Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Legal 'white dog' whiskey gaining popularity

White whiskey, no longer a solely rural phenomenon, may be more popular than ever. "It’s hard to know what to expect when you first encounter white whiskey," Anne Brockhoff writes for the Kansas City Star. "It’s clear, but it tastes nothing like grain alcohol or even vodka. Some of it is bottled at a whiskey-like 40 percent alcohol by volume, but there’s at least one (Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1) that’s a high-octane 62.5 percent alcohol by volume." While moonshine is by definition always illegal, many legal varieties of white whiskey are still being marketed as such, Brockhoff notes.

In his new book Chasing the White Dog Max Watman "rides along with law enforcement agents, befriends a former crackhead, sits through trials, builds his own still, delves into the craft distilling movement and learns to drive a race car," Brockhoff writes. "He finds urban criminals selling vast quantities of vile hooch, the occasional 'rarist' making old-fashioned liquor up in the hills and passionate hobbyists, some who’ve built their operations into viable, legal businesses." The book, Brockhoff writes, is a fun read that "perfectly captures a growing fascination with white whiskey — a fascination happily and legally now being fed by Death’s Door, Tuthilltown Spirits, Buffalo Trace and other distillers."

"We didn’t start out to make corn whiskey," distiller and co-owner of New York's Tuthilltown Spirits Ralph Erenzo told Brockhoff of his distillery's Hudson New York Corn Whiskey. "We started out to make an aged spirit, but when we tasted this, we thought it was so extraordinary, so new and different." Part of white whiskey's appeal is its use in cocktails, Brockhoff writes. "This (trend) has some legs because it’s a real expression of whiskey," Watman said. "It certainly has a place along the whiskey spectrum." (Read more)

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