Great news for all of you drinkers who have a hankering for 100% official moonshine. After South Carolina lawmakers (in 2009) altered existing liquor laws so as to lessen the financial burden on small distilleries, a new micro-distillery has decided to take advantage of the changes to the laws and begin to make traditional moonshine whiskey legally in the state for the first time.
Joe Fenten (an engineer) and Richard Wenger (a home beer brewer) have formed the Dark Corner Distillery which will open next month in Greenville, SC. The Dark Corner will produce and sell small batches of 100-proof moonshine from a custom-made copper still. The distillery will also include a tasting bar and a museum dedicated to the history of the Dark Corner, the local mountains that were settled by Scots, Irish and Welsh in the 1700’s and were once full of moonshiners.
Moonshine is the term used to describe illegally distilled corn whiskey often made covertly by the light of the moon. And, while the shine produced at the Dark Corner distillery will be taxed and regulated, illegal moonshine is still being made in the area. On June 30th, sheriff’s deputies raided corn field owned by a fourth generation moonshiner in Landrum, South Carolina, and confiscated 2,000 gallons of hooch.
Fenten and Wenger are experimenting with fresh grains and flavorings and plan other products such as bourbon, peach and grape brandies, and beer schnapps. More importantly, unlike some of the competition, the Dark Corner will not use neutral grain spirits or pure grain alcohol in their product. As a result, the end product should be as smooth as vodka with a big kick but without the anesthetic effect in one’s mouth.
While the first in South Carolina, the Dark Corner will face some added competition from legal distillers, as other legal moonshine makers also have popped up in other states near the Dark Corner like Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, as well as far away states like Montana, Missouri , New York, Oregon and Wisconsin.