The deep South here in the U.S. isn’t the only region of the world where moonshine has a rich and storied history. It only stands to reason that wherever a prohibition on imbibing is imposed, society creatively finds ways to craft homemade hooch on their own.
Back in the 1980’s, Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to curb Russia’s high alcoholism rate by enforcing liquor reforms. He prohibited restaurants from serving drinks before 2 p.m. and imposed extremely high taxes on market sale liquors. With a semi-Prohibition underway, folks distilled mostly anything they could get their hands on. One reputedly popular recipe involved putting yeast, sugar, and milk into a washing machine, switching it on the 2 hour spin cycle and distilling the result. These homemade spirits are known as Samogon (“self-distilled” in Russian).
Today, artisanal Samogon production is a growing movement springing from personal recipes using “pomace” (seeds, stems, skins and residual juice) that remains after wine production. But other ingredients ranging from rice to dill are frequently used in home brewing recipes. Lucky for those outside Russia, commercial distillers making and distributing top quality Samogon.
Samogon is not a new version of an already familiar spirit, a liqueur or “ingredient” spirit. It’s really a whole new category of base spirit here in the U.S. finding life beyond its traditional role as a room temperature shot. Stay tuned because now American mixologists have an excuse to experiment modifying established cocktails as well as creating new ones!
photo courtesy of Phenix