Dan in Chicago, 6’2” and 240 pounds… *ding*
If you’ve ever listened to the Dan Patrick Show on radio or streaming, you’ll recognize the common introduction by most callers. While I am a long time fan of the DP Show, I’m not such a fan of moonshine — I’ve always found it similar to the days when you tune into Dan and the Danettes, only to find that Ross Tucker is guest hosting. Moonshine bias aside, when they announced that they’ve partnered with White Dog Distilling to produce Tailgate Moonshine, I was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to purchase an inaugural bottle.
Dan Patrick is a stalwart of the sports broadcast industry. He was a long time anchor for Sports Center on The Monthership (ESPN for those you not familiar with the show vernacular) who left the network to launch his own titular sports talk radio program in October 2007. The show runs for 180 minutes every weekday and centers around Dan and the Danettes (Paulie Pabst, Todd Fritz, Seaton O’Conner, and Marvin Prince) talking about sports and a wide array of other topics – many of which you can find here on ThirtyOneWhiskey – from their man cave.
This year, Dan and the team wanted to create a versatile and accessible sprit that would be “something for the home bar, the football game, late night in the garage/mancave and for the flask”. We can only be thankful that they decided to partner with White Dog on a moonshine and not another velro wallet [editor’s note: no, that’s not a typo — it’s an inside joke among fans of the show].
White Dog Distilling is a small distillery located in Pawtucket, RI founded in 2016 by the husband and wife team of Carlo and Alecia Catucci. Carlo had been a high school physics teacher and after enduring the hallowed halls of education for long enough, he decided to turn his moonshining hobby into a proper business. They are focused on creating small batch spirits, including whiskey, rum, gin, and flavored moonshine.
- Learn More: What Is Bourbon Whiskey?
Calling a product ‘moonshine’ has been evolving over the past couple of decades as distillation of the spirit became legal. Historically, moonshine refers to an illegally distilled whiskey; often done by the light of the moon to avoid detection of the authorities and then flavored with whatever they could find. Modern distillers have been creating their version of moonshine legally, but embracing hallmark elements of the illegal forbearers (such as high alcohol content and sweet flavorings).
Moonshine can be made from just about anything, which is why we rely on the label for details. This particular product isn’t off to a great start with transparency, as the label just describes it as a “spirit distilled from corn sugar with natural flavors”. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this is actually just distilled high fructose corn syrup, but there’s an outside chance that they are referring to the natural sugars that you can extract from raw corn so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt there.
That sugar is then fermented with yeast to create a mildly alcoholic liquid which is then distilled to create the raw alcohol.
Typical moonshine is not aged in barrels — rather, it is often flavored, bottled, and shipped out to market as quickly as possible. In this case, this spirit is “blended with the juice of fresh locally grown apples and infused with natural cinnamon”. If they are following the same process they use for White Dog’s Howlin’ moonshine, then this flavoring is done after the distillation process.
This moonshine is not packaged in a mason jar, and I appreciate that. Yes, the mason jar might be the standard vessel for moonshine, but the wide mouth is hard to pour from. I appreciate the break from this practice — it’s kitschy and fun, but ultimately impractical.
The bottle itself is a wide oval that flares out slightly from the base with a short shoulder and neck — it looks suspiciously similar to the Oak & Eden bottle. It’s topped with a synthetic cork and sealed with a label that says “Open to Celebrate”. This bottle feels large, which might be a problem for Marvin and his small hands [editor’s note: more inside jokes].
The label on the front prominently displays the Tailgate name, and proclaims “Win or Lose, We Celebrate” — a phrase coined during the show’s 4th Sports Emmy nomination where the guys lost again, but still donned ponchos and ski goggles and sprayed each other with champagne. The label on the back of the bottle is covered in images related to sports, grilling, and other items related to the show.
My favorite thing about this bottle is the back of the front label, which declares the bottle as part of the inaugural batch with Dan’s signature. This bottle would look great in your back bar, man cave, or at your tailgate.
I usually hate moonshine from the very beginning — the smell is usually very sugary. Thankfully, in this case the aroma reminds me of mid-tier bourbon with notes of apple, and only raised my excitement for the first sip.
The apple and cinnamon flavors are the stars of the show when you taste this moonshine. It’s smooth, sweet, and tastes natural — not artificial. The apple is the first flavor, and reminds me of fresh cider you might purchase from a random roadside stand. The cinnamon comes second and is mild, pleasant and not overpowering (this isn’t Fireball, thank god). The entire drink has a buttery undertone with almost no bitterness.
I’ve been sipping on this while writing this article, and the last sip tastes as good as the first — which is good, because I watched both the Browns and the Bears lose (I know, shocker) in the background.
Damn three piece! This is amazing. The ice helps the spirit open up more, and the apple and cinnamon become more pronounced. The sweetness also starts to take center stage with them — but it’s not just raw white sugar, it’s a rich and characterful brown sugar flavor.
The apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, and buttery notes meld to create a drink that reminds me of my grandma’s Dutch apple pie. Would it be wrong if I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to my glass?
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
With such bright flavors, this is where I started to worry about how well flavors would hold up when mixing different ingredients together. But I was pleasantly surprised about what a delicious Old Fashioned this makes.
When making this drink, I used both angostura and black walnut bitters — specifically looking to add to the fresh apple flavor that came out on the rocks. The bitters, extra sugar, and moonshine blend masterfully to even more closely mimic that classic apple pie flavor (if the baker decided to go wild and add some walnuts to the rich crumble topping).
While you are missing the boldness of a good bourbon in your Old Fashioned, this is still a well-balanced cocktail that would fit before, during, or after a meal. The only flavor that is a little out of place is the orange peel, but it’s not overly distracting.
Cocktail (Moonshine Mule)
There is a lot going on here with the ginger beer… it’s like drinking Tod’s mock headlines mixed with a limerick or two [editor’s note: Dan really likes these inside jokes].
The flavors are all over the place. The ginger completely covers the cinnamon, and has transformed the apple cider flavor to a very sour apple that continually fights with the ginger beer to take a starring role in the drink. It’s chaos in a glass.
I did not know what to expect with this, but this was not it. Probably best not to repeat this experiment on your own.
The first batch of Tailgate moonshine sold out in under 2 hours (I think that is a stat of the day), and has completely changed my mind about what a moonshine can be.
If you want something easy drinking and flavorful while you oversee your meat Friday masterpiece on the Traeger, there are not many better options. Just be sure to temper your Fritzy onion bagel spirit and keep it simple.
|White Dog Distilling Tailgate Cinnamon Apple Moonshine|
Produced By: White Dog DistillingProduction Location: Rhode Island, United States
Classification: Bourbon Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 30% ABV
Price: $49.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
An award nominated, not award winning, spirit that embodies the Dan Patrick Show.