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the various "moonshines", comments please

fellow hounds,

I've tried "Shine" from Philadelphia Distilling and really found it undrinkable. It tasted like corncobs with a weird sweetness. Now, this perhaps is what moonshine is supposed to taste like. I wouldn't know since the only moonshine I have been near is what was given to my father when I was young and my mom put a "Mr. Yuck" sticker on the pickle jar full of clear fluid.

Do the other liquors claiming to be moonshine have the same taste as Shine? Any reviews anyone wants to give?

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  1. I like Junior Johnson's cherry moonshine, it was reccomended on this site and is amazingly good.

    1. It all depends upon the distiller. Also what the product is made from, the type of grain or other base. Some of the big companies are releasing "White Dog" ie., white unaged whiskey, and it isn't that great because it is whiskey that was made for aging. But some of the artisanal distilleries are releasing unaged whiskey that was specifically made to be drunk this way. Some of those are very good. There are also some "moonshines" that are made from other bases that are good.

      I can't remember what the Philadelphia Distilling's "Shine" is like. But a good and tasty example of a white corn whiskey is Tutthilltown's, very nice earthy corn flavor. Relatively smooth.

      I made a very nice white spirit at my last distillery, not made from grain, it won awards, although I can't say anything about how good the product is now, because it is being made in a different fashion since I broke away from the business.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        When we're talking "moonshine" does that mean white spirits like unaged bourbon? If so then Buffalo Trace sells an unaged bourbon that they have named as mash and I found it to taste like popcorn - but not sweet at all. Really enjoyed it.

        1. re: cresyd

          I have a bottle of the Buffalo Trace White Dog and really don't like it. Even diluted down to a normal proof, one drink just makes me feel lousy later. I tried the Maker's version and ended up getting a bottle at the distillery. It was less harsh. My frame of reference is from beer judging, but I think it's some of the higher alcohol/fusel compounds that do me wrong.

      2. I'm not being a smart a$$, but it's kind of like I've entered the Twilight Zone. I both love and can't believe that I'm sitting here, reading about legitimate moonshine! I may try a few of these suggestions myself, for nostalgia's sake.
        Oh, and Velkyn, my grandfather kept his 'shine in a laxative bottle. The Mr. Yuck stickers weren't around then, so what better way to keep nosy kids out of danger?

        1 Reply
        1. re: garlicvampire

          perfect idea, that laxative bottle! :)

        2. Keep in mind that "moonshine" really has no meaning when used on a label. What it really means is illegally made liquor...any illegally made liquor. Within the last five years, micro-distilleries have started using the term but it has no legal definition and can be used on literally any liquor so I don't think there is really an answer to what it is "supposed to" taste like.

          Most real moonshine is cheap alcohol made from white sugar (sugarjack). Most of the commercial "moonshines" are unaged spirit made from sugar or corn or some combination (though some use other grains). Some of these commercial moonshines are also flavored.

          1. I've had real moonshine a couple of times. The first time was actually quite cool. My friend Sarah managed to find a way into the job of chaperoning around Janette Carter (daughter of Sara Carter, of the famous Carter Family) when she was up in DC to receive a National Heritage Fellowship award many years back. Janette enjoyed Sarah's company so much that she presented her with a mason jar of moonshine made by a family friend near her home in southwest Virginia. Being a huge fan of old country music, the story behind the stuff thrilled me. Flavor wise, it tasted like sweet cherry liqueur with very little burn, mostly because it had been pre-cut with a lot water (so that it didn't burn) and had also had a bunch of cheap maraschino cherries soaked in it to give a candied cherry flavor. The soaking also had given it a red hue.

            Last year I had similar 'shine at a buddy's party in Atlanta.

            I think the lesson from that is that "moonshine" is a somewhat vague term. If you've seen the reality series "Moonshiners" you'll see corn is not always used to make the stuff. On one episode two of the moonshiners were able to get a ton of bananas for very little money and basically made cheap fruit brandy with them.

            1. The moonshine one buys in a store is nothing like the real thing. First of all, it's referred to as "blockade," can be made with a variety of ingredients, and is pretty harsh, almost like grappa. The better purveyors will drop half a peach in the jar to sort of flavor it. $10 a jar, last time I had it, in the hills of NC

              7 Replies
              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                I was watching re-runs of the Moonshiners show and don't understand the economics. It seems like moonshine is about $40/gallon "retail". If your jar was a quart, then that's the same. This is about what you can buy cheap vodka for. If it's flavored, then why not just buy the cheapest vodka you can find and put your cherries or peach half in that? Or does (at least the corn stuff) have a strong whitedog whiskey flavor that vodka lacks? Or is it a cultural thing?

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  You know, I was wondering that same thing myself. Given how cheap the cheapest vodka is, why is there a market for moonshine?

                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                    I was thinking I would buy Vodka at $11.99 for 1.5 liters and re-selling it as Moonshine for three times the price, I could get filthy rich and who is ever going to know, people will say "This is the smoothest moonshine I've ever had!" and I'll be thinking "Yeah that's cause it's triple filtered vodka."

                    1. re: redfish62

                      You may want to wait before "striking it rich" At @$12 per 1.5 ltr., say you venture out a buy 6 bottles. $72 spent. Now you have 2 gallons @$40 each, you've made $16

                      Cost to make 2gallons of moonshine....@ $6 a gallon. There's ya money ;-(

                  2. re: EvergreenDan

                    good question...I'm sure it's a cultural/tradition thing, plus there are entire dry counties, so you just can't go to a liquor store, and buy cheap spirits. Plus, as mentioned below, the proof is much higher

                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      I thought the proof was higher too, but the Moonshiners show (to the extent that it is a reference) implied that they dilute down to 80-100 proof in the proofing barrel. Certainly $40/gallon for 150 proof hootch would be dirt cheap, but at 80-100 proof -- not so much.

                      Good point on the dry county thing. I didn't realize that whole counties were still dry. Incredible, really, when you consider the cost of law enforcement, lost tax revenue, possible health issues from improper distillation or cutting, and inconvenience to the consumer.

                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        How does it compare to the price of Everclear which available at 150 proof or 191 proof?

                2. How does moonshine differ from Everclear, assuming the moonshine is made of grain?

                  Or for that matter how does it differ from Vodka that is made from grain?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: redfish62

                    Vodka is column-distilled to 190 proof. Moonshine is pot distilled to god-knows-what. Therefore vodka would have less flavor. But after you dump in cheap maraschino cherries or a half a peach, I'm not sure there would be much difference in flavor, no?

                  2. The only moonshine I ever had was on a train from St Petersburg to Moscow. I got friendly with the guards and bought some medals off them for a few bucks. To celebrate the deal they brought out a bottle with a Stolichnaya label on it. Well, the booze was definitely alcoholic but tasted very strongly of potatoes. Went down real well but since we chugged a whole bottle I did not feel at all well when I got to Moscow.

                    1. I have a taste for Ransom WhipperSnapper. It's pot distilled and made from a combination of corn and barley spirits. It is aged for about a year, which may disqualify it as "moonshine," but it's still plenty raw and funky and looks old timey in the bottle.

                      1. Oh, and my dad cooks moonshine in Sweden but you don't want to try it b./c it is bloody awful.