I'm always looking for fun and interesting places around New England to share with all my readers. This time I headed out to East Hartford, Connecticut to the Onyx Moonshine Speakeasy Tasting Room. Located in the back of an old factory, the Speakeasy is purposefully hard to find. Once you find the main entrance you make your way through a secret bookcase and into the Tasting Room. The $20 admission gives you a tasting and a tour where you learn all about the process of whiskey making. Although they have been producing the Moonshine for 3 years, the Tasting Room just opened around Christmas. The Speakeasy is filled with prohibition era antiques, some of which are family heirlooms of the owners which help give the place a really great atmosphere.
During the tasting you start with a sample of the flagship Onyx Moonshine which is the base for everything that they make. This is made from shoepeg corn, malted barley, and fresh Connecticut spring water. The Moonshine is great on it's own and has a smooth, slightly sweet finish. It also mixes really well with all of the Ripe Bar Juices, which are available to mix with your tasting as well as purchase. Next, you taste the Onyx Apple Honey Infusion, their seasonal release for Autumn. This is made with Honeycrisp apples from Blue Hills Orchard in Wallingford, Connecticut. They actually get the first pick of apples from the farm, so this infusion is made with the best of the best. The apples are sliced up and steeped in high proof Onyx Moonshine with cinnamon for a week before it is blended down to proof with spring water. This one would be great mixed with apple cider or in a hot toddy in the fall. The next thing you taste is the Onyx Cape Cod Cranberry. For this one, the cranberries come from PJ's Cranberries in East Sandwich, Massachusetts. It mixes really well lemonade to make an adult version of a pink lemonade, but is also really great on it's own. The next one on the tasting menu is the Secret Stash Whiskey. This is Connecticut's first barrel aged whiskey. It starts off as the Onyx Moonshine at 120 proof, then it's placed in medium charred American White Oak barrels where it is aged. The next beverage on the tasting menu is the Whiskey Upgrade which has more of a scotch profile. As the Secret Stash Whiskey is aging, they taste it and if it has exceptionally good flavor it is set aside and aged for 30% longer, becoming the upgraded version. The last last thing you taste is a Daily Infusion. These are different everyday, so you never know what you're going to get. Everything is exceptionally smooth and I found myself thinking of fun cocktails that I could make with all of the products. They never add sugar to anything so you don't get that syrupy taste that some flavored moonshines have. Along with the tasting, you get to learn all about the process of making alcohol, and specifically whiskey through a tour with the distiller. The tour is both enjoyable and informative. Being able to take a peak behind the scenes lets you build a more personal connection to the company and the products. It also gives you a greater appreciation for New England as a whole knowing that the ingredients are all locally sourced whenever possible.
Overall, I had a really great time. The staff at Onyx Moonshine is really friendly and knowledgeable. They've done such a good job of elevating the moonshine experience and making it something really special without making it feel stuffy. I'll definitely be back in! I brought home a bottle of the classic Moonshine as well as the Cranberry and two mixers. Keep your eyes pealed for the events they will be starting on Wednesday evenings like a mixology class, jazz night, and swing dancing. They also offer private events. It's a great place to keep in mind for fundraising events, holiday parties, birthdays, showers, corporate retreats, team building, and any other events you can think of.
You can find the Moonshine at liquor stores and bars in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York. Check their store locator for specific locations.
Onyx Moonshine Speakeasy Tasting Room
64D Oakland Avenue
East Hartford, CT
Special thanks to Onyx Spirits Co for being such great hosts!