01.26.18 | Smoke on the High Desert | Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey Apple Brandy Cask Finish

American Whiskey

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I am very excited to be sharing with you an American Single Malt that hails from the high deserts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey is distilled by Santa Fe Spirits that opened in 2010 under Colin Keegan, an Englishmen turned South Westerner. Santa Fe Spirits offers a range of distillates from Apple Brandy *hint hint* to Gin to their Atapiño Liquer, which is a distillate made using piñon nuts and ponderosa pine resin and sugar. However, I am the Whisky Accountant, so I am here to talk specifically about the Colkegan!

There are three expressions currently: the standard Colkegan, Cask Strength, and Apply Brandy Cask finish. However, these are anything but standard. The Colkegan line is all made using smoked malt that utilizes mesquite wood for smoking, which creates an insanely good and unique flavor. Their standard expression is a wonderful smoky whiskey that really showcases the mesquite and one that I highly recommend. Being in a high desert their barrels experience vast changes in temperature and humidity that the Distillery takes full advantage of using their climate-controlled warehouse to maximize the barrel’s interaction with the whiskey. I am super honored to be trying the limited release Apply Brandy Cask to share with y’all today, the oldest of the line at 6 years of age!

Your first impression is going to be the styling of the bottle. With its old timey block print and a name like “Colkegan” you may think that you were about to drink a single malt from Scotland itself, a nod to where all single malts stem from. However, the subtle barrel emblem emblazoned with Zia Sun from the state flag of New Mexico reminds you that this is a single malt with a story and a region all its own. The whiskey comes in at 46% abv with a pale gold hue and thin legs in the glass. The nose is so delicious, sweet and decadent – caramel apples intertwine with a medicinal smoke of cherries that just invites you into the glass. On the palate, the Colkegan actually really reminded me of an ex-Bourbon cask Scottish Single Malt. The flavor begins with spiced florals and honey before opening up a very smooth and rounded fruit medley and smoke. The smoke is very tame at this point, like low hanging thin smoke after putting out a fire. The finish was dried fruits – cherries and apple chips and a tame mesquite smoke. The finish was the first taste of actual mesquite with a lingering charcoal palate.

I feel that this Colkegan was one of the closest American Single Malts that I’ve had to a Scottish Single Malt, while still showcasing a flavor all it’s own. A masterful transition from nose to finish showcasing the mesquite and Apple Brandy. Apple on the nose, white oak and brandy cask on the palate, and mesquite on the finish.

This whiskey had me dreaming of being fireside, orange flickering on the adobe walls of the South West on a cool fall night. True beauty in complexity!

To find out more about Santa Fe Spirits be sure to check out their website https://santafespirits.com/ and their Instagram @santafespirits.

Cheers!