Corn Whiskey - Who Drinks This Stuff?
My SO and I went to the liquor store and he was fascinated by the fact that there was a clear whiskey in a mason jar. In spite of my attempts to steer him towards the Woodford Reserve/Basil Hayden/Bookers shelf, he purchased a jar. We got home, opened it up laughing, sniffed the aroma, and looked at eachother in horror. There was no way we could drink this on the rocks and the only mixer we had was Gatorade.
So a couple of Gatorade and Georgia Moon's later, we went to bed laughing again. The next night we tried mixing it with fruit juice, which somehow made the corniness worse.
So that is where this question arose: Who drinks this stuff and in what manner?
Former father-in-law drank something called "Mellow Corn" that he purchased at the ABC store (he lived in Martinsville, VA where the state ran the liquor stores.
I tried it once or twice, mixed with Sun Drop or Mt. Dew - neither of which was very good.
Haven't had it in over 20 years, but from what I understand, he still drinks the stuff.
I bought a bottle of that Mellow Corn last year when I was at the artisanal distillers conference. It was actually a nice, simple, smooth, barely aged corn whiskey, with just a hint of gold to it, and a nice corny taste. Best served on the rocks. It was recommended to me by Jim Murray, the whiskey expert, as something that shows how a simple and young whiskey can still be good.
As in any good debate, or in more friendly terms--discusion--we must first define our terms.
Bourbon v. Corn Whiskey
Bourbon is made from a Mash Bill (recipe) that contains at least 51% corn.
Corn Whiskey is made from a Mash Bill that contains at least 80% corn.
SO, both Bourbon and Corn Whiskey have a high percentage of corn as raw material. There are four things that most effect the end result of any particular whiskey: the mash bill, the water used, the barrels used to age and the length of time the product is aged in those barrels. **This also assumes no other unique production processes** Of course there are nuances whiskey afficionados will recognize as also having an impact on the end product but for the most part, change one of these four things and the product will come out rather different as opposed to subtley different.
Change two or more of these four factors and the end product will be REALLY different. In the case of Georgia Moon the Mash Bill and the ageing are different than most other whiskey on the market. There are a couple other entries, mostly from the same people that make Georgia Moon (Heaven Hill Distillery), but for the most part this is a unique spirit. When you take a 100% Corn Whiskey and don't age it at all you have something that is a fun sip during a distillery tour but otherwise a challenging beverage for most.
While many Bourbons are, in balance, more corn based than anything else, they are carefully concocted with Mash Bill's that include other items like wheat or barley. Moreover, a Bourbon MUST be aged for at least 2 years in new charred white oak American barrels. Georgia Moon is aged in a stainless steel tank for as few DAYS as possible without a recipe that is based on anything other than trying to replicate a time where costs ruled the game.
Now that being said, it might be a little closer to "moonshine" than most other products on the market. So it probably lives up to its marketing intentions. But it also can do a disservice to those who think corn based whiskey is not tasty becuase of their label...Bourbon is by definition, corn based. It just isn't so much darn corn. And it isn't so darn young. So I think this is basically a marketing based ploy to get our vision blured.
And on a side note, to further the idea that this is a marketing ploy, I doubt they actually distill this product to 50% alcohol/100 proof. I am just speculating, but I would bet this is cut with water after a second distillation that comes out closer to 130 proof. But just a guess.
Now I can answer your question. Who drinks this stuff?
1. Rubes who like great packaging and something presented as nostalgic. That includes me, who has bought it before. Twice.
2. Distillery workers.
3. Distillery tour goers.
4. Those who feel they need to prove themselves by what they drink.
5. Those with both a totally non-functioning tongue and a highly-functioning liver.
I grew up in rural north carolina, and as a teenager I was running moonshine to Richmond for a man who ran a local still.
My first taste of corn whiskey was when I was 12. My uncle's father had a 12 year old bottle of 'shine in a glass jug in the wine cellar, and my father called me down, telling me, "you may never get another chance in your life to have aged corn liquor this good, so even though you're not old enough, maybe you'll remember trying this..." And I do.
I like good bourbon, myself, some of which is made from corn, so technically it is "corn whiskey". As I understand your comment though, you are not looking for the good commercial grade stuff that is aged in burnt oak barrels, you are looking at what we used to call "white light'nin".
Real "moonshine" doesn't have to have been made as corn liquor by the way, it is often made from other things. The old man I ran moonshine for made his liquor from locally grown sugar cane during one season of the year, potatoes another season of the year, corn during another, and various fruits when in season.
He and my granddaddy also made something in crocks they called "locust beer", and of course we made hard cider we pressed in the fall, dandelion wine in the spring, etc.
*Particularly* good moonshine that I remember drinking includes:
double-distilled blackberry 'shine
white pear 'shine
12 year aged corn whiskey
sugar cane distilled liquor (1-3 distillations, depending on how busy/lazy they were) ((HEY, is this technically Rum??))
distilled apple jack (from cider)
Peppermint flavored white lightning made from potatoes (HEY, is this Vodka??)\
Distilled muscadine wine, aged in a stone crock in a hole in the ground in this lady's cellar.
Btw, I wouldn't drink Georgia moon if there was something else to drink, but that's just me.
"Peppermint flavored white lightning made from potatoes (HEY, is this Vodka??)"
Not unless it was distilled to 95% alcohol and filtered before adding the mint. Vodka is not made from potatoes, usually, but from grain. Its the really high neutral proof level (before being cut down with water for drinking) that makes it vodka. Potatoes have been used when grain was in short supply, but its not the usual. On a similar note, all bourbon is made from at least 51% corn, but its always aged in first used charred barrels. "Corn whiskey" is reserved for stuff that's at least 80% corn and doesn't have to be aged, but when it is, its in used barrels. (If it's over 80% corn and in new barrels, it's still bourbon).
In case y'all missed it, last week's AJC food section did several corn whiskey articles:
just as a point of clarification, i think most of the bourbons you refer to are "corn whiskey" just as much as the mason jar "moonshine", just of differing qualities, but same base.
i have never tried the mason jar stuff, myself, have assumed it to me little more than a marketing gimmick. good luck with mixers. alternately, you could try infusing it and taking very cold shots. i'd go sweet over peppercorns, maybe vanilla beans and coffee and brown sugar, or maybe grapefruit and lavender, again, all this is without having tasted the stuff.
I've had this sitting in my liquor cabinet for a while. Being a sunday and not being able to purchase alcohol in this great state of Georgia I was considering my alternatives. I've mixed it in coke and juice but you have to dillute it so much that it isn't worth it. After doing some research I decided to try what I've done w/ vodka. I added cracked peppercorns to infuse it with pepper flavors then strained it. It has made for a drinkable shot after only a few hours of infusion. The peppery taste matches well with the corny flavor.
I know my daddy likes it... and my uncle, so there's one person who drinks it regular!
Okay all Virginia hillbilly stereotypes aside, I've had a few instances where I've had genuine 'shine back in my Virginia childhood (read: late teens - though a lot of it was actually up in Ohio when I would visit Mom's relatives). For a kid who was a liquor newbie all around you would have thought that the stuff would have guaranteed to have blown my roof off, but truthfully, some of it did and some of it was definitely not unpleasant. I've had the comercial stuff and that's pretty mediocre, though I'm pretty sure I've had worse.
My take on true Corn is a lot like homebrew beer. There's mostly god-awful made by people without any attention to what they're doing, some decent, either by luck or a bit of skill, and then the folks who, if they had been licensed and patient (or able) enough to age and purify the stuff, would be first class distillers.
I once bought Georgia Moon as a secret santa gift. ("Less than 30 days old" - who can't like that?) I think it worked as a joke, but surely it can't be selling just for novelty. Maybe it plays big at frat houses?
Actually, the friends I gave it to started using it for cooking mussels, in place of white wine. It really tasted quite good, and I think they might have bought another bottle after they used up the gift.
I've had real moonshine only once, and it was truly horrible. But in a good way.
I think you overestimate the buying public to think that this crap has to be more than a gimmick. Real shine can be as smooth as ahigh dollar barrel aged bourbon if made by someone who knows what they're doing. OTOH, I've had some that were much more suited to paint removal than consumption, and some, that although pretty good tasting, caused me to avoid open flames for several hours after imbibing.