A very special spirit of Norfolk…

Our wonderful beer columnist David Holliday is back this month with news of a special collaboration – Distale MoonShuck. Having sampled some last month, we can confirm that it tastes amazing!

A spirit of adventure, born out of adversity… Discover MoonShuck White Distale

Sometimes, just sometimes, a carefree, let’s suck it and see attitude can pay dividends. 

The usual scenario at Team Moon Gazer when creating a new ale or lager is – research, plenty of head scratching, plus bouncing of ideas to end up with the flavour and beer we are looking for. 

However, for our latest collaboration – our first foray into the world of spirits – it was more playing than planning. 

You see, Moonshuck White Distale combines the brewing skills of Team Moon Gazer with the distilling prowess of fellow North Norfolk’s artisans, Black Shuck Distillery. The result is a uniquely Norfolk spirit.

Moonshuck was borne out of adversity when we and our good friends at Black Shuck both found ourselves faced with a hospitality industry closed to us due to Covid 19. Quite literally hundreds of our regular pub, restaurant and hotel customers were unable to open and order. This meant that there were, in particular, there were several casks of Moon Gazer Bouchart dark mild that wouldn’t survive a lockdown! 

So, rather than waste the ale, we put our heads together and decided to distil it, aiming to retain its unique malt and hop characteristics. 

By taking small batches of the ale, we were able to triple distil, taking the 4.9% abv ale to create a white spirit with a smooth finished strength of 40% abv. Distale was born!

To be fair we didn’t really know what to expect. At the time, it was just great to feel like we were doing something positive rather than staring at the four walls of an empty and silent brewery.

However, we were delighted at how the characteristics carried across into the distilled spirit. Take one sip and discover the taste. Malt back notes blend with blackcurrant, toffee and caramel flavours. It is complex, warming, and satisfying. 

The base ale, Bouchart, is a dark mild and while the bulk of the malt is the ever-popular Norfolk Maris Otter, there are also lots of dark malts to give the ale colour and complexity. It is these darker malts that provide the fuller flavour, and indeed aroma, while the hops used in the ale – Pilgrim and Progress, now there’s another story – impart the blackcurrant spicy notes. 

Smelling the spirit, there is a distinct but balanced hint of its beery origins. There is a gentle reminder of an ale, but it has also evolved its own character. It has grown into a spirit and alongside the beer notes, it is a distinctive personality in its own right that promises to offer a warming drink.

However, chuffed as we were with the initial results, we weren’t done then. In order to create the smooth finish, the spirit was aged for a few months as this allows the flavours and character to develop further. 

To be fair we love it. Not just because it tastes great, but for what it represents; two business, and friends – Black Shuck and Moon Gazer Ale – working together and sharing our passions for great flavours and Norfolk. 

Discover the difference – Moonshuck White Distale.

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