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What Is Moonshine?
Moonshine is often called white lightning, mountain dew, or white whiskey –Moonshine is a high-proof distilled spirit that is produced illegally. Moonshine is typically made from a mash of corn and sugar. The word moonshine is believed to derive from the fact that the distillation was done during the night to avoid discovery. Moonshine implies that the liquor is produced illegally and not taxed- however legal distilleries started marketing a legal version of moonshine - these legal distilleries claim their product provides a similar drinking experience as found with illegal liquor. Examples: Old Smokey and midnight moon.
Why Is Moonshine Clear?
Since moonshine is clear a lot of people think that it is made though a different process than legal liquor whiskey. Legal store bought whiskey- jim beam, jack Daniels, Tullamore Dew, any legal whiskey- is clear as moonshine when it comes off the still. All whiskeys begin as a clear spirit- it isn’t until whiskey is aged in wooden barrels that it takes on darker colors.
How Does Whiskey Get Its Color And Flavor?
When un-aged whiskey (which is a clear spirit) is transferred into wooden barrels for storage there are many factors that come into play during the aging process that give the whiskey its characteristic. Changes in temperature and humidity cause alcohol to be pushed into and sometime sucked out of out of the wooden walls of barrels. During this same process, vanillins and tannins are extracted from the wood and impart their unique flavor and color to the whiskey. The process of barrel aging whiskey produces a final product that has more character and is also less harsh than the un-aged spirit that went into the barrel at the beginning of the barreling process.