For the past month, I've been swimming in the bourbon, moonshine, and corn whiskey that I brought back from Kentucky and Tennessee after participating in August's World's Longest Yard Sale event along Highway 127. Every year that I go, I seek out the rarest brands, to see how good our local booze emporiums--Hi-Time, Vendomes, Total Wine, and the rest--are in stocking the good shit. And every year, our hometown hooch heroes are up to the task.
Except this year. Moonshine and corn whiskey is starting to gain favor among local bartenders who want to move on beyond bourbon and rye. And while all of them stock Georgia Moon, that cutesy, so-so corn whiskey sold in mason jars, not a single one carries what the good ol' boys prefer: Mellow Corn corn whiskey.
Corn whiskey, of course, is essentially young bourbon--not aged as long, heavier on the use of corn in the mash, and much more aggressive on the alcohol: bourbon usually sits at 80-90 proof, while corn whiskey starts at 100 proof, which is where Mellow Corn starts. But true to its name, this Kentucky-based brand (made by Heaven Hills Distillery, which also produces Georgia Moon) smooths outs as it spreads along your palate--harsh start, then an oily, sweet finish. Look at that color! That label! That font! It's drinkable bluegrass, and the cheapest possible whiskey product you can get in Kentucky--I bought a bottle at a liquor mart in Danville, Kentucky, for a preposterous $7. You can't even get rotgut tequila or vodka here for that cheap.
You can't find Mellow Corn in Orange County yet, and I think it's so damn hillbilly that it'll never cross over into hipsterdom (similar to how the banjo crossed over to hipsters, but you'll never hear them blast Flat & Scruggs) but you can order it online at Total Wine, and they'll send it to their store in Brea (although at a higher price than seven bucks). Enjoy it neat, enjoy it on the cold days to come, and get ready to howl at the moon--in a mellow mood, of course.