Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Enough With The 'Legal Moonshine' Already.
This is not a cause for celebration.
The young micro-distillery movement is exciting for everyone who enjoys quality distilled spirits with an artisan's touch, but for this new, small distillery (and others) it appears to be all about the perpetuation and exploitation of myths, stereotypes, and misrepresentations.
Short Mountain presents a confusion of moonshining, bootlegging, and Tennessee whiskey that does a disservice to everyone in this industry who is trying to produce an honest, quality product and sell it in an honest, sincere and straightforward way.
Just a couple of specific points.
Since moonshine is any distilled spirit produced illegally, and not a distilled spirit type, there can be no such thing as 'legal moonshine.'
Bootleggers are people who sell alcohol illegally, although the alcohol they sell may be either legally or illegally produced, and most actual bootleggers today sell legal alcohol illegally.
In the local news story about them, one of the participating moonshiners talks about hauling "sugar and corn meal" back to the still site. Unless the sugar was for his coffee, that means he wasn't making whiskey.
Most moonshine is made from cane sugar and is not, therefore, whiskey, which must be made from grain. The proper name for it is 'sugarjack.' The official name for it is rum.
Tennessee whiskey is, according to the Federal government, "straight bourbon whiskey produced in Tennessee." Nothing in this project involves Tennessee whiskey so their headline about writing "a new chapter in Tennessee whiskey history" is a misrepresentation on its face.
Short Mountain will probably counter that they are just having some fun for the tourists, but illegal alcohol production and illegal alcohol sales are serious crimes that do a lot of harm, both to people and to the reputations of respectable alcohol makers and sellers.