Devil John Moonshine

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The Party Source in Bellevue, Kentucky is having a special on moonshine (or as classy people like to call it: white whiskey) in their store this week and  its a great chance to try out some unaged whiskey if you’ve never had the chance. I picked up a bottle of Devil John Moonshine, a brand I had the pleasure of tasting while visiting Barrel House Distillery in Lexington a few weeks ago and I was intrigued enough by the taste that I wanted to experiment with  making a few drinks with it.

As many of you already know, whiskey gets most of its flavor and all of its color from the barrels during the aging process. Most of the distilleries who are making white whiskey specifically to sell and drink use a different recipe than they do for the batches they will be casking and this is the case with Devil John, which is a mixture of corn and sugar. The smell reminds me of straw but the flavor didn’t quite match up with that. Sugar with a slightly grainy flavor and a mild aceton burn on the finish. It is much sweeter than other moonshine I have tried and considerably smoother. That is probably because most of the moonshine I’ve tried has been the kind that you can buy in a mason jar out of the back of a pick up. But even compared to other professionally distilled moonshine Devil John is sweeter and smoother. Other than corn, sweetness, and alcohol I don’t pick up on a lot of individual flavors. This isn’t something I could ever see myself sipping neat and given the choice between a white whiskey and one that’s done it’s time inside an oak barrel, I will take the whiskey every time. But the taste was different enough from vodka or white rum that I though it might make for some interesting mixed drinks.

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For the mixed drink I tried the recipe that Barrel House recommends for their moonshine, a Kentucky Moonbow. Basically this is a tequila sunrise but made with moonshine. In a highball glass pour 1.5 ounces Devil John, 4 ounces orange juice and 1 ounce Grenadine over ice and drink with a straw. Personally this had way too much mixer for my taste and with all the juice I might as well have been using Burnett’s vodka.  I didn’t finish it because all the Grenadine in the bottom. But it was a pretty drink.

Overall I think that white whiskey is something that is interesting to try but not likely to become a go-to drink for many people. The romance and history of moonshine are compelling and this was nice to try but I don’t see this earning a permanent place in my liquor cabinet. Maybe some of the mixologists out there can recommend a drink that will showcase the unique flavor of moonshine a little better than the Kentucky Moonbow. In the meantime I think I will be patient and wait for my whiskey to grow up a little before drinking it.

Road Trip! The Beer Trappe in Lexington

Every now and then it’s good to get out of the Queen City and explore the drinking culture in further flung regions of this great country. At just about a 90 minute drive away, the lovely college town of Lexington makes a great day trip. Usually if I’m going to Lexington I’m thinking bourbon, but recently Charlie and I got together with members of one of our favorite local bands, Ford Theater Reunion, to record a drinks segment for our podcast, The Charlie Tonic Hour, at The Beer Trappe in Lexington. It turned out to be an incredibly educational and fun experience. Eric, Joe, Allen and Alex are huge beer nerds and I learned all about gypsy brewers, natural fermentation, and beer that can taste like cheese. Of course it also turned into an hour and half long episode of great beer conversation interlaced with random thoughts on our first drinking experiences, why not trying is sexy, and a beanbag chair covered in kittens. So it was kind of a mixed bag. Listen at your own risk.

Me with the Trappist Rochefort 8, aka the one that tastes like cheese.

In fact, rather than listening to me enjoying The Beer Trappe, I recommend that you head for 811 Euclid Ave in Lexington Kentucky and experience it for yourself. Named one of the 100 best beer barsin America by Draft Magazine, The Beer Trappe has 8 rotating taps and over 400 bottles of craft beer from around the world that can be sampled in-house or purchased for enjoying at home. I was blown away by the selection of beers and would have been completely at a loss for where to start if not for our friends, but I get the impression that the staff are just as eager to help you find a good beer or ten or twenty to try. If you are in need of more guidance, on Sunday afternoons  they hold Beer School, a relaxed tasting of beers within a particular style or theme that is moderated by National Beer Judge Kevin Patterson.

Seven bottles were killed in the making of this episode.

The Beer Trappe was highly worth the drive but the whole neighborhood would make for a really nice day out. Once you’ve sampled all you can reasonably try at the Beer Trappe, head next door for some cheap but very good Cajun food at Bourbon N’ Toulouse, do a walking tour around historic Lexington to take in some sights and then head back to Euclid for a burger and a carafe of cocktails at Charlie Brown’s. Just do yourself a favor and make sure you have a driver for this particular road trip.