Review: Manhattan Moonshine

manhattan moonshineMoonshine connotes hillbillies cooking up corn in a crude oil drum still tucked away in the woods, high-test hooch bottled in a ceramic jug.

And then there’s Manhattan Moonshine, made “using a unique blend of four premium New York grains [including rye, spelt, and oats — but not corn] and innovative, modern production methods,” bottled in an art deco decanter, and on the shelves for 45 bucks. Decried already in a piece entitled “End times: Hipsters drinking craft moonshine,” this is white whiskey at its terminus, a product that offers an unaged spirit at four times the price of a bottle of Jim Beam. How does it stand up?

On the nose, Manhattan Moonshine offers some classic cereal character and plenty of raw alcohol, backed with notes of lemongrass and some oily sandalwood. On the palate, it’s surprisingly sweet — and gentle, considering the higher alcohol level. It doesn’t take long for the hallmarks of moonshine to come to the fore — intense cereal notes, some petrol character, and a pungent pepperiness. Some pet-like overtones — think about the smell when you walk into a veterinarian’s office, and I don’t mean that negatively — emerge with time. (Now, as I wrap up this tasting, it’s all I can think of.)

Overall, this is not a bad expression of moonshine (and a credible cocktail ingredient) in a market that is rife with overpriced rotgut. That said, at nearly $50 a bottle, it remains a tough sell no matter how fancy it looks.

95 proof.


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2 Responses

  1. dan April 30, 2015 / 9:54 am

    It’s a nice bottle, but a bit over-designed. Looks like a perfume bottle.

    >Some pet-like overtones… and I don’t mean that negatively

    Help me out with this one, Christopher. Which smells in the vet’s office are positive?

  2. Christopher Null April 30, 2015 / 10:00 am

    I’m thinking some of the more savory notes of hay, dried meat, grains. Think about when you open a fresh bag of dried cat food. (I presume this is driven by the spelt, which is common in pet food.) It’s not something I’d necessarily want to eat but it’s not necessarily negative. It’s kind of nostalgic, really. A bit hard to explain but I found the experience to be pretty unique.

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