Moonshine goes from backwoods to storefronts in Myrtle Beach

08/12/2014 4:38 PM

08/12/2014 4:40 PM

Earlier this summer, Palmetto Moonshine out of Anderson opened one of its first retail stores here in Myrtle Beach. In our last Lush Life outing, we featured some of South Carolina’s best moonshine and, of course, Palmetto was included in the short list of the who’s who in the moonshine business. Taking the art of distilling to an even higher business level, the retail store joins a few new names of must-see attractions for Myrtle Beach.

The Palmetto Moonshine Myrtle Beach Store (4801 S. Kings Highway) takes a complete approach to what moonshine in modern times is all about. The staff embraces the history by showing visitors how the spirit is made through a demonstration with a 300-gallon copper still that is used to illustrate the process. Unfortunately, they do not actually distill the moonshine at this location. Part of Palmetto’s popularity is in the fact that the company claims to use a passed down recipe and has not changed anything about it, from ingredients to the container outside of the labels on the jars. This means that learning the history of the process makes sense to the brand and creates a foundation for where the company may be headed.

If you arrive between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., there is a tasting bar open in the store. You can sample some of the flavors and decide which jar is right for you. The full line of moonshine is offered at this retail store. Apple Pie, Peach, Blackberry and White Lightning are all in ample supply on the shelves.

One of the more interesting additions to the retail store is the aging kit. For $69.99 you can purchase a jar of White Lightning and a small aging barrel with instructions as to how to age your whiskey. All whiskey, be it bourbon, scotch or Canadian, starts out clear. Through the aging process it gathers the color and flavor that becomes the end product. Self-aging has become vastly popular in cocktail forward towns across the United States and this was a great addition by the folks at Palmetto Moonshine. Seeing more and more restaurants and bars age their cocktails on site will make this a fun prospect for authentically local bars. For us home bar fanatics, what a fun process to age your own moonshine and serve it for a special occasion.

To continue the push of taking moonshine even deeper into the cocktail culture instead of having it skate on the outer ring of what is trendy, Palmetto developed a full line of moonshine mixers as well. Taking the base spirit of moonshine and its flavor profile into consideration, Palmetto developed a bloody Mary mix, margarita mix, and strawberry and peach mixes. While I was visiting, they were also offering a tasting sample of some of these alcohol-free mixes to the patrons of the store. Samples are in no short supply around the shop. This proves that moonshine does not have to be a toe-curling, gut-churning experience. It can be a little sweeter and softer if you use it correctly.

In addition to the liquor-related swag, the Palmetto Moonshine store has its fair share of novelty items as well. The most brand and product appropriate are the silver, cups and glassware. All things that related directly to the product and held a lot of the similar brand traits of the bottles themselves. While I do understand the purpose and the importance of a shirt to get your brand out there, it was a little off-putting to see a lot of, what appeared to be, bargain beachwear in the clothing section. There were a couple of cool shirts and hoodies, but the overall clothing section made me feel a little less in the Palmetto Moonshine spirit than the other sections of the store. If those items were not front and center, I might have had a different first impression. The fact that I had to walk all the way to the back to find these wonderful mixers and cups made me wonder what I was there for.

I will say that the store was as clean as you could ever hope for. Which, for a lot of places during the summer is a struggle. Couple that with a staff that understands hospitality and you have a recipe for something special. I felt as if I knew these folks already. Smiles were the biggest thing I noticed. Everyone was happy to help you and to be there in general. The tasting bar was not open yet, so we can not chalk it up to the hooch, either.

The Palmetto Moonshine Myrtle Beach Store is off to a great start by, not only, selling its wares, but in educating people. The staff tells you about why South Carolina is important to this style of whiskey. As most brands that create a long relationship with their consumers, Palmetto is also taking moonshine to the next level in the application of the product. It will be exciting to see the growth in the coming years and to taste the products that are available at the retail store.

Official comments from Palmetto Moonshine have to run through the corporate marketing machine, so we were unable to get any quotes at press time, but I can tell you that the staff at the Myrtle Beach location is doing its part in making us all feel right at home. There is nothing that the home office could tell me that I did not see in all the smiles around the store. I would encourage any whiskey lover, curious connoisseur or intrigued imbiber to visit the store, learn something and taste something. Then, buy something so we keep these folks around for a long time.

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