Commercial Moonshine That Doesn’t Suck

Georgia Moon Peach Whiskey

Georgia Moon Peach Whiskey

I Paid: $11.99 for a 750-milliliter Mason jar (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

Georgia Moon Peach whiskey by Heaven Hill Distilleries comes in a Mason jar with a simple label. It's meant to emulate something you'd find in a Southern general store, while being so cleanly designed that it seems unlikely, ultimately, to have originated in a Southern general store. The product itself is unaged whiskey, a.k.a. white lightning. That's the stuff bootleggers have been producing in illegal stills for at least a couple of centuries at this point. But, somewhat ironically, it's also a product that's become trendy as a totally aboveboard, commercially marketed beverage. What was prototypically drunk under the table can now be purchased from artisanal distillers like Tuthilltown Spirits, or in drinks like the White Whiskey Manhattan at higher-end restaurants such as San Francisco's Nopa.

The unflavored version of Georgia Moon corn whiskey has gotten mixed reviews; a commenter on the Straight Bourbon site made the case of being "thoroughly disgusted," but more reputable critics at American Hooch and the New York Times gave it better marks ("reminds me more of a rhum agricole than a bourbon" and "T'ain't bad, if you want to know the truth," respectively).

With that in mind, I upped the ante and sampled the peach-flavored version. Expecting an acrid chemical peel only slightly masked by a toxic lip-gloss-style artificial peach taste, I was very pleasantly surprised by Georgia Moon's actual flavor: modestly sweet, surprisingly smooth, clean, and mildly tinged with what seemed to be natural peach, followed by an unaggressive afterburn. While lacking aged whiskey's depth (its caramel, woodsy, smoky, and other notes), Georgia Moon also avoided the worst aspects of schnapps (artificial, candy sweetness). Sippable neat, Georgia Moon gave me pause when trying to figure out what sort of mixed drink would best harness its unique flavor profile. Bartenders, get your ’shine on and send me some suggestions.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.