Review: Manhattan Moonshine Whiskey

This post marks a new era in GoFatherhood: The addition of alcohol and “adult beverage” reviews. I’ve wanted to break into this area for quite a while as a reflection of all the innovation and craft alcohol now being produced, boutique products in batches as small as dozens of bottles. I’m not much of a drinker and haven’t over-indulged in decades, but I do enjoy a small snifter or shot of a fine wine, peaty single malt or interesting mixed drink while with friends. You with me? Great!

manhattan moonshine labelAnyone who studies whiskeys, either blended whiskeys or single malts, knows that it’s time that really makes a raw alcohol into a fine, mellow beverage that tastes good, feels good going down your throat and leaves a delightful aftertaste. My favorite bottle that I own is a 25yo Macallan single malt whiskey. But think about that for a minute: the distillers poured the raw ingredients into a sherry barrel and let it sit in a cool, dark room for twenty five years. That’s a long time: 25 years ago the very first Web site was launched!

Sometimes, however, distillers didn’t have time to let their brew age and gain that mellow flavor. Most notably, during Prohibition (1920-1933) serving alcohol became illegal so the risk of having beverages age was too high and they were distributed almost as fast as they could be poured into bottles and surreptitiously trucked to the secret clubs and speakeasy bars.

Almost a century later, this has led rise to a category of alcohols called barely-aged, including barely-aged rums, barely aged tequilas and, yes, barely aged whiskey.

Manhattan Moonshine is a barely-aged clear whiskey, and it’s actually brewed in Manhattan, New York. A combination of oats, rye, malted barley and spelt (an ancestor to wheat), it delivers what the company calls a “smooth, grain-forward whiskey flavor.”

To find out, I brought it with when I visited a friend a few days ago and we all tried a shot:

manhattan moonshine barely-aged clear whiskey

First the good news: the whiskey is beautifully packaged, as you can see in the photo. It’s the loveliest bottle I’ve seen in a long time and the label and its evocation of The Great Gatsby era is splendid.

Unfortunately, none of us actually liked the whiskey, finding it to have a “rough edge” and “not smooth at all” and “taste reminds me of straight alcohol”. In fact, a closer look at the label revels that it’s 47.5% alcohol, measuring at 95 proof, so it’s definitely darn strong. But there are strong alcohols that have flavor too and none of us really found this a good option as a sipping alcohol.

Which doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great mixer, and the company does suggest that is a good path is to take a traditional drink like a margarita and substitute Manhattan Moonshine for tequila. We didn’t try it, but it’s worth giving it a whirl if you’re at a bar and see the distinctive bottle on the shelf.

As for me? Much as I wanted to enjoy the handcrafted boutique Manhattan Moonshine clear barely-aged whiskey, it really wasn’t my cup of tea. Or shot of whiskey, for that matter.

You can learn more about Manhattan Moonshine on their Web site: manhattan-moonshine.com. $44.99/bottle.

Disclosure: The company sent me a bottle of whiskey for the purposes of this review.

Don’t drink and do stupid things. Don’t drink and drive. Drink responsibly. You know the drill. Do it.

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