A few weeks back, in my post about Buffalo Trace's White Dog and accompanying discussion of the white whiskey phenomenon, I made reference to Max Watman’s new book Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine. Having now actually read the book, I can’t recommend it enough. Watman has a knack for storytelling that lends itself well to his take on the modern world of moonshine. The book is a volume of diverse essays covering everything from modern moonshine, (both artisanal and industrial), law enforcement, the NASCAR-bootlegging connection and the craft distilling movement. He does his best to dispel the old stereotype of the country-bumpkin moonshiner and reveal a substantial illegal trade in nasty, cheaply made, sugar-based liquor with high lead content sold in low income neighborhoods. Even as witness to these realities though, Watman can’t help but indulge in some romanticization of the outlaw moonshiner and ends up rooting for the outlaws in a climactic trial scene.
Some of the most interesting chapters for whiskey lovers are about the author’s own adventures in home distilling, as he experiments with the different mashes and still models in an effort to produce a palatable liquor. (I hope for Watman’s sake that the statute of limitations has run on his crimes against the state).
Chasing the White Dog is a quick reading, page turner of a book that I would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in the world of distilled spirits, their production and the characters who make them.
Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine, by Max Watman. ($16.50 on Amazon).