Tag: Moonshine

Beechtree Distillery – A Small Piece of Tennessee History

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2nd January

In the decades following the end of the Civil War, the American South was forcefully modernized. The expansion of rail lines and shipping routes transformed the agrarian economy that had ruled the south for so long into the beginnings of an industrialized society. While the legacies of many of the “Captains of Industry” (John D. Rockefeller, James B. Duke, Andrew Carnegie, etc.) are mixed, the United States did see a growing middle class during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and the beginnings of the modern era that saw the advent of leisure time for these workers.

As many of our readers know, the relationship between Tennesseans and alcohol was tenuous for a long time. The temperance movement held a lot of power over our political rhetoric and became increasingly important as the tides of public favor shifted toward prohibition. … Read More »

American Born Moonshine

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16th October

The moonshiner looms large in the Southern psyche and can conjure many evocative images: prohibition era desperation, an isolated Appalachia, and men who were willing to do what it takes to make ends meet. For many East Tennesseans the Great Depression changed very little about daily life. For many men and women in the region daily life happened to include moonshine, and for some it still does. See the second verse of our state song:

            Once two strangers climbed ole Rocky Top,
            Lookin’ for a moonshine still.
            Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top,
            Reckon they never will.
            Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top,
            Dirt’s too rocky by far.
            That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top,
            Get their corn from a jar.

To attempt to live up to the true … Read More »

Trail Update – Tenn South Distillery

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13th September

One of the stops on the Trail has been a work in progress for some time, but here recently the boys over at Tenn South have made some real progress.

Aside from releasing their first product, All Purpose Shine, they have become a full fledged stop on the Trail, which is very exciting. They have opened up the distillery and tasting room to tours 2 days a week and are in close enough proximity to other distillers to make them a very attractive stop over.

Tenn South is located in Lynnville, TN which is located south of Nashville by about an hour along I-65. Tenn South has spent the past year ramping up and positioning itself as a long term player in the whiskey game by both releasing a Moonshine and also producing full size barrels of aging whiskey. Gotta hand it … Read More »

A Little Still in the Mountains – A Visit with Ole Smoky

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1st August

A few weeks ago the Trail headed east into that great, wild hill country that is the home of so much lore and myth and illegality… Gatlinburg. We had the oppurtunity to meet with the folks over at Ole Smoky and we couldn’t contain ourselves. They spent a couple of hours showing us around, answering our questions, and overall giving us a genuinely warm welcome.
The Wall of ‘Shine

We were greeted by the gregarious Johnny Baker, a relative of owner Joe Baker, which we were to learn is quite common. Ole Smoky is a family affair in the finest tradition of moonshiners, there was lots of talk about the history and tradition in the family about moonshining as a way of life. Believe it or not, Ole Smoky is a family friendly atmosphere. There was a real sense in which the kids were specifically excluded for their own … Read More »

State Bill to Define “Tennessee Whiskey”

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4th May

We here at the Trail assumed the only whiskey related item on the State Legislature’s docket had come and gone (FYI – Chattanooga Whiskey production will be heading back to Chattanooga). That was until we noticed a report last week indicating that a bill had passed that would officially define “Tennessee Whiskey” – on a State level of course.

Most Tennessean’s are aware what distinguishes a Tennessee Whiskey from other styles. Colloquially, the term is indicative of processing what would otherwise be regarded as bourbon through Sugar Maple charcoal – aka the Lincoln County Process. Regardless of this common understanding, the Code of Federal Regulations does not distinguish a Tennessee Whiskey style with any specificity as it does with bourbon, rye, wheat, malt, and corn. This has never been an issue until the 2009 changes to the State law which essentially opened … Read More »

Popcorn Sutton Has a New Bottle

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11th April

At the Whiskey Trail, we get a few interesting bits of information that come over the transom now and again. Most recently, images surfaced on the internet (interwebs, colloquially) of a new bottle by Popcorn Sutton. It’s a marked departure from the mason jars of the past and frankly, we’re stumped.

We live in a culture of fads. Most are ephemeral – few lasting more than a season. Many of the more rediculous collective fascinations can be easily ignored, but some are poignant reminders of how much free time we have. No better case exists than ‘unboxing videos’. To quote Kyle Buckley at nillabyte.com, “Unboxing is exactly what it sounds like, unwrapping or opening a product’s packaging and removing the product.  The videos are even more boring than you would think.  It is a form of extreme geek porn, and it needs … Read More »

A Heck of a Popcorn Sutton Story

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12th February

{Featured image from gourmet.com}

Sometimes its just about being in the right place at the right time and being nice.

Recently the Trail ventured south of the border to north Georgia for a quick weekend getaway and birthday party and had a fascinating evening. At a little get together after the main event, we met a surgeon who hailed from Cocke County who proceeded to tell us about his second hand knowledge of Popcorn Sutton. Now grains of salt taken, most people from the rural counties of East TN probably have a cousin or a friend or somebody they knew who had some dealing with Popcorn, it’s probably like saying you road the subway if you live in New York, but this story has got some legs.

The story basically goes like this, this guys friend worked for the ATF when they raided … Read More »

Review: Moonshine Tasting {Part Three}

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25th January

If you missed the first posts in this series of moonshine reviews, be sure to check them out (one & two). Our night of tasting was enjoyable and very memorable. We at the Trail would always recommend sippin’ your favorite libations in the company of friends and loved ones. The beauty of the moonshine experience, in particular, is that its most common vessel of transport (a mason jar) lends itself to communal partaking. Sometimes the best tasting sauce is found on the top shelf of your local spirits store; but sometimes the hooch that leaves the strongest impression was found below the floorboards of your buddy’s rental property. Enjoy our final review of this series!

1991 Vintage {no brand, proof unknown}
Price: cheap

No moonshine tasting would be complete without a genuine selection from an unknown source. The father of one of us … Read More »

Review: Moonshine Tasting {Part Two}

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23rd January

In the first part of this series of moonshine reviews, we shared our thoughts on one of the most recognized brands (Popcorn Sutton) as well as our best in show (Short Mountain). During the same sitting, we enjoyed two more great contenders. One received a top referral for its value. The other scored at the top with its branding. Enjoy!

Benjamin Prichard’s Lincoln County Lightning {90 proof}
Price: $18-$22

Prichard’s offering does not disappoint. While it has a very grainy nose with a healthy dose of fresh corn, the flavor palette is slightly spicy and nutty with subtle cereal notes. The mouth feel is syrupy but pleasant. Finally, it has a medium finish with a fair amount of bite.

Prichard’s branding scores high, and it is consistent with the rest of their line of liquors. However, this selection’s strongest point is its value. At its … Read More »

Review: Moonshine Tasting {Part One}

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18th January

As we have already mentioned, Tennessee moonshine has a bright future, and we strongly believe that it will continue to grow well beyond its surreptitious origins. In light of this belief, several of us at the Trail got together a few weeks ago to sample some various white dog/moonshine/white lightning selections.

While the simple act of sampling unaged whiskeys is fun, we decided to make it even more exciting by organizing a blind tasting and writing down our initial reactions. Below is a summarized version of the our tasting notes, along with thoughts on branding, marketing, and overall value. This is the first part of a three part series. Enjoy!

Popcorn Sutton’s XXX Tennessee White Whiskey {93 proof}
Price: $25-$30

Popcorn Sutton’s is pretty much exactly what one would expect when imagining Tennessee moonshine. We’ll start here: the nose on this bad boy is … Read More »

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