Let Me Tell A Story, I Can Tell It All...Legendary NASCAR driver and former ridge runner Junior Johnson was on Strawberry Plains Pike Thursday at MC's Wine and Spirits autographing bottles of the new legal version of the family Recipe:
“It’s my dad’s recipe, and we took it and cleaned it up to where it’s not like it would be if you went into the woods (and made it),” the 78-year-old Johnson said. “We tripled-stilled it. It’s the cleanest product that’s on the market as far as moonshine or Jack Daniel’s goes. We can compete with anybody out there. It’s smooth, and it’s clean.”
Midnight Moon is produced by Piedmont Distillers in North Carolina, a company that Johnson now part owns.
Even though Junior Johnson's whiskey is produced in his home State of North Carolina, the story of this new product is a classic example of the kind of entrepreneurship Tennessee's new distillery law can-and very likely will-produce. I'm still baffled as to why Eddie Yokley thought it would be a good idea to exempt Cocke County from a law that could so clearly benefit a location with a rich moonshining heritage.
If you've ever had any real East Tennessee or Western North Carolina mountain dew, you know that these hills have produced some pretty good distillers that the world might never know about because they plied their trade by night to avoid the federal revenuers. That situation has been compounded by the reality that until relatively recently, virtually all of East Tennessee was dry as a bone. Hence, there was no way for the moonshiners to make their operations legal and really survive.
Making whiskey undercover in the mountains goes back to the Whiskey Rebellion, so the historical factor is great and can be used for tourist purposes. Most of all, however, if you are a whiskey connoisseur the new law allows time for things like triple-distillation to weed out the last impurities. The time and ability to use traditional distilling processes makes the best illegal whiskey in the world some of the finest spirits on the market. As for the State, it could use every penny of the tax revenue in these tough times.
As for me, I wish I had known about Junior Johnson's appearance yesterday when it happened.