Name:  Pumpkin Spice Moonshine

Distiller:   Corsair Artisan, LLC / Bowling Green, Kentucky

On the list of craft distilling’s rising stars, it wouldn’t be hard to find Corsair. Focusing on a number of quirky twists for old favorites, and particularly oriented to a cocktail making atmosphere, they’ve cranked out some unusual and exotic recipes in the past few years. This one is definitely up there among them.

Moonshine you say. Really? Well, to be fair, this does have a place here. In fact, some of the first words on the bottle claim this young whiskey is inspired by pumpkin ales. So at least you’ll have something to turn to when your friend’s try to give you that sass about pumpkin beer being for lady types. Pot distilled from malted barley and wheat, the vapor basket is then loaded with ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and pumpkin, then re-distilled once more for a smoother blend.

From first exposure Corsair’s label embodies slick confidence with geometric psychedelia and three suited and shaded hit-man looking guys in full strut, (looking more Rockstar than Turkish Privateer). Further nice touches include the hand labeling and bottling (we got batch 5, bottle 30/36), as well as the signature of the distiller.

What of the spirit itself you ask? Admittedly, we opted for the more traditional moonshine standard (straight up) rather than the cocktail approach (it’s specifically suggested for a Manhattan). Those of us initiated in the whiskey world quickly found this crystal clear white dog spirit to be heavy on the wheat and fairly smooth on the palate (relatively speaking). While we had a bit of a tough time getting behind the “pumpkin pie in a glass” claim, there’s no denying that the pumpkin and spices make an appearance. However, the pumpkin seems to take on a much more vegetal note (subbing in for the palate of corn in the front of the moonshine, and to a more sour turn in the finish), and the spices appear neatly subdued in the end. Adding a bit of mixer to it certainly brought out the sweeter notes though, laying some legitimacy that this is a craft cocktail oriented spirit. (If you haven’t tried the infamous West Virginia Bomb (that’d be mountain dew and your favorite moonshine), you’re missing out on a party standard).

All in all, Corsair may have on their hands more of a novelty than a staple here, but it’s solidly crafted, and at 42.5% abv, gets you done faster than any pumpkin beer will. It would be hard to kill a bottle by yourself before the season was out though, so take it on your Halloween party circuit, warm some bellys,  and expand a few people’s horizons.