As the resident New Mexican on staff at HuffPost Taste, I do my best to tout the many things my home state does best when it comes to eating and drinking. Our green chile is second to none. Our sopapillas are the stuff of dreams. I did not realize we were jumping into bourbon, until I stumbled upon Don Quixote Distillery's Blue Corn Bourbon Whiskey.
This Los Alamos-based distillery is situated in the gorgeous, quiet Jemez mountains. While Los Alamos will always be more famous for its mysterious National Labs, the idea of a small batch bourbon made from one of New Mexico's favorite corn kernels was too much to resist. This bourbon is made from a mash of 75 percent organic, New Mexican blue corn and 25 percent wheat, in old school, moonshiner-style stills. Caskers described their unique "desert aging" process:
Following distillation, the bourbon is aged for five years under the intense New Mexican sun in new, charred American oak barrels, before being finished in French oak barrels. The hot, dry days and cool, breezy nights constantly cause the bourbon to expand and contract while it matures, resulting in more contact with the wood.
That's a pretty romantic sentiment for someone who aged under the same intensely hot sun and open skies, but does the booze match the romantic description? Honestly, yes. This is a surprisingly polished bourbon, with lots of round vanilla notes. It is nearly absent of smoke, and over ice was a totally pleasant sipper. One of our tasters said, "I really enjoy that there's no typical bourbon burn. I love bourbon but I'm what you call a "slow sipper" -- regardless I could probably down this much faster than the usual strong stuff."
While this 40 percent alcohol spirit packs a typically whiskey-like punch, it is surprisingly mellow. While we wish we could detect the blue corn just a bit more in the flavor and aroma, we're happy to know it's there in the background, making us feel all romantic and nostalgic.