Last spring I went with some friends up to the Block House Steeplechase up in Tryon, NC. It was my first steeplechase, but was a quite a good time (you can read my post about it here).
While we were there, there were some reps from a North Carolina-based company called Y'all Liquor who were walking around offering samples of their new line of moonshine that they working on creating (as a side note, I should point out that it would appear that their company never seemed to get off the ground as the website that they had was eventually taken down). I'm not sure that I had ever tried moonshine before, but I thought it was pretty good, though I really liked the peach moonshine that they let us try (complete with a peach in the mason jar).
For some reason, the peach 'shine stuck with me and I kept waiting for the company to begin offering it. Back in April, as it became apparent that the product wasn't ever going to make it to my local liquor store, I began thinking about my alternatives. After doing some requisite Googling, the most useful site I came up with was this thread on a home distilling message board. I had to kind of apply their suggestions as best I could, but finally came up with a game plan and gave it a shot.
Since moonshine is nothing other than un-aged corn whiskey (only its illegal production really makes it proper moonshine), there is a brand of corn liquor called Georgia Shine that is pretty easy to find in most liquor stores. I went to the liquor store and picked up a 750 mL bottle of the 100 proof version (they also make an 80 proof version that comes in a large mason jar). I felt like when it came to moonshine, the greater the burn, the better, hence my decision to go with the 100 proof.
I then went to the grocery store and picked up a can of peach halves. Fresh peaches weren't really in season yet, and I wanted to get some that weren't in heavy syrup so that I could have better control over how sweet it came out, and I ended up going with these Margaret Holmes brand (whatever that is).
Already being in possession of a bunch of mason jars, I divided the peaches into two jars, and poured the 'shine over the peaches. I gave the jars a couple of tumbles and let them sit.
I would usually give them a turn or two each day, and basically let them sit for about two months, giving them a taste every now and then. It took quite a while for much of the peach taste to come through, especially with the high percentage of alcohol. The amount of flavor seemed to pretty much level off after about 6-8 weeks. In June, I got my hands on some fresh peaches, and following some of the suggestions found on the above mentioned forum thread, I drained off the liquor (likker?), threw away the old peaches, peeled and cut up the fresh ones and put them in the jars. I then added a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the peaches and let them rest for 10 minutes or so before adding the liquor back to the jars and letting them sit for a few more days. I'm not sure if it was the fresh peaches or using the sugar, but the peach flavor really came through a lot more clearly, and the sugar seemed to cut down on some of the bite from the alcohol. It also took on a more yellowish tint.
In the end, it ended up being pretty good, but it still has a slightly off taste, which I would likely attribute to the canned peaches. I took some to a 4th of July party and we passed around one of the jars, and people seemed to enjoy it as much as one can enjoy drinking straight liquor. I think if I were to do it over again, I would only use fresh peaches, I would use the sugar at the beginning, and I would maybe even use the 80 proof liquor, or possibly cut the finished product with some water. I would perhaps add a little less at the beginning as I could always add more later if needed. If you decide to give this a try yourself, please be sure to share how it turns out for you.
If you are interested in other DIY liquor adventures, check out my old post on making your own gin.
Memorial Day Weekend
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