Chances are you have no idea what you are sipping when you crack that aluminum, wax, or plastic seal on your favorite distilled spirit. I’m going to break it down and simplify the legal speak, federal, prim-and proper language into something that makes more sense to guys and gals like us. Lets begin.
Class means the big category. Is it a GM, a MOPAR, or a Ford Motor Company Car? Designation gets a little more into detail. If it’s a FoMoCo, is it a Mercury, a Ford, or a Licoln? If it’s a GM, is it a Chevy, a Buick, a GMC, an Oldsmobile, a Pontiac, or a Cadillac? Get the idea? Large group to a smaller group. Also, I’m drunk as I write this post. This makes total sense to me. If it doesn’t make sense to you then I recommend drinking some Ozark Whisky before reading this. I digress.
Class in terms of whisky means “What are the ingredients of this intoxicating spirit?” If the ingredients are grain, then that means it’s whisky. If the ingredients are fruit, then that means Brandy. If the ingredients are cactus then that means Tequila or Mezcal. If the ingredients are cane sugar, then that means Rum. The list goes on. Class asks the question: “What is the foundation of this Spirit?” There is a million ways to make a hangover, the “class” asks the first one.
What does this mean in terms of whisky? Let’s be very sober on this definition. All whiskies are made from grain as the base product! If you can’t make bread from it, then you probably can’t make whisky from it. You can make French bread, cornbread, and even bread from rice (Vietnamese Bread: Banh Mi). Grains are high on starch and low on sugar. That also means that you can’t add sugar when you are making a mash. (mash means: the stuff you cook up to make a sweet tasting liquid before you add yeast) So those guys from “moonshiners”? They are making corn flavored rum at best. If their sugar is cane sugar, then it is corn flavored rum. If it was beet sugar, then falls into the “other categories” If there isn’t a dominant flavor like apples or peaches, then it goes to flavored neutral spirits, or “distilled spirits specialty”. Neutral spirits means it doesn’t taste like anything. It doesn’t taste like grain, fruit, or any other flavor. It is just alcohol and very similar to Vodka. If you add some sugar, and flavoring ingredients or coloring ingredients, then you have “flavored neutral spirits”. That is what my former employee and salesman now currently produces.
I could honestly care less about what my neighbor is peddling, but I have gotten a few emails lately from folks who have mistaken his products for mine. There are only two distilleries in Purdy Missouri, so this was bound to happen. They go something like this “Hey, I got to try the Rye Whiskey, and it was pretty decent.” My reply is “I don’t make rye whisky, and neither does anyone else in Purdy.” It’s just awkward.
39 days left until I can come back home and start making real Ozark Whisky again. Until then please patronize my neighbor and buy a bottle of Stones Prairie Spirits. It’s priced right at around 20 bucks a bottle, but let’s be very clear. It isn’t whisky.