View Full Version : Sweet Sippin' II: Mountain Moonshine
Sweet Sippin' II: Mountain Moonshine
(Second in a series)
West Virginia Spirit Whiskey
West Virginia Distilling Co., LLC, Morganton, WV
"Proudly brought to you by West Virginia's best distillers.
This product is made from the finest corn whiskey, blended with
corn grain neutral spirits, to produce a genuine West Virginia
"Blended with 20% Corn Whiskey, 80% grain neutral spirits,
distilled from corn. Less than 30 days old."
What is authentic moonshine? To some people, moonshine
means rocket fuel, 150+ proof, not to be swallowed without
dilution. To others, moonshine should taste like a mouth
full sweet corn. These boys in WV have decided to walk the
line: they incorporate both syles, successfully, in their
"Mountain Moonshine". I have a feeling that this is just
the style they like best. It's what I like to call Good
Design. They have achieved balance.
Color: crystal clear
Nose: light and spirity, a touch plummy, with the "sweet
alcohol" notes that some people recognise in isopropyl alcohol
or straight ethanol. Green grapes.
Sip, sip, sippin': Candy corns, plummy, jelly beans, at times
fruity. As a matter of fact, if people are gonna use the term
"dark fruits" then I'll use the term "green fruits" - kinda like
the green apples that you don't let the cows eat since it makes
the milk sour.
Finish: slightly plummy, some graham crackers.
Overall: Most of us whiskey drinkers are used to the "bass
notes" that hit you as it sits on our tongue, perhaps some
spicy notes if what we're drinkin' has some rye in it.
If you think those two things are essential, then you'll be
a little disappointed. Me, I can enjoy this stuff. It's
not deep and complex, but it has a surprising aspect to it:
it has yummy-ness and drinkability. I think if they'd gone
with 100% corn whiskey, it would have been too much... but
blending it with higher proof 'shine makes it round and
well balanced... which is more than I can say about a lot
of aged whiskies out there!
Some might call it "Absolut Corn", but I think that would
be disrespectful to the robust squeezin's in this bottle,
which I recommend to anyone who wants something light and
delicious: Sweet Nectar of Corn.
Oh, yes, lest I ferget:
Mountain Moonshine is made by two fellers by the name of
Bo McDaniel and Payton Fireman,
and they procured for themselves West Virginia's
first distilled spirits licence: WV-DRB-1
I applaud their ambition.
They've got a website at
Cost per bottle at retail is less than $13/bottle.
I'd like to give Special Thanks to Chuck Logsdon
for procuring this bottle for me. Thanks Chuck!
I owe you one!
Well shit, a product where the only places you can get it are where it is made and the communist control state of ohio (I am actually privy to something rare???) GAWLEEE!!!
LOL I just might have to buy a bottle, I remember seeing it rather cheap.
Glad to help out. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif
This product is a blend of corn whiskey and neutral grain spirits, so how closely will this approximate the 'sugar' moonshine they talked about on that Discovery Channel special? I realize no matter WHAT you're bottling at this young age you'll get a raw, unpolished product, but does it really taste like 'shine, especially since NEITHER grain nor (in most cases) corn is involved in moonshining?
>I realize no matter WHAT you're bottling at this young age you'll get a raw,
It's actually pretty smooth. Taking a small center-cut or distilling to
higher proof can take away the "raw, unpolished" edge. Perhaps I'll do
a side-by-side tasting with, say, Ten High to calibrate smoothness.
>but does it really taste like 'shine, especially since
>NEITHER grain nor (in most cases) corn is involved in moonshining?
Well, you're making big claims there, claims that I have to
disagree with. Moonshiners have traditionally used corn, and
even after sugar became popular, corn was still added for flavor.
Corn is pretty much an integral part of the traditional "moonshine
flavor." If you'd like a handfull of books to read about traditional
moonshine, I can give you a bibliography.
(As I touched on in my tasting notes, there are as many styles of
moonshine as there are moonshiners... so "does it taste like 'shine?"
is a pretty difficult question to answer.)
I am both gladdened and slightly amused that you are so knowledgeable about the variations on the 'shine theme.
Your post caused me to conjure up a vision of www.Moonshine.com. (http://www.Moonshine.com.) Right now there may be a debate going on there between Billy Joe Bob and Bobby Joe Bill, who are discussing the proper proportions of ingredient X and why the American drinking public has turned to more refined liquor at the expense of the moonshine industry. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
>I am both gladdened and slightly amused that you are so knowledgeable
>about the variations on the 'shine theme.
It's just part of my interest in American Whiskies... as a matter of
fact, I consider it crucial to the understanding of the evolution of
spirits in America. In addition, it is a uniquely American cultural
phenomenon, like baseball. (Note that the Brits have their own, similar
traditions, but ours are so... American.) I think I posted an outline
for what I considered to be the knowlege required to graduate Bourbon 101,
201, etc. a while back... 'shine is definitely part of the coursework!
>Right now there may be a debate going on there between Billy Joe Bob and
>Bobby Joe Bill, who are discussing the proper proportions of ingredient X
>and why the American drinking public has turned to more refined liquor at
>the expense of the moonshine industry.
You jest? Such things are out there for those who know how to find them!
Tim, you're obviously a lot more in-the-know when it comes to moonshine history and culture, but when I ask "does it taste like 'shine?" I'm not talking about Uncle Jed the whiskey enthusiast crafting a fine mashbill in his basement. I'm talking about the 'pop the trunk and sell me a jug of illegal hooch' kind.
Are you claiming that most of today's moonshine is corn-based?
Dave, I know some well-to-do people out in the country who know good whiskey and prefer moonshine. They gave me a taste one time: http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif
My sense is that while "every moonshiner is different," there are a couple of main strains.
1. The businessman. This individual has customers who want cheap, potent spirits. Somehow, he has to make something that's cheaper than buying Everclear. Even if he has to transport the Everclear into a dry county, that's a tough hurdle. The solution is sugar, because it ferments, easily, quickly and completely, with minimal hassle and little telltale odor.
2. The traditionalist. This individual probably has been shining all of his life, like his pappy and grandpappy before him. Sure, there's money involved, but mostly he just does it because he's always done it. He also has definite ideas about how it should be done and he sticks to the old family recipe.
3. The craftsman. Like the traditionalist, this person isn't doing it so much for the money but because he likes doing it and likes the product. The main difference between the craftsman and the traditionalist is that the craftsman may experiment a little bit, trying to make the best product he can.
4. The fraud. This person acquires alcohol in any form, maybe making it, maybe buying it, maybe stealing it, but probably "positions" his product as good ole country shine just like grandpappy used to make. His product might kill you or make you blind. He doesn't care.
Maybe there are some other variations, but those are the four that come to mind.
I'm sure that our preferences, including those of your well-to-do friends, have a lot to do with our early experiences, whether positive or negative. Furthermore, after someone develops a taste for something extremely potent, it's easy to understand how "the good stuff" could seem bland by comparison.
I'd like to sample traditional moonshine once in my life, but I'd be surprised if I came to crave a second drink. Given the huge difference between Wild Turkey 101 and the 12 year-old version, I can't imagine how rough even WT would be if aged only during the trip from the still to my home.
Come to think of it, would the distillate of an all-sugar recipe contain as many rough-tasting elements as a that of a corn/rye/barley mashbill? Maybe the all-sugar recipe doesn't need aging to the same degree.
>but when I ask "does it taste like 'shine?" I'm not talking about Uncle Jed the
>whiskey enthusiast crafting a fine mashbill in his basement. I'm talking about
>the 'pop the trunk and sell me a jug of illegal hooch' kind.
Well, those are often the same people! Like I said before, there are as
many styles of 'shine as there are 'shiners. If you look in terms of
population, I'd say a majority are backyard hobbyists who make likker
for themselves and to sell (or give away) people they know. They *mostly*
use grain (perhaps plus sugar), although there is a growing contingent that
uses straight sugar, mostly baby-boomer aged people, who are increasingly
using packed column stills instead of pot stills.
If instead you look at gallons produced, most of the "big profit operations" do,
in fact, use at least some grain, (although there are going to be some
who use straight sugar.)
A few recipes from the "big profit operations":
Along one wall stretches a row of huge vats, big enough to bathe in, fashioned by hand from white pine. Each vat holds a concoction of 300 gallons of spring water, 300 pounds of sugar, 50 pounds of rye and a pound of yeast, fermenting frothily like a cauldron of angry cappuccino.
The government confiscated from the store and the warehouse 9,648 one-gallon jugs, 32 100-pound bags of sugar, 4 bags of rye and 14 boxes of Mason jars, and from Ramsey Helms's home a gun, radio scanners and a family photo album. Nine days after the raid, Ramsey Helms put a gun to his chest and killed himself. Since then, the agents have frozen $86,442 in William Helms's checking accounts...
Distillers pour in hundreds of kilograms of sugar mixed with yeast, bran, and malt to form a sweet syrup called mash, which is left to ferment for about a week.
Personally, I think a few things are happening here.
1 - What sells is what people will make.
2 - Trial and error tells you what the beer geeks already know: yeast
requires soluble nitrogen (i.e. amino acids) in order to grow and multiply.
Straight sugar has no nitrogen, but grains do.
3 - The light beer phenomenon. It's actually MORE difficult to make Miller
Lite than it is to make Guiness. Why? With Miller Lite, there's
less taste to cover up your mistakes, so every little problem you have
shows up in the finished product! With Guiness, you've got a larger margin
>Come to think of it, would the distillate of an all-sugar recipe contain
>as many rough-tasting elements as a that of a corn/rye/barley mashbill?
>Maybe the all-sugar recipe doesn't need aging to the same degree.
It all depends on the strain of yeast used, the fermentation conditions,
and how it was distilled. There's no hard and fast rule connecting
mashbill to "roughness".
Boudreaux been fish'n down by de bayou all day an he done run outa night crawlers.
He be bout reddy to leave when he seed a snake wit a big frog in his mout.
He knowed that them big bass fish like frogs so he decided to steal dat froggie.
That snake, hit be a cottn mouthed water moccasin so he had to be real careful or he'd get bit.
He snuk up behind the snake and grabbed him roun the haid.
That ole snake din't lik dat one bit.
He squirmed and wrapped hisself roun Boudreaux's arm try'n to get himself free.
But Boudreaux, him, had a real good grip on his haid, yeh.
Well, Boudreaux pried hit's mout open and got de frog and puts it in his bait can.
Now, Boudreaux knows that he cain't let go dat snake or hit's gonna bite him good,
but he had a plan. He reached into the back pocket of his bib overhauls and pulls out a pint o'moonshine likker.
He pours a couple of draps into the snakes mout. Well, that snake's eyeballs roll back in hits haid and hits body limp.
Wit dat Boudreaux toss's dat snake into the bayou den he goes back to fishin.
A while later Boudreaux dun feel sumpin tappin on his barefoot toe.
He slowly look down and dare dat water mocassin was with two frogs in his mouth. ************************************************** ****************************
Dave, you said: "I can't imagine how rough even WT would be if aged only during the trip from the still to my home."
And then Tim said: "It all depends on the strain of yeast used, the fermentation conditions, and how it was distilled. There's no hard and fast rule connecting mashbill to "roughness".
Since this thread has been moved to Off Topic, I feel a little easier about throwing in some comments about alabama whiskey and tequila. I know this discussion is about moonshine, but in regard to distillation/roughness, some good examples of young but smooth spirits would be El Tesoro Silver 100% blue agave tequila and Conecuh Ridge whiskey.
Conecuh Ridge is aged for perhaps a year but I found it to be extremely smooth and too easy to drink. I think it was Tim who remarked that this may be from distilling at a high proof and then cutting with water. This whiskey is made in the tradition of a recent family moonshine recipe so I guess you could say it is an authentic example of genuine smooth 'shine.
El Tesoro silver is actually distilled at 80 proof. No water is added to this tequila. And it is bottled within 24 hours of distillation. Needless to say, this tequila is very flavorful but has practically no rough edges. A surprisingly smooth and enjoyable drink. Of course this might be easier to pull off with agave based drinks rather than corn based liquors but I was really impressed.
>Since this thread has been moved to Off Topic...
Could one of the moderators move this thread (or at least the first
few posts) back to the Tastings section? The original post is 100%
formal tasting notes, and, as a matter of fact, is the second in a
series of three. (Possibly four...)
It seems that there are three moderators for tastings and four for
off-topic, so I'm not sure who I should talk to about this one!
I'd like to have all of my tastings in the Tastings section so that I
(and others) can find them there.
I see how moonshine can be hard to put into any of the discussion
categories that we have... it's not really "Foreign", and it's not
quite right for "History". Personally, I consider it "prehistoric Bourbon",
i.e. it's what bourbon was before it was bourbon.
I'd rather not have it in the "Off Topic" section, which is really for
non-whiskey stuff... motorcycles, Disney world, banjos, shotguns...
I moved your post because, although it does include formal tasting notes, it does not pertain to bourbon, as is technically the requirement to be included in the bourbon section of the bbs. Because of your request I went back 6 or 7 pages on the tasting board to see if this has been allowed in the past. I couldn't find anything that wasn't bourbon related. This does pose an interesting questions though. I'll talk to Jim about a more appropriate placement for your fine tasing notes! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Excellent story, Chaz. Please come around more often.
There are bottles of legal "white lightning" in my ABC stores, called Georgia Moon. It comes in a Mason jar. You probably can't get it in California, though.
I never tried it myself. I remember what those country gentlemen gave me. Basically, it was corn vodka. One taste was enough to last a lifetime, like you said.
Haha, forgot about that Georgia Moon stuff... Like you said, one taste was enough for me for a lifetime as well. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
I can't imagine how rough even WT would be if aged only during the trip from the still to my home.
Another reason to visit the Bourbon Festival and go on a distillery tour, See they got this stuff called white dog and I guess none of them will sell any in that state but they let you drink freely of it when you are watching them take off a run on the stills. If you did that you know without being told that it is as smooth as water , there is a flavor component that will always be present no matter how long it gets aged and it is minus the caramel and wood flavors. It's one of those things, you have to be there I guess. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Bass like them cottonmouths, too....
When I lived in South Florida in the early 80s, there was a story - I believe it was in the paper, either that or BassMasters magazine - about a fisherman who caught a sizable bass. The fisherman grabbed the bass by the lower jaw to lift it out of the water. The story goes that a just swallowed cotton mouth came out of the bass' gullet and bit the fisherman on the hand.
Is this true? I have no idea. My memory may be fading me. But, it is a heckuva story. Makes you think twice before grabbing that jaw. ;-)
I know from experience that those South Florida cotton mouths are ornery. I've never been bitten, but I have had them challenge my boat (at that time, 12' aluminum). The dang snake just came right at us. He wasn't afraid a bit. We had to hit him with the oar to keep him away from the boat.
Here's another story I read when I lived in South Florida. Allegedly, a fisherman had caught both an 8 lb bass and a 9 lb bass on the same cast.
The story was that the first fish hit a live shiner, but the shiner blew through the bass' gill. A second bass then hit the now available shiner and was hooked. The fisherman had a heck of a battle on his hand, but landed both.
I do find this one hard to believe, but I remember reading it from an allegedly reliable source.
I have caught two bass on the same lure when casting a crank bait into a feeding frenzy where several small bass are feeding on a school of bait fish. Even though the two bass are small (about 1 lb each), they create a bigger fight than having a 2 lb fish on. It's really surprising how it feels like a big fish on the line. This makes me think how big a battle the previous fisherman must have had. If his story is true, he must have thought he had a world record on the line (over 22 lb.).
It is available here Tim. Beverages & More carries it in every one of their stores I've been in.
Never had the guts to try it though http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif
Okay, I'm glad it is available out there. But, I don't think you should necessarily try it unless your curiosity gets the best of you. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
I dont have a very big history in this subject, but I "know some people who know some people. . ." and have sampled a few of the locals finest. At worst it is what I would imagine turpentine to be like, at best it is startingly similar to the "white dog" that ran of the still at L&G when we visited last sept. Quite good http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif.
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