Colin Keegan, founder of Santa Fe Spirits, speaks to local Rotarians October 12. Photo by Linda Hull
BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
“It began with our apple orchard when the economy took a severe downturn in 2008,” recalled Colin Keegan, founder of Santa Fe Spirits (SFS), as he spoke October 12 to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. At the time, Keegan was a licensed architect, but was inspired to take a closer look at the income potential of the apple brandy hobby he had enjoyed since 2002. Upon closer assessment, as engaging as Keegan found his hobby, it soon became clear that “apple brandy alone would not be a sustainable business model.” Undeterred, by 2010, he and wife Suzette had “formulated a plan of a range of spirits with a major focus on American whiskies.”
It was at this juncture that Keegan expanded into what today is a thriving business near The Railyard commercial district in Santa Fe, a block east of Tomasita’s. With a tasting room at 308 Read Street, and the actual distillery at 7505 Mallard Way, visitors have several ways to enjoy local spirits. The downtown tasting room on Read Street is open Tuesday – Saturday, 3:00 – 10:00; no reservations are required. Distillery tours are given on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; reservations are required. The distillery is open for walk-in sales of all products Monday – Friday, 10:00-4:00. SFS even offers classes! For information and inquiries, please go to https://santafespirits.com/
Keegan’s goal has always been “making the highest quality handcrafted spirits.” To that end, “we have received national awards for all of our spirits, but we are always looking to improve on all we do. Our next few years will be focused on extending our whiskey market.”
Santa Fe Spirits currently distributes to nine states and exports to Germany, Australia, and Japan. From just one assistant, their staff has grown to eight full-time team members and four part-time; the facilities are undergoing their fourth expansion.
Among the varieties of alcoholic beverages SFS produces are: single malt whiskies (sherry cask finished, cask strength, apple brandy cask finished); pure malt whiskey, vodka, piñon liqueur, and gin.
Re-locating from England, Keegan has lived in Santa Fe with his wife and daughter for 28 years. Together they “realized their dream of living in Tesuque” and built their home amid a mature apple orchard with trees ranging from “young saplings to massive centenarians.”
Keegan, who is a “strong advocate for craft distilleries,” is a founding member of the American Craft Distillers Association and the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission. He also co-founded the New Mexico Distillers Guild and currently serves as a member of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), working on issues that are pertinent to small producers. As a board member, too, of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, Keegan is a significant contributor to the local community and small business.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00, in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course. A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950. Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service.