Moonshine conjures images of backwoods stills, the Duke boys, clandestine deliveries of hooch in jelly jars that’s just as likely to causeblindness
as get you drunk. But that’ll soon change if modern distillers have anything to say about it. They’re now distilling spirits “in the tradition of America’s moonshiners” — white whiskeys. And with white whiskey becoming more common on shelves and whiskey fans eager for something new snapping it up by the jug, this so-called moonshine is poised for a revival the likes of which haven’t been seen since Prohibition.
Whether it’s actually moonshine or not, white whiskey is whiskey that has never seen the inside of an oak barrel. While that means it hasn’t had a chance to take on any of the nuance or complexity that aged whiskeys gain inside an oak barrel, it’s also an opportunity to get a taste of the raw spirit. These young whiskeys are similar to many of the better moonshines, often called “white dogs,” still being made in moonshine stills across the country and provide an opportunity for whiskey fans to taste the elements the spirits are made of. It offers a feel for the true differences between the different spirit bases — from rye to corn or even wheat in some cases.
Whiskey drinkers, being a rabidly loyal group, are glad to have a new way to enjoy their favorite spirit. It’s still a relatively small segment of the market, but growing fast as more and more companies bring out their own ‘shine. It’s no surprise, since from a distiller’s perspective it’s a thrill to sell unaged spirits at a premium. It means no sitting on inventory for months on end waiting for the proper time to sell — especially at the prices these bottles are commanding.