So, How Do We Make Our Apple Pie Moonshine?
We don't usually give out our secret recipes, but today I'm feeling generous. With that being said, get ready and I'll let you guys & gals in on the basics of how to make our apple pie moonshine.
It all begins with some good ole' fashioned moonshine (also referred to by locals as white lightening, corn whiskey, hooch, creek water, etc). A sudden rise in popularity, attributed to reality shows such as Tickle and The Hatfield and McCoys, has brought moonshine to the attention of liquor connoisseurs across America. Previously, this little known drink was illegally brewed in the Appalachian mountains and foothills across the South with a proof so strong, locals would recommend burning it before imbibing to test for safety. "If it burns blue, it's safe for the whole crew."
Nowadays, the powers at be have dropped the proof to a legal range, marketed the heck out of the stuff, and made it available to the general public. Although traditional moonshine drinkers would scoff at the meager 47% alcohol content, it's safe to say this is the closest most of us will get to trying the infamous liquor created from fermenting corn mash.
One of the most distinctive features of moonshine is the smooth flavor which is quickly followed by an intense burn in the back of the throat. In order to combat this "fire water" property, a lot of individuals and businesses have begun infusing their moonshine, us included. The very first infusion was created to mimic Southern Apple Pie, and although we now have a plethora of others, the apple pie remains a customer favorite. Now, for what you've been waiting for: the recipe.
The ingredients you will need to start the infusion process are sugar, apple cider, cinnamon and moonshine (we use Midnight Moon). If you're a Yankee or a West Coaster and moonshine isn't as easily accessible, then you can substitute vodka with a similar outcome. In addition to the above ingredients, one also has the option of using real apples. You might ask, "Why bother?" Well, as a simple explanation, the alcohol in the moonshine will extract flavors in the apples that aren't present in the apple cider. If you choose this route, the trick is to cut the apples into small pieces (higher surface area) and only leave it in the alcohol for a maximum of five days. Why five days? Well any more and the alcohol will start to dissolve the soluble fiber (the pectin) thus leaving a nasty, bitter tasting, unsaleable liquid.
After three to five days, it's now time to strain off the shine from the apple chunks and add cinnamon. As with the apples, you don't want to leave the cinnamon in there for too long. I would recommend one or two days max. Make sure you use whole cinnamon (sticks or pieces) and not the powder, otherwise you will have a blast straining it for the rest of your life.
Once the cinnamon is removed, go ahead and dump in the apple cider and sugar. It's best to use cold press apple cider here. At this point, I do some optional steps like adding caramelized sugar and molasses, as well as another ingredient about which I must remain tight lipped.
The amount of sugar to add is going to depend on your preference. If you choose not to use caramelized sugar, I would suggest around 1 1/2 cups of sugar to every 750 ml of 80-100 proof alcohol. It's best to start low with one cup first, giving a full day for the sugar to dissolve, then tasting to see if the amount is sufficient for your liking.
After all the ingredients have been added, it's now time for the aging process. This takes at least a week, keeping in mind that the longer you leave it, the better it will taste. I haven't gone longer than three months, due to seeming evaporation, so I don't know if it gets any better after that time period. I have heard that leaving it for as long as 6 months makes a difference, but my patience (or lack thereof) won't allow this.
I should mention that after about a week, I go ahead and use a cheese cloth to strain off any apple particles, which you should hopefully have from using a good quality apple cider. You more or less will have a finished product to taste once it's strained. So go ahead and taste your product mid-way through aging if you like.
And that folks, is how you infuse moonshine. Hopefully, this article has given new meaning to the Rocky Top lyrics:
Corn don't grow at all on Rocky Top,
It's too rocky by far,
That's why all the folks on Rocky Top,
Get their corn from a jar...
(moonshine aka corn mash aka what you'll find in a big ole Mason Dixon jar!)
- 750 ml of 80-100 proof alcohol
- 500 ml of cold pressed apple cider
- 2 oz of cinnamon
- 1 & 1/2 cups of sugar