Born in the rolling hills of Appalachia, Moonshine — or un-aged corn whiskey — is one of the only uniquely American spirits. A wave of poverty that swept through the mountains during the early eighteenth century pushed small-scale corn farming into vogue, bringing with it a mighty thirst for home-distilled whiskey. Often synonymous with illegal activity, moonshining wasn’t made illegal until big interest whiskey manufacturers lobbied the government into outlawing it. Big whiskey companies in Ohio and Tennessee were put off by the expense of moving whiskey over the mountains by wagon and realized they couldn’t compete with local moonshiners, so they had moonshine outlawed. The image of moonshining as a criminal activity was only further embedded in the American psyche during Prohibition, when the sale and production of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the United States and criminal organizations controlled the flow of black-market liquor. Today, moonshine is making a comeback and distillers are embracing the spirit and its deeply American roots. From Appalachia to the West, and even in New England, distillers are experimenting with many styles of moonshine using different varieties of corn and different combinations of other grains.
One of our favorites is Onyx Moonshine from Manchester, Connecticut. Rekindling the legacy of Connecticut moonshine, which dates all the way back to Prohibition, master distillers Adam von Gootkin and Peter Kowalczyk are producing some of the finest moonshine available. von Gootkin and Kowalczyk produce the corn whiskey in small batches and blend their distillate with Connecticut spring water to bring the traditionally eye-watering alcohol content of moonshine down to a more comfortable 80 proof. With a full-body and a smooth finish, Onyx Moonshine has notes of honey and apple on the nose that contrast wonderfully with spicy wood undertones before giving way to a refreshing hint of botanicals.