“Moonshine” is a term that for generations implied “illegal” or “non tax-paid” liquor. TTB, our federal regulator, does not recognize “Moonshine” as a legally defined spirit type, so distillers are free to label anything “Moonshine”; and that is one of our biggest problems.
Moonshine is regional, and in our area of the country, it comes in two varieties. Corn Liquor, where the corn is malted, cracked and cooked into “Corn Squeezins” is one type. Traditionally, farmers who had corn left over after a growing season would use that leftover corn to make ‘shine to supplement their family’s income. The second variety, which is more prevalent in ‘Shine made strictly for resale is “Sugar Shine”, which is what we make. Our mashes have some corn and other grains for flavor, but the alcohol comes from cane sugar, dumped in the mash to produce alcohol quicker.
“Legal Moonshine isn’t fittin’ to drink, it just doesn’t taste as good as what I purchase illegally”
For the most part, that is an accurate statement. Up until the last few years, all legal products labeled “Moonshine” were produced by large distilleries, where the emphasis is on profit not quality. Since a “Moonshine” label can be placed on a bottle of anything, these large distillers have been pumping out cheap vodka labeled as “Moonshine”. It takes a small distiller, who is willing to take the time and bear the expense to produce a quality shine. Large companies simply cannot and will not do it.
You should take time to read the label carefully of any shine that you purchase in a retail store. The first giveaway that you are dealing with an everclear based product, are the terms “Grain Neutral Spirit” or “Neutral Grain Spirit”. Those terms require that the distillation point be at or above 190 proof. Spirits distilled at that point have no flavor carryover from the mash and are tasteless. Real handcrafted moonshines have a distinct taste from their mashes, whether corn whiskey or a sugar shine. Don’t be fooled into paying a lot of money for cheap vodka, read the label.
Although folks around here have a clear understanding of what good Moonshine is supposed to taste like, most folks around the country don’t. So the big companies have no reason to make quality because the average buyer doesn’t know the difference. At Rock Bottom, we believe that a fine Moonshine should be superior in quality and drinkability to anything that you can purchase from a mass distiller/bottler.