White Whiskey Revival
It seems like white whiskey’s always been around in America, since the days when settlers distilled surplus corn into something more transportable and profitable. Some is still made from corn, but rye, wheat and other grains are used, just as in aged whiskies. But unlike bourbons, rye, Scotch or other whiskies that spend years in a barrel, white whiskey rests a few hours at most, depending on state requirements. It’s clear in color, and the best have a grainy sweetness that tells you exactly what it was made from. A few brands are bottled at a whiskey-like 40 proof; others are higher octane. I settled on the phrase “white whiskey” for today’s column in the Kansas City Star, but it does go by other names—moonshine (if it’s illegal, it’s moonshine), white dog (whiskey at or near still strength), corn whiskey (if it’s made from corn) and others. There’s apparently plenty of illegal stuff still being made, according to Max Watman’s excellent Chasing the White Dog. Certainly the home distilling crowd generates steady demand for Matthew B. Rowley’s entertaining and informative Moonshine! Those of us who prefer legal labels, though, can find them at area liquor stores. Gomer’s on 39th carries Tuthilltown Spirits New York Corn Whiskey. Rumor has it that there are bottles of Death’s Door whiskey and Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1 in KC also. Looks like white whiskey’s here to stay.