Sunday, September 7, 2014

That Ain't Moonshine!

Booze marketed as "moonshine" has become popular in the last few years. Maybe Popcorn Sutton* and his legend had something to do with it, maybe not. Perhaps it was was the Discovery Channel series Moonshiners and its stars Tickle, Tim, Josh, etc. Even the History Channel had to get in on it.

A dissenting view on what constitutes "moonshine" comes from a post on The Alcohol Professor blog celebrating September as Bourbon Heritage Month. In a discussion about sourced bourbon - whiskey from new micro-distilleries actually made in a giant factory in Lawrenceburg, Indiana - the author takes exception to calling any unaged whiskey (or white dog) moonshine.
Another product choice is to sell an unaged whiskey while some of the other liquid ages in barrels in its cocoon stage on the way to being a bourbon.

Let’s be clear about what this is. Or rather, what it isn’t.

Here’s a checklist.
  • Are you avoiding the payment of government taxes to release your product?
  • At any time, was a firearm a necessary component for a transaction between yourself and either your customer or purveyor?
  • To the best of your knowledge, have you, or anyone you know, been seriously threatened simply because your product exists to the point where you feel it should have a hiding place, just in case?
  • Are you apprehensive about selling your product during broad daylight when anyone can see?
  • Has anyone ever chased you menacingly, especially at night, in order to steal your product from you on the way to a purveyor?
  • Are you on an FBI most wanted list for producing this product?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, congratulations! You make moonshine!

If not, then your unaged distillate IS NOT NOR EVER WILL BE MOONSHINE!!!

Deep breath.
I tend to agree with this assessment.

The only real moonshine I can remember drinking was over 30 years ago. I remembered it as being very smooth with a strong corn smell when you sniffed it. It was reputed to have been that moonshiner's going out of business batch.

As for my own taste in whiskey, I think I'll stay with the stuff aged for years in oak barrels whether it comes from Kentucky, Canada, or Ireland.

* My dentist went to high school with Popcorn Sutton. His remembrance of Sutton differs from the popular legend. He said Popcorn was "a mean little SOB who looked like he'd as soon kill you as look at you."


  1. Agree with you! If it's 'legal' it ain't 'shine... And I've had a sip or two over the years myself...

  2. When I was growing up in East Tennessee, my Dad always had an unmarked pint jar of clear liquid in the garage. When I asked him what it was, he said, "paint thinner." I found out later that wasn't all that far from the truth.