What Does Moonshine Taste Like? True Facts You Must Know


We all have that one drink we’ve always been intrigued with but never got the chance to try.

You’re probably here because that tantalizing drink is moonshine. When you think about it, moonshine sounds like such a unique name for an alcoholic beverage, something a god or goddess would drink!

But alas, moonshine is a very simple, yet still interesting, liqueur that begs people (like you) to question, “what does moonshine taste like?”

We’re cutting to the chase – Moonshine is actually meant to be flavorless, but there are many versions of it to choose from. But one thing’s for sure; you WILL feel the kick from moonshine, similar to an overproof 151 rum!

Let’s delve deeper into what moonshine is and its real flavor, shall we?

What is Moonshine?

Moonshine is unaged whiskey we refer to as homebrew, hooch, or even white lightning. Irish and Scottish immigrants introduced the liqueur to the United States, where fees were established for each whisky production. However, the United States prohibited moonshine until 2010!

From 2010 onwards, the government began providing licenses to produce moonshine, so it’s now legal. However, you can find untaxed moonshine manufacturers, which we consider illegal.

Why did the government ban moonshine? It comes from its ingredients. Moonshine may become tainted with toxic liquids, like methanol. (*) Methanol is a form of alcohol that’s known to cause blindness or death. Moreover, making moonshine can pose risks of fire or explosion because of the high alcohol content and flammable properties.

We can’t blame the government for their strictness with moonshine production! Moonshine, a distilled liqueur, contains up to 95% ABV. So, you can expect a similar kick and burning feeling as other high-proof or overproof alcohols. That’s why drinking moonshine is considered dangerous.

Fun fact: 

We call legal moonshine producers, “moonshiners!” They manufacture moonshine from a fruit or grain mash to ferment and extract natural sugars. They also use commercial sugar, which makes moonshine different from whisky.

You can even create your own moonshine or flavor it yourself. If you want to flavor moonshine to suit your palate better, you can add flavoring ingredients to your mason jar of moonshine.

Alternatively, you can follow a sugar shine recipe, which consists of water, yeast, and sugar. It’s very simple and with multiple distillations, you can reach 20% ABV! It’s so easy to do and cheap to produce, so you will always have stock of the liqueur.

What Does Moonshine Taste Like?

Take a whiff of moonshine, and you can detect a slight corn aroma. You’ll also definitely smell the alcohol, which may feel overpowering! If you detect a strong chemical aroma in your moonshine, do NOT drink it, as this may come from the presence of methanol.

Experts often compare moonshine to learn unaged bourbon or whisky. When you’re drinking moonshine for the first time, expect a stinging feeling. Again, It’s like 151 rum, with a burning sensation and strong kick.

Once you get past the burn, you’ll notice that there’s a slightly earthy flavor to moonshine. Besides the rubbing alcohol flavor (yech), you’ll also taste the subtle sweetness and hints of corn.

Why corn? Because you traditionally make moonshine with corn mash and sugar. After brewing a sugar source, it will produce methanol.

While moonshine generally doesn’t have flavor, some people also say it tastes like quality grappa with its distinct flavor. Some people even say they sense vanilla notes, though that most likely doesn’t come from authentic bottles of moonshine. There are moonshine variations available with added flavor to make it more appealing to the palate.

When mixing moonshine in a cocktail, you’ll get the extra flavor, especially when using flavored moonshine. It works well with your favorite mixers and cocktails featuring honey and warm spices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you left with more questions about moonshine? We give you even more with our frequently asked questions below!

Are there different moonshine flavors?

Yes, there are! Lawful brewers now polished and improved the once-illegal moonshine. Check out these cool flavors and moonshine variations from different brands:

  • Midnight Moon: It’s made from corn having a 40% ABV, so it isn’t too strong but tastes similar to vodka. You can get a blackberry midnight moonshine flavor, tasting acidic and tangy with the natural fruitiness.
  • Tim Smith’s Climax: It’s made of rye, corn, and malted barley with a 45% ABV. Expect a sweet and spicy flavor with a smooth and powerful kick.
  • Hudson New York Corn: It’s made from corn distilled liqueur, so it tastes strongly of roasted corn!
  • Ole Smoky Tennessee: This liqueur contains 50% ABV with a flavor comparable to month-old Chinese white rice! The brand, Ole Smoky, produces various moonshines with different flavors.
  • Kings Country Distillery: The company produces and distributes its own moonshine, which has a savory flavor tasting like actual corn. It also tastes similar to tequila and comes smoothly with a 40% ABV.
  • Great America Moonshine: You’ll love their malt-based moonshine though it isn’t as intense. Think of it as classic lemonade where you can’t even taste the alcohol since it only has a 14% ABV.
  • Jeptha Creed: This is a potent moonshine that has a clean and crisp flavor with 40% ABV. It’s made using the traditional formula, paying respect to the classic moonshine.

How do you drink moonshine?

You can drink it straight if you’re a sadist (just kidding, we know some people also like the burn) or play around with it in cocktails or combined with mixers. Here are a few ways you can enjoy a quality bottle of moonshine:

  • Combine moonshine with mixers like Coca-Cola, grapefruit juice, ginger ale, lemonade, or iced tea. If you want to add more booze (be careful!), we recommend mixing it with sweet vermouth.
  • Use moonshine in popular cocktails like Sex In The Woods, Thyme to Shine, Apple Pie Moonshine, Moonshine Mule, and Cherry Limeade!
  • Make a batter for onion rings using moonshine!

We only recommend taking one shot of moonshine rather than an entire glass! Not only can it taste very strong for first-timers, but some moonshine variations have an extremely high ABV and can get you drunk in a snap. It’s stronger than vodka!

Wrapping It Up

Drinkers, be warned – You might gasp at your first sip of moonshine! But fret not; each sip is worth trying, but make sure you don’t drink too much, or you’ll end up with a drunken night you’ll probably forget about.

Learn more about the wonders of your favorite liqueurs here at Nomspedia! We have a lot in store for you to kickstart your journey to food and beverages.

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