Whisky Advocate

“Moonshine”: a new hot trend or just a quick income source?

May 10th, 2010

The New York Times last week ran an article on “white dog” (or moonshine, or unaged whiskey, whatever you want to call it). Have a look here.

American distillers–mostly small artisan distillers, but also established distillers like Buffalo Trace–are selling it. And it seems to be getting some traction.

Is this just a curiosity that new, small distillers are taking advantage of to help pay the bills until the rest of their whiskey ages, or is the beginning of a new trend?

What do you think? And give your reasons why.

No Responses to ““Moonshine”: a new hot trend or just a quick income source?”

  1. Steffen Bräuner says:

    A lot of Scottish distilleries are doing the exact same, I’ve seen newmake from HP, Glenglassaugh and Bladnoch recently. If there’s a market for it, why not sell ?

    I’ll doubt if I ever would buy a bottle thou, I prefer the cask aged versions

    I have no problem with distilleries selling it for curiosity sakes or trying to fund their new businesses this way. I’d rather they sell some bottles of moonshine than close. End of the day sales of stuff like this depends on consumers wishes, and if people don’t purchase this regularely sales will stop fast. It’s not like it’s a daring venture to try to sell an intermediate product, if sales fail you’re just back where you started

    Macdeffe

    • B.J. Reed says:

      Tullabardine is doing it as well. Thought of getting it but at 25 Pounds it seemed too steep for me – Steffen is right – if people buy it I don’t particularly care, but if wood is 60% to 70% of the product I certainly would not spend a lot to own bottles.

    • Steffen Bräuner says:

      It sure is a different thing than whiskey/whisky. I’ve seen newmake used as a cocktail ingredient or used to spray on deserts. There’s loads of possibilities..
      I’d never tried corn newmake, but scottish equivalent is sweet, fruity and not unpleasant at all, its not unlike a fruit flavoured vodka (more than any likehood to matured whisk(e)y)

      Macdeffe

    • John Hansell says:

      That’s true. The article doesn’t really focus on Scottish distillers, but many major distilling countries seem to be doing this. Didn’t Cooley release something too (from the Kilbeggan distillery)?

      • JC Skinner says:

        They sure did, John. The Kilbeggan test tubes have proved extremely popular.
        I can see three pluses here, and a few minuses, to this trend.
        It’s good because a white whiskey is in demand from the cocktail/mixology sector so as not to colour their confections. And it’s good because there is a long and estimable tradition of drinking unaged whiskey. That’s how it all began, after all! They weren’t sitting spirit in sherry butts for decades back in the Middle Ages, after all. And also, it gives people an indication of how raw spirit varies. I think a lot of people look to age and wood when considering what makes whiskey so tasty, while ignoring the spirit itself.
        On the downside, they’re all charging too much for their spirit, and while I understand the need to produce a revenue stream for a new or newly unmothballed operation, the price is high and often has a ‘collectibility’ premium factored in. The hype that accompanies such prices rarely stands up to scrutiny either.
        I’ve heard and seen some stunningly positive reviews of, for example Kilchoman’s spirit, and seen stupid prices for it being asked, and the bottom line is – it’s unaged. It’s raw. It’s not actually that good, sorry.
        I’m all for spirit being sold. And I’m more understanding when it relates to small or new distillers. But only as long as the consumer realises they’re buying something unfinished and are charged accordingly.

    • Jennifer Lacorte says:

      By far the Best “Clear Corn Whiskey” I have tried is made by StillHouse Distillery. Its The Original MOONSHINE. 80 proof I think. We use to drink the farm stuff in college in indiana. that was harsh. This stuff is smooth as hell. very surprising

  2. Ellie says:

    I’m guessing most people would want it for novelty, others may use it for educating folks…I on the other hand plan on putting it into mini barrels and experimenting with different finishes and time.

    • Rick Duff says:

      I do that all the time. It sure is fun! I put some Glenglassaugh new spirit into a once used Baby-Bourbon barrel (3 gallon) from Tuthilltown Distillery.. wow.. 45 days and some awesome whisky! I”ve done it with others too. I keep 2 2 gallon and 1 3 gallon barrel around just for the use.

    • Sokojoe says:

      I also have been using white dog in my mini barrell. I really enjoy using high proof grain alcohol to play with the proof as well as different wood chips. Currently, I have 2L of white dog at roughly 100 proof aging in my barrell with charred plum wood chips.

  3. Jacob says:

    Perhaps this is part of the larger trend for distilleries to produce “journey” bottlings so you can track the whisky as it ages. With all the interest in tasting how age and casks produce flavor, there must be a real scientific side to whisky drinkers.

  4. Jason says:

    I think it’s both the beginning of a trend and something younger distilleries are forced to do to keep the lights on. For example, Kilchoman admittedly sold new make spirit as a source of funds until they were able to release something at three years old.

    Personally, I think it provides an insight into the backbone of the ultimate, aged product – if the wood is the architectural flourishes, then the new make spirit is the foundation and the structural supports. Without a strong foundation the whole thing collapses – anyone who has had the opportunity to taste new maken spirit on a distillery tour might agree.

  5. Red_Arremer says:

    I think it’s BT that puts out that “Moonshine” corn whiskey “aged not more than 13 days”– the stuff is freaking gross… the nose alone almost makes me lose it.

    But then, the other day at a tasting at Federal Wine and Spirits, in Boston, (with Evan Cattanach, no less), they passed around a bottle of Glenkinchie new make. Evan said we should nose it to “get the idea” but “don’t drink it– that’s a hundred and forty proof!” I was surprised that everyone went along with this unquestioningly– I certainly didn’t and neither did the guy standing next to me. It wasn’t so bad really, It tasted like mashed up grass. So it was raw and not as delicious as, say, the Brora 30 we tasted later that night, but it was cool. I wouldn’t buy a bottle of it though.

    • Matt G says:

      Red, If you’re talking about the “Georgia Moon” Corn whiskey, it’s aged “not more than 30 days” and is distilled at Heaven Hill. To my palate, the Buffalo Trace White Dog is quite stunning.

      • Red_Arremer says:

        Thanks for getting my facts straight, Matt– I gave that bottle (jar) away a long time ago, and haven’t seen it since.

        Mind comparing and contrasting the Georgia Moonshine with the BT white dog? I guess the Georgia probably has more corn on the bill and so is sweeter but what else?

  6. brian bradley (brian47126) says:

    I tried Ardbeg New Make at Whiskyfest Chicago, and I was in love. I begged them to bottle the stuff, and would have no problem paying whatever they wanted for the spirit. It was young and fiery with massive green fruit (unripe banana) notes with just a touch of peat on the finish.

    I understand why Scottish or American New Make may not be your thing, but, for me it is exactly the type of thing I really enjoy (at least the Scottish). What harm can come from making a product that people enjoy? Age isn’t everything…

    So this may be the beginning of a trend–I hope so, if that trend leads me to Ardbeg New Make.

    • B.J. Reed says:

      Yes, tasted it there as well and actually tasted it a few years ago at Whiskyfest when Rachel brought it to compare side by side with Glenmorangie – I would agree Ardbeg new make is special

  7. T Comp says:

    As a learning tool it was fun to taste once (BT) but spirits without age or wood will never interest me more than for very limited purchase and even less consumption.

  8. I have grown to enjoy and appreciate the new make spirit, typically when I visit distilleries. I enjoy it as a window to how the mature whisky tastes before any wood influence. I would not drink it on a regular basis, but it’s great for tasting purposes. I hope more distilleries make it available.

    • Rick Duff says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more. It really helps show the heart of the spirit when touring a distillery.

  9. Neil Fusillo says:

    I think, personally, that it’s a fad. Absinthe is legal now, and because of that, it’s lost a lot of its mystique and allure. The ‘moonshine’ spirits, while legal from legal distilleries, still have that aura of danger surrounding them — that “I’m doing something I’m not supposed to” feeling that people like to seek out in the world of vices. They get a legal and safe way to try the ‘shine they’ve always heard about and wondered about, but have never been able or willing to seek out.

    If it becomes more ingrained in the industry, and more distillers start to release it regularly, the call for it will drop drastically. It will no longer be mysterious — it will simply be the ‘stuff that isn’t finished.’ Once that happens, MOST people will go back to the finished product because it will represent a more ‘advanced’ or ‘refined’ stage, and people LOVE to feel like they’re moving up in the world.

    I, for one, hope for the day when home distilling will become legal in the same way that home brewing and wine making is now. But until that day, there will often be those who find the moonshine or white dog label attractive, if nothing else than just because it is forbidden.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Sounds like a very prescient analysis, Neil. I think the only way to hold off the course of events you picture would be to emphasize the dirtiness and rawness of the product even more. You know the Absinthe sold in the U.S. is barely allowed to have any wormwood in it and barely has any of the exotic effects traditionally attributed to the stuff– It would sell better if it did. Maybe the way to keep the trend going, is to make the dog nastier and cheaper and sell it on the level of PBR beer– make it more authentic in other words.

  10. Thomas Mckenzie says:

    I do not see it as a fad. Peoples tastes are changing. This stuff mixes well, so some ot the mixologists are catching on too. There is a big difference in moonshine and white dog or corn whiskey, and not just the legalities. Most moonshine is basically rum, made with a lot of sugar and very little corn at all.

    • Neil Fusillo says:

      I would very much disagree with the assessment that most moonshine is sugar-based. That’s the easy way to do it, sure, but you end up with rum or vodka (dependent on the method). Most real shine is grain based, and few self-respecting shiners would stick to vodka (trust me, in the back hills of Georgia and Tennessee, I’ve met a LOT of shiners), as it’s not much of an expression of their craft. It is, in essence, too easy.

      Moonshine is, simply, illicit alcohol. It was given that term because it was often done at night to hide the smoke from the still’s heat source.

      There’s nothing different between moonshine and corn whisky or white dog if the latter two are made illegally.

      • sam k says:

        Neil, I will take up the devil’s advocate position on your post. I know a few moonshiners here in PA who make a hybrid spirit (sugar-based fermentation with grain as basically a flavoring agent), and I cannot imagine that most moonshiners take the high road and go for the substantially slower and costlier all-grain mash that would produce an adjunct-free spirit.

        I’m not arguing that you don’t know those who might take a higher road than others, but to say that most moonshiners as a whole adhere to rigorous production standards borders on the ludicrous. The easy money is in a sugar wash, so why would most take any other route? Even those I know are using sugar as the primary (though not the only) fermentable, and to think that most of the others in the trade are so upright as to stick to a virtual “code of honor” is hard to grasp.

        Easy money is just that, and is the foundation for the moonshine trade. Making cheap liquor is not a science. The hybrid version is 40 bucks a gallon here. Would be tough to get more, considering that Ten High straight bourbon is $16 a handle in PA. What do you pay for the “real thing” in your neck of the woods? If it’s the same or less, how can it possibly be sustainable? If it’s more, who’s going to buy it?

        • Neil Fusillo says:

          So, Sam… what you’re telling me is that shiners in PA are lazy. ;)

          Most of the shiners I know don’t do it for money. They do it for love of the art. It’s true that money can be made with shine, but for the most part, it’s so prevalent in the hills here that its worth is… limited.

          I know a few who love making sugar washes and running it through their reflux stills to work hard on getting that perfect purity product. But most I know prefer the grain because, to them, it’s an art form, but also because grain shine is far more popular.

          Vodka being what it is — cheap, ubiquitous, and reasonably taste-free, there’s less of a call for it than the grain shine, which is neither cheap nor readily available at the local dime store.

          • sam k says:

            Neil, I appreciate your take, and what I get from it is that you’ve connected with producers who are really craftsmen that don’t sell for profit. I have yet to encounter any of those up here. Are you given the product for home use for free just because they like sharing? My connections will give up as much as you can hold when you’re visiting, but at the end of the session, it’s forty bucks a gallon to take home. None of them run reflux stills.

            You still haven’t shared any cost structure from your end, so I’ll have to assume that any you want to take home is gratis. Nice gig if you can get it, and you’ve obviously found yourself that niche. Can I give you a call next time I’m down south? :-D

            I still say that the vast majority of those in the trade are in it for the money. That does not discount the craftsmen you cite, they certainly exist, but they are the exception, not the rule, unless the economic situation is better in your area than it is here, which I’d be hard pressed to accept. Shine is money, and the money is in the lower end of the business.

          • Neil Fusillo says:

            You’re welcome to look me up next time you’re down south. I’ll be happy to introduce you.

            And yes, for the most part, the shine I get it gratis. Most of these guys USED to sell. But they’ve discovered that there’s better money in other, legal pursuits, since shine just doesn’t fetch much of a price ’round here anymore. One of them even became a licensed fuel-alcohol distiller, since there’s far more money in that, it’s easier (no worries about what’s poisonous and what’s not), and he’s still able to apply a good bit of what he learned over the years as a moonshiner.

            I will accept that the situation varies, and I will certainly admit that my sample size is small (a dozen or so shiners) compared to what’s out there.

          • sam k says:

            AWESOME! I truly hope this is where the hobby is headed, and hopefully this attitude will trickle north, since moonshine is to the south what relatively mindless trends are to California…they tend to migrate! Thanks for the report, and John can put you in touch with me the next time you head north of the Mason-Dixon. I’d be proud to take you around. Moonshine…no wonder Al Quaeda hates us! God bless the U.S.

  11. bgulien says:

    Isn’t the way they used to drink whisk[e]y?
    Whisky, in the old days, was a commodity, to sell, barter and pay for other things.
    As soon as it left the still, it was drinkable.
    The SWA and other governing bodies stated that it should be a certain age and matured in wood, to be called whisk[e]y.
    So new make is something, like Neil stated, something from the dangerous past, but also the original way to drink the stuff.
    Retro anybody!!

  12. Rick Duff says:

    I like this trend. I don’t tend to drink it straight too much.. but appreciate getting a chance to taste it. It’s really the heart of the whisky. I really like Woodford Reserve’s.. if they would sell it. It tastes like a really fine Tequila.
    I’ve tried:
    US:
    Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Jack Daniels (both before and after the charcoal mellowing), Early Times, Four Roses, Tuthiltown, Buffalo Trace. I also bought a bottle from that place in Virginia that also packages 2 bottles with a small barrel.
    Scotland:
    Glen Garrioch, Glenglassuagh, Aberlour, MacDuff. I think that may be it.. but there might have been more.
    It’s funny.. some of the places in the US look at you funny if you ask.. then check to make sure you don’t have a line on your nose from regularly drinking “shine” from a glass jar.

  13. Seth Nadel says:

    I think you can have a good quality Moonshine, but at the end of the day I think it’s about marketing, PR and money.

  14. smsmmns says:

    A commercial distillery sells moonshine for moonbucks. No other reason. And to use a recognised bourbon or scotch brand name to do so is lame (and illegal in Scotland). Want to make a grain vodka? Make a grain vodka!

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I really sympathize with start-up distilleries getting money back this way– but the idea of regularly spending 30 bucks for Highland Park new make versus fifty for the 12 strikes me as insane.

      Anyways, how much better is, say, Don Christero Blanco, than just about any shine you’ll find out there?

  15. Nabil Mailloux says:

    From a curiosity point of view tasting new make can be enlightening…however, this is usually a hobby reserved for the truly fanatic whisky fan.

    Marketing a regular bottling of new make is nothing new….I believe that it is commonly referred to as vodka?
    ;-)

    • Mats says:

      I was going to make the same comment. Isn’t vodka by definition a colourless, unaged and unflavoured spirit made from grain or potatoes (whereas rum is made from sugarcane)?

      • Neil Fusillo says:

        Not actually, no. Vodka is a flavour-neutral spirit. Its main ingredients are water and ethanol (with only the lightest hint of any actual flavouring elements left over from a distilling process that is not 100% efficient). Vodka can be made from ANYthing which creates ethanol. Most commonly today, it’s made from sugar because that process is cheap and easy. Potatoes are the historical and traditional version, but potato vodka is actually more rare than you might think (in part because it takes a LOT of potatoes to make vodka, and that means it’s expensive).

        Rum, on the other hand, is ONLY made from sugar or molasses (or a combination of the two). ‘Silver’ rum is rum that has been made only from sugar, and is often filtered so that it tastes a bit like sweeter vodka. Dark rum is made strictly from molasses, but it’s also clear when it’s made. The colour comes from either caramel or the aging in oak barrels (or both).

      • Rick Duff says:

        Actually the biggest difference between new make Whisky and Vodka is that Whisky can only be distilled up to about 165 proof.. above that and you strip the flavours out. Vodka is usually stilled well over 180 proof. Vodak as said before too, can be made from any base alcohol (wine, grain, potato, rock (ok, not rock)). Whisky must be made from a cereal grain. Rum has to be made from cane sugar. Tequila is made from nectar of the Aguave plant. Gin.. well it’s just flavoured vodka. Brandy is distilled wine.

  16. Louis says:

    I would be interested in trying a few of my favorite single malt scotches in their unaged state. But that’s more just to see what it would be like. And as it has already been pointed out, un-aged spirits already exist, so I don’t see this as a long term trend.

  17. John Hansell says:

    My feelings are like many of yours. I think it’s interesting to try new make spirit (or whatever you want to call it). It tells me a lot about a distillery’s spirit character before the aging. But other than that, it’s more of a curiosity.

    I CAN see the cocktail angle, though, for those who are inclined to dabble in mixology. And I fully support a distillery wanting to recoup some $$ while they’re aging the rest of their whisky.

    But, for the most part, I’d rather wait until the whiskey is fully mature before buying and drinking it.

  18. Thomas Mckenzie says:

    I like aged whiskey. But for some reason, and maybe it is because I am a distiller. I would almost prefer white dog. I have read that when the distillery workers in Scotland where given drams throughout the day, they preferred the white over the aged. I think some people will catch on to it and like it.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I’ve heard that about the distillery workers, too, Thomas. When you say you almost prefer the new make, what does this near-preference consist of? Is it the closeness of the product to the production process and you’re tasting it as part of that process or is it just the flavor or can’t such a distinction even be made?

  19. Thomas Mckenzie says:

    I think it is because you smell mash all day. Just part of it. I like younger aged bourbons as well.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      That’s very believable, Thomas. A lot of people can’t take the smell from the stills. In fact, some scottish distillery recently installed a bunch of equipment to keep the smell of scotch production from getting into the surrounding locale– can’t remember where I read that, but a lot of the people in the town hated it, though some didn’t mind it. But if one works around that odor, one likely adapts will ultimately react differently to a spirit which smells like it than others (myself for example) who don’t.

  20. Serge says:

    Mixed feelings here. Armagnac also widely launched “blanche” a few years ago (not folle blanche), I believe it appealed more to women. It seems that the Scots are trying to follow their path.
    Now, I’ve heard some old Scottish distillers saying that “when the newmake’s too good, the mature whisky is crap”. A myth?
    What’s sure is that due to the raw material’s cheapness, it cannot be expensive. USD/EUR 20 a 70cl bottle would be fair. More would mean trying the milk the cow too much in my opinion, unless they’re very short, one-off runs just to display the spirit’s original character. But then it should be cask (sorry, receiver) strength.

  21. JC Skinner says:

    I was lucky enough to try one of the new make pure pot still spirits that are produced at Midleton, and can only say it was fantastic. (Believe it was the ‘light’ style they use for Redbreast).
    I’d buy bottles of the stuff if only they’d retail it.

    • Luke says:

      JC, have you tried Bushmills New Make Spirit?

      I got a sip from Marty Duffy at the last IWS Bushmills v Scotland night; stunning nose and flavour – at 83% ABV!

      Well worth tracking down.

  22. I like to keep some new make spirit around for when I’m showing guests how much influence wood has on a whisky. After they’ve seen and nosed some new make followed by the mature whisky, they tend to get it more effectively than with just an explanation.

  23. two-bit cowboy says:

    A hopped-up ’39 Ford coupe, a trunk full of ‘shine, and several decades later you have NASCAR.

    Other than a too-expensive novelty, what will this legal ‘shine generate?

  24. Scott says:

    I’ve been asked about this at the store a number of times and when we got the BT White Dog #1 a couple people snatched up a couple bottles. I think tho that now that the curious people have had their taste it will just fad into the background. It will be available but only to the few who dare venture.

    As for me personally, it’s not really my thing.

  25. sam k says:

    I think it would be a more sustainable movement if the prices accurately reflected the cost of production vs. trendy heat-of-the-moment pricing (Manager’s Choice, anyone?). For the most part, I actually like the new make I’ve enjoyed (both legal and otherwise), though it takes a bit of out-of-the-box attitude to adjust at first. Virginia Lightning and Glen Thunder are two good examples of commercial product available at a sustainable price, the Glen Thunder being made with 100% malted corn, a rarity unto itself, I think.

    I’d really like to see a rye-based white dog become available. Anybody know of one?

  26. mongo says:

    i am a little frightened to think of what ardbeg would be like with zero maturation. i assume the wood normally tames the peat somewhat.

    edit: i see someone reported upstream on having tried an ardbeg new make and that it had only a touch of peat. is that a particularly low-peated whisky produced for this purpose? or am i misunderstanding the process? peating happens before distillation, right? so the whisky released in this form should be minus only what the time in wood does to it–correct? in which case, either the peat flavours intensify as the whisky matures in the cask or ardbeg new make is from base spirit that hasn’t been peated very much.

    • B.J. Reed says:

      Actually, you know its Ardbeg and the nose and taste reeks of peat. At least that is my impression of their new make.

    • brian bradley (brian47126) says:

      I may not be the most skilled of tasters; however, I think the people with me at the time agreed with me. The floral notes and green unripe fruit totally overpowered the peat. It’s 140 proof and that throws off exactly what you are tasting I am sure. It was just so hot that the peat seemed lighter then your standard 10. All and all, i loved it, and if it was 85 bucks for 140 proof new make, I would buy a case.

      I loved it.

    • Mark says:

      I remember the peat being clearly present, along with surprising and interesting floral and fruit notes. I take it the latter is largely what the wood balances out. Peat endures. The probability of a lightly peated Ardbeg newmake seems very low…Hey, it’s a cloudy, wet day here…

  27. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    call me a pessimist purist but I am not happy with that.

    I have no problem when new and small companies making whisky struggeling to survive try to reap as soon as possible to keep going.

    That was neccessary in the case of Arran Bruichladdich etc and is neccessary in the case of small boutique distilleries.

    But it opened the door for more and more NAS bottlings and the lowering of standards in the whisky sector. The crocodile tears of the drinks industry when vodka lowers the sales of whisky when they own the vodka brands as well point the way to the machinations behind the scenes.

    As stated elswhere the industry wants to sell ever more and selling whisky without aging for premium prices is a drinks industry accountant`s heaven.
    Sorry it should read new make not whisky. That pesky rule of having to age the stuff for three years or at least two in other countries.

    And the miseducated whisky drinkers who unfortunately have been told by some blithering idiots that older whisky is better whisky for years and now believe that to be true…

    Look at the vattings with fancy names in the case of Ardbeg Glenmorangie and others which combine an unknown percentage of malts aged and very much aged with spirits that are only 5 years old and still could be called better vodka it you wanted to.

    They do not want to. They call them single malt whisky under their proud distillery name – and ask rediclous prices for a percentage of aged malt you know not how high it is for those bottligs.

    There is a interesting article around at the moment.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-procedure-lawmaking-legislation/13810371-1.html

    On page 2 it says

    The result is an attack on whisky’s very identity, threatening its distinct character in the longer term and blurring the lines between it and the vodka category. Does whisky really want to take on vodka head-to-head? I think we all know how that would end. And loosely-worded regulations will have played no small part in the matter.

    To be honest I changed two words. It is about gin actually. But I thik you will see what I mean.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • bgulien says:

      Kallaskander, When i read your comment, I cannot understand your point.
      Are you against new make or in favor?
      NAS bottlings are not a bad thing. You mention NAS bottlings and lowering of standard in one sentence.
      It’s just a gimmick to conceal the young whisky. Else they have to declare the bottle as a 5 year old, when the youngest is a 5 yo.
      Could be some older in the bottle, but that’s irrelevant for the SWA. Loads of very good NAS bottles around.
      I wouldn’t call the fancy named bottles from Ardbeg, like Rollercoaster or Corryvreckan a better vodka.
      Like mentioned before, vodka is grain distillate where the taste is distillated out. Bland and tasteless.
      If you ever tasted new make, you can’t say it’s tasteless, like vodka. So no, new make is not a better vodka (or gin).
      Furthermore, I don’t think the great mass of, what you call “miseducated” whisky-drinker is going to buy the new make.
      I believe that the plethora of new make coming out, is targeted to the experienced drinker.
      The one who’d like to sample the base spirit, from where his favorite dram is made.
      Or when a new distillery like to make some money.
      Kilchoman is a prime example. I bought the new make as a 1 month old, 1 yo and a 2 yo, and I liked it very much.
      From your comment, I gather, a new distillery, selling new make is OK. So there is a market for it.
      So why shouldn’t established distilleries hop on the bandwagon?
      It should be cheaper, I agree, but I don’t see an ethical argument against selling the new spirit.
      So drink what you like even if it’s new make.
      I look forward to the new make from the Abhainn Dearg Distillery, which should be available around now.

  28. John M says:

    I think there’s no harm in releasing new make. It’s interesting, at least.

    Slightly off topic, but someone posted this on another forum and I think it’s interesting. A little youtube clip of poteen production – not the legal kind – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT4kyO0FH9Q and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_dHFWUOVzw&feature=related

  29. Scott says:

    While I’m not leaning one way or another. I find it unusual that no one has brought up the concern about how much less whisky is being set aside for aging with distilleries releasing unaged spirit.

    • Steffen Bräuner says:

      I am pretty sure the amount set aside to be bottled as newmake is so small that it doesnt have any effect on quality whisky. Remember that most whisky bottled is younger versions (blends, Jim Beam teh cheap version etc.)

      It will be a slightly higher proportion for new small craft distilleries, but if they go bust they will set aside a lot less

      Macdeffe

  30. Iain Russell says:

    Kallaskander, I wouldn’t say that bottling sms with no age statement is anything new from the big whisky companies.

    Just one example – when I started drinking sms back in the 1980s, Glenfiddich Special Reserve was bottled with nas. And it was the world’s top selling single malt.

  31. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    hello Ian.

    True. But the NAS Glenfiddich is said to have been 8yo then 12 and then they put that age onto the label. To emphasize the quality.

    Todays NAS whiskies contain malts as young as 5 years.

    Just imagine this whole discussion out of the blue say 5 years ago!

    The way has been well paved and prepared with one company after the other lowering age standards.

    And it is not only that. Standard 10 to 12yo bottlings used to contain casks of 20 or more years. Not many but some to “lift” the standard bottling so to speak.

    Today we are happy if 15-17 yo casks are contained in a standard 12! And I would not gurantee for that span of ages.

    Selling unaged white dogged spirit is all for money and to compete with vodka. And many are the marketing departements which bite their nails for trying to sell blends for freezers and fridges instead of just selling the raw stuff directly.

    The money that has been wasted for JB -6 and the like.

    Goodness, now some are even arguing that it is the way whisky was sold before the three year aging became law.

    Serge made a very fitting comment today on his page.

    http://www.whiskyfun.com/

    I still think selling new make to take on vodka is hollowing out the category “whisky”.

    It is about filling the coffers but it is damaging in the long run.

    Not that anyone still is interested in long view perspectives when it comes to keeping shareholders happy.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

  32. John M says:

    It’s not in the whisky category. It’s just something they make and sell. I think everyone’s thinking too hard about this. I’m sure some distilleries are already making gin and vodka.

    Some distilleries also sell fudge – for profit!

    • Red_Arremer says:

      John, Kal’s comming from this old school view of single malt as something which is made to a higher standard, costs more to produce, largely because of the aging involved, and, therefore costs more to buy.

      Thing is, the “costs more to buy” I’m talking about is from the 80′s, before premium vodka took off. These days of course premium vodka has reached Mars and is on its way out of the solar system. And it is dirt cheap to produce compared to single malt. And there is virtually no difference between two serviceable premium vodkas. Wait a minute– did I just say “no difference”– Because what I meant to say is that there is a huge difference between one serviceable vodka and another– Branding: packaging, advertising, etc. And this is what investors want to see: products that cost dust to produce– so all their capital can be invested in marketing and sales and at least a shot at market share is assured.

      So, in this world of multi national, publicly traded, spirits giants, scotch looks iffy. No one can deny that blends have huge market share and that single malt is something that people associate with genuine luxury. However, vodka, looks to have scotch beat in both areas. Low end vodka sells better and is cheaper to produce than low end blends, and high end vodka sells better and is cheaper to produce than single malt.

      The problem is how to exploit the existing market share and reputation of scotch in a way, which is economical relative to vodka. The answer is a double pronged solution. On the one hand, more must be charged for scotch. On the other hand, the focaus on aging has to be reduced.

      Which, John, brings us back to Kal and his “thinking too hard about this.” To him, scottish distilleries releasing white dog, at prices comparable to 10 year old whisky, is the ultimate culmination of this double pronged solution. The margins are ridiculously better, basically the same as premium vodka, and it doesn’t have to be aged at all– presto!

      Is it possible that one day, scotch will be sold like tequila: white (unaged) 20-50$, rested (a few months) 30-65$, old (maybe a year) 50-80$, super old (one and a half to two whole years!!!) 90-300$? In that context, who knows what an 18 year old would sell for.

      There is pressure from investors to bring scotch as close to this scenario as possible. What stands between it as a hypothetical source of anxiety, which motivates Kal’s post, and it as a unpleasant actuality, which might motivate another sort of post on say your part, John? Is white dog only an appropriate emblem of a bad situation or does it have a more substantial role to play in the fulfilment of scotch’s decline?

      My feeling is that it is more emblematic of threat than it is threatening. In fact, I think it may bode good things for scotch, because the interest in it, on the part of scotch drinkers at least, reflects an interest in craft distilling and a desire to be more intimately acquainted with scotch. What I do not want to see is white dog shifting from being an educational tool to becoming a mainstay, which introduces the category– that could be the beginning of something fatal.

      • John Hansell says:

        Red, time will tell whether it becomes a mainstay. People pay rediculous prices for vodka for use in cocktails. And silver (aka blanco) tequila certainly works better in a margarita than a reposado or anejo. If unaged whiskey catches on as a new cocktail trend, this could have some traction.

  33. Eric says:

    IF you want to go the cheaper route – just pick up a bottle of Inverhouse’s entry level blended scotch. It cost me $9 for a 750ml at a local store in PA. I bought it to compare to other blends/malts to prove a point to a buddy. It says it’s aged 3 years, but it’s basically new make spirit with some caramel color – Huge yeasty notes – other than the proof strength being diluted, tastes just like spirit I’d had right from the stills on various distilery tours.

  34. [...] the drinks world before it became big news. I’m talking about white whisky. New make. White dog. Moonshine. Unaged water of [...]

  35. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    interesting point of view from Dr. Whisky.

    http://drwhisky.blogspot.com/2010/05/clearach-and-present-danger.html

    Well said Doc!

    Greetings
    kallaskander

  36. Carpenter says:

    It would be fun to age some of this new make whiskey. Where would one secure a mini cask? I live in the Seattle Washington area.

  37. [...] an article on the appearance recently of white dog whisky on the market.  It seems like some hardcore fans of whisky think this is a sacrilege — that maturation is what makes a whisky whisky [...]

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