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 Johnson’s Midnight Moon varieties, two brands leading the great ’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 Johnson’s Apple Pie will have you shinin’, too, making it easy to see why Southerners were willing to fight for it all these years. — Skip Knowles