answer to your naan pizza prayers.
V.26 No.11 | 3/16/2017

More East in the West

Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery plans to open a new location, Delish throws down the s’more gauntlet, Food Tour New Mexico offers a cooking class that’s legit, The Point Grill makes some room and pizza makes its move in the hostile takeover of ABQ.
V.26 No.10 | 3/9/2017

Restaurant Review

Come Together Over Tapas

Gecko's: where size really doesn't matter

At Gecko's, the servers are personable and available no matter the crowd, and even though the meals are small, I was still full when finishing.

Food News

The Robin Gets Around

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers opens a new location, celebrate ABQ Restaurant Week, Jambo Café receives an unwanted guest, Wienerschnitzel has trouble setting up shop, a voice against food taxes and Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom looking for a spot in ABQ.
V.26 No.9 | 3/2/2017

Restaurant Review

“What’s Good to Eat Around Here?”

A serene gem in the Far North Valley

Thai Kitchen is an easy place to overlook in the far northern reaches of the city, but that would be a mistake.

Food News

Screen Time

The Travel Channel highlights the State Fair, Moe’s Original Bar B Que moves into a vacant building, Bocadillos’ chef wins $10,000, Three Sisters Kitchen makes life easier for entrepreneurs, Lobo Food Pantry brings food to students and the Double Up Food Bucks program encourages plant consumption.
V.26 No.8 | 02/23/2017

review

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.

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.

V.26 No.8 | 2/23/2017
Base Bowl
Eric Williams Photography

Restaurant Review

Yelling About Fish

Poki Poki is for the quick-tripper

It was busy. It was loud. There was fish. If you're looking for some delicious, fresh brain food that you can shovel in while you run between point A and B, then Poki Poki is perfect.

Food News

Fast and Romantic

Valentine’s at McDonald’s, see who won the Pizza Dough Brawl, ABQ knows how to cut a deal, a meat pie tour of Santa Fe, local chefs find recognition at the James Beard awards and everybody loves poké.
V.26 No.7 | 2/16/2017

Restaurant Review

Taco Sal and the Suburban Sopaipillas

An entrance to the fabled Heights still shines

Taco Sal, a symbol of how a type of food moved up to the Heights, absorbed some of the cultural conveniences and contrivances of a thing called America but kept its native funk and far-out New Mexican identity.
V.26 No.6 | 2/9/2017
N.Y. strip steak with grilled radicchio
Renée Chavez

Restaurant Review

The Goodish, the Badish and the Frenchish

Jennifer James goes casual-ish

Jennifer James' Frenchish has some balance and flavor issues to work on, but definitely has some dishes to be very, very proud of.

Food News

Downtown's New Neighbors

Zullo’s Bistro moves in, El Pinto is expanding its operations, Cottonwood area loses more restaurants, Flying Star announces a new menu, Blue Corn Café & Brewery celebrates its 20th and registration begins for the Organic Farming Conference.
V.26 No.5 | 2/2/2017

Restaurant Review

“You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name ...”

Become a regular at Eclectic

Eclectic Urban Pizzeria & Tap House offers casual and utilitarian dining with a comfy flair.

Food News

Yachts? In the Desert?

Los Cuates buys an old Yacht Club, the lowdown on the Souper Bowl, make a fortune on Dion’s dressing, Jambo Café coming to ABQ, local chef wins the big prize on Chopped and the state has new food handling requirements.

Today's Events

Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest at Manuel Lujan Building @ Expo NM

via morguefile.com

The nation's largest festival dedicated to chocolate, coffee and gourmet foods.

Safari Run at UNM North Golf Course

Detour New Mexico: Historic Destinations and Natural Wonders at Page One Bookstore

More Recommended Events ››
 

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    Outdoor Cats & Birds
    Outdoor Cats & Birds4.6.2017