Monday, June 16, 2014

Hatfield-McCoy Distillery

While working in Mingo County throughout mid-June as I do every year, I am in Gilbert for 3-5 days each summer.  Since we finished up around noon on Monday, I took the opportunity to take my friend and co-worker, Natalie on a short driving tour of Gilbert past the Larry Joe Harless Center and to see the impact that the Hatfield-McCoy ATV trail system has had on the region’s economy.  We stopped at a local hardware store to pick up a few items for the next day’s workshop then started out of town toward Logan where our crew is staying.
As Natalie and I were leaving Gilbert, we saw a sign for the Hatfield-McCoy Distillery.  When we arrived we were greeted warmly by master distiller, Chad Bishop.  He gave us a brief tour of the small but efficient operation to make the “Drink of the Devil” in honor of Devil Anse Hatfield.  Chad informed us that he is a descendent of the Hatfield family patriarch who led the West Virginia contingent of the Hatfield-McCoy feud of this area.  Chad said that various members of his family have made illegal moonshine in the hills and hollows of Mingo and Logan Counties in West Virginia as well as in nearby Pike County, Kentucky.
The stills at the Hatfield-McCoy Distillery are made by Confederate Stills of Alabama and are overseen by Chad to assure a consistent high quality of product.  Prior to purchasing a bottle of Hatfield-McCoy Moonshine, we were treated to a generous sample which was very pleasing.  Even Natalie, who had never tasted moonshine and isn’t especially fond of distilled spirits, agreed that this is a pleasant drink. The 90 proof moonshine had a distinct flavor of corn and lacked the harshness so typical of many moonshine recipes.  At $32 per bottle, it is priced above many other moonshines on the market. 
We returned to Chief Logan State Park where our group was lodging and shared sips of The Drink of the Devil with everyone in the group.  Everyone agreed that this moonshine is a keeper.  When I returned home I did a side by side comparison of the Hatfield-McCoy Moonshine with M. B. Roland’s True Kentucky Shine and Limestone Branch’s T. J. Pottinger 50/50/50 Sugar Shine.  I had eager assistance from my pal, Natalie’s husband, Rex.  
We found that we couldn't agree on a favorite from the three.  Each has merit although there were distinct differences, with the Hatfield-McCoy being the easiest to drink, perhaps owing to the 90 proof as compared to 100 proof in the others in the comparison.  Since Steve Beam doesn’t cook the corn in his Limestone Branch T. J. Pottinger 50/50/50, the corn is only included as a flavoring element.  The corn flavor in the Pottinger was no better or worse than the Hatfield-McCoy Moonshine but it was very different.

In conclusion, the Hatfield-McCoy Moonshine is an excellent drink for those who like moonshine.  It mixes well and is quite good neat.  If you have had some of the rough and unpleasant moonshine that comes from the illegal stills in Appalachia, this is nothing like that.  If you are willing to pay the $32 for a bottle, you will appreciate the drink.

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