Many will ask “is moonshine really moonshine if it’s legal?” The answer is yes, moonshine made legally or in the backwoods of Appalachia is still moonshine. This highly volatile, high proof and flavorful drink is made in a legal distillery. Moonshine itself has ties all the way back to the first days of the United States, but it got a lot of notoriety in the early 1900s during the prohibition era of the United States when alcohol production and sales were a federal offense. That has since changed but the production of moonshine without a proper license is still illegal, but some people have decided to legitimize the industry.
When it comes to legal moonshine there are a few different brands that make it in a variety of ways. They range from extremely low proof to extremely high proof. Most legal moonshine distilleries will stick to creating a small batch at a time. This allows them to stick to an authentic recipe that is reminiscent of their illegal roots. However, there are some who produce it in larger quantities. Usually a more national chain will do this as they have the financial backing to produce and ship out their products. If you are looking into getting some moonshine you should be wary as this drink packs a punch. Boasting an average alcohol content of 40-50% or 80-100 proof, that will clear your sinuses quickly. But, when flavorings are added the fire water gets dulled and is more easily ingested. Below are the best legal moonshines based on proof:
Blue Flame by Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine. This shine boasts a whopping 128 proof. It is pure and ready to be drank. It burns on the way down and also burns with a blue flame when lit, as per the name. That acknowledges the purity of the shine itself.
Hudson New York Corn Whiskey has a whopping 92 proof and will put some metaphorical hair on your chest. It is made from entirely corn and natural flavorings and comes out of the Hudson Valley in New York State.
Firefly Ruby Red Moonshine is a 70 proof shine that is filled with flavor and allows for a smooth finish. It is tart and simple, but still comes with a powerful kick.
Few White Dog has a proof of 80 which means that it is smooth, but still strong enough to cause that burn we all know and love with moonshine. It is reminiscent of the prohibition era whiskey.
Midnight Moon Moonshine comes in at a 35% alcohol per volume. This means that the drink is boasting an exciting flavor profile but staying true to the moonshine roots. Made from corn and flavored naturally, this moonshine sips smooth.
Slow Hand White Whiskey is an organic whiskey with only 40% alcohol by volume so it isn’t the lowest proof but has a very smooth taste that masks the proof of it.
Moonshine Types – Based on Ingredients
Moonshine itself has many varieties, but there are three main base ingredients that it can be made from: corn, malted barley, rye or a combination of them. These get placed in their own container where they are soaked in water and turned into what the distillers call “mash”. This “mash” ferments over a few days to generate the alcohol and is mixed with various flavorings if they so choose. The best legal moonshine based on their base are:
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine – Made from 100% corn. Coming out of the mountains of Tennessee this moonshine has been made with the same recipe for hundreds of years. It smells like bread and tastes like it’s on fire, but still sweet at the end.
Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine – Made from malted barley and rye. This moonshine has a strong and bold flavor that is reminiscent of what used to be. It has a burn to it, but is still smooth enough to enjoy.
Buffalo Trace White Dog – This is a moonshine made from entirely rye. It has a flavor that travels across many flavor profiles and has a sweet taste. It is unaged which allows it to run smooth as you drink it.
Hudson New York Corn Whiskey – This moonshine is made from 100% New York State Corn in Eastern New York. It is a powerful whiskey that packs a punch. It has a bold corn flavor and is still an easily drinkable shine.
Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine – made from rye this is a clean and natural moonshine that boasts a subtle sweetness within it’s glass. Coming from a classic recipe this is a timeless white whiskey.
Juniors Midnight Moon – a corn based whiskey that is a modern take on an original recipe. This has an 80 proof and still maintains a sweet flavor throughout the entire palette.
When determining the “Best Legal Moonshine”, you’re going to want to look at the various parts. What is the base, flavorings, alcohol content and where is it from? Many will argue that the only good legal moonshine comes from the south, but there are some in the northern parts of the United States. However, the best legal moonshine will be mildly proofed around 45% so that it does not ruin your evening. If you want original then avoid all flavors, but if you’re feeling frisky apple cinnamon is a great choice. When it comes to the base, that is all preference as they all have their own unique attributes. As many have said before and I will back up their claims, the best legal moonshine does come from the South.