Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Ole Smoky Addresses Proposed Tennessee Moonshine Law with Clever Smokescreen
What follows is a press release from Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine about the new proposed Tennessee law that will require all products identified as 'Tennessee Moonshine' to be distilled in Tennessee. As you read it, see if you can find the words "All Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine products are distilled entirely in Tennessee."
Gatlinburg, TN (April 22, 2015) – Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, the leading distiller of premium moonshine in the U.S., welcomes the news of the Tennessee General Assembly’s efforts to protect the integrity of its moonshine heritage by creating guidelines on what can bear the name “Tennessee Moonshine.” The great history of making smooth spirits is what makes Tennessee Moonshine widely loved in the South, around the country and now the world.
“For many generations our families have distilled moonshine in the hills of East Tennessee, and Ole Smoky is proud to use those same techniques and recipes in the products we share with our customers today,” said Joe Baker, co-founder of Ole Smoky Moonshine. “This is a significant move toward preserving the historic value of Tennessee Moonshine, and as the state’s first legal moonshine distillery, we know how important it is to maintain authenticity in this fast-growing category."
Ole Smoky launched in 2010, after the state of Tennessee changed its distilling laws and a group of local families saw an opportunity to showcase authentic, high-quality, mountain-made moonshine. Originally sold only to visitors at its distillery, known as The Holler, Ole Smoky is now the most widely distributed moonshine brand in the world. Fueled by rising consumer interest in Americana, the broader un-aged whiskey category and craft spirits, Ole Smoky is now available in all 50 states and every continent except Antarctica.
"We’re proud to share our products with folks around the world. Tennessee enjoys a special place in the lore and history of making moonshine and we applaud our state legislators for working hard to protect one of our state’s most famous exports,” said Baker. “Tennessee is part of our brand name. You can make spirits anywhere, but Tennessee Moonshine only comes from the Volunteer State.”
About Ole Smoky® Tennessee Moonshine:
Currently, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine nationally retails twelve flavors of moonshine made using authentic East Tennessee recipes. Folks from around the world come and experience the moonshining process at the company’s famed Gatlinburg distillery, The Holler (America’s most visited distillery) and new location, the Ole Smoky Barn at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Original Moonshine (100 proof), White Lightnin’ (100 proof), Moonshine Cherries (jarred at 100 proof), Lightnin’ Line (80 proof): Strawberry Lightnin’, Lemon Drop Lightnin’ and Hunch Punch Lightnin‘, the 40 proof line including, Peach Moonshine, Apple Pie Moonshine, Blackberry Moonshine, Pineapple Moonshine, Sweet Tea Moonshine and the most recently added, Harley Davidson’s Road House Customs Charred Moonshine (103 proof) are available selectively in all 50 states and Canada.
Did you find the magic words "All Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine products are distilled in Tennessee"? No? That's because they aren't there. Nor does the release express the proposed law's very simple requirement that 'Tennessee Moonshine' must be distilled in Tennessee. Instead it uses words like "authentic East Tennessee recipes." Perhaps they hope to have the law gutted before it passes. You can read more about Ole Smoky here.
Moonshine is not now and nor has it ever been a type of distilled spirit. It is simply any distilled spirit made illegally. Obviously, Ole Smoky and the other modern moonshiners operate legally, so what's in that jar? In most cases it is grain neutral spirit (GNS), i.e., vodka, which is typically made from corn. In a few it is corn whiskey. Most authentic are the ones distilled from a sugar mash -- technically making them rum -- which are usually classified as a 'Distilled Spirits Specialty,' a regulatory catch-all term. Many sugar shines are half sugar and half GNS.
Most of the Ole Smoky products are either GNS or corn whiskey. It has long been an open secret that Ole Smoky makes only a fraction of the products it sells and very likely makes no GNS. If Ole Smoky does or plans to make GNS, it won't be in those cute copper pot stills. It will be in a big, modern column still which they surely won't show to the tourists.
They could produce their own GNS but it's much more profitable to just buy it from a big GNS producer such as ADM, GPC, or MGPI, like everybody else does. Unfortunately, none of those companies have a distillery in Tennessee.
So what's the difference between Ole Smoky's cherry-flavored GNS and any of a dozen cherry-flavored vodkas? Maybe that's where those 'East Tennessee recipes' come in, or maybe it's just a clever image, 'blowing smoke' as it were. The Ole Smoky products aren't much more expensive than most flavored vodkas, so if you like your flavored vodka from a mason jar, Ole Smoky is right there for you.
In addition to Ole Smoky, the 'moonshine' from Junior Johnson, Popcorn Sutton, and Full Throttle Saloon is GNS as well. There is, furthermore, no commercial GNS producer in Tennessee, although one expects there will be by the time this new law takes effect.