Unaged and unoaked we have a “new” liquor entry fighting for shelf space.
Moonshine, despite popular belief, did not originate during Prohibition. After the Revolutionary War, whiskey was among the items taxed highly to pay for the war. For this reason, poor farmers built stills in the wilderness, usually in the Appalachians, and distilled whiskey at night. Hence the name “moonshine.”
On June 25, 2009 Tennessee made making moonshine legal in dozen of counties. Under the new law, about 44 counties were eligible for distilleries. Manufacturers are allowed in any county where both retail package sales of liquor and liquor-by-the-drink sales have been locally approved. Ten counties opted out of the legislation.
Purveyors of moonshine cannot use “Tennessee Whiskey” to describe their product. Moonshine is often described as “Tennessee White Whiskey.”
Opening a distillery requires at least a $500,000 tax bond, and startup costs can range from $1.75 million to $12 million, depending on the size of the distillery.
Jack Daniels has its own white whiskey, Unaged Tennessee Rye, and Jim Beam released Jacob’s Ghost, a white whiskey that has been aged for only a year. (True straight moonshine is unaged. Regular Jim Beam bourbon, by contrast, is aged for four years in charred white-oak barrels, according to the company, which is what gives Beam and other aged whiskeys their golden brown color.)
So is white whiskey the next big thing? The past 5 years have shown us it’s here to stay….for now.