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Old-fashioned NM: Left Turn Distilling makes and serves unique spirits

An array of products currently offered by Left Turn Distilling in Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Left Turn Distilling Spirits)

An array of products currently offered by Left Turn Distilling in Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Left Turn Distilling Spirits)

Lift your spirits with a unique rum and a special whiskey inspired by traditional New Mexico staples.

Raised in New Mexico, Brian Langwell wanted to share the true flavors of the Land of Enchantment in two of his latest offerings at Left Turn Distilling, which he founded in 2013. He recently released Rojo Piñon Rum and New Mexico Blue Corn Whiskey.

“It’s a really unique rum,” he said. “It’s a piñon-flavored rum. I’m from New Mexico and thought a little nutty flavor would be good and how come not piñon? I dreamed it up. What better way to incorporate New Mexico than with piñon? … It’s called Rojo because it’s inspired by the nice sunsets we get here that bring out the red in the Sandias.”

It takes about three weeks to infuse the rum after it’s made with whole roasted piñon nuts, Langwell explained. He said one of the house favorites is the Rojo Piñon Rum used in a cocktail called Dark & Stormy. Add the rum, a little lime juice and ginger beer, which is also made on-site, and you have a Left Turn specialty.

“We make our own ginger beer,” Langwell said. “The stuff I make is nice and strong. I use natural cane sugar called turbinado sugar. It’s unbleached and unprocessed. My ginger beer has a nice dark color to it and a nice molasses flavor.”

Langwell used another signature Land of Enchantment ingredient to create his New Mexico Blue Corn Whiskey.

“Blue corn is native to New Mexico,” he said. “This is where it originated. I like the blue corn profile of it. We treat it like atole where you use roasted blue corn and cook it into a porridge. That’s how we started our blue corn whiskey.”

The process takes about three weeks to create the whiskey and then the decision is made on whether to age it.

“After three weeks, you have a clear or fresh whiskey, unaged,” he explained. “I prefer serving it clear. … It’s got a lot of that robust blue-corn flavor to it. Like buttery popcorn, it’s a little bit sweet.”

Langwell suggests taking it however you like, whether it be on the rocks, straight up or in a cocktail, preferably one from days gone by.

“We do an Albuquerque Old Fashioned with our whiskey, a little simple syrup and a dash of bitters, garnished with an orange peel and a cherry,” he said.

In old-fashioned tradition, Left Turn continues to offer one of its first spirits, Brothers Old Tom Gin.

“Old Tom is a type of gin,” Langwell said. “No one hears of it anymore. It was popular in the U.S. in the turn of the century. It was all being supplied from England. When prohibition came around, everyone quit importing it so it went away. It’s something we’re bringing back. There’s about nine distilleries in the world who make Old Tom gin. It represents a wet gin as opposed to a dry gin, which would be a dry spirit not sweet. Wet gin is sweet. … People like it. We usually introduce it to people who are not generally gin drinkers.”