The history of Whiskey in America is one filled with bootleggers, gangsters, midnight shootouts, and hotted-up police chases. We’ve all familiarized ourselves with this history, dating back even further to the foundation of this very country where controversy arose surrounding the proposed tax on this American spirit. However, it’s the moonshiners that garner the most recognition these days, not for the quality of this potent corn whiskey but for their resilience and perseverance in an innate American will to succeed.
It’s from here that just a few years ago, distillers around the nation began offering up a legalized version of unaged “white dog” whiskey for legal consumption in bars across America. Legally known as white whiskey, the spirit is recognized for its raw grain nose and creamy corn tasting notes. The grain bill remains the same, featuring at least 80 percent corn, therefore white dog is classified as corn whiskey with its vodka-like appearance coming from an absence of barrel aging.
Technicalities aside, it’s clear we’re fans of all things whiskey. And why not? The distillation and consumption of such is quintessentially American; like a enjoying a ballpark frank on a sultry summer afternoon. Though when it comes to seemingly unknown niche products such as white whiskey, curiosity naturally takes hold. In return, we decided to uncover the 15 best white whiskeys out there for grabs. Below are the fruits of that endeavor and we hope after reading you decide to take part in toasting such a uniquely American pastime with a dram of legal ‘shine. Cheers.
Virginia Lightening Corn Whiskey
Nothing like drinking a whiskey distilled in a flagship moonshining state to really harness your inner Appalachian spirit. Taken from an old family recipe, this corn whiskey uses Virginia farm-raised corn to distil a liquor that’s 100 proof and ready to rock. It packs a punch, takes no prisoners, and certainly alludes to the moonshine jug days of the past.
Ole Smokey Tennessee Moonshine
What’s impressive about this 100-proof whiskey is the lack of any vapors on the nose. It’s obviously fairly hot though as the initial sweet corn flavor fades through the tasting. The finish, however, is on the clean side which makes Ole Smokey a pleasurable yet eye opening experience thanks to its 50 percent alcohol characteristic.
Boasting a full corn aroma on the nose this 90 proof corn whiskey also features an underlying smell of fresh cornbread dough. Talk about an ode to the South. But don’t let these sweet-sounding tasting notes fool you, it packs quite a kick at first but mellows considerably with New York State Corn lingering nicely through the finish. Try it straight up, then with some ice, to experience everything Glen Thunder has to offer.
George Dickel White Corn Whiskey
With a name like George Dickel you know this corn whiskey is the real deal. It’s a 90 proof batch that’s been charcoal filtered to reduce that harsh nose that corn whiskeys tend to feature. The charcoal also adds a bit of a familiar finish to seasoned vodka drinkers but not to worry, this is whiskey through and through. Additional notes include a sweet bready profile and a bit of pepper on the mid palate.
Prichard’s Lincoln County Lightening
What’s pleasurable about corn whiskey is its unmistakable flavor. Typical associations to food items such as cornbread and vanilla occupy the base of the liquor’s tasting notes. This variant is no different, hosting a generous palate fueled by white corn. It’s straight out of the still and was recently named #2 in legal moonshine by Southern Living magazine.
Buffalo Trace White Dog
From the distillery that continues to bring us a myriad of different blends comes their white dog whiskey variant that’s surprisingly on the sweeter side of things. Flavors such as cream of wheat, vanilla, and almond come through on the nose while the palate boasts a granola and rye profile. Buffalo Trace is known for their smooth distillation and even though this dram is un-aged, it runs smooth across the palate.
Pinckney Blend Un-Aged Corn Whiskey
Working to remain true to white whiskey’s historic roots, Pinckney Blend Corn Whiskey works to maintain the traditional roots of white dog. Boasting an all-American grain bill of corn, barley, and rye it comes off the still pretty hot at 160 proof and brought down to bottling strength with fresh water found 1200ft below the earth’s surface in the Ozark Plateau limestone aquifer. It also won Gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2013. Just sayin’.
Silver Lightening Moonshine
Adhering to tradition and bottled in a classic-looking whiskey jug, Ascendent Spirits did a fine job in their undertaking of white dog distillation. As a whiskey that boasts some surprising floral notes, this lightening liquor clocks in at 100 proof with a pleasantly mild finish. Silver Lightening functions as a step-up substitution for vodka in crafting cocktails and is distilled in the coastal valley marine climate of California.
Troy & Sons Platinum
Known as the only whiskey in the world made from Crooked Creek Corn, an open-pollinated heirloom white corn, each batch of T&S is distilled from pure Appalachian spring water to produce an American spirit that pays homage to centuries-old tradition. It’s an 80 proof whiskey that boasts a smooth corn nose and flavor profile while leaving drinkers with that pleasant post-shine heat they’re looking for.
Popcorn Sutton Whiskey
A tribute to one of the best in the business, Popcorn Sutton Whiskey takes its name and recipe from the legendary bootlegger in Cocke Country, Tennessee. He used a 100-year-old recipe past down through generations from fellow moonshiners and began by selling it out of the back of a Ford Model A truck. Backcountry as it gets, this Popcorn Sutton white dog whiskey packs a punch at a bottle-friendly 88 proof and distilled with mountain water from the Appalachian streams.
FEW White Dog
Of course, we can’t let the Eastern Seaboard have all the fun. Remember Chicago? One of the bootlegger capitals of the country back during the Prohibition Era? FEW’s distillery is based in the Windy City and their white dog, bottled before it hits a barrel of any kind, is their homage to the un-aged corn whiskey hustling days of decades past. It’s crisp and clean yet packs some heat for the unprepared but sure to bring back memories of backcountry boozing.
Slow Hand White Whiskey
From California-based Greener Distillery comes Slow Hand White Whiskey, an all organic version of the famed white lightening blends. The grain bill is a combination of oats, malt, and spelt offering up a balanced liquor that’s 40 percent alcohol by volume and ideal for spiking up some cocktails or sipping over a couple cubes of ice. Your choice.
Dark Corner Distillery Moonshine
Dark Corner is a true blue southern distillery located in Greenville, South Carolina, and this legal white dog whiskey hosts a grain bill of non-GMO corn, plus some additions of red winter wheat and malted barley. The result is a 100-proof liquor that boasts a significant mellow tasting palate for a high-alcohol whiskey. The core of the flavor profile is sweet corn with some additional spices peppered in as well. Enjoy it straight up or with a bit of ice.
Hudson New York Corn Whiskey
Distilled from all New York corn, this corn whiskey follows tradition with no additional sugar leaving a clear and soft drinking experience. It’s bottled at 46-percent alcohol by volume before the rest of the batch is aged into Tuthilltown Distillery’s popular Hudson Bay Bourbon. And for those who worry that New York might not produce a whiskey of the same quality as the south, remember that tasting is believing.
Distilled and bottled in upstate New York using locally-sourced corn, spelt, and malted wheat White Pike is never aged for more than 18 minutes and features a smooth finish that’ll give your cocktail some spine. Even if you have never tried white whiskey, this brand looks to ease those untamed palates into the world of white dog. Spike up a cocktail, pour it over ice or drink it straight out of the jug like the good old days. Either way, you’ll be celebrating an American pastime.