Whiskey Distilled by Heather Greene

Whiskey Distilled by Heather Greene

Author:Heather Greene
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2014-10-05T16:00:00+00:00

So You Wanna Make “Whiskey” in Your Own Kitchen?

It’s illegal! It’s called making moonshine—which by law isn’t even considered whiskey, when it comes right down to it. Moonshine by definition is, very simply, illegally distilled alcohol. But you’ll see the name on bottles everywhere anyway because it’s fun, catchy, and folksy. It’s not illegal to put the word “moonshine” on your bottle, but it’s illegal to make it on your own behind the government’s back. Still, if prison time and a $10,000 fine don’t scare you, there is a great book on how to make moonshine secretly and on your own: Moonshiners Manual by Michael Barleycorn. It explains in detail exactly what it is and how to make it with things like lobster pots and grain feed without killing yourself. Moonshine is traditionally made with sugar and a very small percentage of corn, but because no rules exist, a distiller can use whatever’s in the kitchen cabinet. I’ve read about fusel oils, blue vitriol, and zinc salts as some of the messy poisonous by-products of “mountain dew” done wrong. So watch out. And if you’re even offered some by your kooky new neighbor? Take heed! Cheap rotgut made with used-car parts like radiators as condensers creates a particularly bad case of popskull—a bad post-moonshine headache—or even insanity. So take a pass on that, too, unless you know your whiskey maker really well.

Historically, farmers making whiskey used their excess corn or rye reserves, especially during the half century following George Washington’s whiskey tax repeal (thanks, Thomas Jefferson!) in the 1800s. During that time, whiskey drinking flourished, and by 1830, Americans were consuming five to seven gallons of alcohol per year, three times more than today. The belief in alcohol’s medicinal qualities combined with tainted water in early settlements made America very wet. Soaked, you might say.

Ensuing conflicts like the Civil War, a growing temperance movement, and the formation of that little-known government agency we now officially call the IRS (since 1953) seriously put a damper on the whiskey fest, driving legal whiskey makers underground and turning them into moonshiners and lawless backwoods saviors for the seriously thirsty.

“Why Am I Seeing White Whiskey Everywhere? What Is It?”

The term “white whiskey,” or “unaged whiskey,” is tricky to define. The TTB states that in order for something to be called whiskey, it should at least “have the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whiskey.” That leaves a lot open to interpretation: How long in oak? Is white whiskey demonstrating characteristics generally attributed to whiskey? Shouldn’t whiskey technically be aged in wood? White whiskey proliferation has spurred quite a philosophical debate over the past couple of years.

Selling white whiskey helps growing small distillers make a little money until the aged spirit comes to fruition, and this is partly why you now find white whiskey all over the place—hundreds of new small distilleries were born in the decade between 2003 and 2013. Instead of putting the whole spirit run into casks, distillers siphon off a bit and bottle the “new make” for consumption.


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