Say what you will about baseball and apple pie, for my money, there’s nothing more American than whiskey. I’ll even take it a step further and say there’s nothing more American than moonshine, what with all the backstory involving tax evasion, which is essentially all the American Revolution was about, when you boil it down to the nuts and bolts of it.
Moonshine is America. In that spirit, we simply had to put a spotlight on one of the newest moonshine brands to hit the shelves, Freedom Moonshine, from Chattanooga-based Tennessee Stillhouse. Yep, they put their patriotic cojones right there in the name. Freedom. Probably overkill, but I like it anyway.
Freedom is a good bit different than other moonshines at the liquor store, because the mash bill is predominantly rye (95%) with just 5% malted barley. What you get in this jar, then, is an unaged rye, as opposed to the neutral grain spirit (read: vodka) that many distillers try to pass off as moonshine. Legally, you can call any liquor moonshine. Neutral grains are cheap, rye is expensive, so a lot moonshines are filled with the former. Thankfully, Freedom isn’t like a lot of moonshines.
The use of rye gives the moonshine far more complexity than its counterparts, and ultimately creates a legitimately good sipping whiskey, even in its unaged state.
Tennessee Stillhouse has launched five different flavors—the White Rye, Red Cherry Rye, Blueberry Rye, Apple Pie Rye and Firecracker Rye. The White Rye comes in at a respectable 80 proof, while the flavored ryes hit 40 proof for easy drinking.
I tried the White Rye over ice and was impressed with the round, rich mouthfeel and slightly fruity character that transitions into a sort of spearmint spiciness as the sip tails off. There’s not much of a burn in this whiskey, which is a nice change from some of the moonshine I’ve had in the past. Even though it’s unaged, it’s a perfectly fine sipper when you pour it over a hunk of ice. If that ice is in the shape of a bald eagle, all the better.
I’m not much of a fan of flavored moonshine—they’re simply too saccharine for me, but if I were going to pick a favorite out of Freedom’s flavored shines, I’d have to go with the Apple Pie Rye. It’s not as sweet as the others and maintains a bit of that rye spice. But look, if you’re buying a bottle of flavored moonshine, you’re probably looking to suck on an alcoholic Jolly Rancher, so go with the Red Cherry Rye, which is so sweet, it may as well come with a diabetes warning on the label.
Check out a couple of recipes below to help kick your Independence Day barbecue up a notch, and let freedom ring. And by “freedom,” I mean whiskey, just so we’re clear.
1 ½ oz. Red Cherry Rye
½ oz. Lime juice
Top with tonic
Directions: Pour ingredients into a Bell Jar with ice and stir, garnishing with a lime wheel.
1 ½ oz. White Rye
½ oz. Lemon Juice
½ oz. Lime Juice
Spoonful of strawberry preserves
8 Basil leaves
Directions: Put all ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously, then pour into a Bell jar. Top with tonic and garnish with a lime.
Distillery: Tennessee Stillhouse
City: Chattanooga, Tenn.
Style: Unaged rye whiskey
Availability: Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey now, across the country soon