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Colin Keegan and his wife Suzette moved to Santa Fe in 1992, building their home on a mature apple orchard in Tesuque that produced more heirloom apples – and gallons of cider – than they could possibly use. When Colin, a fancier of good Scotch and brandy, closed his architectural business in 2009, an idea fermented: why not build a distillery?Santa Fe Spirits was the solution to both his career and what to do with all those apples. Four years later, the company produces a bar-stocking variety of artisanal spirits, each imparting the subtle flavors of the Southwest: Apple Brandy, Silver Coyote Malt Whiskey, Expedition Vodka, Wheeler’s Gin, and Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey. If the spirits moves you, you can tour the distillery off Airport Road and sample them in drinks like the “Whiskeyrita” in their new tasting room in downtown Santa Fe. They also are sold in local liquor and grocery stores and online. www.santafespirits.com; (505) 467-8892.
Nearly 80 percent of all traditional, authentic balsamic vinegar comes from some 70 producers in Modena, Italy (a far cry from the inexpensive, fake imitations). Just a small percentage of artisanal New World producers make the real thing using traditional Italian methods. Steve and Jane Darland of rustic Monticello, NM, are part of an even more select group who grow their own organic grapes. Their Aceto Balsamico Traditionale of Monticello is dark, viscous, organic vinegar that has been lovingly hand-made, step-by-step – growing, pruning, picking, and blending the grapes; aging the vinegar in casks or barrels for a minimum of 12 years; bottling, and labeling. Their vinegar is considered by many to be the best outside of Italy. You’ll pay $150 for 4.5-oz. bottle, but when you taste it, you’ll understand why. Available online and at the Farm Shop at Los Poblanos in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. www.organicbalsamic.com; email@example.com.