Whiskey, whiskey, good for the heart, the more you drink…….the less you fart?? No, that can’t be right. Nevertheless welcome to the whiskey train this month, today we will be speaking on the ever elusive Moonshine Whiskey. Is it illegal still? What’s the alcohol percentage? Where can you buy it? Why is it even called moonshine? These are the questions that usually pop into my mind when I think of Moonshine and the answers are forever blurry or better yet, unknown to me. So, today we will try to discover as much as we can about the wonderfully clear drink (without thinking too hard) that is associated with so many of those wonderful backwater hill billy parties you see on TV shows that we all wish we were invited to.
How the distilling process works. I love pictures!
Moonshine, as we know it today, is basically made up of cornmeal, water, yeast and sugar.
Moonshine is made from a grain like corn or rye, making it a Whiskey folks. That’s why it’s gracing the pages of the “Whiskey Train” 🙂
We all understand, I am assuming, the ins and outs of why it’s called moonshine? Well I will tell you anyways. Interestingly enough the word Moonshining was a general term that referred to any kind of “job” or whatever that took place at night. It’s probably safe to assume most activity in those days that happened only when the moon was shining was probably illegal…. So that there is no confusion, Moonshiners made the liquor and Bootleggers smuggled and sold it.
All alcohol needs two special things to happen for us to be able to get nice and trashed when it’s all finished and made. Fermentation and Distillation. I would go into detail about what both those processes are but I decided if you are reading this and don’t know perhaps you shouldn’t be reading the ‘Whiskey Train’ section of my blog. Or you can just google it or refer to the nice diagram I have placed above..your welcome.
Oh… one of the reasons moonshine is often so strong and has such a kick to it is because, in general, moonshine whiskey is what you get straight from the tap without being stored for long periods of time in a barrel. Which is what we do to most of our liquor produced in clean and shiny government regulated facilities. It’s often 150 proof which is something like 75% alcohol.
Is it still illegal to produce? Well to be clear, according to the federal government any alcoholic beverage produced at home with the intention to drink it is illegal. Weird, I wonder if that includes sangria or home-brewed beer? Anyhow, the answer is basically yes. The reason being the government just isn’t handing out licenses for producing alcohol to every Tom, Dick and Harry who want to make moonshine. This has something to do with being able to tax people enough I guess to make it worthwhile for the government and for public safety. Apparently it can be very dangerous if you produce a bad batch as the process is a delicate thing and can go wrong if fools are doing it. I am not totally sure and mostly don’t actually care. I’m not too concerned about families making moonshine who have been doing it since actual prohibition, but if you don’t know someone who makes that clear magic under some giant 100-year-old willow tree 20 miles outside of town, there are actual government approved moonshine products that can be purchased at your local liquor store. Which are good? Well, here are few I found that are popular. You be the judge. One at a time though, preferably on different days.
1. Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine, 90 proof
I haven’t had the pleasure of trying this one yet and I think it probably needs no description. The name seemingly speaks for itself.
2.Old Smokey Tennessee Moonshine, 100 proof
This brand of Moonshine I have actually tasted. I read the reviews for the flavor profile for this one and apparently it “tastes like day old chinese food white rice” and “soggy old bread”. If my memory serves me correctly I remember actually enjoying this one. I may have had a chaser though and/or been drunk when I decided it tasted good. 🙂
3.Buffalo Trace White dog Mash # 1, 125 proof
The only thing I could find about this one was that the burning sensation in your throat after you drink it is unforgettable. As in, It actually may burn your throat. I’d try it.
4. Hudson New York Corn Whiskey, 92 proof
This Brand of Whiskey/Bourbon happens to be one of my favorite, they produce a Baby Bourbon that I never can find in liquor stores but love bunches. I was actually surprised, as I didn’t know they made moonshine. Thank you Internet!
5.Kings County Distillery Moonshine, 80 Proof
Aside from the one taster saying it “tastes like pee” I like the bottle and it seems to be a popular one.
Now If you have ever had some good old fashion Moonshine from a neighbor or at a party where you literally have to pass it around then you already know the wonderful enjoyment it can bring. But be ware, it isn’t meant for soft tummy light weights who feel the need to jug every liquor that has a good jingle in their commercial.
It’s been sometime since I myself have had any but the last time I did I was sitting around with friends in the hot summer weather passing the mason jar around and laughing simply because we felt like it. I was inspired to mention Moonshine for this section of my blog since I love whiskey so much but wasn’t sure what to say as I do not come across Moonshine very often in my everyday life. 🙂 Perhaps that should go on my list of summer adventures! But my favorite thing about Moonshine itself is its long history in this country, dredged in mystery and strange myths, what it actually meant to people and their families during prohibition, a way to provide extra income. The production is difficult and requires years of experience and know how to get it to be perfectly drinkable. And to the Moonshiners still doing it today, I salute you.
Hope you enjoyed your ride on the Whiskey Train today. And remember, if you decide to have an evening of moonshine fun, don’t make plans for the next day. Like, don’t drink an entire mason jar or even a third for that matter, if you have work tomorrow. 🙂
Happy Sippin’…… safely!
Illustration courtesy of: science.howstuffworks.com