Moonshine Tasting at the Standard Hotel
This week at The Standard Hotel in NYC's Meatpacking District, Moonshine, an eight-week-old brand of clear corn whiskey from a new company called Stillhouse, hosted a tasting for a select group of spirits journalists, led by CEO and co-founder of Stillhouse Brad Beckerman.
Moonshine is an interesting liquor. It's made in small batches in Virginia in a Prohibition-era copper pot still from 100% corn, the traditional ingredient used by both the Native Americans and by bootleggers during Prohibition, and unlike most whiskeys, it isn't aged. Frankly, to the Moonshine folks, the shorter the time between the still and the shelf, the better.
The flavor is highly unusual. Far from the eye-watering "moonshines" you may have tasted in the past (or that vodka your college friend made in the bathtub), the flavor is smooth and well-rounded, and you can definitely taste the corn. The closest thing I can compare it to is the flavor of fresh rum right out of the still -- perhaps because corn has natural sugar -- but it's far, far more palatable. In fact, for an 80 proof unaged liquor, I would say it's an exceptionally well-developed spirit.
I will admit that, like a tequila, it's a versatile spirit. You can sip it or mix it, and I can see the clubbing world latching onto this as a great shot. The name is excellent: "four shots of chilled Moonshine" is a fun thing to order. There's a sense of danger associated with the name. One wonders, "will I go blind? Is this stuff even legal?" The answer is of course that no, you won't go blind, and yes, it's completely legal. Does that destroy the fun? Perhaps Moonshine should look to the recently released absinthes like Lucid and Le Tourment Vert for guidance.
Strangely, what struck me most was how completely unlike whiskey it is. This was largely because people kept referring to it as a great "starter" whiskey or, "no offense," a "whiskey for women." One journalist even suggested it could be called a gluten-free whiskey alternative (there's no gluten in corn, at least not the kind that would effect people with Celiac's disease.). Personally, I think it's nothing like whiskey. I even pulled out my iPhone mid-presentation to Google the definition of whiskey to see if a corn spirit qualified. Merriam-Webster confirms that it does.
But, the fact that it doesn't taste like whiskey doesn't make it any less a valid spirit, and it's fun to have a brand new category on the market. Moonshine is the first approved "clear corn whiskey."
This highly exclusive spirit is currently only available in select bars and restaurants in New York (including The Standard), Austin and Los Angeles. Visit moonshine.com/findtheshine to locate an establishment where you can sample Moonshine. When Moonshine becomes available for consumer purchase, it is expected to cost around $40 per bottle.