The Top 5 “Corns From A Jar” For Hot Weather Sipping
By Richard Thomas
Two things life in the South are synonymous with are sweltering summers and corn whiskey, and in my view the two go hand in hand. As the mercury climbs up the thermometer, well-done corn whiskey comes to occupy a larger slice of my sipping time. Back in the day, “well-done” meant moonshine, since the store-bought stuff was so awful, but nowadays there are plenty of fine examples of legal corn whiskeys to choose from.
Part of why corn whiskey goes so well with summer weather is the high profile the corn itself plays in the taste. Unadulterated by wood aging, it evokes all the Southern staples that are part and parcel of summer cooking, like corn on the cob and corn pudding. When done well this unaged whiskey also has the kind of light finish that won’t make you sweat in the heat, even without ice. With ice, the simple, pleasant flavors of corn whiskey remain vibrant.
1. Dark Corner Moonshine: Supremely smooth, this South Carolina-made corn whiskey has the kind of mashbill that could serve for making bourbon, were the corn dialed back just a bit. The 100 proof corn whiskey is mellow and flavorful, with more to the latter than just the grassy and sweet corn aspects. That wider flavor profile makes Dark Corner Moonshine a sound choice as a starter corn whiskey, as well as the kind of thing you can sip on in high heat and humidity with no ice and without becoming sopped with sweat.
2. LBL Moonshine:* Made by Spencer Balentine, the “legal guy” from season 2 of Moonshiners, LBL is named for Land Between The Lakes and follows in Western Kentucky moonshine traditions. This liquor is 100% corn and bottled at 50 proof, and offers an earthy, full-bodied corn whiskey experience that readily evokes the days of 1940s bootleg drivers challenging each other over bragging rights on a red dirt track with their Ford V-8s.
3. Colorado’s Own Corn Whiskey: The Golden State is one of the states that the craft movement has put into contention for becoming America’s third whiskey state, behind Kentucky and Tennessee, so it only follows that they should have a good corn whiskey. Western Colorado’s climate might be a far cry from the self-roasting South, but Colorado Gold still makes a mighty fine corn whiskey, slightly wood-aged, with a three-grain mashbill and bottled at 80 proof.
4. Black Button Moonshine: The idea of a good corn whiskey coming from up north in Rochester, New York will strike many purists as very strange indeed, if not downright heretical, but Black Button has put out a solid, easy drinking, 100 proof corn liquor.
5. Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey: In keeping with the proto-NASCAR atmosphere evoked by the aforementioned LBL Moonshine is another Yankee corn whiskey, Glen Thunder from Finger Lakes Distillery. That stems from being named for the Watkins Glen Raceway, but also from being bottled in the 375 ml pocket bottles that many would have been taking sips from at such a place (also available in full 750 ml bottles). Packing a middling 90 proof, it’s corny and sweet on ice.
* The Whiskey Reviewer sends its best wishes to Silver Trail Distillery in the wake of their recent fire, and its condolences to the Rogers family. All of us hope that the distillery will be up and running again soon, and making more of its award-winning corn whiskey.