Review: Climax Moonshine

In 2011, the Discovery Channel launched a TV show called Moonshiners which chronicles the lives and crazy happenings of a group of guys making shine in the Appalachian Mountains. While it seems like a terrible idea to let a full-on camera crew film you doing illegal things, these guys managed to make their whiskey and evade the authorities while doing so. Reality TV is amazing.

I had never seen the show, nor heard of its star, Tim Smith, but when I was approached to write about Climax Moonshine I was intrigued.  White whiskey obviously isn’t a daily sipper for me, but it’s something that’s fun to try from time to time as it’s a great way to experience where some of the world’s best whiskey starts. Doing distillery tours and getting to taste white dog fresh off the still is a blast, and the challenge of reviewing a moonshine piqued my interest, so here we are.

Climax isn’t a bourbon white dog, what makes it different is a very small amount of sugar cane that is added to the mash (and potentially the proof at which it comes off the still, but I don’t have that info). While Climax wouldn’t produce a bourbon if given proper aging, it does make for a little more of an interesting sip that just drinking a straight white dog (BT #1, for example). If you want to hear Mr. Smith talk about his whiskey he’s got an entire YouTube channel with him sporting overalls, sans-shirt, and drinking with his friends, check it out for a good time. Alright, now that we’ve got our bases covered on Tim Smith, let’s get to drinking his moonshine!

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost to Barrels and Mash with no strings attached.

Company: Prost Beverage Co.

Distillery: Belmont Farms Distillery

Location: Culpeper, Virginia

Mash Bill: Approx. 80% corn/10% rye/10% barely/”very little” sugar cane

Age: Brand spankin’ new

ABV: 45% (90 proof)

Released: Ongoing

Price: $30

Color: Crystal clear

Nose: Bright, sweet corn. The touch of sugar cane comes through augmenting the corn sweetness and giving the aroma almost a rum quality. I don’t get any heat from the rye and from a NEAT glass, there is no ethanol burn.

Taste: The sweet corn is by far the main component to the flavor here, but like the nose that sugar cane adds a different layer of sweetness that is pretty nice. The mouthfeel is thicker than I expected and is somewhat velvety and rich compared to some other white whiskeys I’ve had. There is a very slight cereal note from the rye lurking in the background, but you have to look fairly hard for it.

Finish: The rye finally comes out a little more here as the sweet corn and sugar dominance fades and some spice comes to the front. It’s not much, but it is very welcome and helps bring a bit of complexity to the sip. The finish is long and leaves your mouth coated with a sweetness as the alcohol floats off into space.

Overall: Well, to be completely honest, this stuff surprised me a little bit. I knew this would be a fun review to write, and it was, but I thought it would be due more to the producer and not the product itself. I actually enjoyed drinking this more than I expected. I also decided it would be a fun weekend activity to try the “Climax Ritual” with some friends (that sounds so dirty) and mix this with some sweet tea…in our mouths. Yep. Now, I can’t tell if this means that Tim Smith primarily only uses his own moonshine as a mixer (saving precious mixing glassware too), but it was definitely fun to watch a group of people try this thing out and see the full range of reactions. Some really hated it, and it pleasantly surprised others, results were all over place. It also gave everyone the opportunity to say “Climax” about a million times, which never got old. Check out the gallery below for some images from that night and some great facial expressions as people got their Climax on.

The hardest part is giving Climax Moonshine a rating. My first instinct was to grade it in its own context (and compared with other white whiskeys it would do well), but given Tim Smith adamantly believes that this product and taste profile stands on its own and states that while he loves bourbon “..we’ve distilled the taste profile, we don’t have to put it in a barrel, there’s no need to put it in the barrel” I decided to rate it along side the bourbons on this site. So, I went down the list of our reviews and figured out where this would fit in, and I’m pretty confident that if I had to choose between this and a bottle of Forged Oak , it would be a tough decision, and I would choose any other bourbon on the site over Climax. That being said, If you are looking for a white whiskey to try out, take this one for a spin, it makes for a good time.

Rating: 2/5

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27 thoughts on “Review: Climax Moonshine

  1. Just tried your climax moonshine for the very first time. I hate to be so cheesy but, I see what all the fuss is about! Keep on shining!! Mike

  2. I recently bought a bottle of the original and it’s nothing like what you describe, it tastes like cheap Tequila. I was very disappointed.

    1. We thought there was a bit more complexity than a cheap tequila, but if you notice the final score we gave it, we were a bit disappointed too. Thanks for reading, and hopefully your next purchase is a better one!

  3. Awful..too hot..
    Being from Wv..n knowing shine..
    Not good.drank a pint..didn’t feel a thing..
    Gave a bottle TO a friend who love the show…as a retirement gift..
    He gave it back..Lol.disappointed

  4. I tried this and was disappointed with the strong nutty after taste. After watching the show and being really exited to try it I did not like it period!

  5. I’d rather drink rubbing alcohol than Tim Smiths moonshine. I’m no moonshine connoisseur but I’ve had friends moonshine and it did not have the bitter bite that Climax did. Not sure if the stainless steal distilling has something to do with it but that’s my guess. In my opinion he should go back to copper distilling the way Popcorn Sutton originally hoaned this recipe.

  6. Before the ‘Moonshiners” show started there were very few clear corn whiskey products(moonshine) available for purchase and there is a major reason why, it doesn’t taste good at ALL! It fulfills its original purpose to be a product that you don’t have to wait years to drink like bourbon and it is high proof and it will get you drunk. It’s like a lot of things if you drink it regularly your taste buds adjust to it somewhat and it becomes more palatable although that is probably all mental. Probably why more moonshiners are making fruit/flavor infused ‘shine to meet wants of the buyer, even though it may go against their personal views that all ‘shine should be corn whiskey no flavors. Even Tim has put a cinnamon flavor Climax on the market as it was revealed on the show on Dec. 6th.

  7. I just tried some Climax, and besides the name, I liked it. I am a fan of shines and white whiskeys, and I thought it was very smooth and not too sweet. A lot of the ‘moonshines’ are way too sweet, but this one is very good. Enjoying some as I post this. Grain neutrals are usually too harsh for sippin, but this white whiskey hits the spot.

  8. I tried some in a hotel bar in Maryland last night. I kind of liked it! It was smoother than I expected it to be. I’ll probably pick up a bottle just to have around.

  9. I thought it sucked. I gave it to my daughters boyfriend and he shared it with his college buddies and they even hated it and they drink anything.

  10. I just bought a bottle of Tim Smith’s climax moonshine and it was easier to swollow than any shine I have ever swallowed even Arkansas charred shine.

  11. This isn’t his old recipe from before he went legal . His old recipe was sugar, corn and yeast . He was a cash moonshiner . His way is to make as much as he can as fast as he can . I was given a partial bottle left over from a friend who didn’t like it. It didn’t taste too good . I’m wondering if he even makes it . According to Belmont farms website they state it is “bottled at Belmont farms” . My perception of that is that it’s trucked in from a mass produced industrial alcohol plant then either tempered or mix some of Chuck Miller’s moonshine in with it then label it . It could possibly be Chuck Miller’s re-labeled.

  12. Very disappointed. Tastes like cheap tequila and smells even worse. I can’t believe somebody would put their face on a bottle of this stuff.

  13. I was extremely disappointed. I have had non commerical moonshine that was hot but much better. There is a weird funky back taste. I ended up using what I did drink for cooking. Made me thirsty for my Maker’s Mark, so I bought their biggest bottle and split it with my son. Sorry Tim, you are a cool guy, but something taste off with your shine.

  14. This stuff is just disgusting. I thought that maybe it went bad in my sons hot car.
    I contacted the company and asked if it could have gone bad from the heat but I never got a response. Not much of a customer service department if they do not respond to customers. I guess these hillbillies just can’t read.

  15. I have drank all of tim smith products from the regular shine, the fire 32, and the wood fired whiskey I have to admit I liked them all!!! But most of all I really enjoy the whiskey I have drank may kinda of whiskey and I think tims has got to be the best and smoothest I have ever tried needs no mixer just drink right from the bottle or pour a glass!! It’s perfect

  16. I loved the show and looked forward to watching it. Tasting Tim’s Moonshine became an obsession. It took awhile before I found it locally, got home and eagerly opened it.

    I don’t know which I was more disappointed in: the moonshine or the dog when he took a dump in front of my bathroom door.

    It’s back to Ole Smoky for me…..

  17. Tried to get an answer again. Still nothing, can’t even find a phone number so I can call.
    I was willing to try it again on the outside chance it did go bad in the hot car but not now. The outfit is a joke!!!!!

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