Whiskey Review: Colkegan Unsmoked American Single Malt Whiskey

, | December 30, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Santa Fe Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

Santa Fe Spirits is a small distillery founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2010 by Colin Keegan. The brand is best-known for its award-winning mesquite smoked Colkegan single malt whiskey. To make its whiskey, Santa Fe Spirits distills using malted barley, specifically 6-row distillers malt. Malt for their Colkegan Single Malt is typically smoked with mesquite. But for the newest release, the distillery is going unsmoked for a newly developed flavor profile with Colkegan Unsmoked American Single Malt Whiskey.

Taking Colkegan in this new direction may test loyal consumers who look forward to the unique mesquite smoked single malt, but Head Distiller Stephen Julander has faith that the expression will impress. In a prepared statement, Julander says that the Unsmoked Colkegan “allowed us to create a whiskey that focuses on the flavors of the pure malt.”

American single malt whiskey is an trend in the whiskey market, and craft distilleries like Santa Fe Spirits have striven to create a process that will appeal to the largest crowd possible. With an age of four years in new American oak and ex-bourbon climate-controlled barrels, the whiskey has a limited released directly through the distillery at a mere 1,000 bottles. This may limit the distance the whiskey travels, but if you are lucky enough to get your hands on this bottle, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

There’s a nice balance of flavors here that, even without having tried the original mesquite smoked expression, will please the palate. The whiskey avoids the farmy taste of some single malts, giving sweet notes while maintaining a hefty body and nice finish.

Colkegan Unsmoked Single Malt review

Colkegan Unsmoked Single Malt (image via Jerry Jenae Sampson/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Santa Fe Spirits Colkegan Unsmoked American Single Malt Whiskey 

Vital Stats: Aged four years in new American oak. 46% ABV (92 Proof). Limited release of 1,000 bottles available at the Santa Fe, New Mexico distillery.

Appearance: A soft, mellow yellow with quick legs.

Nose: There are notes of caramel corn and fudge, sour cherry, and low levels of winter spices like clove and cinnamon.

Palate: The whiskey is incredibly smooth and mellow. A tasty sipper that emits elements of malt balls, persimmon, and oak, with a spicy finish.

Whiskey Review: Colkegan Unsmoked American Single Malt Whiskey


Without having tasted the signature Colkegan mesquite smoked single malt that Santa Fe Spirits is known for, I’m incredibly pleased this unsmoked expression. I think that if I want a peaty whisky I’ll stick to Scotch, so I’m glad to have this satisfying single malt that is well balanced and has a unique enough flavor profile that I’ll be happy to share with others.

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Jerry Jenae Sampson

Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.