Monday, June 29, 2015

Look for more moonshine.

I’m sure you all have noticed the (sometimes) overwhelming selection of “Moon shine” at your local bottle stores lately.

First of all, I hate this term! Like I’ve preached several times before, words mean things! “Moonshine” is illegal, white whiskey made without Uncle Sam’s approval.

The jars you see in stores are white, unaged whiskey. Often times this type of liquor is called “white dog.” But it is not, at least in my mind, moonshine.

This type of whiskey is cheap, easy and fast for the distillers to crank out because there is no aging time. They simply go from still to bottle to store.

Bourbon is aged for a minimum of two-years in new barrels made from white oak. Kentucky Whiskey is also aged in NEW oak barrels which are essentially hand-made by craftsmen and use only fine white oak.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal estimated that Bourbon sales are up 35 percent since 2010, and the harvesting of the white oak has been severely abbreviated. You guessed it... That means there is a shortage of barrels.

Overall, that’s an excellent thing for the spirits industry, and a great opportunity for brewers looking to age beer in oak. The “One and done” life cycle of Bourbon sales provides ample wood for brewing.

Other distilled spirits such as rum can be aged in used barrels and they are likely to an increase in their supply chain in the years to come.  Some distillery have increased production as much as 50% to try to keep up with future demands.

As this all comes back to the white dog, if a distiller only receives half of his order of barrels from the cooperage, I’m willing to bet the other half of the production run will end up on store shelves labeled as “Moonshine!”

As you might expect from craft distillers and the long term success of older distillers, the quality of some of these white whiskeys on the market is very good, often time the same distillate that is used for their flagship brands.

If you have a favorite white whiskey, we would love to hear about it!

Have a great week friends,

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