Tag Archives: left turn distilling

Rojo Piñon Rum

rojo pinon rum

Part of what I do here at Simple Cocktails is give some extra (deserved) attention to my local distilleries. As of this month, 5 distillers have raised up in New Mexico, and I love to make sure they get all the exposure they can through this blog.

Left Turn Distilling, who already makes an excellent vodka and old tom gin, have just released Rojo Piñon Rum, which we tried recently on the podcast as well.

By my accounts, this is the first rum to be available from our current roster of distilleries. Adding the piñon has an interesting effect of both flavoring and “wood-ing” the rum to age it quicker. While this is by no means an aged rum, it has spent a few weeks in a barrel, and the macerated pinon shells are very brittle and woody too.

I initially tasted Rojo at a cigar/rum pairing event here in Albuquerque, and it was a good fit with a stogie. Later on, I tried it on it’s own, and it’s a little young yet to be a sipping rum, but it’s close. The flavor is good and the piñon element is really tasty, a bit oily and toasty too, but it feels like a little more time to mellow in a barrel would be great to get this to a “sipping” level. For cocktails, on the other hand, this is a good mixing rum, and makes tiki drinks pretty uniquely tasty. At $25 a bottle, it’s a worth first run at a unique southwestern rum.


Left Turn Distillery

left turn distillery

Left Turn Distilling is the first distillery in Albuquerque, based on the research I’ve done. They’re making La Luz Vodka and Brothers Old Tom Gin right now, with plans for much more in the future.

The distillery is in an industrial part of Albuquerque and is a decent-sized facility with custom stills made by owner and distiller Brian Langwell. Brain was a welder in his former life, but has been home distilling since he got a chemistry set at 15. In the distillery, there’s a small tasting room where you can taste and buy their vodka or gin, with cocktail options too.

I’ve tried both of their current liquors, and they’re excellent. Yeah, maybe there’s 5% hometown pride in my taste buds (I blog from Albuquerque), but I’ve had a lot of booze, and these have a flavor that can rival top-shelf products.

La Luz Vodka is corn-based and sourced locally. I’m really fond of the syrupy sweetness a corn vodka can have, and La Luz is no exception. It has no harsh alcohol burn and is sweet on the tongue. This can easily take the place on your home bar shelf as a sipper or a mixer.

Brothers Old Tom Gin is one of less than ten Old Toms that are commercially distilled in the world. the Old Tom variety of gin hearkens back to the Gin Craze when folks drank gin out of wooden cats on the sides of bar walls. Gin of those days was sweet and high-citrus, usually to mask sinister ingredients like turpentine or acid. So how do you create a quality gin that’s based on its “bathtub” cousin? Ask Brain Langwell at Left Turn, because he did a great job.

I personally prefer a high-juniper gin and love the piney bite of a London Dry. I was admittedly nervous when Brian described Brothers as higher in citrus, less juniper, and basket vapor infused (like Bombay Sapphire). I was relieved to taste a quality gin with a nice bite, with just a touch of sweet that lingers on your tongue. The balance of flavors is great – this is a botanical-driven gin, and Brothers Old Tom has a flavor that a gin lover would appreciate, but it’s very unique – remember, there’s less than 10 of these in the world. This is an easy gin to drink straight, but the bottle also hails it as a “fine cocktail gin” too.

Left Turn is off to a great start, and Brian told me to expect whiskey and rum soon. With Left Turn Distilling’s products only available locally right now, the only bad news is that you have to come visit Albuquerque to try them.