By Debbie Shocair
Right from the heart of moonshine country, Franklin County, Virginia, comes a new member of the American Craft Corn Whiskey movement. Franklin County Distillery’s (FCD’s) White Label Corn Whiskey builds on the reputation that authentic bootleggers built, and claims to offer a “true taste of history and heritage in every bottle.”
Corn whiskey can be a tough sell, and to whiskey lovers (and lovers of whiskey…) who are used to the sultry delights of “amber gold,” this crystal-clear cousin can seem like an outcast. But, don’t be too quick to judge. There can be fabulous complexities and nuances to be had in that glass of crystal beauty.
Using a 4th generation recipe handed down and perfected for over 100 years, FCD uses a simple mashbill of corn, rye and malted barley, distills it in small batches using a pot still, and bottles it unaged. They use locally sourced product and Blue Ridge mountains spring water. They lay claim to being the first (legal) distilled spirits producer in Franklin County, Virginia since 1919.
I have to admit, when I have a bottle of clear spirit in front of me, my eagerness is borne more of curiosity than it is for an outright love of it, but especially like it when the spirit lives up to its billing. If you note the grade I’ve given this particular crystal beauty, you can surmise that I was very delighted indeed with FCD’s creation.
On the nose, this corn whiskey was rife with soft creamed corn, with hints of nougat and pecans. Yes. Pecans specifically. Breaking it with ½ teaspoon of water brightened both the nougat and the nuttiness. The mouthfeel was mostly at the top of the tongue, and not too strong a tingle for a 100 proof spirit.
The finish was interesting. It began quite silky, followed by a touch of spiciness – then pecans, creamed corn, cinnamon, and just a touch of wood. It was a medium finish, and surprisingly complex for a corn whiskey.
I know corn whiskey is not for everyone, but I’m here to admonish you: there are fine ones just such as this one from Franklin County Distillers that would make a good addition to any collector’s stash. FCD’s corn whiskey would be lovely for mixing, or for sipping beside an open bonfire. It would also be great for pairing with strong cheese.
It is currently only available on the store shelves in Virginia or for purchase through the state’s ABC website, for around $32.