Our friends at the New Orleans-based Seven Three Distilling are truly hitting their stride with a full catalog of spirits ranging from rum, gin, vodka (including a cucumber-infused variation), Irish whiskey and, soon Bywater Bourbon. We’ve rolled through a bottle of each except the Marigny Moonshine. It stood tall in the back of the cabinet—until recently.
When you hear the word Moonshine it conjures up images of a toothless hillbilly named Chester running a questionable bathtub operation somewhere deep in the backwoods of a rural town with a peculiar name, a swaying stoplight and a population of around 50. It’s cliché we know, but moonshine doesn’t have the reputation for a pleasant, smooth finish, but instead something that could double as rocket fuel. Maybe it makes your face do weird things the moment it hits your throat. And so the bottle of Marigny Moonshine sat, passed over and pushed aside, gathering dust. It’s not Seven Three Distilling Company’s fault, it’s the fault of the cliché. But, finally, the time came to pull the top.
The name of this American white whiskey comes from a real estate developer and occasional gambler named Bernard de Marigny. Seven Three decided to produce the moonshine in recognition of the Creole’s boundless spirit and the funky and vibrant neighborhood that Mr. Marigny developed after he subdivided his plantation in 1805.
HERE GOES NOTHING…
As soon as you pop the top, your nose is instantly met with the distinctive fragrance that Saké also renders. Of course, it’s no surprise, because both originate from rice. Beyond that though the two, naturally, aren’t in the same league. This is whiskey after all! We tasted it two ways: with a square cube and neat. You won’t get the initial punch that you normally get when sipping traditional whiskey as we know it, but instead a more mellow, level taste that rests nicely on the palate. Swirl it around at first, you’ll see.
The finish is also smooth, with less punch than you are used to. While this is a strong spirit at 100-proof, it doesn’t smack you in the face and create that facial expression we’ve all seen—or experienced for that matter. The silky flavor and finish is both a blessing and a curse, as you can easily find yourself two or three drinks in without knowing it but “knowing” it at the same, if you catch my drift!
Because of our love of craftsmanship and spirits we learned more about Marigny Moonshine from Seven Three Distilling’s general manager, Tristan Johnson.
For the rookie moonshine folks, tell us, why rice? I think both rookies and professional bootleggers alike would find rice a curious choice, as so often you see moonshine distilled from corn and [sugar] cane. But we’re passionate about using local agriculture in our spirits, and rice is a major crop here in Louisiana. Ours comes from James Farms in Prairie Ronde, where they operate a rice and crawfish farm. It doesn’t get much more Louisiana than that.
What method is Marigny Moonshine distilled? We distill our Marigny Moonshine from a mash of rice and a touch of honey-malted barley, which helps ground our spirit in more traditional whiskey flavors. We ferment with yeast traditionally used for rum and bottle at 100-proof. So, in some regards, it plays into the popular concept of moonshine—it’s a white whiskey and definitely packs a punch, but it also brings tremendous depth of flavor from the grain and fermentation.
What’s the best way to drink it? Would it be sacrilegious to mix it with anything? Not at all! It makes a great mixer, and in surprising combinations. We’ve found it works exceptionally well in a margarita, and I’m a tremendous fan of using it in a whiskey sour. For a craft bartender, there’s a lot of fun to be had in playing up the flavor of the rice when mixing a cocktail, but it can be enjoyed just as well in a neat pour. For moonshine at 100-proof, it’s got the fire you’d expect, but not the burn.
What type of music goes well with Marigny Moonshine? Live music! Which can be a tricky proposition in the age of Covid-19. But, in the New Orleans tradition, there’s nothing like a live performance, whether on a front porch, street corner, or stage at Jazz Fest. And having a drink in hand is never a bad thing.
When can we expect your bourbon? We haven’t set a definite release date yet, but it’s looking very likely that Bywater Bourbon will make its debut before the end of 2020. I’m as anxious as anyone for this. Seeing how it’s progressing in the barrel, I couldn’t be more excited to share with Seven Three enthusiasts, and to win over a few more in the process.
American White Whiskey
Alcohol by volume: 50%
Origin: New Orleans, LA
Local ingredients: rice
From issue 93. Buy it here.