Moonshine Makes Its Mark on Monmouth County

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first_imgFor some this may come as a surprise but not to Bill Stavola: “Moonshine has really gone mainstream,” and is a burgeoning trend in the spirits industry, he believes and is now marketing one of the brands in New Jersey and eventually nationally and internationally.Stavola, who also co-owns the Driftwood Beach Club in Sea Bright with his company, National Certified Distribution, is now marketing Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine, a white whiskey from Gilbert, West Virginia, with a storied history.While home in Florida, Stavola said he was approached by a member of the Hatfield family, a direct descendent from the clan who once waged the long-running and violent feud against the McCoys in the 19th century, who proposed partnering with National Certified Distribution to market white whiskey, which has been on the market since 2012.The Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine is unaged corn whiskey. The whiskey is advertised as the “Drink of the Devil,” but isn’t referring to Satan; the devil in this case is Devil Anse Hatfield, whose original recipe, dating back to the 1860s, is used to this day. The 90-proof corn whiskey is made in handmade batches, distilled in copper kettles, from West Virginia-grown corn at the company’s Gilbert West Virginia micro-distillery.“It’s got a distinct flavor. You can taste the corn,” Stavola said, adding “there’s no back-burn; very drinkable.”“Hatfield and McCoy is staying true to the heritage and history,” observed Tony Thornton, director of wine, liquor, spirits and importing for Shore Point Distributing, Freehold, which began distributing the whiskey in much of New Jersey in January.Shore Point is making the moonshine available throughout the eight counties it covers, which includes Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex, through 47 accounts and numerous locations. Locally, it can be found at Spirits Unlimited in Red Bank and Middletown and at Crates liquor store, Red Bank, according to Thornton.So far, “The response has been great,” said Thornton, in no small part because of the interest in its history.“It’s a very well made product,” he noted. “But it’s the history behind it that sells it.”The Hatfield-McCoy story has long fascinated the public, being the subject of movies, books, songs and most recently an A&E cable TV docudrama and now a History Channel reality show featuring members of the two warring families.All of which has Stavola figuring it’s a good time for this line. “We’re hoping to not just take this nationally but internationally,” he said.“It’s not a large part of the industry at the moment,” Thornton offered, “but white whiskeys are on the rise,” gaining ground in the industry, becoming increasingly available overseas, Thornton pointed out.Shore Point didn’t have a moonshine on its lists of products. “We found the quality and history of it something that we could work with,” noted Holly Annarella-Flego, Shore Point’s owner and craft beer representative.The market for the whiskey is pretty wide, the three maintained. “It’s pretty versatile,” Annarella-Flego observed.The thinking is it would appeal to young 20-somethings, college age kids, who would do it as shots, Thornton said. And that has happened; but men in their 30s and 40s like it a s a sipping whiskey and women like it with a mixer.In fact, the Hatfield & McCoy company has begun making available fruit juice mixers – or more accurately called “moonshine mixin’s,” such as Apple Pie, Georgia Blackberry Cobbler and Georgia Peach. “It’s very refreshing” that way, Stavola said.Coming next will be a cinnamon-flavored mixer, expected in the next two months. “We think it’s going to be a viable product to compete with Fireball,” Stavola said, referring to the popular spicy cinnamon-flavored whisky.“What we’re doing now is setting up distribution state-by-state,” Stavola said and promoting the product. Recently it was marketed in Daytona, Florida, during the NASCAR auto races last month. Coming up, expect to see the “drink of the devil” appearing at Bike Week in Daytona, according to Stavola.— By John Burtonlast_img

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