I bought a bottle of moonshine last October.
It’s sitting on my kitchen counter, unopened. I haven’t quite had the nerve to drink it. But I like that it’s there to greet me every morning.
I picked it up when I, along with my sister and one of my brothers, went to visit my mother for her birthday. So what did we do for Mom’s birthday weekend? Well, what every grandmother of a certain respectable age wants to do for a significant birthday. We drove a few hours in order to tour Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farms, where they make and sell “legal moonshine.” Besides the fact that the terms legal and moonshine contradict each other, they run a pretty nifty tour of their operation. We were able to see all the necessary bits of equipment, including peeking in and smelling the gigantic vat of liquor.
I’m sure Mom had a wonderful time.
Okay, so maybe that’s not really what she wanted to do for her birthday, but she was willing, even though I’d already toured Ballast Point brewery and distillery here in San Diego. (They don’t claim to make moonshine as they’re sticklers for accuracy, but they make an assortment of spirits – whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, etc.) Although I was pretty sure I had a fair grasp of how to make whiskey, I wanted to see it done, Virginia-style.
I even met Moonshiner Tim, star of the Discovery show, Moonshiners.
My mother played along because she’s a good sport. But, after all, it’s her fault that I’ve been obsessed with moonshine whiskey production for the last year or more.
She’s the one who said something along the lines of “Why don’t you write about your high school adventures?” My sister and I had one of our hysterical laugh moments over that idea. (Sorry, Mom.) But then, all of a sudden I was writing about a small town in Virginia. And a girl who wanted to leave.
And yes, eventually moonshine seeped in too.
Not that it’s a true story. At least, not all of it.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK