We're often wary of flavored moonshine because if someone needs to go to the trouble of flavoring it, that could mean it wasn't very good to start with. Flavored moonshine is most commonly what is called "sugar shine." Sugar shine, as opposed to arguably more more authentic whiskey, is made from granulated sugar. The best moonshine is made from real grain, which imparts a natural sweetness and other natural flavors from the grain. The peach moonshine we sampled (quite liberally) this weekend however, was the real deal. It was notably "peachy" but the essence of the grains it was made with could also be detected. It was sweet and smooth, but packed a real punch at the same time. It was good stuff.
We had a chance to talk to the creator of this delicious concoction and here is what we learned; the key to making good peach flavored shine is in the ingredients.
Sugar Shine Vs. the Real Stuff:
First, one needs to start with good moonshine. Before running down to the store and buying bags of granulated sugar to make your shine, consider what you're trying to achieve. If you've never made the stuff before, this is an OK place to start. However, if your an experienced distiller and want to make some authentic, high quality stuff, you should be making batches from grain. All grain batches are a bit more complicated and involve making a "mash" by steeping grains in temperature controlled water, allowing natural enzymes to break down grain starch and turn it into sugar. However, the end result is immeasurably better than "sugar shine."
The Best Peaches:
The second key to making good peach moonshine is using the right peaches. Not just any peach will do, and the kind of peaches you'll need aren't likely to be found at the grocery store. The best kind of peach for making peach shine is the Indian Peach. This specific type of peach is most commonly used for pickling, canning, or baking. Indian Peaches are a beautiful blood-red color on the inside and have a sweet but "tart" taste.
Indian peaches generally only appear for a week or two each summer at local farmers markets, peach stands, etc... They can occasionally be found at supermarkets too (but are probably shipped from the west coast, and won't be as good). If you want to get your hands on these things, the best thing to do is to go down to the local peach stand (if you're lucky enough to have one of those nearby) and ask them if they have any Indian peaches. If they do, you'll need to ask them when they expect them to be ripe and you'll probably need to check back every now and again to make sure you don't miss em!
How to Flavor:
There are many ways to flavor moonshine, but the easiest way to do it is to add the fruit directly to a jar of finished shine (or vice versa). Cut the peach into slices or (if they're small enough) stick two or three whole peaches in a quart jar, add shine, and leave it sit. The peach moonshine we sampled this weekend was made with peaches from last season, so it had been sitting for about nine months before we had at it. All i can say is...wow...it was some good stuff.
Thanks for reading and good luck making your own delicious peach moonshine.