Corn whiskey is a generic term meant to indicate corn-based whiskeys. Corn whiskey also goes by the name of moonshine, corn squeezins, or White lightning, and is an American whiskey made from a minimum of 80% corn. It is not the most common whiskey sold and may be difficult to find in the local liquor store. It smells both tangy and sweet upon opening, although it tends to be sourer than that of bourbon or other American whiskeys. Still, the flavor is not entirely unpleasant, and has been described as simple and straightforward. It is a strong drink, usually sold as 100-proof strength.
About Corn Whiskey
Corn whiskey became popular during the era of Prohibition, 1919-33, when the manufacture and sale of liquor was prohibited in the United States. Because corn whiskey is easy to make and produces quick results, a number of individuals circumvented the law and made it themselves for private drinking, or for sale on the black market. Unfortunately, because private production went unmonitored and therefore unregulated, much of the privately produced corn whiskey ended up causing health problems in drinkers. This was due to harmful products, including bleach, paint thinner, or formaldehyde, were added to the whiskey, or because lead or other foreign products leeched through the still during fermentation. Drinking bad corn whiskey could produce neurological disorders, paralysis, and even blindness.
Fortunately, modern corn whiskey is made by much higher standards and is generally safe to drink.
Corn Whiskey Production
It is not necessary to age corn whiskey, in which case the product is generally known as moonshine. If corn whiskey is aged, it usually undergoes a short period of aging, ranging anywhere from one to six months. During aging, corn whiskey mellows while acquiring flavor and color from the oak barrel. Aged corn whiskey is also known as Tennessee whiskey.
To make corn whiskey, one must first malt the corn, which is the process of allowing it to germinate and sprout. This can usually be done by soaking the corn in water until it sprouts. After this, the corn is ground and mashed, and, afterwards, heated in order for enzymes from the malt to start converting from starch into sugar. One then adds yeast, which is allowed to ferment for approximately two weeks. After this, the mixture is poured into a still and allowed to distill. It can undergo up to three more distillations depending on how pure a spirit one wishes to produce. One can bottle the whiskey straight after distillation and drink it right away. If one chooses to age the whiskey, the spirits should be poured into uncharred oak casks and allowed to age for up to six months.
Corn whiskey is usually bottled and sold in mason jars. Corn whiskey may be drank as it is, or it may be mixed with other ingredients, such as grenadine, lemonade, soda, and even Tabasco sauce. It should be noted that, although brewing beer for one’s private consumption is legal, distilling whiskey oneself is illegal.