Colkegan Unsmoked Single Malt Omits Signature Mesquite
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Santa Fe Distillery Known For Mesquite Smoked Whiskey Tries Its Hand at Unsmoked Single Malt — and Sticks the Landing

Colkegan Unsmoked

A distillery known for its mesquite-smoked single malt whisky is expanding its variety by launching an unsmoked expression.

On Thursday, Santa Fe Spirits announced the nationwide release of Colkegan Unsmoked Single Malt Whiskey, which is available to be shipped to 42 states from the distillery’s website.

Santa Fe Spirits got its start using mesquite to imbue its whiskies with a smoky flavor — the distillery’s answer to finding a style similar to yet distinctly different from peated scotch whisky.

Until the Unsmoked, Santa Fe Spirits has made each of its whiskeys from one-third smoked barley and two-thirds unsmoked barley.

With Colkegan Unsmoked, Santa Fe Spirits is looking to show that it’s more than a one-trick pony.

“We love experimenting with traditional single malt whiskey to develop new products while honoring the heritage of single malt,” Santa Fe Spirits founder Colin Keegan said in a news release. “Our mesquite-smoked Colkegan has won people’s hearts, and we wanted to release a whiskey that would complement our current line-up of American Single Malts, but also stand on its own.

“Four years ago we made our traditional Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey, but without smoking the malt. We tucked a few barrels of it into a back corner of the rickhouse, aged it in new American Oak, and used bourbon barrels. We’re excited to release it nationwide.”

Colkegan Unsmoked is aged about four years in new American oak and used bourbon barrels. A limited release, only about 1,500 bottles of Colkegan Unsmoked are available at the Santa Fe Spirits Distillery, the Santa Fe Spirits Downtown Tasting Room and the Santa Fe Spirits website for $69.99.

Tasting Santa Fe Spirits Colkegan Unsmoked Single Malt Whiskey

We attended a live tasting of Colkegan Unsmoked this month. Here’s what we thought.

Nose: Light, fruity, grainy and filled with orchard fruits. Green apples, pears and dry white wine (Champagne, pinot grigio) are the predominant notes on the nose, and there’s a sweeter profile that emerges after a while as well, delivering a butterscotch aroma.

Taste: The palate delivers a rich viscosity and a complex, balanced array of flavors. The orchard fruits continue here with more apples and pears and even very ripe peaches, as well as basil, leather, cereal grains and a faint tangerine note.

Finish: The finish is short to medium in length and, grainy and sweet in flavor. Interestingly, the white wine theme from the nose continues here — but in a different way. The crisp, dry notes on the nose have given way to a finish loaded with buttery chardonnay sweetness, along with peppermint tea, honey and graham crackers.

Overall: This is a great product that holds its own against the original, smoked Colkegan single malt. Colkegan Unsmoked takes the undercurrents of Colkegan Single Malt and brings them to center stage by ripping away the smoky mesquite.

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David Morrow is the managing editor of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.