Monday, October 26, 2009

American Moonshine

On another raining weekend we decided to explore the bar and see what interesting items we hadn't opened. Viola, instantly several different bottles of whiskey appeared - either straight corn whiskey or labeled "moonshine". Why not a comparative tasting. Within our collection were:
  1. Virginia Lightening distilled by Belmont Farm Distillery in Culpeper Virginia. This 100% corn whiskey is double distilled in a copper pot still and diluted to 100 proof.
  2. Mountain Moonshine distilled by West Virginia Distilling Company from Morgantown, West Virginia. Although labeled as moonshine, this is a 80-20 blend of grain neutral spirits and corn. After careful blending, we add oak chips that have been roasted to just the right color. The whiskey is also aged slightly in oak chips.
  3. Catdaddy distilled by Piedmont Distillers, Inc. in Madison, North Carolina. This whiskey is made from 100% corn and is triple distilled in copper pot stills with a few secret ingredients added.
  4. Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon, also from Piedmont Distillers, Inc. is again triple distilled in copper pot stills, but containing neutral grain spirits.
  5. Platte Valley Corn Whiskey distilled by McCormick Distilling and is 100% straight corn whiskey distilled in Illinois and aged for three years.
We tasted each whiskey neat, then added a little water to dampen the alcohol. Overall, there were some interesting products - but the overall favorite was clearly the Platte Valley Corn Whiskey. Maybe it was the aging three years - but this corn whiskey is extremely smooth with little burn even before adding water. It has the sweet corn aroma and flavor expected from corn whiskey and a smooth - smooth finish. The Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon was close, but this moonshine is more characteristic of a vodka. It was also extremely smooth - but didn't possess much aroma or flavor - probably a good candidate for a mixing. It's sibling, Catdaddy, was very interesting. Its spicy character resembled the botanicals in gin; it also reminded us a little of something more suited to Christmas time. Interesting - but not a corn whiskey we'd want to sip after a hard day at work. The Virginia Lightening took a little work to bring forth its true flavors. While drinking neat, the whiskey produces a major burn, which camouflages all sensations. However, by dousing with a few drops of water, the sweet corn aromas and flavor appear and it turns into a nice, drinkable whiskey. Knowing his secret makes it worth supporting a local producer. Finally, the Mountain Moonshine just wasn't so good. Even after adding water, the whiskey produced a healthy burn - surprising considering the oak chips and grain composition. We will be using this one in Bloody Marys.


GrapeEnvyGuy said...

Belmont Distillery also makes Kopper Kettle, a whiskey that's allow to soak up the flavors from toasted chips of applewood. Much mellower than the lightning. It's certainly not an everyday drinker, but it's nice when needed :)

Todd M. Godbout said...

We actually have a bottle of Kopper Kettle and plan to compare to Wasmund's Whiskey since they both are made using the same applewood process. Maybe throw in some North Garden made Applejack.