Because you can't learn everything about making illegal hootch in your bathtub from late-night reruns of Moonshiners (even if you take copious notes and are missing multiple teeth), Moonshine University is offering hands-on classes to learn the ins and outs of making white lightning. You'll learn everything from mashing, to fermenting, to hiding your still in the woods to elude ATF and local law enforcement... JK! That'd be insane, right?! No, but seriously, they'll walk you through how to legally distill your own craft spirits.
MU's located in scenic downtown Louisville, which is fitting for two reasons: 1) Kentucky has a long and storied history when it comes to distilling spirits in America -- it's pretty much a de facto capital, right?; and 2) it doesn't get any more hipster than making small-batch artisanal craft spirits, and lately Louisville's been basking in some newfound street cred as one of country's emerging plaid-and-horned-rim-glasses-wearing epicenters.
They offer three types of classes -- all of which start with some good old-fashioned book learning -- including enthusiast seminars/tastings, one- or two-day workshops where you actually make the booze, and the full monty: a five-day distiller's class for those wanting to open a craft spirits company.
After getting things rolling with some
hilarious ice breakers that make everyone uncomfortable moonshine history & fun facts, you'll go over key terms, the production process, and explore the types of stills sketchy dudes in the Appalachian backwoods have been using for hundreds of years to make mountain dew. In case you're wondering, they use a 250gal copper pot still with a 20-tray copper vodka column.
Yup, it's finally time to roll up those sleeves and mill the corn.
Or not, if you're this guy, who's apparently content just staring at the mash. Oh no, don't worry, we'll handle it. Everything look good in there?
Now that's more like it. If this were an episode of Survivor Moonshine University, this dude totally wouldn't be getting voted off. Yet.
"I'm concentrating so hard that my head hurts." MU boasts an all-star lineup of instructors, and you're paying upwards of five grand depending on the class. You're gonna want to pay attention.
So, despite having a full bottling line on site for small production runs, they're legally not allowed to bottle spirits from class. Remember, it's ILLEGAL to make high-proof distilled spirits without a permit. So guess where the Tennessee white whiskey you made is going? That's right, sadly, right down the drain. Tears…
Now we're talking. Line 'em up!
And finally, as you would imagine -- no one is graduating without a "flavoring and sensory" evaluation.
Dave Baldwin is Thrillist’s senior travel editor, and once, much to the chagrin of everyone in his apartment building, fermented five gallons of grape juice in his guest bedroom. Follow his exploits at @ThrillistTravel.