PORTLAND, Maine — Moonshine, white lightning, mountain dew and hooch.
In an East Bayside warehouse a version of these clandestine spirits was released, not under the light of the moon, but at happy hour on a Friday.
The sixth product from Maine Craft Distilling, Blueshine, has been on the market less than a week and sales have been rolling in.
“It’s a very Maine product. A twist on Appalachia,” said Luke Davidson, general manager at the distillery that opened in July.
The white whiskey, made with blueberries, barley from Brunswick and maple syrup from Unity, ferments in a large wooden vat. Afterwards, Davidson gives it a shine in a copper still. Next comes the syrup and berries. He toasted his newest spirit that’s “rough and sweet at the same time,” with a bluegrass band, blue corn chips and blueberry salsa.
“It’s selling like hotcakes,” said Davidson, a home builder from Freeport and foodie who decided to try his hand at making liquor with local ingredients.
Growing up in the farming community of Jefferson, where he learned to build barns, Davidson has an affinity for the agrarian life.
The appeal of his creations, such as the Chesuncook botanical spirit made with carrots, is retro-fueled. His black-cap vodka, filtered with maple charcoal and Queequeg spiced rum are being turned into craft cocktails at Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, Sonny’s and the Back Bay Grill.
“It’s been a wonderful community to enter into,” said Davidson. “Everyone’s excited about the local thing happening here.”
Later this fall, look for his 50 Stone whiskey made with grains from a farm in Brunswick, and products within 50 miles of Portland. It’s predicted to be a holiday hit.
Though the machinery has been upgraded since bootleggers made moonshine under the cloak of darkness to hide from the Feds, the process is no cakewalk.
“They said it was going to be hard,” said Davidson, who launched the state’s eighth distillery with some deep-pocketed friends. “It was that hard and more.”
Maine Craft Distilling is located at 101 Fox St. in Portland. The tasting room is open 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and noon-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.