Vodka & Moonshine Compared – While vodka is legal in most countries, moonshine is a term that describes distilled spirits with extremely high proof that aren’t legally accepted in most states. Based on their alcohol content, moonshine is stronger than vodka because it has higher alcohol-proof. Moonshine’s alcohol level can be as high as 190 proof. On the contrary, vodka only has an average of 80 proof.
How is vodka different than moonshine?
Moonshine is made from a mash that is also used to make whiskey usually it is primarily corn and other grains. Vodka on the other hand must be made from Grain Neutral (wheat, potatoes, grapes and the like). Moonshine like Vodka is not aged but bottled directly from the still and is usually bottled at around 125 proof.
Is vodka just unaged whiskey?
Patrick: I spent so much time researching “moonshine” after our call last night that I figured I’d share what I discovered on this blog. So here’s my attempt at answering a few basic questions as we prepare to devise a new line of spirits:
- How is vodka distinct from “white” whiskey? They’re both clear and unaged, so what’s the actual difference?
- How are vodka and white whiskey different from “moonshine”? And what is “moonshine” really ? Is it a vodka, a whiskey, or something else entirely?
As pertains to the first question, it seems the difference between vodka and white whiskey boils down to three things: ingredients, oak, and proof, Categorization is basically a function of slight deviations in the production process. Put simply, vodka—unlike whiskey—can be made from a wider range of ingredients, and it doesn’t need to be aged (in oak barrels or otherwise), and it’s distilled at a higher proof.
- Simple enough.
- But why keep it simple? Let’s needlessly delve WAY into this.
- INGREDIENTS The vast majority of well-known vodkas are made from grain.
- But vodka is also popularly distilled from potatoes and fruits,
- Unlike whiskey—the production process and ingredients of which are tightly regulated by law—there are no similar rules dictating or limiting what ingredients vodka distillers have to use.
( In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations merely defines vodka as “neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color”. Sounds um tasty.) By contrast, whiskey distillers’ choices are limited, as whiskey must be distilled from a grain.
Sure, you can find off-the-beaten path grains with which to craft your spirits—like quinoa, spelt, oats, etc.—but by legal definition, you can’t distill whiskey from such vodka staples as watermelons, cookies, potatoes, grapes, running shoes, etc. OAK There’s another critical restriction on whiskies.
In addition to being distilled only from grains, a grain spirit MUST “kiss” the inside of an oak barrel if it’s to be qualified as a whiskey. If it doesn’t, the spirit cannot legally be considered whiskey. Instead, it would likely just be classified as a grain-based vodka!
- A quick aside, Patrick it’s worth noting that the “oak barrel” requirement is a phenomenon unique to American and Scottish law. Other countries use the term whiskey to reference spirits aged in barrels made of other types of wood, such as maple or hickory. According to this website, “Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, and Japanese whiskey only require that wood barrels are used but don’t specify that oak is the only permissible type.”
- But I digress.
Notably, there’s no requirement for how long whiskey must age in an oak barrel to be considered a whiskey. White (clear) whiskies are merely the result of pouring the distilled alcohol from the still into a barrel taking a deep breath and then immediately pouring it right the fuck back out, to be bottled and sent out into the world.
- PROOF There’s one final attribute that distinguishes a spirit as a vodka vs.
- A whiskey: proof.
- As long as the spirit coming off the still is at or above 95% alcohol by volume (ABV), and as long as it is then cut with water to no less than 40% ABV when bottled, you’ve got a vodka.
- That two-part determination is what classifies a spirit as a vodka.
With whiskey, on the other hand, the spirit must be distilled at less than 95% ABV. But just as with vodka, as long as the spirit is then cut with water during the bottling process such that it’s still above 40% ABV when bottled, it’s a whiskey. (From my research, it seems that if you cut a spirit to anything less than 40%, then pursuant to the legal classification, you’re just a lil’ bitch.) TO RECAP : when it comes to proof, the spirit must exceed the 95% ABV threshold during distillation to be a vodka, whereas it cannot exceed the 95% ABV threshold during distillation to be a whiskey.
- In fact, the same exact corn “vodka” could be called whiskey if it came out at the 95% ABV and was then placed in oak barrels,) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Bet.
- If we know the difference between vodka and white whiskey, then what the fuck is “moonshine”? This was the question that first drove our initial discussion, and it turns out that the confusion stems from the fact that lots of distillers and liquor companies nowadays have elected to use the term “moonshine” incorrectly as a commercial gimmick.
Here’s the bottom line: “Moonshine” is liquor (usually whiskey or rum) made in secret ( a ) without getting the proper state and federal licenses to do so, ( b ) without paying the requisite taxes, and ( c ) without adhering to any of the legal (and safety!) standards governing the production of spirits.
- Another aside here’s an article that conflates the actual definition of moonshine with the more gimmicky modern commercial interpretation of a clear and unaged whiskey.
- “There are lots of products sold today that call themselves moonshine for the sake of nostalgia, tradition, and mystique. But the same product could just as easily be called white whiskey. ” Preach to these liars.
Moonshine purists define the spirit as a homemade, unaged whiskey, marked by its clear color, corn base, and high alcohol content—sometimes peaking as high as 190 proof. Traditionally, it was produced in a homemade still and bottled in a mason jar. And there isn’t much of a difference at all between unaged whiskey and moonshine; they largely have the same production process.
But “moonshine” is distinguished from whiskey by virtue of its illegal nature, rather than being a different type of alcohol. Under this conception, “moonshine” is just a whiskey that hasn’t been taxed and the saga of colonial America’s refusal to pay taxes on its distilling operations is a critical part of our nation’s history that we’ll detail in future posts.
But does moonshine have to be a whiskey ? Nope! Actual moonshine—the stuff you’d buy on the black market if you didn’t want to pay a tax—can be made from any fermentable substrate, from sugar to grain to stone fruit. Whatever clandestine distillers can get their hands on and want to work with (under cover of darkness, by the light of the moon—thus the term) is fair game.
- Recall: Neutral spirits must be at least 95% alcohol coming off the still, whereas whiskey must be distilled to less than 95% ABV.
- By the way, note that the lower the proof at distillation, the more flavorful congeners carry over from the grain to the final spirit.
When it comes to commercial sellers, examine whether the “moonshine” label is proclaiming a whiskey or a vodka. If the label says “neutral spirits,” it’s not whiskey, Is the dead horse sufficiently beaten? Let’s decapitate it for good measure. How does one make moonshine? Answer: illegally.
The recipe is simple— · Corn meal · Sugar · Yeast · Water Sometimes, other ingredients are included to add flavor or kick. (And technically, as I’ve said, though alcohol can be distilled from almost any kind of grain, virtually all moonshine made in the United States for the last 150 years has been made with corn.) The primary aesthetic difference between “moonshine” and the whiskey you buy at the liquor store boils down to aging.
When whiskey comes out of the still, it’s so clear it looks like water—and moonshiners bottle it just like that, There’s no aging process, and that’s what gives whiskey its color and mellows the harsh taste. Moonshine undergoes no such mellowing, which is why it has such a “kick”.
So why is distilling alcohol at home illegal in the first place ? “The government cites several reasons for keeping distilling illegal. First, it can be dangerous, Distilleries bring two materials into close proximity – alcohol vapor and heat sources – that can cause disastrous explosions when not managed correctly.
There are also lots of impurities that can lead to all sorts of health problems even death! And cynically, there’s another reason: Federal excise taxes, Distilled spirits are taxed at the highest rate of any alcohol, far more than beer or wine. (A tax on spirits is the very first tax ever levied in the United States!) Naturally, the government is none too keen on surrendering its share of the revenue raised by a Nation filled with alcoholics.
- And so it criminalizes any liquor production into the revenue of which it can’t sink its grubby little fingernails.
- Please admire the grammatically impeccable placement of prepositions in that last sentence.) * * * * * * * * * * * * In summation, New Scotch Spirits will never legally sell any brand of spirit under the “moonshine” moniker.
But catch us back in the woods under cover of a new moon and we might have some New Scotch “Select” to offer you. Shhhhh. I hope this post answers any and all questions we could ever again possibly have on such a stupid subject. I need a drink, and I don’t care whether it’s a vodka, a whiskey, or a moonshine masquerading as both.
Why does whiskey feel stronger than vodka?
Difference In Alcohol – Whiskey contains more alcohol than vodka, which has an average alcohol content of about 35%, Whiskey is made of grains (barley, rye, and corn). Whereas vodka is made by potatoes or grains. Whiskey contains more sugar before it ferments.
Does vodka hit harder than whiskey?
Whiskey, on the other hand, is a stronger alcoholic beverage than vodka. Every whiskey brand tastes different because its tastes differ according to how long it is left in oak barrels.
Why are some alcoholics so skinny?
Alcohol and Weight-loss – Some people have said that drinking alcohol increases appetite, and so can lead to overeating and weight gain. Ethanol, the kind of alcohol in alcoholic drinks, and fat from foods have approximately the same amount of calories; but people with alcoholism tend not to be affected by obesity, mainly because they are often malnourished, having replaced a portion of their food calories with calories from alcohol.
Some turn to alcohol, just as others turn to cigarettes or drugs, as a way to replace the comfort they find in food. A 2005 study looked at people who drank alcoholic drinks regularly. It showed that people who drank the smallest amount (one drink per day) with the greatest frequency (three to seven days per week) had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who drank more infrequently, but in larger amounts.
While we can’t claim a cause and effect from the results, they may show a relationship between over-drinking and overeating. In addition, a small study of 14 men who added two glasses of red wine to their evening meal every day for 12 weeks, showed no measured effect on the weight, body fat or calorie intake of the men involved.
Why is vodka drunk different?
The best part is when you get drunk with vodka; you feel less horrible and hungover the next day than other spirits because of the lack of admixtures in it. While other spirits are just distilled once or twice with different aromatics, this is what makes them taste stronger and make you feel worse the next morning.