MOONSHINE: EMBRACING HERITAGE

Updated: Jul 13

June 2 is National Moonshine Day and for the entire month we’re tipping our ballcaps and raising our Mason jars to this historical spirit in North Carolina. With moonshine becoming increasingly popular over the last decade and winning the hearts of mixologists we want to showcase the best of NC white lightning. These are the craft distilleries pushing the boundaries to create sipping moonshines, eschewing a new era for the spirit.



Broadslab Distillery

Benson, NC

Q&A with Owner Jeremy Norris



Tell us about Broadslab's Moonshine tradition & heritage.

Our recipes embody a family legacy and were passed down by my great-great-grandfathers on both sides. One of them, William "Bill" McLamb, was active in the dawn of the Moonshine trade and was distilling smooth, sipping whiskey long before prohibition. My grandfather, Leonard A. Wood, passed on the family recipe to me. Broadslab Distillery sits in the footprints of many of Leonard's old still sights on the family farm outside Benson, NC.


How is your Moonshine made & what makes it unique?

Our corn whiskey is made from a mash of white, non-GMO corn, rye, and malted barley. We grow the grains we use in our products on our farm. Broadslab Distillery is NC's 1st farm distillery and we are true grain to bottle distillery. The mash used to create our 'Shine' products is cooked on direct-fire and finish-distilled in an all copper pot, specially made, 500-gallon Moonshine still.


What are the different flavors you produce?

We currently produce 3 kinds of 'Shine.' We have a corn whiskey, 'Shine' called Broadslab Legacy Shine, and an oak-aged version of corn whiskey called Broadslab Legacy Reserve, and a flavored corn whiskey called Broadslab Legacy AppleShine. Our plan is to release a Broadslab Bourbon next year.


Favorite song to sip to?

Hank Williams Jr: "Whiskey on Ice"


Broadslab Breeze

1.5 oz. Broadslab Legacy Shine

2.0 oz. Pineapple juice,

2.0 oz. cranberry juice

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and strain into a tall glass over ice.


Howling Moon Distillery

Asheville, NC

Q&A with CEO, Cody Bradford



Tell us about Howling Moon's Moonshine tradition & heritage.

Our recipe has been passed down in our family for generations, along with 2 family stills. We can trace the stills and the recipe from around the Civil War era, although they may be older. My dad, grandfather, and great uncle used the same recipe. My ancestors dominated the region as well-known outlaws and moonshiners. They were all famous, but the most notable was my cousin Hiram Wilson who made the front page of the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, and Washington Post in 1906. He was better known than Billy the Kid 20 years earlier. More Moonshine was made in this region than any other in the South.


How is your Moonshine made & what makes it unique?

We use locally grown corn raised by a family whose roots go back as far as ours in this region. They only produce corn for us. They grind it on an old early 1900's meadows grist mill. We have a specific way we grind our corn. We tried other mills, but the things they add to the corn mill and how fine it is ground does not work well for our process. There is a specific way you need to mill the grain to make Moonshine the old way. Modern distilleries use large steam cookers, and I guess they can process fine corn mill. We cook by hand, utilizing the beer left in the still after distilling. We have to cook as soon as we finish distilling. We let the corn cook and then add malt, a grain that has started to sprout. It has enzymes that turn the corn's starch into fermentable sugars. Our fruit flavors are made from real fruit, and we mix all the ingredients by hand and age the fruit in Moonshine - no artificial flavors or ingredients. Our authenticity has got us a lot of attention, and our Moonshine and family and family history have been featured in several books, magazines, and news articles.


What are the different flavors you produce?

We make Apple Pie, Strawberry, and Peach Moonshine, and we recently released an oak barrel-aged version of our product called Bradford Reserve.


Favorite song to sip to?

Grandpa Jones: "Mountain Dew"


Howling Moon Hot Toddy

1 gallon apple cider

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 jar Apple Pie Moonshine

Cinnamon stick for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat.


Piedmont Distillers Midnight Moon

Piedmont, NC

Q&A with Joe Michalek (President/Founder/CEO)


Tell us about Piedmont Distiller's Moonshine tradition & heritage?

Piedmont Distillers opened in 2004 as North Carolina's first legal distillery since Prohibition. Our Midnight Moon moonshine follows the Junior Johnson family recipe and traditions by featuring a corn-based mash-bill, and crafted using all-natural ingredients. Many expressions use real fruit, literally hand-packed into every jar. It doesn't get any more authentic than this.

We couldn't say it any better than some recent comments from our fans on social media. Here are a few recent comments they posted:

"OMG. Love that it's handmade."

"The closest thing to the backwoods you can get on the shelves."

"This is the top dog in the moonshine sector. Nice work."


How is your Moonshine made & what makes it unique?

Our passion is creating exceptional Moonshine, and our philosophy centers on two beliefs:

1. We are committed to making our moonshine flavors the best they can be. Our focus on ingredients and process achieves this, ultimately leading to world-class quality and exceptional taste. We like to say, "We have been hand-crafting spirits for years before craft became cool."

2. Enduring brands must have an engaging "back-story" and emotionally connect with consumers. Successful spirits brands have depth, texture, and a soul. In addition, the brand must come from a real, authentic place. This belief is why we partnered with the country's most famous NASCAR and bootlegging legend, Junior Johnson. Junior's popularity was exemplified in the legendary article in Esquire magazine penned by Tom Wolfe and appropriately titled, "The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!"


What are the different flavors you produce?

Our most popular flavors are our Apple Pie, Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, and Cherry. We recently released a Lightning Lemonade and a Watermelon flavor which are guaranteed to make any party this Summer a hit. We are also excited about introducing Peach Tea ready-to-drink canned cocktails. These great flavors are canned with just a hint of sparkling water and, at 8% abv, we like to call them "canned cocktails with a kick." They are great for the pool, the lake, or the beach. Anywhere, anytime. All of our products are available through ABC stores.


Favorite song to sip to?

Luke Combs: "Let the Moonshine"


Watermelon Limeade Slush

2 oz. Midnight Moon Watermelon

Juice of 2 limes

Lime wheel for garnish

Directions

Mix Midnight Moon Watermelon and lime juice with ice and blend together. Garnish with a sugar rim and lime wheel.


Southern Grace Distillery

Mt Pleasant, NC

Q&A with Emily Burkhart, Director of Operations

Tell us about Southern Grace Moonshine tradition & heritage?

Our recipe comes from one of our Founders, who learned how to make moonshine in a less well-regulated way. It is based on traditional moonshine recipes, made the way it would have been made 150 years ago, using pot stills, two in-line thump kegs, and a copper worm in a cold water condenser. We stay true to the concept of the Distiller's Cut in that we bottle SunDog 130 at the relatively high proof of 130. It is essentially a straight-from-the -still heart cut, the way moonshiners drink it and serve it to their friends. Water belongs in the condenser, not in the liquor. A sundog is a rare phenomenon when sunlight hits the ice in the air just right and causes it to appear as a halo with three suns. We chose the name SunDog because something truly magical happens when our 130-proof moonshine hits the ice in your glass.


How is SunDog 130 Moonshine made & what makes it unique?

Our mash bill is 88% corn and 12% malted barley. We use the corn from a family-owned farm about four miles from the distillery, and the barley comes from the North Carolina mountains and foothills. SunDog 130 is an authentic North Carolina product in the great corn whiskey tradition from sourcing grains through fermentation and distillation. When you drink it, you are drinking the real deal.


Favorite song to sip to?

James Talley: W. Lee O'Daniel And The Light Crust Doughboys


SunDog Lemon Basil Smash 2 ounces SunDog 130 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice 3/4 ounce simple syrup 4 large basil leaves Muddle the basil in a cocktail shaker. Add other ingredients and ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a cocktail glass or into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.

Garnish with basil and lemon zest.


South Mountain Distilling Co

Connelly Spring, NC

Q&A with Don Smith, Owner


Tell us about South Mountain Moonshine tradition & heritage?

My family settled here in the South Mountains of North Carolina in the early 1700s. 90% of the early settlers of the South mountains and this region were of Scottish and Irish descent. They brought with them the skills of making spirits with their copper pot stills hanging on their wagons. Burke Co., NC boasted 106 licensed distilleries between the 1700s and 1901, when the last legal distillery shut down. They called the South Mountains the Land of Moonshine and Whiskey. It is an isolated mountain range in Burke, Cleveland, McDowell, and Rutherford counties. There was a month-long raid through the South Mountains sometime after the Civil War capturing 432 stills. In the early 1900’s they said that on any given day, you could stop someone on the road between Charlotte and the South Mountains, and most likely, they would be bootlegging liquor to Charlotte. When prohibition started in the US, Northern states sought out liquor in the south to help fill the demand. When prohibition was repealed, two states didn’t recognize the repeal. North Carolina and South Carolina. The black market for bootlegged liquor was so embedded in our culture that no one wanted to mess with a good thing.


How is South Mountain Moonshine made & what makes it unique?

We source local grains from farmers in our area. We use recipes that have been handed down for generations. We like to say that we started where our ancestors left off over 100 years ago. We had our still custom built to leave a lot of flavor from the grains in the spirits. I am a fourth generation moonshiner and we make four cuts on our spirits. My great uncle taught me that for friends and family sipping whiskey you make cuts of Foreshots, Heads, Hearts and Tails.


What are the different flavors you produce?

At South Mountain Distilling Co we produce several flavors including Kelly's Upside Pineapple Cake Moonshine, Colt Ford's Mr Goodtime Southern Sweet Tea, Sally Janes Sin A Shine, JB Rader's 103 Proof Straight Moonshine, JB Rader's Honeycrisp Apple Moonshine, Jaspers Shine, Kelly's Moonarita, and we've just released our Cherry Bounce Moonshine.


Favorite song to sip to?

Chad Triplett: The Legend JB Rader


Waltons Distillery

Jacksonville, NC

Q&A with Don Walton


Tell us about Walton's Moonshine tradition & heritage?

The biggest tradition we stick to is using a family recipe that has been passed down through the family for generations. We use the same mash bill and distill it the same way we were taught in the beginning from traditional style. We also stick to doing things in small batches and by hand every step possible to keep it from becoming just another manufacturing distillery.


How is Walton’s Moonshine made & what makes it unique?

We use a large amount of sugar cane with a mixture of corn, wheat, and rye. We use the best ingredients, including sourcing from local farmers for the grains grown in our area, and even use our own limestone well water we have drilled on site. We make all our moonshine is small batches carefully and precisely so that each batch has the perfect taste. Our moonshine gives just the right amount of kick without being too much, and leaves you with a smooth, sweet finish that makes you want more.


What are the different flavors you produce?

We have a variety of moonshine spirits at the distillery including our clear Junior Walton's Authentic Carolina Moonshine at 100 proof, our barrel aged Junior Walton's Premium Select at 101 proof, our moonshine and un-aged whiskey E.M. Walton's Premium Salted Caramel at 70 proof, and our flavored moonshines and whiskey and bourbon spirits. We have E.M. Walton's Straight Bourbon Whiskey at 90 proof, E.M. Walton's Corn Whiskey at 80 proof, Junior Walton's Pine Shine Colada at 40 proof, Mag Walton's Peach Shine at 40 proof, Mag Walton's Salted Caramel Moonshine at 40 proof, and Kitty Walton's Apple Pie Moonshine at 30 proof.


Favorite song to sip to?

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road


Purple Carolina

1 ½ oz Junior Walton's Authentic Carolina Moonshine (or more if you want more potency)

1 oz Blue Curacao

1 oz sweet and sour mix

1 oz grenadine

½ oz cran-grape juice

Optional sparkling water

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain into a tall glass over ice, top with optional sparkling water if desired.