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By Michael Hepworth

Moonshine has now been legal for about 4 ½ years and of the handful of companies selling right now, OLE SMOKY out of Gatlingburg, Tennessee seems to have the upper hand.  About 750,000 cases of the stuff a year are now being shipped in the USA, and the international market is about to open up as the perception of what moonshine is becomes clearer.  It is essentially un-aged whisky to simplify with the prime ingredient being Tennessee corn and the higher quality Indiana corn.  The new deal with Southern Wine & Spirits takes their product into eleven new states which according to CEO John Cochran took about four months of intense negotiations to secure. California is the biggest market for Moonshine

Ole Smokey currently has thirteen different flavors of moonshine, and they are all available in the Mason jar instead of the traditional bottle, no doubt a throwback to the old bootlegging days.  In fact there are still literally hundreds of illegal stills in the woods of Tennessee, a situation according to Cochran that is unlikely o change as long as people are unable or do not want to pay the taxes.  The minimum investment to get the right equipment and facility would be at least $500,000 hence the continued presence of illegal stills.

The signature product from Ole Smoky is Original Moonshine (100 proof), White Lightning (100 proof), Lightning Line (80 proof), Strawberry Lightning, Lemon Drop Lightning and Hunch Punch Lightning.  The remainder of the portfolio consists of 40 proof and tends to be fruit based drinks, a lot sweeter than the higher proof versions.  Business has been so brisk that Ole Smoky has opened up a 20,000 square feet bottling plant.  In Gatlinburg, and in the next few months will be opening a 6,000 square foot retail outlet not far away in Pigeon Forge. This town also happens to be the location of Dollywood, the entertainment complex owned by Dolly Parton.  I was not clear whether or not the moonshine tastings at the retail outlet are free to the public just like they are at the distillery, but I would not be surprised.

Moonshine is a versatile spirit, and with over 1,000 recipes on the web site to choose from, the consumer is spoilt by choice.  All the recipes come from families who have been making Moonshine in the Tennessee Mountains for a hundred years of more.

Selected Recipes

Corn & Cola

2 parts Original Ole Smoke Moonshine

2 parts cola

Moonshine Margarita

2 parts Original Ole Smokey Moonshine

1 part Lime Juice

1 part simple syrup

1 part Triple sec,

Combine salt & sugar w/zest of lime for rim of glass

The Slammer

Equal parts Ole Smokey Apple Pie Moonshine

Lemon lime soda & cranberry juice

Website: www.olesmokymoonshine.com




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