Bye-Bye, Backwoods: Moonshine Has Gone Legit

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

Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine ($25) Flavors of frosted cake, nutmeg and eggnog dominate this corn-based liquor (

Death's Door White Whisky ($37) Delicacy and drinkability define this grassy spirit, which is created mostly from Wisconsin wheat (

Old Gristmill Authentic Corn Whiskey ($20) This artisanal spirit from upstate New York showcases the subtle flavors of roasted corn (

Virginia Lightning Corn Whiskey ($25) This 100-proof hooch's potent burn gives way to a smooth, sweet flavor (