It was a rare rainy day in Santa Fe, so we decided to go on a distillery tour. I had wanted to go to Altar Spirits for a long time. I finally figured out that, yes it was open, and Altar Spirits was in the Santa Fe Railyard. You can sign up for tours online at Altar Spirits but right now there seems to be a problem signing up. I alerted Altar Spirits of this situation so hopefully who ever is doing their website will correct the situation. Tours are 12 dollars not including tax. It was well worth the price. We were able to taste some of the most delicious spirits in Santa Fe in a beautiful surrounding.
Jeff, our excellent tour guide, was very patient. We were late for the tour. Our friends were also nice about us being a little tardy. Hey, there was alcohol involved.
We found out that Altar Spirits makes their own vodka. Ok, almost nobody does that. Everyone buys vodka as a base alcohol. I learned this on a couple of other distillery tours. Vodka is not usually anything that I drink. But I do know if it is good or not. I hate any alcohol that burns the back of my throat when I drink it. This vodka could actually be a sipping one. Ritual Vodka was made of distilled malted barley. It was nice and smooth, actually very smooth. I enjoyed my taste sample. It was totally different than what I had expected, in a good way. I didn’t have to hold down a cough. Yes!
I also enjoyed the presentation of the product. The barrels and the glassware were already set up before we entered the tasting rooms. Jeff asked if we had any questions. Since he is a co-founder, we were treated to his great expertise. To assist Jeff, Marcus, the assistant distiller also told us about the distilling process. We were really impressed with Lilith, the huge pot still. She was gorgeous. Just look at her:
Next we sampled Altar Spirits Sigil gin. I thought it was very interesting how Altar Spirits wanted to incorporate parts of the Santa Fe desert in their gin. Botanicals like pinon, juniper and desert sage made this gin different that any other gin that I have tasted. It tasted like home. It smells like Santa Fe in a bottle, especially Santa Fe in the winter. That is one delightful smell.
We had a surprise tasting of Altar Spirit’s amaro. I had never even heard of amaro, but Campari is in this category. So you know I had to taste this bitter. Who knew? Everyone on the tour except me. But I’m learning.
This Negroni(13) was made with Altar’s Sigil gin, vermouth and some of the house-made amaro. It was beautiful to look at but better to taste. If you look closely at the ice cube, you might be able to see the red A in the ice. This special touch could probably be seen better in my drink, the New Old Fashioned(13).
This beautiful cocktail was made with Big Nose Kate Whiskey. I had read about Big Nose Kate a couple of months ago. I wasn’t able to track it down until now. Recently, I talked to one of the bartenders at Ex Novo Brewing in Corrales and he was saying that he was using Big Nose Kate as a replacement for Taos Lightning which was getting very hard to find.
You see the former female distiller from Eastside Distilling in Portland, OR was Mel Heim. This was one of my favorite stops in Portland. Every time we went to Portland we would stop at Eastside Distilling. Why? because Eastside isn’t sold in New Mexico. Mel Heim, who was the head distiller of Eastside makes Big Nose Kate. She and the head distiller, Caley Shoemaker at Altar Spirits are business partners which is why you will see barrels of Big Nose Kate at Altar Spirits and bottles on the sales display. Yes, I’m talking about 2 female distillers. You know they have to be good. There aren’t that many female distillers in this country. And BTW Caley is married to Jeff, the tourguide but he is also a cofounder and sales director of Altar Spirits. But back to Big Nose Kate, a bottle costs 40. See these beautiful barrels of whiskey:
In a few more years, you will also see Altar Spirits very own whiskey, too. Right now the whiskey is being aged in these barrels.
Altar Spirits is located at 545 Camino de la Familia at the Santa Fe Railyard. The backdoor on Camino de la Familia is where the distillery is located. You have to walk around to enter the front door. As you are walking you will see this large A so you know you are going in the right direction.
This sign out front will also help you know that you are pointed in the correct direction to find the entrance.
Altar Spirits is open Wednesday-Friday 4-11pm, Saturday 12-11pm, and Sunday 12-8pm. Their phone number is 505.916.8596
Happy Hour is on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 4pm-6pm and all day Sunday with 7 dollar House Gin and Tonics or House Vodka Tonics.
Altar Spirits is located at the Santa Fe Railyard.