Best Legal Moonshine Brands
“You can always tell a moonshine drinker by looking at his nose — the mason jars leave a crease!”
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, especially after the recession that hit in 2008, several (perfectly legal) “moonshines” have hit the market, and business has been kind. According to a report in Time, more than 280,000 cases of moonshine were sold in 2012, a jump from between 50,000 in 2010 and 80,000 in 2011. Along with big distilleries getting in on the action, big businesses like Walmart and Sam’s Club agreed to stock some brands on their shelves as well.
First distilled back in the 1800s, many government-bucking, libertarians made it despite Uncle Sam wagging his star-spangled middle finger at those who wanted to profit from hooch. Nowadays, moonshine brands aren’t pumping out hooch that’ll make you pray for death, and they’re not necessarily meant to be sipped one tiny drop at a time. In fact, Ole Smokey Moonshine out of Tennessee have provided suggestions for holiday-themed moonshine cocktails, including Pumpkin Pie Moonshine, Shine Nog, and Pumpkin Pie Moonshine.