Wine Knots head fer them hills

Big Bubba Scott and Vicki Gayle sharing their ‘shine.

Vicki Baker

Tarred of all them fancy wines they’d been drinkin’, the Wine Knots headed fer them hills to git some of that good ole Tennessee moonshine. Most famous for being brewed in the woods during Prohibition, it was once considered a downscale liquor. It’s now making a higher-end comeback with tastin’ rooms all over Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. So, Big Bubba Scott and Vicki Gayle Baker brung home some of their favorites, orange creme and salted caramel, for a night of drinkin’ and eatin’ at the Wine Knots monthly gathering.

The term moonshine, high proof distilled spirits usually produced illicitly without government authorization, comes from the fact that the mountain folk did their distilling in the darkness with the moon as their only source of light. Because of their late-night activities, the term moonshine became associated with these activities. Families made a living from it because the liquor could be produced and sold quickly as it didn’t require years of aging in barrels.

During the recession a decade ago, a number of states, including Tennessee, looked for ways to generate employment and keep tax revenue rolling in. One way to accomplish this was to loosen laws regulating distilleries. In 2009, Tennessee legislature opened dozens of counties to the ‘shine business where moonshine production had been unlawful for generations.

The flavored moonshine from Smith Creek Distillery still has the old-fashioned taste that mountain folk once enjoyed, sitting on their front porches, strumming a banjo, while singing with joy and swigging from a jug. Using corn, sugar, yeast and water as a simple base, this legendary recipe has been taken to a whole new level by adding the special twist of different flavors, sometimes smooth, sometimes bold, but flavors that are always distinct. The Wine Knots sampled orange cream (the dreamsicle you wish you could have had as a kid) and salted caramel (the perfect combination of sweet and salty…with a nice smack in the face).

And along with the drinkin’ was the eatin’ of all kinds of vittles – beans and cornbread, pigs in them little bitty blankets, little smokies, spam fries with Velveeta dipping sauce and hillbilly tater tot casserole. Oooo…wee! What a night. Moonshine, white lightnin’, hillbilly pop, sugar whiskey, mule kick, ruckus juice. Whatever you call it, it’s darn good! A power-packed punch of deliciousness in every jar! Especially when shared with yer Wine Knot kin folk.