Bernson's Corner: Moonshine - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bernson's Corner: Moonshine

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In the deep recesses of the Kentucky mountains, the maker of moonshine was an outlaw, distilling whiskey. 150 years ago, it was called white lightning or weed monkey, slop, puker or corn likker -- that's l-i-k-k-e-r.

Now, a couple of men in Lexington are producing perfectly legal moonshine, Devil John Number Nine, cooking corn mash and sugar cane and water in a copper kettle made in Portugal.

Jeff Wiseman: "Once the alcohol reaches a boiling point, which is lower than water, it'll start to turn into a vapor and rise up through the helmet and the gooseneck, and then through the condensation coils,"said Jeff Wiseman of Barrell House Distilling Co. "We circulate cool water through there, once we get rollin' here, we'll get alcohol out of the parrot."

"My family is originally from Floyd County, deep in the heart of eastern Kentucky," said Pete Wright, Partner, Barrel House Distilling Co.

Wright is a direct descendant of the 19th century outlaw pictured on the label, Devil John Wright.

"Devil John actually had at least three books written on him, and um...we hope he's proud," said Wright.

"The recipe? We don't like to say too much, but it's an old recipe from the 1800s," said Wiseman.

Moonshine is a combination of cane and corn.

This is the milled corn.

"The reason we're doing it is because it is a traditional Kentucky product. In 1877, the Saturday EVening Post declared Kentucky the official home of the moonshiner, so we wanted to carry on that tradition."

It's just a two-man operation, right down to the bottling line and the labeling. In the past couple of years, the shine has been marketed to liquor stores in a half-dozen states, soon to make its debut in New York City.

Not only are Pete and Jeff producing the moonshine and Pure Blue Vodka, but in these barrels is something never produced commercially in Kentucky before. It's rum. I guess that's going to be another 'spirit of Kentucky.'

Pete, whose day job is medical doctor, does the scientific part...

"And now that the moonshine has aged about five minutes, it's time for a taste."

"Moonshine by definition should have a little kick to it.

I think I just met Devil John face to face.

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