The Tasting Panel Magazine | Moonshine Road


After months of tough qualifying competitions, four bartend- ers from across the U.S. descended
onto the Crescent City to compete
for their chance to claim the second Master of Moonshine title during this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. With Ole Smoky Moonshine’s Apple Pie as the star ingredient, each bartender served up sample sizes of their regional competition-winning cocktails in the Ole Smoky Tasting Room, where guests had a chance to vote for their favorite.

Masters of Moonshine champion Bill Whitlow wowed audiences by lighting cinnamon on fire as he topped his winning cocktail, Moonshine through the Porthole.

With a $5,000 prize on the line, each bartender pulled out all the stops, from shaking hands and smiling as they explained their cocktail to an eager crowd, to lighting cinnamon on fire with signature showmanship, but at the end of the day, only one mixologist could be crowned the winner.

Snagging the title this year was Cincinnati’s Bill Whitlow, whose Moonshine through the Porthole cock- tail offered a complex, nuanced take on Ole Smoky Apple Pie. “I really like this spirit because it is a flavored product that actually has a backbone,” explained Whitlow. “A lot of flavored products work as secondary ingredients, but Ole Smoky Apple Pie has the structure to build a cocktail around.”

In addition to Ole Smoky’s stable of flavored spirits, high-proof expressions such as Blue Flame, the 2015 Ole Smoky Masters of Moonshine base ingredient, offer mixologists plenty to work with on the palate and in the glass, and as the brand becomes an increasingly popular on-premise call, the 2017 Masters of Moonshine competition is sure to heat things up even more.

Want to make your way to Tales next year to fight for your chance at the
title? Stay tuned to The Tasting Panel
in coming months for info on regional competitions coming your way, and get ready to ride the moonshine train all the way to New Orleans in 2017!


In the Tasting Room with the Masters

The scent of cinnamon filled the air as guests wandered through the room, tasting cocktails presented by the four finalists. While seasoned cocktailians nodded their heads in appreciation of the four well-crafted cocktails in front of them, novice bartenders and those looking to take the plunge into the realm of craft mixology wondered aloud: “What are you doing? Why are you doing that? How does that work?”

With the stable of expert bartenders leading the way, the Ole Smoky Tasting Room was heating things up.


Meet the Masters


Bill Whitlow

Beverage Director, Wiseguy Lounge in Cincinnati

What do you like best about work-ing with Ole Smoky at Tales of the Cocktail?

Everyone is a blast to work with! This was one of the most fun and exciting two days I have ever had. Everyone worked really well together and just made it happen.

What is your favorite bar tool?

A spoon!

If you could make a drink for any person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you make them?

Warren Buffett. He doesn’t drink alcohol, but he loves ice cream and Coca-Cola. I would make a non- alcoholic drink, which can be just as hard to create as any other. I would do some sort of an infused Mexican Coke reduction with cream and vanilla to hit all of his favorites. Maybe garnish it with a side of cheeseburger.

What was your favorite part of Tales of the Cocktail and the Ole Smoky Moonshine tasting room?

Tales is such a melting pot. I met people from around the world and had some conversations that
I will never forget. The Ole Smoky Moonshine tasting room brought a ton of people to my table; I met and spoke with all kinds of talented and interesting people as I was preparing drinks. I still plan on meeting
up with some of these people at their bars when I travel around their parts. That’s another great part— meeting people that you will have lasting relationships with!

What advice do you have for
next year’s Masters of Moonshine contestants?

Enjoy it. Judges and people can tell when you are having a good time and not faking it. Everyone gets nervous, but smile and know that there is always the next one. They may not say it, but judges include your personality into the score.


Moonshine through the Porthole

2 oz. Ole Smoky Moonshine 
Apple Pie 

1⁄2 oz. ginger syrup 

1⁄2 oz. vanilla syrup 

1⁄2 oz. half and half 

1⁄2 oz. Graham’s Six Grape Porto 
Garnish with smoked cinnamon. 


Bohdan Darway

Lead Bartender, SOUTH Kitchen and Jazz Parlor in Philadelphia

What do you like about Ole Smoky Apple Pie?

The apple pie flavor is bold but still leaves room for modifiers. When working with it, I never felt it to be overbearingly dominant— just present.

What is your favorite bar tool?

Most definitely my apron, as it can hold the majority of my other tools if needed, saves my shirts from splash back (as if I ever splash!) and it’s super slimming (duh!).

If you could make a drink for any person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you make them?

I would love to be able to claim that I was the bartender who mixed the Flaming Volcano at some Chinese restaurant in Athens, GA that led later that night to the formation of the B-52s. That specific Flaming Volcano is my dream drink.

What was your favorite part about Tales of the Cocktail and working in the Ole Smoky Tasting Room?

Honestly, just being part of that group of bartenders and having the opportunity to form relationships with like-minded colleagues from all over the country was definitely the best part.

What advice do you have for next year’s Masters of Moonshine contestants?

Don’t miss your flight. Don’t drop your phone in a toilet. Do fix up and look sharp, and if you want to win, it doesn’t hurt to add a visual element to your presentation.


Pie in the Sky

1 1/2 oz. Ole Smoky 
Apple Pie Moonshine 

1⁄4 oz. allspice dram 

1⁄2 oz. ginger syrup 

3⁄4 oz. lemon juice 

Egg white 

Angostura float 


Dana Dixon

Bartender at Swingin Doors Saloon in Nashville, TN

What do you like about Ole Smoky Apple Pie?

Ole Smoky Apple Pie is one of my most favorites! During the warmer months, I tend to mix it with fresh, healthy options like apple juice, mint, ginger and pear. When the temperatures start to drop, I love making concoctions that’ll warm your soul: honey, warm ciders, cinnamon. It’s like a sweater for your insides!

What is your favorite bar tool?

My shakers, of course! Shake your money makers and make money with your shakers!

If you could make a drink for any person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you make them?

I’d make a drink for my all time fave, Betsey Johnson! I’d have to make her my Hunch Punch Paradise Surprise, made with Ole Smoky Hunch Punch Moonshine, tropical Red Bull, a splash of Sprite, then surprise! You’re feeling fab and as if you’re in paradise! Now, of course, I would have to serve it in a super one-of-a-kind, hand-painted, Dana-dusted, sparkly, fun- having glass . . . While wearing my most favorite tutu and Betsey heels!!!

What was your favorite part about Tales of the Cocktail and working in the Ole Smoky Tasting Room?

In the Ole Smoky Tasting Room, I was able to show off the craft that I so truly love, using a product I thoroughly believe in, all while meeting some of the most interesting people . . . some of whom have now turned into friends!

What advice do you have for next year’s Masters of Moonshine contestants?

If I could offer a bit of advice for next year’s Masters of Moonshine contestants, it would be simplicity. So many people want to pull out all the stops and flair, which is definitely very entertaining. However, in all my years, I’ve learned to just K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple, Sweetie] . . . and face the world with a smile and a positive attitude!


Apple Pie “Moont” Julep

11⁄2 oz. Ole Smoky 
Apple Pie Moonshine 

3–4 oz. apple juice 

Splash of simple syrup 

Muddled mint leaves 

Fresh apple slice 


Ally Richardson

Bartender at Kelly’s Village in Plano, TX


Caramel Apple Crush

11⁄2 oz. Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine

1⁄2 oz. banana schnapps

1⁄2 oz. caramel syrup

1 1⁄2 oz. cranberry juice

2 lemon squeezes

Ginger beer top

By: Rachel Burkons | Photos By Chris Granger

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