Good old-fashioned moonshine seems to be taking on a new shine these days. Back in the day, it was notoriously strong both in flavor and alcohol content. Fast forward to today and you find almost every moonshine distiller flavoring their shine with just about everything grown within spitting distance of their distillery. Actually, they used to do this even way back when because the shine was so caustic, it needed to be diluted and flavored just so people could stomach the stuff.

Bloomery SweetShine Bottles Core Line Hi Res

Today, all that has changed and even plain old straight up moonshine won’t make you gag and cough because it’s made with good ingredients by master distillers who really know what they’re doing. At least, that’s the theory. As with any flavored spirit, everyone with a tongue, mouth and a nose will disagree or agree with just about everyone else about the taste of just about everything, and I’m not just talking about booze here. Having tasted the full flavored lines of some distillers, I have to admit that some of the flavors are pretty good, some are so-so, and others just plain horrible. And some of you have agreed with my rants and raves, while some have disagreed, and some of you have even disparaged me, my family, my pets, and even my sign of the zodiac for my opinions. I am grateful to all of you good, bad and ugly people for all your beautiful, sadistic, sarcastic, and even sweet input. After all, it’s a free country and we are allowed to be as right or wrong as you and I want to be.

So today we get to try four of SweetShine’s ten flavors: Black Walnut, Cremma Lemma, Ginger and Cranberry Clementine. You gotta figure that these folks just might know what they’re doing since their 12 acre farm has been around since the late 1700’s. It started out as a bloomery, that’s a cheaper, simpler way to produce iron than by using a blast furnace. By the 1800’s, that production was replaced by three stills purchased for the princely sum of $74.00 dollars and nobody’s looked back since then, not even during prohibition.

Cremma Lemma Hi Res

The bottles are tall and thin and beautifully decorated with old fashioned labels that look like they could have been produced back in the 1920’s Let’s start with the Cremma Lemma and see if, as they like to say on the bottle, it’s full of vice or virtue. Well, it certainly smells delightful, sort of like lemon cheesecake, but I might have to pass on this taste test. It physically looks like milk that’s gone bad with little pieces of milky parts floating about in it. My momma told me not to drink milk that’s gone bad, and this sure looks like milk that’s gone bad although it does smell mighty tempting. And then this idiot writer read the top of the bottle cap, and there, as plain as day, were the words “all natural shake well ingredients will separate or settle”. Well, that was certainly unsettling, so let’s go back and give it another shot now that I’ve shaken the hell out of it and shaken off my fears as well. The nose is a creamy, lemony delight with a touch of sugar in it but no ethanol vapors whatsoever. It is bright and tart and tangy. On the palate, it is very lemony and creamy followed by a sweet citrus note and quite yummy with no burn at all. The finish follows suit with a lemony, cream like after taste that lasts a medium amount of time. I’ll just bet that this stuff mixes well with other ingredients and makes one interesting dessert drink.

Cranberry Clementine Hi Res

Next up is the Cranberry Clementine, which by the way, I shook the hell out of just to be safe. The nose is a combination of cranberries and oranges, again with no discernible ethanol. It tends to lean to the tart side with just the bare essence of citrus. On the palate, it leans in favor of the oranges over the cranberries, but the cranberries are there. It is light, not too sweet, and fruitfully tasty. The finish is smooth, tart, but not too tart, and of course sweet, but not too sweet, making it well balanced. I could go for a flute of champagne mixed with this accompanying a Sunday brunch!

Ginger Hi Res

The third entry is the Ginger flavor. The nose has a very earthy aroma of muted ginger and sugar and possibly a hint of cherry, again with no appreciable alcohol vapors. On the palate, it is sugary sweet and tangy with subtle ginger flavors and a touch of pepper that makes it quite interesting. The finish is earthy, sweet and gingery, with a bit of spice that’s nice and lasts a fairly long time. This is definitely a prime mixing candidate, although I wouldn’t mind trying it with some sushi.

Black Walnut

And last, but I hope not least, is the Black Walnut flavor. This is definitely the darkest in color of the bunch and looks just like black coffee. My goodness the nose actually presents like black coffee up front, with oily walnuts in the background and it has no traces of sweetness nor alcohol. It is oily and thicker than the others with hints of blackberries, coffee and walnuts on the palate. The finish finally exhibits some sweetness, along with the coffee and walnuts and a touch of pepper and lasts a good long tingly time. I like this one as much as all the others because they are all true to their flavors and don’t taste artificial, although they all seem to contain a fair amount of sugar as well as all the other ingredients. These are fine quality liqueurs and well worth their price point. Just don’t be afraid to shake the shit out of each bottle before opening so you don’t experience any unexpected consequences like I did.

SweetShine’s products come in 375ML bottles which are half the normal 750ML size most distilled spirits come in, so for a fair comparison, just do the math. The Cremma Lemma (21.5% ABV) and Ginger (23.8% ABV) and Black Walnut (39.7% ABV) and Cranberry Clementine (15.1% ABV) are all $24.99, while their Hard Lemonade comes in at $12.99 and the Chocolate Raspberry ups the ante to $28.97.

By George Brozowski