Like Moonshine? You’ll Want To Drink These 6
If moonshine makes you think of hillbillies, you’re missing out. Moonshine has gone mainstream, and we’ve found six of the best.
By Robert Haynes-Peterson
Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey’s legendary master distiller — he’s been on the job for the past 56 years — is schooling us on white lightnin’. Why is Russell, who makes whiskey, an expert on moonshine? One, because he’s awesome. Two, because what most Americans call “moonshine” is simply unaged corn or rye whiskey. In other words, it’s what pours out of Wild Turkey’s stills before it’s aged to perfection in barrels. (Distillers call it “white dog.”)
Moonshine, when distilled poorly, can blind you, kill you, or make you wish you were dead and blind because of your awful hangover. But when done correctly, it can be sipped just like a whiskey, or mixed into cocktails.
In the past, moonshine was hard to come by because it was, by definition, secretly made in illegal stills. But now several (perfectly legal) “moonshines” have hit the market. Such as …
CatDaddy Carolina Moonshine ($20)
CatDaddy’s “secret” blend of natural and artificial fruit flavors makes it taste a lot like an 80-proof liqueur: Smooth, fruity, and slightly medicinal. It blends nicely with bourbon or aged rum (just keep in mind you’re mixing two strong alcohols), though lemon juice battles the cherry flavors here, so go don’t go overboard on the citrus.
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine ($35)
You should check out Ole Smoky because it has a cool name, because it comes in a mason jar, and because you’ll be slugging liquid history — Ole Smoky is made in what was the first federally licensed distillery in East Tennessee (Gatlinberg to be exact). More evidence of its impressive pedigree? The 100-proof spirit is made by longtime Maker’s Mark distiller Dave Pickerell.
Stillhouse Original Moonshine ($40)
For starters, we love this bottle. Plus, the quadruple distilled, Virginia-based spirit is certainly cocktail-friendly. The charcoal filtering removes bitterness and adds some sweetness. So even though the copper pot distilling process has supposedly been “passed down discreetly for hundreds of years,” the brainchild of entrepreneur Brad Beckerman and NYC chef Adam Perry Lang has a very contemporary feel.