When it comes to alcoholic drinks, many shy away from moonshine, associating the tipple with its illegal past. This is a real shame as there are some great moonshine drinks on the market now and you could be missing out simply by being misinformed, so let’s address this and share a little more information about this drink’s past, how it is made and why you might like to try it.
What is moonshine alcohol?
If you’ve ever watched a film or tv series set during prohibition you have probably come across moonshine as the illegally distilled alcohol made at a time when legally produced alcohol was prohibited in the United States. Claimed at the time to be a ‘social experiment’, prohibition banned the production and sale of legal alcohol across the US from January 1920 and remained in force for 13 years. During this time, many saw an opportunity to profit from the new laws, distilling spirits under the light of the moon to avoid detection – hence the name moonshine.
Moonshine alcohol was illegally transported by bootleggers and sold in speakeasies, which were secretive venues, often only accessed by giving the right password at the door.
The original moonshine drink would have been made from grain or fruit, whatever crop the farmers or landowners could get their hands on. This traditional drink generally had a very high alcohol content and would have been pretty rough around the edges as it was typically made in ramshackle stills that were often hidden away in the hills or mountains to avoid detection.
As it was made by those untrained in distillation methods, the alcohol content varied immensely and often ended up at an unsafe level.
Today’s legal moonshine could not be further from the rough, dangerously alcoholic liquor it derived from. In a modern sense, moonshine is an unaged whisky – usually a clear or tinted liquid (depending on the fruit, vegetable or grain used) that is distilled using traditional methods and bottled at an ABV of 40% or above to preserve the delicate top notes.
Will it appeal to you?
If you enjoy drinking whisky, rum or other spirits and like an uncomplicated drink that focuses its flavour profile on the ingredients it was made from, then moonshine is definitely a good tipple to try. It also makes a great gift for whisky lovers and those who enjoy other spirits, and as you can now buy many different flavoured moonshines, you can experiment with the different tastes and serving methods to find the perfect moonshine drink for you.
How to make the perfect moonshine drink
Traditionally you would sip your ill gotten moonshine straight out of the jar, but nowadays, it’s a cosmopolitan drink that can be served in a variety of ways to suit your preferences. You can, of course, stick to serving it neat or you can try it on the rocks or served with a mixer. The choices are pretty much endless – you can use it as a whisky replacement to make a Manhattan cocktail, serve with coke or lemonade to sweeten things up, or mix with ice tea to make the perfect summer punch.
However you serve it, just remember that although moonshine is steeped in history it has come a long way since then and may well be the next big thing. If, after reading this, you fancy joining the moonshine revolution, take a look at the Sweet Potato Spirit Company which distils a range of spirits, including moonshine from handpicked sweet potatoes.