The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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november 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  109 CATEGORY REPORT Storm Storm Storm Storm Storm Storm by Robert Plotkin New-Make Marvel: Popcorn Sutton Original Small Batch Recipe Distilled in the backwoods of Appalachia and the American South since the 1800s, moonshine was for generations the illicit product of illegal enterprise. But changing social mores and the resurgence of American whiskies has prompted many distillers here to begin marketing "new-make" whiskies. While cheap moonshine has been saddled with such unflattering names as "mad dog" or "white lightning," quality artisanal new- make whiskies offer enthusiasts and aficionados a rare glimpse into the character and youthful vitality of the unadulterated spirit. When well made, they're flavorful, exuberant and surprisingly refined, not at all like the breath-robbing firewater portrayed in television and film. One of the not-to-miss brands on the market is Popcorn Sutton Original Small Batch Recipe (SRP $24.99-$27.99). There's something to be said for a product so skillfully crafted that it's a genuine pleasure to drink without it first hav- ing to be locked away in oak barrels for years. Aging whiskey in oak has a profound effect on the finished product. Years of interaction with wood imbues a whiskey with color and oak- induced flavors such that its actual flavor is lost forever. The late Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton was the undisputed dean of bootleggers. He spent his life in pursuit of making the best small batch "likker" possible. Made in Cocke County, Tennessee and distilled entirely from grain, a modicum of sugar and pure, local water, Popcorn Sutton is perfectly clear with a limpid appearance and a satiny, medium-weight body. Its grain and fruit aromas are at first muted, but over the course of a few minutes, develop more presence and divine purpose. On the palate, the 88-proof spirit starts warm and continues growing in heat until it peaks just shy of hot. It is at that point that waves of semisweet grainy flavor begin to wash over the palate for an impressively long time. The long fade is dry, spicy and warm. "Popcorn Sutton is a premium distilled spirit still made according to the family's original 100-year-old recipe, which has been passed down through three generations. The process utilizes three copper pot stills, each custom made to Popcorn's design, further underscoring its authenticity," notes Chief Marketing Officer Peter Gyimesi. "The Popcorn Sutton Original Small Batch Recipe is versatile, nuanced and remarkably smooth. It's also an incredibly versatile spirit that can put a new and interesting twist on cocktails calling for whisky, vodka and even tequila." The company has announced plans to soon release a limited edition, barrel-aged version. Bottled at 92 proof, the amber/brown expression has a bakery-like set of aromas and a less exuberant personality. POPCORN SUTTON DISTILLING

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