Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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Make-Believe Moonshine in Massachusetts

Regular readers know that I take a dim view of calling "moonshine" all those clear grain- and sugar-based spirits cropping up from American distilleries. Doing so obscures the fact that moonshine was — and continues to be — made from nearly every carbohydrate available in North America from persimmons and pumpkins to quinoa and triticale. Sometimes, it is aged for decades. It was always illegal. Always. This so-called "legal" moonshine is a recent historical fallacy, one promulgated by marketers and distillers in the last five or six years who hope you'll suspend disbelief long enough to buy a bottle or jar.

That's not to say I don't like some of these make-believe moonshines. Some are quite good and modern bartenders have been making exceptional cocktails with them. Shoot, friends of mine — welcome guests at my home — make the stuff. I'm just not moved by attempts to redfine a word that has, for three centuries, entailed illicit distillation.

If I were anywhere near Julio's Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts this weekend, though, you can bet that I'd be front row at the Loch &K(e)y Society's MASS Shine 2012 Expo and Competition (on Twitter as @MassShine). Alas, I'll be under three deadlines three thousand miles away. Distiller Curtis McMillan will present "Understanding taxed moonshine" (ahem) and Gable Erenzo of Tuthilltown Spirits will be talking about New York state moonshine.

For details on times which distillers will be on hand to share their wares, and how to sign up for the free classes, head over to Julio's website.

Do go if you're nearby. Do meet the distillers. Do try their spirits. Just...take as many grains of salt as will fit in your pocket.

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