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I (heart) Blue Ridge Mountains

I’ll always hang my hat Under those Blue Ridge Mountain skies — Marshall Tucker Band

IMG_7132This is my absolute favorite month of the year. May is many things to many people, but to me it marks the beginning of a my life here on Black Draft Farm. Seven years ago this month I met Glen and we spent out first date enjoying the sunset from this very back yard view.

Every spring I marvel at the vivid, beautiful scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains that envelopes my view in all directions here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. I love the fragrance of spring blossoms on country drives along back roads and the warm breezes that last well into the night. As I drive along through Maryland, Virginia, and then back to West Virginia, I feel like I am cruising through a watercolor painting. The trees are so vivid and blend into shades of greens and blues, layer upon layer, till they melt into the blue spring sky. There is just nothing I have found close to my love for the Blue Ridge Mountains.

IMG_7141According to “A Naturalist’s Blue Ridge Parkway” by David Catlin, “It can be legitimately claimed that trees put the ‘blue’ in Blue Ridge, for hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by the forest contribute to the characteristic haze on these mountains and to their distinctive color.”

I stopped over to visit one of our favorite local pubs, Dub-V, for lunch one day and Liz shared with me with her latest creation with our First Harvest Moonshine.

A great spring cocktail with some of the most beautiful shades of aqua and blue.

IMG_7032I dedicate this recipe to her and call it the Blue Ridge Breeze.

To view this recipe, click here.

Country Roads

Time to hit the roads this springtime and visit all the beautiful, wonderful parts of my home state of West-by God-Virginia!  The sweet spring air is calling me to the mountain roads to visit the great folks here in the state and discover the hidden gems along the way. I enjoy meeting all the small businesses that are the backbone of our state, the mom and pop places as I affectionately call them.

As I start out on my journey, I begin by sharing  one of the newest restaurants to open here in downtown Martinsburg, Boyd’s SteakhouseDSC_0006.

Owner H.D. Boyd turned this once notorious speakeasy location into a fine dining steakhouse with a wink and a nod to the Prohibition era, including a bar purchased from the estate of Al Capone, now serving up bourbon and and our moonshine in style.



Five cocktail recipes featuring First Harvest Moonshine are on the menu, including one of the best all time recipes Glen and I have ever tasted, called ‘Almost Heaven.’ It is the go-to cocktail for friends and family to sip on a warm spring day or savor over Blue Ridge sunsets from our back deck.



Mixologist maven Caren served up my cocktail and shared a little secret on how to create this shine-tini at home. We call it ‘Country Roads.’

Stayed tuned for more stories from our adventures from the road.

Shine On!




Oh My Darlin’ Clementine

Cocktail of the Month

Who would’ve thought one of the most popular American Western folktale songs from childhood would be just the cure for a winter blues? Delicious and refreshing and bursting with Vitamin C to boot. Enjoy!

My Darlin’ Clementine

2 oz. First Harvest MoonshinemyDarlinClementineRecipe

3oz fresh clementine juice (about 3 clementine oranges)

1 oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice. 

Shake well and strain into a highball glass (or jar) with fresh ice. 

Top with a splash of seltzer and garnish with a lime wheel.

We love to hear how you are enjoying our ‘shine! Post a comment below or upload your pics to our Instagram or Facebook page.

West Virginia is Moonshine

This article is originally posted on the West Virginia Encyclopedia’s website and gives an excellent history of moonshine. Author attribution is listed below. 

The making of illegal or moonshine whiskey has a long history in West Virginia and elsewhere. The word entered the English language about 1785 when white brandy was smuggled on the southeast England coast of Kent and Sussex. Those who made or transported the beverage worked under moonlight to escape the law. Moonshine is illegal because producers do not abide by state or federal laws regarding the licensure, manufacture, sale, and taxation of distilled spirits.

In West Virginia, field corn, soft creek water, and industrious farmers came together to make moonshine, sometimes also called mountain dew or white lightning. Moonshine is typically 100-proof whiskey, aged little or none, and was an important cash crop. So long as revenue agents did not cause trouble, making moonshine was an efficient and profitable way to market corn. With a good still, one-and-a-half bushels of corn was reduced to a gallon of whiskey, which was worth more than the grain itself and less bulky to transport.West Virginia moonshine still

From the mid-18th century, settlers from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England came to the mountains with distilling equipment and the necessary know how. They quickly adapted their Old World recipes to include American field corn. Whiskey was drunk in far greater quantities than today and used to barter for salt, nails, and taxes. Some used it to buy property, and a good copper still and the condensing coil or ‘‘worm’’ had considerable value themselves.

On March 3, 1791, soon after the colonies became a nation, Congress imposed the first taxes on stills and whiskey. Such laws caused the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, an uprising in western Pennsylvania and parts of present West Virginia. The settlers, mainly Scotch-Irish, saw the tax as unfair. President Washington himself led troops to stop the rioting, and the federal government kept the tax in force for 11 years. Whiskey remained untaxed from then until 1862, except for three years following the War of 1812.

About 1910, states began to enact state prohibition laws in anticipation of the great national drought soon to follow. West Virginia prohibition took effect in 1914. Then, from 1920 until 1933 the U.S. government enforced nationwide prohibition, causing a dramatic increase in moon shining. Even when national prohibition ended, parts of the South remained dry. In any case, some imbibers remained partial to clear mountain whiskey, and illegal distilling continued. After 1950, as local prohibition laws were voted out and economic conditions improved, the demand for illegal whiskey fell and production of moonshine declined.

Mountaineers traditionally used corn in making moonshine. The first step was to sprout the corn, then crush the sprouted grain and mix with water. This mixture, called mash, was fermented in open barrels. If moonshiners had yeast and used it, the fermentation took up to four days; if they didn’t have yeast and if the weather was cool, fermentation took longer, maybe two weeks. When fermentation was complete, the mildly alcoholic liquid, now called beer, was ready to distill or ‘‘run off.’’ The beer was heated in the still’s pot or copper kettle to the temperature, well below boiling, when alcoholic vapors rise from the liquid. These vapors were condensed back to liquid in the worm, a coil of copper tubing which passes through a cooling water bath. Each batch was typically run off two or more times to get the maximum whiskey from the fixings.

Illegal whiskey is still made and readily available to those who know where to look for it. Homemade corn liquor is just about a thing of the past, however, since sugar is now usually substituted for most of the grain.

Story credit:
Sohn, Mark F. “Moonshine.” e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 October 2010.
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