Tasting Notes is going to close the week out by venturing into the world of craft spirits by sipping on some Maple Bacon Moonshine from Sugarlands Distilling Co. (Gatlinburg, Tennessee).
Just as the craft beer community has been experiencing amazing growth and popularity over the last several years, so has the world of fine liquor and craft spirits. It can be said that both of these industries share common characteristics that have acted as the catalyst for their mutual growth: hand-crafted, locally produced, use of fine ingredients, an adventurous and playful approach to their products, quality of product over quantity of production, etc. Beyond that, these two often collaborate or draw inspiration from one another whether it be by experimenting with similar flavor profiles or by aging craft beer in the used liquor barrels of the other (or vice versa in some cases). Because of this parallel, Tasting Notes will occasionally branch out to take a look at a spirits offering that shares something in common with craft beer. Since the use of maple and bacon has been a recent, popular combo in craft beer as of late, we are going to launch the first Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes by trying out Maple Bacon Moonshine from Sugarlands Distilling Co.
Before we break the seal on this Mason jar, let’s cover some background info on this distillery and offering. Sugarlands Distilling Co. of Gatlinburg, Tennessee first began distillation of craft quality moonshine and whiskey in 2014, and their dedication to producing “innovative drinks with a raconteur and thrilling vibe” has been key to their success. Fans can experience their offerings at the downtown distillery while also enjoying live music, Appalachian storytelling, moonshine tastings, distillery tours and “outdoor adventures in the Sugarlands—an area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, also known as ‘moonshiners’ paradise’.” Since opening, Sugarlands Distilling Co. has earned 28 awards, been recognized by several publications and media outlets, and has been named “America’s top-rated distillery experience and the number one ‘thing to do’ in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, according to TripAdvisor.com.” Spirits from Sugarlands Distilling Co. are now available in stores in 21 states nationwide and online at www.BuySugarlands.com.
Maple Bacon Moonshine is one of many Moonshines produced by Sugarlands and is a release within the distillery’s Outlandish Series, the “Seriously Not-So-Serious Moonshine Series”. Just as the name suggests, this breakfast-inspired, 70 Proof Moonshine “combines the tastes of smoked bacon and candied maple syrup” in an offering that can be enjoyed on its own or as a part of a full-flavored cocktail. Now that we have those particulars covered, let’s track down a rocks glass and get to some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Maple Bacon Moonshine from Sugarlands Distilling Co.
Appearance: In the jar, Maple Bacon Moonshine presents as a deep, rich, red-hued mahogany in color. Once poured in the glass, the colors soften a bit to produce lighter browns that still flaunt some reddish tones. The body is clear, but there are some dark, ashen floaties bouncing around in there. This Shine absolutely has some legs to it, and it leaves a sugary trail on the glass as well.
Aroma: As soon as the cap is removed, the room is filled with rich, smoky bacon goodness. I mean . . . this is instantly conjuring up memories of waking up as a kid to a house filled with the smell of breakfast cooking in the kitchen. Once you pull yourself out of this bacon-induced spell, maple syrup and a sweet grain presence that is pancake-like comes forward. The final layer to this decadent fragrance is a touch of dark caramel lingering in the background. The only thing I can say to all of this is “Yes please!”
Flavor: The maple hits first in the flavor department and we are talking about a beautifully represented note of sweet, syrupy perfection. The bacon and smoke then slides across the palate to counter the sweetness with a balancing savoriness. Rich, nearly burnt caramel and a light presence of dark fruit rounds everything off. It may be sweet, but I am happily surprised at how that sweetness has been cut, smoothed and leveled out. Breakfast in a glass is the only way to describe what we have here.
Mouthfeel: Not surprising at all, this Maple Bacon Moonshine has a syrupy texture to it that thoroughly coats and saturates the taste buds in the delightful flavor experience mentioned above. Although the offering is sweet, balance is nearly achieved with its savory, smoky qualities. The alcohol heat is wonderfully tempered and well hidden. Smoke lingers after each sip.
Final Thoughts: With just a quick glance at the label, name and description of Maple Bacon Moonshine, one may be a bit worried that this is an offering that would ultimately be too sweet to enjoy on its own. I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. I enjoyed this both straight and on-the-rocks, and the balance in this Moonshine must be noted, praised and celebrated. The bacon is not acting as just the ridiculously awesome ingredient that bacon is, but its savory and smoky characteristics are put to work in this Shine as a means of balancing that maple syrup note. This is not a gimmick. No, this is craftsmanship and it is delicious. I suggest you give this one a try and enjoy it on its own, as a foundation for inventive craft cocktails, or as a flavorful addition to your after-dinner coffee. Any way you want to try it, make it happen. You certainly won’t regret it. Prost!