While chatting over lobster bisque at the decadent restaurant Elements high atop the Blue Ridge Parkway last fall, it hardly seemed backwoods corn liquor would be a likely topic. But those hills have deep roots, and my host, Mara Bouvier, mentioned an old still was found on the 12,000-acre luxury resort of Primland, a heavenly golf, pheasant and deer hunting property south of Blacksburg, Va. I asked if moonshine was ever legalized, and she responded by calling to the table both Catdaddy and Junior Johnsonâ€™s Midnight Moon varieties, two brands leading the great â€™shine revival.
Wearing camo and hauling a bolt-action Sako A7, I had been trudging daily through the fancy hallways past the well-dressed guests, chasing big whitetails with my usual post-rut luck, and the smooth warmth of that first taste of moonshine (essentially raw whiskey that has never seen a barrel) made my frustrations melt into a glowing inner sunshine. Modern refined brands like Johnsonâ€™s Apple Pie will have you shininâ€™, too, making it easy to see why Southerners were willing to fight for it all these years. — Skip Knowles