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  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    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.

  2. #12
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    Tim,

    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.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  3. #13
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    >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":

    http://www.cnn.com/2000/FOOD/news/08/28/moonshine.ap/
    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.

    http://www.randlemanland.com/shine.html
    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...

    http://www.mta.ca/pub/reference/article047.html
    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
    of error.


    Tim Dellinger

  4. #14
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    >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".

    Tim Dellinger

  5. #15

    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    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. ************************************************** ****************************

  6. #16
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    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.

    -Troy


  7. #17
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    >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...

    Thanks!

    Tim

  8. #18
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    Tim,

    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!

  9. #19
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    Excellent story, Chaz. Please come around more often.

    Tim

  10. #20
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    Re: Sweet Sippin\' II: Mountain Moonshine

    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.

    Tim

 

 

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