Towards the end of the 18th Century and well into the 20th Century, the Appalachian Hills of the United States became a hot bed of illegal alcohol production. Outrageous liquor taxation laws followed by the Era of Prohibition (1920 to 1933) had just about squeezed the life out of the distilling industry and, desperate to keep their businesses afloat, distillers turned clandestine, operating under the cover of darkness. It was this that conceived the term “moonshine” for the illicit high-proof distilled spirits they turned out and the bootlegging culture that followed became an iconic movement in American history.
Today, moonshine is legally produced across the United States – thankfully, with exponentially better quality control in place – with Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, among other southeastern U.S. states, having reputations for being the best. Until very recently, however, authentic and traditional moonshine was available elsewhere only by import. That is until South Africa’s very own Silver Creek Craft Distillery smashed a five-medal victory for its handcrafted range at the 2017 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards.
We all know what that means: moonshine has officially arrived in South Africa!
The Silver Creek Craft Distillery is a state-of-the-art operation located in an old mine building in Randfontein, Gauteng. Here, founder and chief distiller Mark Taverner and his team take locally sourced yellow and white corn, wheat, and malted barley and apply traditional mashing, fermenting, and distilling techniques to turn out high-quality unaged moonshine.
So committed is Taverner to producing an authentic product that he imports genuine flavours from Louisville, Kentucky, for his distillery’s range of flavoured moonshines. Everything is done by hand, according to Deep South tradition, and each bottle signed, creating moonshine of an exceptional quality that still bears the roguish allure of its past.
The Southern Moonshine Range
The Southern Moonshine range consists of a flagship tipple, the pure and smooth Clear Shine (50% ABV), which is as authentic a moonshine as you’ll get outside of Kentucky. Then there’s the Charred Shine that bears the smoky essence of oak barrel, effectively resembling a quality bourbon. And finally, there’s the flavoured ‘shines (24% ABV): nostalgic Apple Pie, spicy cinnamon Bon Fire, delicious Salted Caramel, and Chocolate, a sultry blend of black coffee and dark chocolate.
The Silver Creek Craft Distillery’s range can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, with a mixer, in a cocktail, or as a fun shooter. Quality moonshine is versatile and, according to Mark Taverner, is set to become the next big thing in South Africa, similar to craft beer and gin. And having walked proudly from the 2017 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards with five medals for its brand-new range of moonshines, it’s clear that the Silver Creek Craft Distillery will be the one standing proudly at the forefront of this blazed trail.