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By the Light of the Silvery Moon

By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Photos by Jennifer Hitchcock and Christina Oxford

Moonshine Makes a Delicious (and Legal) Comeback

A few weeks ago, my husband brought home a mason jar filled with a mysterious, clear liquid with blueberries floating on the surface–it is moonshine! He has been challenging me with the potency of the ‘shine ever since, but with great trepidation, so the jar has remained sealed. It seems like moonshine is everywhere these days, and the history and lore of moonshine go back generations. Moonshine was originally produced in Appalachia in secret, at night (by the light of the shining moon) in the backwoods as way of evading the police and the tax man. The secrecy lead to general unsanitary conditions and questionable production methods such as adding methanol to increase the potency but whose addition also lead to blindness. Moonshine is essentially corn liquor that is not aged. Corn was the ingredient of choice because it grew so easily in that neck of the woods.

Today, more brands of moonshine are on the legal market than ever. Troy Ball is at the helm of the Troy and Sons Distillery, and she hand-crafts moonshine in Asheville, North Carolina. Troy’s distillery is a long way from the backwoods, and she has cleaned up the production process and experimented with many different varieties of corn until she settled on the best, an heirloom white corn called Crooked Creek Corn that is produced on the McEntire farm just a few miles outside of Asheville. She also sources the best water, another foundation of superb moonshine, and uses only Appalachian Mountain spring water. These prime ingredients combined with a recipe that she developed after researching recipes from the North Carolina State Archives have produced a premium corn whiskey that is a new go-to addition to any liquor cabinet.

And Firefly Distillery is producing moonshine now as well. The South swooned over the Sweet Tea Vodka released by Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina in 2009, and Firefly released Firefly Moonshine in April. They offer several varieties of moonshine: White Lightening, as well as peach, cherry, strawberry, apple pie and caramel.

Other Southern moonshines are making a splash in the market, as well, including Ole’ Smoky Tennessee Moonshine out of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon out of North Carolina. Want to give moonshine a try but are not quite sure what to do with it? Oak Steakhouse in Charleston has brought back an old favorite, the Moscow Mule, and has given it a moonshine twist.

Photo by Christina Oxford

Oak’s Moonshine Moscow Mule 
from Oak Steakhouse