Corn whiskeys occupy a special place in the firmament of distilled alcohol. This rough-around-the-edges beverage is having a moment—a leisurely time in the sun, set off, perhaps, by a story several years ago in The New York Times.
It's somewhat improbable. It's not for the faint of heart. You see, whiskeys become easier to drink—smoother—as they age. And corn whiskey, well, it's sort of like veal—ready for the marketplace before it reaches adolescence.
Rough or not, corn whiskey—moonshine—has thrived and survived for a long time. "It's one of those things that's been around since the invention of whiskey itself," says Jon DeRosa, a musician and bartender. Despite the longevity, however, corn whiskey isn't really mass-produced. It's very much a niche product.
DeRosa has been serving drinks, off and on, for eight years; it's not a common order among the regulars. He recommends mixing corn whiskey with citrus, various sours, and bitters—anything, in short, "with a strong aromatic."