Part IV: Tennessee Regional

Rickhouse Ramblings is in the process of conducting a four region blind taste off of new make, clear, moonshine, or white dog whiskey. The field is broken up into four regions based on their location of production: North Carolina; Virginia; Tennessee; South Carolina. We will not be using our traditional Rickhouse Rating for these pours. Instead, we will be judging the nose, mouth, and finish using a 5 star system. The winner of each region will face off in a Battle of the States as we look to find the final champion. This is Part IV in the series, concentrating on products from the state of Tennessee (Part I: North Carolina Regional; Part II: Virginia Regional; Part III: South Carolina Regional). Returning for Part IV with Christian and Mike, is Mike’s brother, Phil.

Special thanks to one of the First Ladies of Rickhouse Ramblings, Alicia, for handling and organizing the chaos of pouring and delivering all of the samples without tipping off which whiskey was in which glass. We couldn’t have done it without you!

The Tennessee Contenders

This week’s blind taste off will include a field of three new make, clear, or moonshine whiskey offerings, each originating from Tennessee. We attempted to obtain a fourth option through both online order and our local ABC system for this blind tasting, however, we were unsuccessful. Each whiskey was tasted neat in a Glencairn glass. Here is a list of the three contenders selected, based on availability of products:

  • American Born – American Born XXX Moonshine White Lightning: Located in Nashville, TN; Bottled at 103 proof; Traditional mountain recipe of unaged corn whiskey and cane spirits.
  • Ole Smokey Distillery, LLC – Ole Smokey Moonshine White Lightnin’: Located in Gatlinburg, TN; Bottled at 100 proof; Made with spirits distilled from corn.
  • Sugarlands Distilling Company, LLC – Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine: Located in Gatlinburg, TN; Battled at 100 proof; Distilled from cane and grain.
From Left to Right: American Born XXX Original Moonshine White Lightning, Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine, and Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine White Lightnin’

Round 1 Blind Taste Results

Pour #1: The nose on Pour #1 is ethanol forward. Swirling this sample in the Glencairn glass releases a sweetness of corn that is joined by a slight hint of yeast. This nose teeters on the edge of being sweet, yet, becoming close to rubbing alcohol. (Nose – Christian: 2/5 Stars; Mike: 2/5 Stars; Phil: 2/5 Stars) The mouth feel of Pour #1 is a bit oily and coats the mouth nicely. A nice sweetness rests on the tongue, reminiscent of roasted yellow corn. There is a slight spice note in this pour that causes a tingle on the tongue. We felt like the mouth was a little underwhelming overall. (Mouth – Christian: 2/5 Stars; Mike: 3/5 Stars; Phil: 2/5 Stars) Pour #1 has a nice long and smooth finish that has a black pepper kick, tingle on the tongue, and decent warming sensation deep in the chest. (Finish – Christian: 3/5 Stars; Mike 3/5 Stars; Phil: 3/5 Stars)

Final Overall Score for Pour #1: 2.44/5 Stars

Pour #2: Pour #2 has a nose that is dominated by rubbing alcohol. If you swirl the glass and really concentrate, you may notice an ever so faint smell of corn, but it is hard to detect. We just found the nose on this pour to fall a bit flat. (Nose – Christian: 1/5 Stars; Mike: 1/5 Stars; Phil: 1/5 Stars) The mouth feel on this pour presents with a soft gentleness. Surprisingly, the palate is sweet and evokes a flavor of one of those Goetze’s Caramel Cream candies also known as Bulls-Eyes. This is mostly pleasant, but as we continue to taste, we notice a bit of a cellophane flavor. It’s almost as if we ate the candy with the wrapper on it. (Mouth – Christian: 2/5 Stars; Mike 3/5 Stars; Phil: 1/5 Stars) The second pour has a short to medium finish that has a flavor profile similar to nail polish remover – very alcohol forward. A late warmth wells up deep in the chest. (Finish – Christian: 1/5 Stars; Mike: 3/5 Stars; Phil: 1/5 Stars)

Final Overall Score for Pour #2: 1.55/5 Stars

Pour #3: Wow – the nose on Pour #3 is phenomenal! A sweet nose that has the aroma of butter and kettle corn popcorn. As you swirl the spirit in the glass, a sweetness of candy corn permeates the air between the nose and the glass. The nose on this pour begs you to take a sip. (Nose – Christian: 4/5 Stars; Mike: 4/5 Stars; Phil: 4/5 Stars) The mouthfeel is nice and oily. The tongue and roof of the mouth are nicely coated. On the palate, this pour remains as sweet as the nose. A hint of butter, cream corn, caramel, and popcorn all are pronounced. (Mouth – Christian: 4/5 Stars; Mike: 4/5 Stars; Phil: 3/5 Stars) Finally, Pour #3 has a soft, smooth finish that is surprisingly short. Overall the finish just isn’t going to knock your socks off as it doesn’t have a lot going on. A sugariness remains on the tongue for sometime. The smoothness in the finish really makes this a pour you could sip on all night long. (Finish – Christian: 3/5 Stars; Mike 2.5/5 Stars; Phil: 3/5 Stars)

Final Overall Score of Pour #3: 3.27/5 Stars

Tennessee Regional New Make/Moonshine/Clear Whiskey Champion

Pour #3: Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine

Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine

Congratulations to Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine, distilled by Sugarlands Distilling Company, LLC in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As the Tennessee Regional Champion, Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine will move on to compete in our Moonshine Championship against the winners from Virginia (Climax Moonshine), North Carolina (Old Nick Williams), and South Carolina (Firefly White Lightning Moonshine).

Who was Who?

  • Pour #1: American Born XXX Original Moonshine White Lightning
  • Pour #2: Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine White Lightnin’
  • Pour #3: Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine

Final Thoughts

These moonshines from the state of Tennessee were arguably our most lopsided blind battle. Sugarlands Shine Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine definitely delivered the total package. The nose was fantastic with sweet aromas of corn, buttered popcorn/kettle corn, and candy corn. The palate experienced many of those same flavors and left you wanting more. If we had to pinpoint 1 weakness, it would be that Sugarlands Shine seemed a little weak in the finish. Not a lot of residual flavor stayed behind and little to no bite was in this spirit. This winning pour was quite smooth at 100 proof and will likely have folks coming back for more as it is a true sipper!

Our Championship Four are set!!!

Congratulations to Old Nick Williams Farm & Distillery – Carolina Whiskey (NC), Tim Smith Spirits – Climax Moonshine (VA), Firefly Distillery – Firefly Moonshine White Lightning (SC), and Sugarlands Shine Distillery, LLC – Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine (TN).

The Rickhouse Ramblings Moonshine Champion will be crowned on April 5, 2021! Make sure to tune in to see who wins!

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