I recently received a beautiful bottle of the new Manhattan Moonshine (introduced in late 2014 in New York) in the mail to sample. The un-aged white whiskey is crystal clear and the company's motto is What's old is new again. Given those two components, and the traditional image of moonshine, I was a tad bit apprehensive. After tasting, however, it became clear that, despite the motto, this is not your grandpa's old moonshine. Manhattan Moonshine is definitely a liquor for the 21st century.
On the nose, Manhattan Moonshine serves up a strong dose of raw alcohol along with the beautiful earthy smell of the oats. Yes, that's right. This moonshine is not made with corn. The oats, rye and spelt—all locally grown in New York—provide a very different drinking experience. In a good way, my first smell of Manhattan Moonshine brought back memories of my childhood and summer mornings in the horse barn on my family's farm in Virginia.
I was surprised when tasting that, on the palate, Manhattan Moonshine is much less harsh than I had expected. There is even a sweet undertone, thanks to the honey taste of those oats. This is a good, solid moonshine that will make a great mixer for above-par cocktails. The secret? It was developed specifically as an un-aged whiskey.
The recipe was developed by entrepreneur William Kehler and un-aged whiskey expert Ian Smiley, who also authored the book Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional Guide for Amateur and Micro Distillers. The recipe was developed specifically as an un-aged spirit, unlike traditional moonshine that uses the basics of whiskey-making, just foregoing the barrel aging process. The recipe includes a unique yeast, has the absence of corn and uses oats, rye and spelt. The whiskey is distilled in small batches in a handmade Christian Carl pot still that helps preserve the natural grain flavors. After distilling, it is immediately bottled without any barrel aging, filtering or blending so you get the unadulterated flavor of the grains.
The Manhattan Moonshine is about as far as you can get from the image of a gut-burning raw alcohol whipped up in the backwoods of rural America in an aging, rusty still. This is obviously well-conceived and is packaged in a sleek Art Deco styled decanter that will look gorgeous on any bar. You can get Manhattan Moonshine at many of the top bars and restaurants in New York City or you can order it directly from www.Manhattan-Moonshine.com. The 750 ml bottle of Manhattan Moonshine (47.5% ABV) sells for $45.
Once you have your bottle at home, you can start sampling it neat, on the rocks or in some of the great cocktail recipes below. The cocktail recipes were developed exclusively for Manhattan Moonshine by James Moreland to give a nod to the great age of jazz and the Prohibition Era that befits the bottle's Art Deco design.
Manhattan Moonshine cocktail recipes
2½ oz Manhattan Moonshine
½ oz Dry Vermouth
½ oz Cointreau
Method: Add ingredients to a mixing glass, over ice and shake/stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Manhattan Moonshine Sea Breeze
1¼ oz Manhattan Moonshine
3 oz Cranberry juice
¾ oz Cointreau
¼ oz Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Method: Serve in a chilled glass over ice.
Manhattan Moonshine Charleston Bramble
1½ oz Manhattan Moonshine
Juice of a half lemon
½ oz Crème de Mure or Chambord
Method: Muddle blackberries and then add all of the ingredients into a mixing glass and shake. Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice.