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Tumbler of the Beast: Midnight Moon Moonshine

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Liquor: Midnight Moon Moonshine

Country of origin: The US of A, in North Carolina.

ABV: 35% (70 proof)

Musical accompaniment: Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Hank III, Clutch

The term ‘moonshine’ gets thrown around a lot these days. Southerners and Scandinavians will be quick to point out that real ‘shine is made dangerously in a garage or barn, is kept in whatever plastic or glass vessel you have empty at the time, and has a habit of making you go blind. But for many distilleries looking to cash in on old timey nostalgia, any clear corn liquor can be worthy of the title. And in the States, your most accessible so-called moonshine is Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon.

Junior Johnson, the Last American Hero, is a famous NASCAR driver, but much like US stock car racing his story starts in transporting booze at high speeds. Junior came from a long line of bootleggers—the Midnight Moon website claims that his family was making some of the first ‘shine in Appalachia—and though he was eventually arrested for operating an illegal still, he was never caught behind the wheel. Later in his career, after massive celebrity, a presidential pardon by Ronald Reagan, and an onscreen portrayal by Jeff Bridges, Johnson teamed up with Piedmont Distillers in North Carolina to create Midnight Moon, a series of flavored moonshines sold in glass jars.

Full disclosure, even Midnight Moon’s original flavor won’t give you the strength to bench-press a car and fist-fight Jesus. True moonshine is all about the volatility, that sudden burning in your gut and buzzing in your head that makes you wonder if you should be doing shots of something made by your neighbor Jeb. It’s the PCP of liquors. More so, the flavored varieties of the booze are a little candy-sweet, which, if you’re in the mood for a drink that’s like a boot to the ribs, can be tough and disappointing.

But what it lacks in raw energy, Midnight Moon makes up for in charm and drinkability. Passing a jar around a fire makes for a really nice time between low-key friends who are enjoying the warmth of some sippin’ liquor. And not all of the flavors are equal—the Apple Pie flavor is easily my favorite, the perfect accompaniment to any American holiday like Thanksgiving or July 4th. Even though it’s not totally unhinged, the ease of Midnight Moon can make it a little dangerous. Don’t forget, this liquor is still pretty strong—it has the same ABV as Coldcock Herbal Whiskey—so don’t let the deliciousness therein make allow you to chug it. You’ll wake up in the morning with a headache for the ages, and everything will taste like cinnamon, or bluberry, or peach, for at least a day.

Midnight Moon can be found at almost any liquor store that isn’t entirely need-based, and can be bought pretty cheaply, so just keep your eyes out for the jars. I bet the holidays will see it being sold by the case. Happy sipping, and watch out for the fuzz.

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