By S.D. Peters
There’s a certain predictability about white whiskeys that’s comforting. For those who enjoy getting it together in the country every once and a while, the pure grain flavor of most white whiskeys won’t disappoint, and a few may even surprise.
Take LBL Moonshine, for example. This 100% unaged corn whiskey from the Silver Trail Distillery in Hardin, KY, touts itself as “the closest thing to… Kentucky Moonshine from 1958 as you can get.” I can’t vouch for the claim, having never tasted a 1958-vintage Kentucky Moonshine; but if the character of Silver Trail’s “Chief Moonshiner,” Spencer Balentine, can be judged by the quality of his product, I’m inclined to take him at his word. LBL Moonshine is as honest a white whiskey as you can find on the legal market. If there’s any argument to be had with Spencer’s claim, it may be that his moonshine has upgraded the sort of Kentucky moonshine you might have found in 1958 – which I can only imagine has made it much better.
The packaging suggests that LBL Moonshine sticks to the moonshine heritage without taking the shortcuts that heritage is famous for. It comes in a clear one liter ring-handled jug, with a screw-cap and a label that has the look of a local TV advert: it’s not high-end, but it has something to say and enjoys saying it in a way that spreads the enjoyment like a smile.
LBL Moonshine is distilled from yellow corn and bottled at 100 Proof (50% ABV), which gives it an edge in a white whiskey trend that’s taken to reducing the proof to an aged whiskey standard. Full-bodied is the single best way to describe everything about it. Husky corn is the pervasive character in the glass, on the tongue, and throughout the long finish. There’s an aromatic note of caramel, a subtle taste of unbuttered corn of the cob, and a shaving of dark chocolate among the grain, but they merely footnote the consistency of the corn. The finish, which is as smooth as creamed corn, is “proof” that white whiskey doesn’t need less ABV to make it more palatable.
Like Wigle White Rye, LBL Moonshine argues that white whiskey is not only worth savoring neat, but is more rewarding that way. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist adding it to a mason jar of “Swamp Water.” The result was superb: LBL loses none of its character when mixed with lemonade over a few ice cubes with a slice of lemon, and the lemonade tastes even better, especially on a sweltering Virginia afternoon!
LBL Moonshine appears to have a limited distribution right now: Silver Trail Distillery’s website lists only one distributor, and quick online search revealed only one other source. When you can find it (and hopefully you’ll be able to find it soon!) it goes for $28-$30 a “jug”.
LBL 1950s Moonshine received the 2012 & 2013 SIP Gold Medal.