Saint Luna Moonshine surprised me on the first sip – right then I knew I was making a Moonshine Manhattan. I knew the spirit was largely a rye distillate, and that there was molasses included in the mashbill, but what I didn’t realize was the beautiful combination those two things would mean for an actual sippable moonshine or white whiskey.
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For my first cocktail with it, I wanted to make sure the flavors I chose would support and not overwhelm the delicate moonshine flavors I was getting. It does taste like a distillate, but the mouthfeel is different, because it has that high rye content.
To me, higher rye-content whiskies coat the mouth better, and they don’t tend to concentrate in one part of the mouth. They feel smoother, and it feels as if they are fully coating the inside of the mouth.
This is vastly different distillate from what you’d find at a typical whiskey distillery. The filtration and the use of the molasses must make a huge difference in the final taste. While I have had sorghum distillate, which was more like a rum, this rye/molasses combination leaves no doubt that you’re drinking whiskey.
From the first sips I knew I wanted to try a Manhattan with it, and this lovely mead/peach combination makes it lovely as a moonshine Manhattan. The peach and honey are buoyed by the young taste of the distillate, rather than overwhelmed by it.
It does have the young, grassy taste of new make, but not in a harsh way. If you’re not sold on distillate/moonshine, give this atypical example a try.
I’m starting with something a little elegant and using some softer fruit and honey flavors to combine with the caramel and vanilla flavors in the whiskey without competing with it. My next cocktail won’t be nearly so highbrow, but for this one, I wanted to celebrate what Saint Luna had achieved with their unique unaged whiskey.
The honey mead I’m using came from a small meadery on Prince Edward Island, Island Honey Wine. We happened upon it on our way to a B&B when we saw a sign for it. Neither of us had tried mead before, and since we were there off-season, we had plenty of time with the owner/distiller to ask questions and get more details.
When he found out we were whiskey geeks from Kentucky and knew a little about the distillation process already we were on our way to a great introduction to mead. This honey nectar mead from Island Honey Wine is almost like a honey syrup it’s so sweet and floral. But it’s also got just a touch of that sourness I detect in wine, so it’s a lovely complement to the cocktail and a great stand in for vermouth.
If you’ve been watching my cocktails for a while you know Giffard’s Peche du Vinge is one of my favorites. Honey and peaches are a staple for me during peach season, and I knew that this combination would work.
I added just a touch of Old Forester’s Hummingbird bitters to up the floral notes and tied everything together with a single sprig of lavender for the garnish.
It’s a smooth cocktail, and like a Manhattan, the whiskey is the main flavor component. So try out this unusual riff on a Manhattan and let me know what you think.
In case you’re looking for other Manhattans you can take a peek at my Balanced Perfection (Quarantine Riff on a Manhattan) and this Bananas Foster Manhattan for two of my less aggressive Manhattans.
Honeyed Moonlight – Moonshine Manhattan
- 2 oz Saint Luna
- ½ oz honey mead
- ½ oz peach liqueur I used Giffard’s Peche du Vigne
- 12 drops Old Forester Hummingbird bitters
- Garnish: fresh peach slice and lavender sprig
- Combine Saint Luna, honey mead, peach liqueur and hummingbird bitters in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled couple glass. Garnish with a fresh peach slice and a lavender sprig.