Bye-bye, backwoods: Moonshine has gone legit
Moonshine is leaving the holler for the cocktail bar. Once a backcountry black market, the illicit elixir no longer warrants its criminal rep (and rubbing-alcohol flavor); instead, modern distilleries are producing white whiskies worthy of our attention.
Devoid of lengthy barrel-aging--which gives whiskey its woodsy flavors and dark hue--moonshine is essentially whiskey's younger sibling. It's mellow enough for sipping, and its delicate grain flavors create excellent cocktails.
Even restaurants are serving 'shine alongside their wines: In Portland, Oregon, local distiller House Spirits custom-makes a rye-based moonshine for steakhouse Urban Farmer, while New Orleans's pig-centric Cochon pours Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine.
Unlike their outlaw brethren, modern moonshiners pay taxes, so you no longer have to hit the boonies to score a drink. Look for these bottles at your local liquor store, or search for an online retailer at vinquire.com.
Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine ($25) Flavors of frosted cake, nutmeg and eggnog dominate this corn-based liquor (piedmontdistillers.com).
Death's Door White Whisky ($37) Delicacy and drinkability define this grassy spirit, which is created mostly from Wisconsin wheat (deathsdoorspirits.com).
Old Gristmill Authentic Corn Whiskey ($20) This artisanal spirit from upstate New York showcases the subtle flavors of roasted corn (tuthilltown.com).
Virginia Lightning Corn Whiskey ($25) This 100-proof hooch's potent burn gives way to a smooth, sweet flavor (virginiamoonshine.com).