I first learned of moonshine cherries a few years ago at a food blogging conference. No, they weren't featured or served (although that might've made the evenings a bit more exciting!) but my Southern friend Kristina shared a few with our end of the table and I fell in love. I believe she'd made her own at the time, but recently a Tennessee-based company sent me a few samples of their moonshine and their moonshine cherries to try and I have to say: they rival Kristina's (although I may not tell her).
The term "moonshine" is a blanket term, really, for a distilled spirit that was originally made illegally. Tennessee was a popular state for making moonshine and when the Prohibition laws forced distilleries to close, folks started making it quietly (or not so quietly) at home.
Eventually laws changed to allow for the distillation of spirits and in 2010 the first federally licensed distillery in Tennessee opened: Ole Smoky Moonshine. Apparently you can go and visit and see how it all goes down on the premises —which I'd love to do someday.
For now, I've had the pleasure of trying their Original Corn Whiskey (80% Tennessee corn, 20% proprietary secret), Apple Pie (made with apple juice, cinnamon and spices and Original Moonshine), and Moonshine Cherries.
I've loved each for very different reasons. But first: the packaging. I know Mason jars are becoming ubiquitous these days, but I've never seen spirits packaged this way and they make a fun addition to our home bar (although we're refrigerating the cherries once opened). As for how I've been enjoying each, I liked (sadly, we're speaking in past tense with this one as it disappeared pretty quickly) drinking the Apple Pie straight in a small glass, chilled. If you are a bourbon guy or gal I think you'll like it. It's slightly sweet and really wonderful on these cold winter nights. The Original Corn Whiskey we've been using in a citrusy margarita with a splash of orange and lime and a glug of triple sec. And the cherries are great in a Manhattan, obviously, but I've been enjoying a spoonful of the boozy juice in cocktails or in a tall glass of sparkling water.
Have you tried moonshine or moonshine cherries? What's your favorite way to serve them?
→ Find it: Ole Smoky Moonshine
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