Whenever I get a thirst for a specialty spirit, I have to admit, ponderosa pine resin has never entered into the conversation, much less even crossed my mind. And I do believe, you could also add pinon nuts to this list as well. Well, for John Jeffery, the head distiller over at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Spirits, it crossed his mind while he was running on Atalaya mountain just outside of town. The pinon and ponderosa he smelled along his run inspired him to add those ingredients and their smells and flavors to some Silver Coyote single malt white whiskey. He roasts the pinon nuts and soaks them in the whiskey in a new oak barrel for two months and sweetens that spirit with sugar and pine resin.

I don’t believe anyone else on this planet combines those ingredients, much less uses either one alone or in combination with other botanicals. I do know they put a lot of ingredients in some gins, in some cases more than a dozen botanicals but never pinon nuts or pine resin. Well, this has certainly piqued my interest; let’s see what this liqueur is all about.

With that particular list of ingredients, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I opened this squat 375ML bottle, but I can guarantee you, I wasn’t expecting the nose to remind me of a delicate old scotch! There is a very light touch to all the aromas, but I can discern the pine and pinon and, of course the oak. along with a touch of butterscotch and vanilla. On the palate, the oak becomes more pronounced yet is rapidly pursued by the pinon and pine and followed by the butterscotch while the vanilla morphs into a honey like flavor. It is very smooth with almost no tell tale signs of ethanol or pepper. The finish is also smooth and sweet and nutty and warm and short in duration. This is a very uniquely flavored liqueur thanks to the pinon and pine, yet the oak takes me in a familiar direction. The whiskey base is the perfect starting point for this spirit. If you’re not afraid to take a run on the wild side of Santa Fe, then this is your cup of tea.

Atapiño is only available in 375 millimeter bottles and is 38% ABV and will set you back about  $30.00.


By George Brozowski