John Lennon once sang ‘We All Shine On’, and while I don’t think he meant we all drink moonshine, in East Tennessee it certainly seems that way.
Moonshine went from the backwoods to Main Street seemingly overnight. The quick ascension left many trying to catch up.
If you’re new to the moonshine game choosing the right flavor for your palette can be intimidating.
While everyone has their favorite, here are the top 5 flavors guaranteed to give you the full moonshine experience.
A classic straight from the old timers. Sure these new-fangled distilleries may offer mango strawberry margarita – and honestly that stuff probably tastes great – but if I’m drinking moonshine I have a hard time ordering something that might tempt Popcorn Sutton to rise from the dead and shove a coon pecker bone through my eye. Ultimately, simple fruits pair well with moonshine. Nothing too crazy. Just enough flavor to take the edge off is all you need.
2. Dill Pickle
This one’s for me. I’m a pickle guy – which is a weird thing to type but a much weirder thing to say out loud while trying to explain why you went to a distillery and bought fermented cucumbers. Nonetheless, even if Zombie Popcorn were to arrive and castigate me for my forbidden moonshine love, I will not be shamed. I like pickles. I drink pickle juice from the jar like a savage, much to my wife’s dismay. I also like Bloody Marys and a moonshine pickle beats a skewered olive any damn day of the week.
Christmas time only. Eggnog is, of course, the traditional way to get buzzed during the holidays but that stuff is heavy on the stomach. Peppermint moonshine is crisp, like a winter night, almost refreshing. In moderation, it can even be a little bit of an upper, a jolt to the senses. Much better than consuming runny egg pudding, no matter how much alcohol and cinnamon they put in it.
It’s a classic. You can’t go wrong with cherries. There’s something about that sweet cherry flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the experience. If you’re going to drink shine, you don’t want it to taste like a Sonic Slush. You want that kick. The cherries take the edge off. Cherry also has two added benefits. First, you can eat the cherries, which is a great way to get hammered. And – just as important – if you’re helping a buddy ship shine to his father in Oregon – anonymously, of course – you can peel off any labels and mark the batch homemade maraschino cherries in case any John Q. Laws get suspicious. Plausible deniability, folks. It’s a thing.
5. Apple Pie
It’s sweet. Some might say too sweet but they’re wrong and should be shunned. Apple Pie is the Babe Ruth of moonshine. Before the explosion of commercial, legal moonshine, I’m willing to bet 75% of all socially consumed moonshine – drinking for fun not to just get drunk – was apple pie.
Apple Pie moonshine is as wholesome as well, apple pie itself. Tennessee grandmothers keep a little jar of Apple Pie moonshine in the back of their cupboards. In fact, I knew a lady whose father was sheriff of a small Tennessee county in the ’60s. On Election Day, she’d sit on the front porch with several cases of apple pie moonshine and the townspeople would go vote, then swing by her dad’s house to pick up a jar in “appreciation” for their support. And finally, Apple Pie is damn delicious. How many people do you know who don’t like apple pie? We need more things in the world that taste like apple pie. If you see a list of moonshine flavors and apple pie isn’t No. 1? Feel free to slap that list maker with a coon pecker; it’s what Popcorn would have wanted.