Making 'Moonshine' at Tahoe

By: Denise Wong Email
By: Denise Wong Email

South Lake Tahoe, CA - Inside a small warehouse in South Lake Tahoe, three guys are turning their dream into a reality.

"I'm making my own booze," says Jeff VanHee. He is the owner of Tahoe Moonshine. And while this isn't really moonshine, you get the picture.

They're making, labeling, and casing up five varieties of hard liquor. VanHee first got interested in making booze when he was in school, learning something else...

"I started doing ethanol for fuel first," says VanHee. And then decided that I would rather be drinking the spirits. He then started taking more distillery classes at UC Davis and perfecting his recipes.

Since December 2010, his Tahoe Moonshine business has been up and running. Just three months ago, he brought two other distillers on board. Now, they're making enough moonshine to sell in several stores in Nevada.

"It's in Whole Foods now, Total Wine and Spirit, Ben's in Reno," says VanHee, just naming a few stores. Pretty soon, he plans to start selling his liquor in California.

Tahoe Moonshine now makes whiskey, gin, light and dark rum, and vodka. VanHee also makes seasonal varieties and says the peanut butter vodka is his favorite.

Ross Patton, one of the distillers, says he thinks the all-organic ingredients and local water are what make their alcohol stand out from everything else on store shelves. Especially when it comes to his favorite: whiskey.

"The Tahoe water I think just makes it extra smooth. I can't think that they have better water than us in Kentucky or Tennessee. These other places famous for whiskey," says Patton.

Tahoe Moonshine sells for between $25 to $32 for a 750 ml bottle.

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