Tag Archives: new mexico distillery

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.

Don Quixote Bourbon and Gin

“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 Bourbon

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 Spirit de Santa Fe Gin

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.

Don Quixote Distillery and Winery