Full disclaimer: Up until last week, I didn't know what exactly moonshine was—or if it was even legal. But when I traveled to the Smokey Mountains to see what was up at Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, the biggest moonshine distillery in the U.S., a whole new world opened up. (Seriously, though!) People might not be drinking a ton of moonshine in Brooklyn (although it is becoming more popular), but in Tennessee, it seems like they only drink moonshine.
BUY NOW: Pumpkin Pie Moonshine, $28, drizly.com.
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But let's get some myths out of the way first: Moonshine isn't illegal and most definitely will not make you go blind. (That's a falsehood from when it was made illegally during Prohibition in lead pipes.) Today, moonshine is just an umbrella term for unaged whiskey; unlike whiskey, which is aged in wooden barrels, moonshine is clear and has more kick.
In the fall, no one in Tennessee drinks plain 188-proof moonshine (otherwise known as White Lighting)—they drink pumpkin moonshine. Seeing as pretty much everything is pumpkin-flavored these days, it's no surprise that moonshine is getting in on the trend.
At Ole Smoky, I learned how to make moonshine from start to finish: mixing corn and water into mash, letting it ferment and distill. This s*it is a science! And a pretty delicious one— would you try it?!
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