24 January 2014

Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine

It is a rare occasion when I get to write about a product from my home state of Tennessee. There have been some tasty beers, surprisingly good wines, and an odd local wine tasting underneath the bleachers at a NASCAR track.

From the Appalachian vacation spot of Gatlinburg on the far east extremity of the Volunteer State, I got a chance to sample Ole Smoky Moonshine, named after the scenic Great Smoky Mountains. I've gone hiking and camping out there and when you grow up in the flatlands, waking up in the morning and watching the fog roll over the earth crimped and crushed by geologic forces and then rounded down by eons of erosion is an awe-inspiring experience.

Moonshine is getting downright respectable these days, and it's a good thing that people that want to enjoy it can purchase it legally without the threat of going blind or getting shot by reveneuers. In addition to the clear "white whiskey" versions that are used as replacements for vodka or rum in various cocktails, traditional flavored versions are making their way to the market. For instance...

Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
$25/750mL jar, 40% abv.

Not sweet but bracing. Gentle blackberry jam aroma with a firm alcohol kick. As I've had a cold for the past week, a medicinal shot of this was tried as an alternative to cough syrup. It didn't help with the cough, but did clear my sinuses for a good half hour. (This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.)

The collateral material suggested using this product like crème de cassis in a Champagne cocktail. With sparkling wine in a 50/50 ratio, the moonshine is substantially smoother but the finished product is not as gentle as a kir pétillant. The alcohol ratio is much different and you're looking at something with the kick of a French 75, one of the most deceptively dangerous cocktails. (It's good, but more than one will sneak up on you fast.) I'd say dial it down to a 1:3 ratio of moonshine to bubbly and, if you can, serve it in the perfect glass, such as my beloved Mason jar stemware at right.

Note: This moonshine was provided as a sample for review.

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