Manhattan Moonshine looks sophisticated and is made in New York making this home grown, but this white whiskey has a mission. Launched in 2015 Manhattan Moonshine is the product of a unique blend of fine New York grains, which do not need significant aging for flavor purposes. The drink is 95 proof, and received the highest rating of any white whiskey or moonshine in the world from Whisky Advocate. T2C talked to CEO and owner Will Kehler.
T2C: Why Whiskey?
Will Kehler: My background is in new product development and I have always been a whiskey lover. I tried a lot of whiskey’s that were horrible. Silver tequila is great, silver rum is great so why not a white whiskey? So I decided to create my own.
T2C: What made you pick the name Manhattan Moonshine? It is such a great name?
Will Kehler: Most people don’t realize what we are trying to do. I wanted to create the best moonshine possible and we wanted legitimacy in this category that was known for being harsh, cheap and not very good. Entering probation, distilleries were shot down. In Manhattan alone there were 30,000 to 60,000 speakeasies during probation. I was born and raised in Manhattan so it comes full circle.
T2C: It’s not from Annie Get Your Gun?
Will Kehler: No.
T2C: What makes your whiskey different from other brands?
Will Kehler: We only aged for about one hour or less. This means that our whiskey has none of the barrel flavors. It is lighter and more veritable.
T2C: You distill in small batches. Does that make each batch a collector’s item?
Will Kehler: Every bottle of Manhattan Moonshine is a collectors item. Actually each bottle is made to be consistent so you are always getting the same great taste.
T2C: Can you lead you us through that process?
Will Kehler: We use a four grain blend, using oats and rye. We primarily seep the grains in hot water to convert from yeast into alcohol. Then we use a distillation to allow the alcohol to be taken out of that and that rests in an oak bottle for an hour. Then we put it in stainless steal to settle. This allows the long chain of flavors to come out.
T2C: Why do you not use corn?
Will Kehler: Almost every white whiskey or bourbon that uses corn to age the flavors come through in the taste. Corn based whiskey has a grass flavor to it. Novelty, but it is not doing anything different. By not using corn Manhattan Moonshine doesn’t have a smoked flavor and heavy barrel flavors attached to it.
T2C: The Bottle looks art nouveau? Is it designed after anything iconic?
Will Kehler: One of the major styles during prohibition was art deco. The Channel perfume bottle from the 1920 and the decanters inspired our bottle. We wanted every element of our product to be obvious different. We wanted a higher quality. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building were built during that time.
T2C: What is your favorite way to drink Manhattan Moonshine?
Will Kehler: In an Old Fashion. Old Fashions are a perfect way to bring out the flavors. The bitters in it highlight and augment the complexities of the whiskey.
T2C: What is your favorite recipe?
Will Kehler: I have two. For summer a Lavender Smash. To make it you use 41/2 oz of Manhattan Moonshine, add lavender syrup and lemon juice and finish with tonic water. This combination shows off the flavors. For fall a Manhattan Sunshine. Again starting with 41/2 oz of Manhattan Moonshine, lemon juice, simple syrup, finish with IPA beer and garnish with cinnamon.
T2C: Were your parents or Grandparent involved? Is this a family run business handed down by generations?
Will Kehler: My family on different sides has an alleged past running liquor of various kinds. We don’t really talk about it because it was illegal at the time. Half the family allegedly smuggling rum out of the Bahamas and another part was alleged running various liquor from Canada. Alleged and lore are not part of this historical record because supposable they never got caught and of course it was illegal. It took two years to perfect the recipe and as I was doing so my family was extremely helpful.
T2C: What would you like our audiences to know about you?
Will Kehler: My passion is whiskey and I found a category that needed my mission to make it the best. We corrected that. We are the highest rated Whiskey in the World and we are pretty proud of that.
Manhattan Moonshine sells for $45 a bottle.