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.
To celebrate a decade in business New Mexico-based Santa Fe Spirits last year added a limited edition sherry finished single malt to their line of whiskeys. Colkegan PX is made by taking their flagships Colkegan 3 year American single malt and aging it an additional year in Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry casks for a total of four years. The limited edition anniversary Colkegan PX is the oldest Colkegan whiskey released to date. Colkegan PX furthers this brand’s unique approach to American single malt.
American single malts have been gaining in popularity and availability in the last several years. Unlike Scotch, American single malts do not abide by legal standards of production (yet). This allows distillers some creativity in their approach. Colkegan has been set apart by smoking the malt with mesquite, prevalent in Santa Fe Spirits’ home state of New Mexico. They are among the only distillers in the world who use this particular type of smoke and the result is a single malt that distinctly represents the American Southwest.
With positive responses to their previously released fruit finished whiskey Santa Fe Spirits chose to enhance their whiskey with the fruitiness of a sherry cask finish. Founder Colin Keegan said at the time of its releases that “the apple brandy finished Colkegan was a huge success. We decided to build on that success by trying a different finishing variation”. When proofing down the Colkegan PX barrels head distiller Kris Bohm used the élevage process of gradually adding water while the whiskey was still inside the cask. To explain this process he said, “This extracts different sugars from the wood. It helps the whiskey take on more character from the cask.” In this case the character from sherry casks would be, “stone fruit, cherries – a richer flavor profile”.
Appearance: The color is a rich amber with some visible viscosity.
Nose: A lively bouquet of charcoal. Mint and honeysuckle emerge with leather and toasted pistachio on the nose.
Palate: The front palate is sweet and delicate with honey and rosewater followed by smoke and a tingly spearmint finish.
For a relatively young single malt whiskey Colekegan PX does an excellent job at delivering flavor and more importantly stands out as an original on the scene. I didn’t taste any of the fruit notes I expected from the sherry finish so it may have needed a bit longer in the PX casks. That said, this whiskey is absolutely packed with mesquite smoke flavor and delightfully complex.
Faith Raspante is a freelance writer and bartender based in Portland, Oregon. A love of craft cocktails and creative mixology led Faith to discover the nuanced pleasure of tasting whiskey and other spirits. When she isn’t behind the bar or in front of a laptop she enjoys boating, home improvement...