Usually made with corn mash as its main ingredient (similar to bourbon), moonshine is an unaged whiskey that was historically distilled illicitly by the light of the moon (get it?). It’s pretty much the perfect spirit for summer imbibing. What could be better than sitting on a back porch, overlooking a field, while you pass around a jar of ‘shine? Plus, moonshine, the illicit, high-proof, distilled spirit, that’s been produced on secret stills deep in the woods actually became legal (with the right regulations) in 2010.
That means that you no longer have to worry about whether or not your cousin’s, best friend’s, uncle’s moonshine is going to make you go blind or their mountain still is going to explode. The legalization of the spirit has also led to many major brands producing their own store-bought versions of the clear stuff in the last few years. Check out some of the best moonshine below and get to sippin’.
Hudson New York Corn Whiskey
This 92-proof white whiskey is made using a blend of locally-sourced corn. The result is a smooth, sweet, slow-sipping whiskey that doesn’t need to be aged to be enjoyed. On a side note, this is the same white whiskey that is aged to make Hudson’s Baby Bourbon. So, buy one of each and compare them side by side.
Or just drink them. That’s what we’d do.
High West Silver Whiskey Oat
This barely-aged whiskey is made using 85 percent oats and 15 percent barley. The unique mash bill gives this spirit a truly distinct flavor. It’s called “Silver” as a reference to rum and tequilas that are also unaged.
This moonshine is small-batch, copper still produced and left to rest in toasted oak barrels for a tiny amount of time. The result is a sweet, almost nutty whiskey with hints of coconut, toffee, and vanilla.
George Dickel White Corn Whisky
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George Dickel, just like Maker’s Mark, has decided to spell whisky without the ‘e’ — in a tribute to their Scottish ancestors. Another tribute to its ancestors is George Dickel’s White Corn Whisky. At 91 proof, this spirit is the base for the Tennessee whisky brand’s offerings. Dickel’s patented “Chilled Charcoal Mellowing” gives this unaged whisky a smooth, sweet flavor.
Glendalough Mountain Strength Poitín
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If you’ve never heard of poitín, it’s Ireland’s version of moonshine. In recent years, as enthusiasm for white whiskey has risen, many Irish distillers have begun making this spirit again. Glendalough’s version is made with sugar beets and malted barley. It’s rested in virgin oak barrels briefly, before bottling.
This 80 proof spirit is smooth, buttery, and surprisingly easy to drink.
Ole Smoky Original Tennessee Moonshine
Ole Smoky was one of the first distilleries to get in on the American Moonshine craze. In fact, the Gatlinburg, Tennessee-based distillery was the first group to apply for a license in 2010. Since then, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, while producing high-quality moonshine ever since. It makes a whole slew of flavored moonshines, but its best is its Original.
This 100-proof moonshine has a sweet corn flavor that is perfect for mixing or slow sipping.
Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey
Popcorn Sutton was one of the most famous moonshiners to ever live. Using a century-old recipe, Sutton spent years making moonshine in rural Cocke County, Tennessee. This white whiskey is distilled in his honor. At 88 percent, it’s probably not as high-proof as Sutton would have preferred, but they do make it in a facility close to where Sutton himself distilled.
It’s sweet, potent, and exactly what you hope for when you take a swig of moonshine.
Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1
Just like in Tennessee, at one point, Kentucky was full of illicit stills cranking out white whiskey for everyone in the community to enjoy by the jar full. Buffalo Trace might not put its version in a jar, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a spirit based in history.
This is Buffalo Trace’s homage to a forgotten craft is un-aged, sweet, and full of corn flavor.
Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon Original
Junior Johnson is a former Nascar driver who spent time in prison for moonshining, so it should come as no surprise that this brand was named in his honor. Its original moonshine was made in honor of a recipe of Johnson’s. It’s 80 proof, sweet, smooth, and refreshing.
This is a perfect bridge into the world of moonshine as it will make you want to come back again and again.