One of the hottest trends in the spirits world in recent years has been Moonshine. Why is moonshine making a comeback? Because it’s enjoyable. Because it hails from the days of the prohibition, and is therefore “cool.” Moonshine is essentially whiskey as it comes out of the still: no oak barrels, no caramel color, no aging. It’s just straight liquor from fermented corn or wheat mash. Historically, your lucky if you don’t die or go blind drinking it as the quality standards of this homemade brew were not especially high.
‘Moonshine’ comes from the Appalachian Mountains near Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas, where Scots-Irish immigrants, long accustomed to home distilling, took to the hills to make their own hooch and evade the authorities. These cunning shiners often worked at night so the smoke that rose from their stills couldn’t be seen through the darkness, hence the ‘moonshine’ moniker.
Today it’s making a comeback as an artisanal product that individuals can make for themselves. Some of what the moonshine geeks make at home is very fine indeed, even when compared to cask-aged bourbon. Commercial distilleries are rushing into the category as it’s much cheaper to sell unaged whiskey than it is to painstakingly cask-age it for years at a time. Today’s licensed distillers try to keep the mystique of the back-country brew by marketing it in Mason jars.
So today, on National Moonshine Day, we thought it interesting to highlight the drink and encourage those who have not tried it to think about finding some of the legal variety and giving it a try.
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