Spirit de Santa Fe Brandy is family distilled by Don Quixote, along with many other tasty products, in Northern New Mexico. Brandy is the result of distilling wine and along with cognac, which is simply brandy from a specific region in France, it’s the most popular companion to a lit cigar.
Don Quixote is proud that their products are all-natural, without added color: “We do not add any chemicals, flavorings, or coloring to our spirits after distillation. At Don Quixote, we give you what God and nature provided us.”
Spirit de Santa Fe Brandy is available at retail in New Mexico and from the distillery for $35 and it’s a tasty, natural, smooth spirit that you’ll enjoy after dinner. Straight, brandy is usually served in a snifter (see photo above), so your hand can warm the spirit slightly as you drink. The most popular brandy cocktail is a Sidecar:
- 2 oz brandy
- 1 oz triple sec (orange liqueur)
- 1 oz lemon juice
- shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- garnish with a lemon wedge or rind
Pisco is a unique liquor distilled from grapes in Peru or Chile, and it’s a close cousin to brandy, which is distilled from wine. Peruvian Pisco is not aged, and Chilean Pisco is usually aged in barrels, which means that Peru’s Pisco is colorless and Chile’s is a faint yellow/brown color.
I tried two types: Pisco Portón from Peru, and Don Quixote “Pisqo Brandy,” in the style of Chilean Pisco, from here in New Mexico. When tasted straight, Pisco Portón reminded me of stems and reeds, earthy and aromatic. It has a flavor that I haven’t really experienced yet in spirits – falling somewhere between tequila, vodka, and grappa. Don Quixote Pisqo was more similar in flavor to brandy, with a desert spiciness to it and a really crisp and clean finish.
I made Pisco Sours with both types of Pisco:
- 2 oz pisco
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- shake all ingredients hard in a cocktail shaker with no ice to froth the egg white
- add ice and shake again to chill
- pour into an old fashioned glass and top with 3 drops of bitters (exclude the bitters when using Chielean piscos)
Pisco Portón was the best fit for this particular cocktail. The intense flavor of Don Quixote’s Pisqo overpowered the ingredients, so I think Pisco Portón is going to be a better fit in mixed drinks, while Don Quixote’s Pisqo Brandy is better to sip unmixed, and it’s spicy character makes it a great complement to a cigar.
Pisco Portón will run you about $40 a bottle and Don Quixote Pisqo is available at the distillery or online for $42.