“Clear alcohol is for rich women on diets.” ~Ron Swanson
Don Quixote Distillery in Los Alamos is one of only 3 distilleries in New Mexico right now (Santa Fe and KGB are the others). Don Quixote makes 5 spirits, some ports, several wines, and even vanilla extract.
Don Quixote Blue Corn bourbon is “the world’s only bourbon made from New Mexico blue corn” and there’s no other way to say this: it’s outstanding. I prefer gin most of the time and generally don’t like whiskey much, but this is by far the best bourbon I’ve ever had. The sourness I usually dislike in whiskey (is it the “malt”?) isn’t there, and when you swallow, it’s cool and fresh tasting with very little alcohol burn. This bourbon is smooth and sweet and I’m not going to use it in cocktails because it tastes too good on its own. This will be perfect in a frozen glass with just an orange peel in it.
Don Quixote Distillery also makes two types of gin, and I tried the Spirit de Santa Fe Gin, with “natural botancials; including juniper, pinion, chamisa, sage, and rose hips.”
This gin surprised me. It’s extremely aromatic, and has a unique “desert” quality to the flavor, I think maybe the sage stands out the most. The issue I had with this gin was the fact that the alcohol overpowers the initial flavor of it, only to be followed by a big aromatic, botanical finish. This really prevents it from being good for sipping straight, as it’s just not smooth enough, so I tried it in some cocktails.
A Gin Old Fashioned is one of my favorite drinks, so I mixed the Spirit de Santa Fe Gin with simple syrup, aromatic and orange bitters, a splash of club soda, and an orange and cherry garnish. This is a cocktail where the aromatics of the bitters and fruit tend to be the first thing that hits you, but not with this gin – that aromatic-desert-pungency remains the primary smell and flavor, just like when you drink the gin straight.
I finally got the idea to try this gin as a substitute for tequila in a margarita, and because of that aromatic-desert-pungency, that combination worked pretty well.
Don Quixote Blue Corn Bourbon is available for $30 at the Don Quixote Store online, or you can buy it at the distillery in Los Alamos. The gin is sold in half or full bottles for $20 and $30 and it’s certainly something to try because of its unique flavor, though it may not be for everyone.