On March 24, some of the finest spirit palates alive awarded medals to two local favorites in one of the most respected annual spirit competitions. Brimstone Absinthe took home a San Francisco World Spirits Competition silver medal, and Simeon Turley's Taos Lighting single barrel straight bourbon, 6 year was awarded a gold. Both spirits are distilled by KGB Spirits at its Alcalde, New Mexico-based Rancho de Los Luceros Destilaría.
"We've been in business for almost a year," KGB Operations Manager Caitlin Richards tells SFR—KGB considers May 1 its one-year anniversary. Almost as soon as KGB opened its doors in 2012, it submitted a few of its spirits to last year's SFWSC. "We submitted our vodka gin and our 4-year-old bourbon and our rye. The vodka won silver and the rest bronze," Richards says. This year, KGB submitted two of its newer spirits, ones that were not ready in time for the 2012 competition. Brimstone Absinthe and Taos Lighting, 6 year bourbon "were new products," Richards says. "So we sent them in, and we're happy to see that they were liked—we are thrilled."
This year's two winners, along with KGB’s other spirits, are available throughout New Mexico and, Richards says, “almost everywhere in Santa Fe.”
A bottle of Brimstone Absinthe sits unopened on our culture editor's desk, so Richards described the legendary spirit for those of us who've not tried it: "Absinthe is very very good. There's a lot of historical and romantic things built up around it. It was huge in the 1920s in Paris," she explains. For a long time, Richards says, absinthe was banned. But a few years ago, the ban was lifted and "it became legal to distill it."
Absinthe, like other digestifs (ouzo, chartreuse, sambuca), tastes of anise, "but the real trick with absinthe is to not have [anise] be the whole flavor," Richards says. KGB's award-winning spirit, she explains, has about 20 other herbs in it—and you can taste their subtleties. "People shouldn't be scared of it," Richards says. "It's not gonna send you crazy; it's not a psychedelic. Just a really lovely liqueur"—the San Francisco World Spirits Competition judges agree.