It is time to try something different as WINNIE BOWMAN explores the all-new Southern Moonshine range of unaged American-style moonshines, handmade in small batches, right here in South Africa.
“The flavoured whiskey category grew by 40% in the US in 2016. It remains one of the fastest growing segments in the market and, as they say, when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches the cold. As with craft beer and gin, we believe moonshine could be the next big thang in South Africa!” says Silver Creek Craft Distillery founder and chief distiller Mark Taverner. And to top it all, Silver Creek Craft Distillery, jumped into the limelight after a five-medal victory at the 2017 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards, including a double gold for the flagship Clear Shine.
The unique Southern Moonshine collection of high-quality sipping drinks is led by the Clear Shine, a smooth and genuine, pure spirit that is diluted to 50% alcohol by volume (ABV) – in American terms, 100% proof. It is a complex, mercurial spirit, alluring with a grain character without the influence of oak barrel maturation and is as authentically American as it gets. Joining this new kid on the craft block is the Charred Shine (also diluted to 50% ABV). Similar in flavour to good bourbon, it is made from Clear Shine and flavoured with an oak barrel essence.
Silver Creek Craft Distillery also produces four Southern Moonshine Flavoured ‘Shines (24% ABV), flavoured with genuine American flavours made exclusively for the distillery in the American state of Louisville, Kentucky. This include Apple Pie Moonshine, Bon Fire Moonshine, Salted Caramel Moonshine and, Chocolate Moonshine – a combo of dark chocolate and black coffee in a shot.
“Distilled in the traditional way, moonshine got its name during America’s Prohibition era when fiercely independent distillers could only ply their art under the cover of darkness, by the light of the moon,” says Taverner. “It made for a rough and dangerous spirit with a reputation to match; it was the time of Al Capone and speakeasies. “These days however, moonshine is not illegal if it is produced by a licensed distillery that adheres to government stipulations. Today’s moonshine maintains the devil-may-care allure of its shadowy past, but is entirely safe to drink, and yes, even delicious,” Taverner says. “We model our moonshine after the traditional Bourbon whiskey mash bill or recipe that comprises of 51% yellow and white corn, to which we add crushed wheat and malted barley. All our grain is locally sourced,” he says. “The process we use to make our moonshine produces a far smoother spirit than its Appalachian Mountain predecessors, where the spirit was born. Silver Creek Moonshine is triple distilled.”
The state-of-the-art Silver Creek Craft Distillery where it all happens, is tucked away in an old mine building in Gauteng’s Randfontein. Everything is done by hand – from mashing and fermentation to distillation and bottling. This process allows for extra special care, which is why every bottle is signed by the distiller.
“Once we have made the original moonshine in the distillery we add demineralised water, sugars and specially made flavours imported directly from the American state of Kentucky, which is generally regarded as the spiritual home of the moonshine tradition.”
Enjoy the Clear Shine and Charred Shine on the rocks or as the anchor spirit of a rockin’ long drink. The Flavoured ‘Shines will spruce up any cocktail or drink them straight up as a shooter or over crushed ice with your favourite mix.
Main alcohol: Southern Moonshine Clear Shine.
Ingredients: 40 ml Southern Moonshine Clear Shine; 100 ml Fresh Orange Juice; 100ml Cranberry Juice, bitters; 1 x orange slice.
Preparation: fill shaker with crushed ice. Add the Clear Shine, Orange Juice and Cranberry Juice and a few stabs of bitters. Shake with feeling. Prepare tumbler glass with two blocks of ice and a few orange peel twists. Pour mix over the ice and garnish with a slice of orange. (maraschino cherry optional)