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Tasting Notes: Georgia Moon brand Corn Whiskey


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Georgia Moon brand Corn Whiskey

bottled by "The Johnson Distilling Co.", Bardstown, KY

80 Proof

I wanted to like this stuff. I really did. Mostly

because I'm a big believer that under-aged whiskies can

be glorious and enjoyable. You may also have noticed that

Georgia Moon is available EVERYWHERE, so you'd be entirely

justified in thinking that making it your friend might be a

wise investment of your time. But, alas, a word of warning

to those who are tempted: you will be disappointed. But take

this not as a condemnation of the entire category... just a

bad apple which hopefully doesn't spoil the whole bunch.

The Packaging: comes in a "fruit jar"-style 750 mL container

with a wide-mouth screw-on lid. The label conveys a

light-hearted feeling, meant to be somewhat humorous,

declaring "Less than 30 days old." It's a little hard to

pour from the wide-mouth, but this can be forgiven.

The Nose: Ugh! Nasty cardboard with light hints of boiled

cabbage and brussel sprouts. An immediate put-off. Smells

like B.O.! The words "rancid" and "musty" come to mind.

There are some plummy notes struggling to be heard, but

there is nothing light or flowery in there, at least none

that I can sense.

The Sip: This requires a great deal of courage after the

nose. But that's fine... I've had cognac that smells

terrible, but is enjoyable after you get it in your

mouth. On the tongue there are some of the light candy corn

notes that you really wanted when you bought the stuff, but

mostly it's just like what I imagine it's like to lick an armpit.

(I have no experience in armpit licking, and thus cannot

authoritatively state the similarities...) More of the rancid

and musty notes come through, which overwhelm any plummy flavors

that might tempt you to think about enjoying yourself.

The Finish: At this point, you'll be thoroughly disgusted,

and will be pondering how quickly you can throw your glass

into the sink.

A few days later, I actually had the bravery to try a second glass,

this time with ice. Result: the ice kills everything that shows

promise, and accentuates everything that is wrong. I briefly

pondered using it to pollute some Coca-Cola, but decided against

it.

Overall:

What crap! The "Johnson Distilling Co." should be embarrassed

and ashamed of themselves! It is an outrage that this, the

most visible and most widely available corn whiskey should

be so gut-wrenchingly terrible! Is it really that hard to

take a skinnier cut when distilling? The only excuse that I

can possibly think of for this crap is that it is part of

a conspiracy: the idea being that by flooding the market

with really bad corn whiskey, the category will get a bad name

for itself, thereby protecting the low-end bourbon market

from unaged (and thus less expensive) whiskies.

The really sad thing is that there are people who believe in

unaged corn whiskey, who really want to enjoy it, and who buy

it with hope. White lightning lovers of the world, let it

be known that there are better products out there, and although

you might have to work hard to find them, you will be rewarded

in the end.

Tim Dellinger

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The following should not be interpreted as a defense of Georgia Moon, but perhaps as an explanation.

The brand is marketed as a novelty. It is meant not to replicate good corn whiskey but to replicate the public image of moonshine. Consequently, it's probably appropriate that the product be bad.

Georgia Moon is unaged and the best corn whiskey has some age on it. Heaven Hill actually makes several corn whiskies (e.g., Mellow Corn), any of which is better than its Georgia Moon, but Georgia Moon gets the distribution because of its novelty positioning, mason jar packaging, etc.

In addition to Heaven Hill's products, McCormick still makes and sells Platte Valley, but of course it is not widely available either.

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HHBOURBONMAN

Hey Chuck! I have to be careful as I poke around on these forums...its a dangerous place for me!

Chuck you are exactly right about Georgia Moon...a novelty brand we at HH inherited some years ago because we were and still are the only national supplier of corn whiskey (even the ubiquitous Platte Valley is now our whiskey!). The lines on it are "Less than 30 days old" and "First Ya Swaller, Then Ya Holler", so it obviously is what it is. You are also right about our aged corn whiskeys...Mellow Corn (esp. the Bond), Dixie Dew, JW Corn, all nice but real hard to find except in pockets in the south and southwest. The whole category is down to us and some guy named Gib in the backwoods of North Carolina!

Like rye, we'll keep making it and I suspect there will be some increased interest in it in the future, taking the whole category up to nothing from less than nothing. But I keep talking about it to people, especially foreign journalists, especially since they never see it. I think there is about a case at La Maison Du Whisky in Paris to supply the rest of the world...

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Tell 'em it's "Kentucky Grappa."

Thanks, Larry, for that about Platte Valley. I have been unable to determine if McCormick does any distillation these days or just some blending and bottling. Increasing, it appears they do not.

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Hey Larry,

I have to be careful as I poke around on these forums...its a dangerous place for me!

No Sir, please don't be skeered... lol.gif We are tickled to have you with us. I love hearing from folks as close to the source as possible. You are most definitely one of those folks. We'll watch-out-ferya... wink.giflol.gif

I have given Georgia Moon as a gag gift in a couple of From Kentucky baskets. (I always included good Bourbon too... wink.gif) You're exactly right. It is what it is... Sort of The Anti-Bourbon lol.gif Hell, it doesn't even claim to be from Kentucky. It says 'Georgia' right on the label...

And, I'm not sure I really know anyone who buys unaged corn whiskey with hope of much of anything... skep.gif I guess it happens, but not in Bourbon country... lol.gif

I appreciate your candor, welcome to the board.

Bj

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Keep making it please, Larry. You turned me on to Mellow Corn and it is a nice little addition to my supply. Good conversation starter and decent drink.

Greg

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To echo Greg here, I was sufficiently impressed by Mellow Corn the day you hosted us at Heaven Hill. I don't have my bottle yet as Jim Murray says I should have. All in good time I suppose. grin.gif

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I felt bad when I wrote up these tasting notes, but my sense of

disappointment is probably what made me post them. I'm very

enthusiastic about the corn whiskey / underaged whiskey / moonshine

category, and so I had high expectations for the "category leader".

I will generally base tasting notes on at least three separate tasting

sessions, each of which are at least a week apart from each other.

For this tasting, the experience was just so striking that I posted

after only two tasting sessions.

As I mentioned in another thread, Virginia's ABC reports selling

over 50,000 bottles of corn whiskey in FY 2003. Somebody's gotta

be drinkin' this stuff! So the other day I went back and stuck my

finger in it. And then the next day I did the same. Then last

night I got up the courage to pour myself some for drinkin'.

And I sort of kicked myself. Why didn't I think of this? Of

course it's going to benefit from a little oxidation!

It has now transformed from "raw" to "palatable". I think

a second round of tasting notes is called for!

I stand by my original tasting notes, since I consider them

to be an accurate description of my original experience, but

I've come to realize that there's more to Georgia Moon than

my first impressions.

Tim Dellinger

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bluesbassdad

I stand by my original tasting notes, since I consider them

to be an accurate description of my original experience, ...

Tim,

Remember, if you don't replicate it, it isn't science. grin.gif Do I see tasting notes on another freshly opened bottle, er... make that "jar", of Georgia Moon somewhere in your future? lol.gif

Yours truly,

Dave "Never had the nerve to try it" Morefield

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  • 1 year later...

So is Mellow Corn simply Georgia Moon that has been aged? Or is it an entirely different mash, distillation proof, etc.?

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I doubt anyone's white dog tastes much different than Georgia Moon. If new spirit (whether with rye or not) was all that great bourbon never would have been invented! It is the years in wood that took out those hog tracks. This is why Mellow Corn tastes so much better than GM, it's aged longer, and why bourbon tastes better than MC - it's aged longer and all in new charred wood.

With all the discussion about rebarreling going on I don't know why none of us thought of the obvious - put GM or MC in that little keg and see if it doesn't turn into bourbon in two or three years. It has to, basically.

I believe the reason corn whiskey has a legal spec of minimum 80% corn is because too much small grains especially rye would, added to all those new distillation tastes, make the product undrinkable. Corn whiskey, to be palatable, was given an 80% corn minimum content - and clearly the unaged article still is not great.

There is a reason rectification developed as a major industry in the 19th century. Making bourbon is the old pre-industrial way to rectify...

Gary

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NorCalBoozer

doh!!! thats quite an interesting idea!

With all the discussion about rebarreling going on I don't know why none of us thought of the obvious - put GM or MC in that little keg and see if it doesn't turn into bourbon in two or three years. It has to, basically.

Gary

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Interesting - yes. But Bourbon?

I'm not sure that Georgia Moon or Mellow Corn contain any rye. For ease of mashing, I would guess they do contain a good dose of malted barley. They _could_ have a mashbill similar to Old Charter, which rumour has it is on the edge of satisfying the 81% corn stricture of a straight corn whiskey, but I don't know of any reason to think they actually do.

When I asked Parker Beam at the Festival whether Mellow Corn would continue to develop more interesting characteristics if aged longer than the bonded period they use, he said something like "no, it's just corn whiskey."

Roger

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Edward_call_me_Ed
Interesting - yes. But Bourbon?

I'm not sure that Georgia Moon or Mellow Corn contain any rye. For ease of mashing, I would guess they do contain a good dose of malted barley. They _could_ have a mashbill similar to Old Charter, which rumour has it is on the edge of satisfying the 81% corn stricture of a straight corn whiskey, but I don't know of any reason to think they actually do.

Roger

I just took a look at the regs and the way I read it, a bourbon mash need not contain any rye nor any wheat, just 51% or more corn. So, if the mashbill is, say, 90% corn 10% malted barley, and the distilling and barreling regs are followed for bourbon, you get bourbon, don't you?

Here is the relevant section of the regs.

(1)(i) "Bourbon whisky", "rye whisky", "wheat whisky", "malt whisky", or "rye

malt whisky" is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a

fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley,

or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in

charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of

the same type.

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But bourbon need not have rye in it to be bourbon. As you noted, there is so little rye in Old Charter that one wonders what it adds to the equation. Conversely, corn whiskey need not be only corn and barley malt to be corn whiskey.

Gary

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Randy_Ricchi

I'm puzzled by the original poster's description of Georgia Moon. He talks about B.O., armpits (same thing), and cooked cabbage. I've tried this stuff off and on over the last 20 years or so, and I've always gotten sweet corn, both in the nose and on the palate.

While I'm not crazy about the stuff, it isn't that bad. I remember reading somewhere (online, I'm sure - I think it was an interview with a distiller) that it is a good example of what bourbon tastes like before it goes into the barrel.

I agree with one of the recent posts to this thread that this would be a good whiskey to age in one of those small, toasted barrels that can be found online for a reasonable price. That would be a fun experiment, and wouldn't take too long to see some improvement in the liquor, assuming a pretty small barrel.

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I doubt anyone's white dog tastes much different than Georgia Moon.

I usually agree with Gary's insightful views, but I'm going to dissent here. I think that there is probably quite a difference between corn white dog and rye white dog, for instance. Now it might well be that they all taste rather raw and feinty, but I think that we could surely tell the difference between, say, Maker's Mark white dog and Old Overholt rye white dog. (Or did you mean anybody's bourbon white dog?)

Fritz Maytag is trying to in some way emulate 18th century rye whiskey, which was little aged. And Malt Advocate (I think it was) had an article a few years ago about Revolutionary period rye whiskey (Korn). This is, I think, probably related to schnapps and vodka.

I believe the reason corn whiskey has a legal spec of minimum 80% corn is because too much small grains especially rye would, added to all those new distillation tastes, make the product undrinkable.

One of my projects of the future is to investigate this first hand. I have my resources!

Corn whiskey, to be palatable, was given an 80% corn minimum content - and clearly the unaged article still is not great.

I think the legal minimum is to produce something like the unaged or lightly aged corn whiskey of the past, and not to produce something palatable, necessarily.

Jeff

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corn whiskey need not be only corn and barley malt to be corn whiskey.

More dissent here (my last post was started several hours before I finished it, and there were intervening posts).

Corn whiskey need not have any barley malt in it. I could well be 100% corn and be mashed either with malted corn (as in the old days with moonshine) or with amylase enzymes from fungi or bacteria.

Jeff

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I just took a look at the regs and the way I read it, a bourbon mash need not contain any rye nor any wheat, just 51% or more corn. So, if the mashbill is, say, 90% corn 10% malted barley, and the distilling and barreling regs are followed for bourbon, you get bourbon, don't you?

Here is the relevant section of the regs.

(1)(i) "Bourbon whisky", "rye whisky", "wheat whisky", "malt whisky", or "rye

malt whisky" is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a

fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley,

or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in

charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of

the same type.

Ed,

You may be right, but the clause in the regs that I believe is salient is not what you quoted. From the regs here in section 5.22(B) is the following _very elastic_ clause:

"``Whisky'' is an alcoholic distillate from a

fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190 deg. proof in such

manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and

characteristics generally attributed to whisky"

The passage then goes on to identify specific types of whiskey. Now, it's definitely open to interpretation, but I would think that each of the specific types named in the passage would also have to satisfy the clause that "the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to (bourbon, straight rye, straight corn, etc.) whisky." How this is adjudicated, I don't know, but it seems that bourbon must seem like bourbon - and my supposition is that one doesn't get bourbon character without a flavor grain. I don't believe all white dog is the same at all.

Who's right? Who cares - if it gives further cause for quaffable "study" the debate has it's own rewards.

So, do we get law school credits if we carry on this esoterica long enough? :grin:

Roger

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All comments made are valid and I don't disagree with anything Jeff said. I did mean bourbon white dog when I said I suspect all white dog is more or less similar. I know that barley malt isn't a necessary component of any whiskey but mentioned it since its use is almost invariable as far as I know. As for corn whiskey requiring a spec of minimum 80% corn content, I know that legal standards followed historical example but I believe that original corn moonshine and corn whiskey were made to a high corn content because their flavour was better than if mixed with too much rye. We can see from whiskey with a high rye content that is not aged that long (relatively), from the examples Jeff mentioned, how powerful a palate that is. Even Georgia Moon doesn't approach it in my opinion. Of course part of this has to do with how far under 160 proof the liquor is distilled at, but only to a point I think. I don't have a lot of experience with Georgia Moon, I do have some Mellow Corn and tried it tonight. I find it quite redolent of corn (to me it smells and tastes almost of frying oil) but with no feinty tastes and again it has been aged for a time, probably in a used container which modified the original taste. My sample has a faint bourbon note which may indicate aging in a used bourbon barrel or even maybe a new one at least for a time. New spirit of any kind can have pungent characteristics but everyone views them differently or with their own words. In any case I do believe if Mellow Corn was aged in a small keg under conditions similar to what Doug has been doing it would produce a palatable bourbon-like drink. If one wanted more rye tang some Old Potrero could be added, the two year old high proof version (malted or non-) would be ideal. I think I'd combine that and a 100 proof Mellow Corn. True, the corn whiskey may not have been aged in new charred wood but that should not matter in the end (to whether a bourbon-like palate emerges).

Gary

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NorCalBoozer

so the question for me is, is georgia moon's mashbill specific for georgia moon? I'm sure it could be barrelled and aged, but if it's not anywhere near a bourbon mashbill, i don't see the point in spending the money to fill a toasted barrell when;

a.) there are other young bourbons that I can buy for almost the same price, that have a better flavor profile.

b.) when it ages, it's really not good and requires mature bourbon added to it to create a palatable drink. I don't think GM is "bourbon starter" so to speak in that regard.

but in the end, it's really gonna have to take someone to put it in a barrel and test it. I'll leave the science up to you guys, I'm not near as educated on the process of distillation. But it's great to have the input b/c I am still deciding what to put in my second toasted barrel. (WT Rye is going in the first)

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On the Heaven Hill website, it refers to its corn whiskeys (showing a picture of Georgia Moon, Mellow Corn and one other) as requiring at least 81% corn and the rest malted barley and rye. I read this to mean HH's corn whiskeys have some rye even though the legal definition of corn whiskey does not require those or any specific small grains, merely that the whiskey be made from at least 80% corn. The rest can be any other cereals under the basic defintion of whiskey. But since HH's corn whiskeys seem to contain some rye, they may be suitable to be aged into bourbon or a bourbon-like drink.

Even if they had no rye, though (say it was 90% corn and 10% barley malt) that is still a potential bourbon mash since bourbon is required only to have at least 51% corn content in the mash: the rest can be any kind of cereal grains. In other words, a bourbon can legally be made from a mash of, say 90% corn and 10% barley malt.

What would it taste like? I am not sure, maybe like some of the wheated bourbons. Wheat seems to contribute not that much to bourbon from what I can see, maybe it is used because less costly than malting barley. If it was me doing it though I'd want something that is 100 proof, barreling under that may (I am not sure) cause too much wood extract to enter the spirit. I am not sure if Georgia Moon comes in 100 proof though. So I'd probably go with Mellow Corn's 100 proof version, maybe adding some 2 year old Potrero (the earlier high proof version if possible and either the 18th or 19th century version). I am not sure what results would come from it though but in theory I can't think one could go far wrong. Still, if Parker Beam said corn whiskey shouldn't be aged into bourbon, I am sure he felt he had a good reason. Maybe he simply feels that an 80%+ corn spec is too high, not that it won't make bourbon, but not good bourbon. I don't know the corn content of the HH rye-recipe bourbons but surely they are all under 80% and he probably considers he gets a better flavor that way because of the rye in the small grains.

Gary

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Following this discussion has prompted a couple of questions.

Mellow Corn is bottled in bond; that requires four years on a corn whiskey as well, right?

And does the distiller of a 81% corn mashbill have the option of labeling the resulting whiskey either bourbon or corn whiskey?

Thanks for any answers.

And just to try to keep this on "tastings," I've not had Georgia Moon, but Mellow Corn is all right IMO. Simple, but not really a negative.

Bob

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4 years old for bonded corn, yes I think that is right, but there is no option to call it bourbon if it wasn't aged in all-new charred barrels, and clearly Mellow Corn wasn't. A corn whiskey cannot be termed as such and aged even for a time in new charred wood, so the reverse case, a cereal whiskey of at least 80% corn grain aged for a time in new charred wood, can't be called corn whiskey but can if distilled at under 160 degrees proof and entered at not >125 proof be called bourbon or, if the producer prefers, just whiskey - is my understanding.

Gary

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Edward_call_me_Ed

Straight Corn must be unaged or aged in used cooperage or new barrels that have not been charred, so saith the regs. Therefore, while Old Charter has a mashbill that could be made into Straight Corn (at least that is what I have always heard, here and elsewhere) it can only be labeled bourbon as it was aged in new charred barrels. And that goes for George T Stagg, Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare which all share the same high corn mashbill.

Oh, and I had a pour of Georgia Moon last night. Sweet, not harsh and no hint of armpit. Feinty, though. Not likely to make the normal rotation. Something in it that is reminiscent of a Tequila Blanco, but not as nice.

Ed

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