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What Are Moonshine? (Question)

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What is moonshine and why is it illegal?

Why is making moonshine illegal in the US? Officially, the US government regards moonshine as a “fanciful term” and doesn’t regulate its use. But distillers are required to hold permits to ensure both traceability and quality control of alcoholic beverages. Until 1978, it was illegal to home-brew liquour or beer.

What type of alcohol is moonshine?

Moonshine purists define the spirit as a homemade, unaged whiskey, marked by its clear color, corn base and high alcohol content—sometimes peaking as high as 190 proof. Traditionally, it was produced in a homemade still and bottled in a mason jar.

What is moonshine made of?

Moonshine is made from any grain or fruit. Traditionally, whatever grain or fruit that is easily accessible in a given place at a given time would be the base ingredient of choice. However, the moonshine that we know today typically uses corn as the main source of fermentable sugar.

Is moonshine a whiskey or vodka?

Commercial liquor labeled as moonshine is typically one of two things: neutral grain spirits or unaged whiskey. White whiskey, in other words, is different from vodka, but some of what gets sold as “moonshine” is legally vodka.

Is vodka the same as moonshine?

Physically speaking, there is no real difference between vodka and moonshine. Both are unaged neutral spirits, usually cut with water to increase volume and produce a more drinkable product.

Why is moonshine illegal but not beer?

So why is moonshine still illegal? Because the liquor is worth more to the government than beer or wine. Today, federal rules say a household with two adults can brew up to 200 gallons of wine and the same amount of beer each year. (A few states have their own laws prohibiting the practice.)

Is moonshine 100 percent alcohol?

Is Moonshine 100 Percent Alcohol? No, moonshine is not 100% alcohol. Generally, moonshine falls between 40% and 80% alcohol by volume, but the length of time and process used in distilling it will impact the content.

What is the strongest alcohol?

Here are 14 of the strongest liquors in the world.

  1. Spirytus Vodka. Proof: 192 (96% alcohol by volume)
  2. Everclear 190. Proof: 190 (95% alcohol by volume)
  3. Golden Grain 190.
  4. Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled Whiskey.
  5. Hapsburg Absinthe X.C.
  6. Pincer Shanghai Strength.
  7. Balkan 176 Vodka.
  8. Sunset Very Strong Rum.

Is moonshine illegal to drink?

The production of moonshine — or really any spirit — without a license is prohibited by the U.S. government and is very much illegal. Clear whiskey in the style of moonshine might be for sale, but technically speaking, moonshine is moonshine because it’s produced illicitly.

How do you drink moonshine?

Moonshine is traditionally sipped straight, right out of the jar. You can also drink it in shots.

Can you buy moonshine?

Within the last decade, however, moonshine has entered the mainstream in a major way, being produced in above-ground distilleries and available for purchase in liquor stores and bars across the country. What was once only attainable through furtive means is now so commercial, you can purchase it at Costco.

Why is it called moonshine?

The term “moonshine” comes from the fact that illegal spirits were made under the light of the moon. In every part of America, early moonshiners worked their stills at night to avoid detection from authorities. Taxing liquors and spirits was an effective way to generate revenue for the government.

Does moonshine taste like tequila?

Kings Country Distillery Moonshine: Some say the taste of this moonshine is very savory and leans towards actual corn flavors. Some even compare it to the flavor of Tequila. This spirit is 80 proof and corn-distilled.

Why is moonshine so strong?

When made properly, it is simply very strong alcohol with a very hard taste, or “kick,” because it hasn’t been aged. It is usually very potent, as high as 150 proof, which is about 75 percent alcohol.

Is Everclear the same as moonshine?

Both Everclear and Moonshine are unaged spirits; however, Everclear is made from grain and Moonshine from corn. Moonshine is a general term used to describe illegally produced corn whiskey. In summary, Everclear is intended to be water and pure ethanol with no flavor contribution.

What Is Moonshine, And Why Should You Care?

I was born in Eastern Kentucky, so if you were like me, you might have grown up knowing what it was like to be introduced to moonshine at a young age. You might have wondered, like I did, what that mysterious clear liquid was that was sloshing around in a mason jar every time the freezer door was opened. The “white lightning,” as my father called it, was something I should avoid since it would most likely cause undesired hair to grow on my chest if I drank it. He didn’t have to persuade me: before I reached the age of 10, he let me to sniff the contents of the jar for myself.

The response, of course, spans from whiskey enthusiasts to cocktail connoisseurs, with moonshine growing increasingly popular over the last decade, outliving its image as a strong liquor that may render you dead, blind, or paralyzed if consumed in large quantities.

Photograph by Valery Rizzo In the eyes of the purists, moonshine is a home-made, unaged whiskey that is distinguished by its clear color, corn-based basis, and high alcohol concentration, which can reach as high as 190 proof in certain cases.

In the 18th century, Scottish and Irish immigrants, many of whom lived in the southern region of the nation, were the first to introduce moonshine to the United States of America.

  • However, at the same time as its popularity was at its zenith, the government’s interest in taxing was waning.
  • Whiskey drinkers were able to escape paying taxes by manufacturing and purchasing moonshine at night, under the cover of darkness and the light of the moon, which some believe is how the term “moonshine” came to be.
  • Not only was it created illegally, but it was frequently done in a substandard manner as well, which further added to its negative image.
  • “Moonshine is one of America’s best spirits, but it’s really difficult to produce extraordinarily well because it’s unaged,” explains Taras Hrabowsky, a moonshine maker in New York City.
  • Making moonshine that can stand on its own, without the strong oak qualities that we associate with whiskey, becomes increasingly difficult.
  • A burgeoning movement is working to put good—and legal—moonshine on the map, and he’s a part of it.
  • There are a few new-age brands that stand out above the others.

It pays homage to the earliest moonshine pioneers who distilled the pure and unaged spirit with a hint of sweet maize and finished it with a sweet vanilla finish.

Ole Smoky, Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distiller, has a devoted following because to its innovative flavors (apple pie and sweet tea), which are packaged in mason jars and sold at a reasonable price.

For Hrabowsky and Sasha Selimotic, “the peppery spice rye gives on the end” is their preferred style of beer.

Montana’s Trail House, Hrabowsky’s favorite Brooklyn hangout, serves a drink titled Dream of a Mountain, which is served in a smoking glass and contains a fiery blend of Standard Wormwood Distillery’s moonshine, honey and orange liqueur, Aperol, and Angostura bitters, among other ingredients.

Standard Wormwood Distillery is depicted in this photograph.

“The more individuals concentrate on manufacturing excellent moonshine, the simpler it will be for people to come to appreciate it,” says the author.

Moonshine’s Gone Legit But It Still Is Dangerous

Photograph by Scott Olson / Getty Images Home-distilled moonshine, formerly a closely guarded secret of Appalachian backwoods, is still in existence to this day. In fact, it is now officially legal. “White lightning,” as it is referred as, was originally considered an illegal and dangerous chemical by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but it is now approved for sale and controlled by the federal government in select states in the United States. Several other states, including Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky, have followed suit.

Many believe that over a million illegal moonshine stills are currently operating throughout the United States, making the manufacture of clear, high-potency drink more ubiquitous and pervasive than at any other time in history.

What Is Moonshine?

When you make moonshine, you’re fermenting a sugar source to generate ethanol, which is also called as “hooch” or “homebrew.” The traditional method of making moonshine is to boil maize and sugar together. A distillation procedure is used to remove the alcohol from the mash after it has been fermented. One significant distinction between moonshine and other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey or bourbon is that moonshine is not matured. It is the end product of this process that creates an alcoholic beverage with a high proportion of alcohol, often several times larger than 100 proof (50 percent), such as white whiskey.

That is, the ability to purchase commercially made, all-copper moonshine stills on the internet has removed a significant amount of the danger associated with the moonshine distillation process.

Plenty of moonshine is still being produced in stills constructed from vehicle radiator components and other potentially hazardous items.

Impact of Moonshine

Once upon a time, moonshine was a significant financial component of the Appalachian economy, serving as a source of money during difficult economic times and in places where poverty was prevalent. Moonshine, like every other product manufactured in the United States, underwent peaks and troughs in the supply and demand cycle. When the price of sugar increased in the United States beginning in the 1950s, the moonshine industry suffered a severe downturn. The spirit appeared to be slipping away as the United States witnessed a surge in the use of marijuana and prescription medications, which reached epidemic levels in the region.

With the current trend toward increasing costs at the liquor shop, particularly for foreign spirits, moonshining has re-entered the public consciousness.

Tennessee legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages at large box retailers such as Walmart and Sam’s Club the following year.

They are available for purchase for anything from $150 to $11,000, and everything in between. The demand for copper stills, according to one supplier, has more than doubled in the last few years, and he has sold copper stills to every state in the United States.

Potential Dangers

Because illegal moonshine is manufactured in improvised stills, it remains a potentially lethal substance. It has the potential to be hazardous on two levels: during the distillation process and when it is consumed.

Distilling Process

The distillation process itself generates flammable alcohol vapors, which are released during the operation. The presence of flammable vapors is one of the primary reasons that moonshine stills are nearly always situated outside, despite the fact that this makes them more visible to law authorities. The danger of vaporous explosions is too large to be contained within the building. When it comes to eating the liquid, if the end result has a proof more than 100, the moonshine itself is incredibly flammable and may be quite hazardous.

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Consumption

However, while the flammability of the distilling process and the product itself is a concern, more people have died from drinking moonshine than have perished in still explosions owing to the poisons in the brew, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Despite the fact that the majority of stills in use today are of the all-copper form, there are still a significant number of old-fashioned handcrafted stills extant. Traditionally, antique stills have used automobile radiators in the distillation process, and they are more likely to contain lead soldering, which can contaminate the moonshine.

  • Methanol tainting may develop in bigger quantities of distilled moonshine, and it is especially common in older batches.
  • The greater the batch size, the greater the amount of methanol.
  • Methanol is extremely dangerous and can result in blindness or even death if inhaled.
  • Christopher Holstege, a physician affiliated with the University of Virginia Health System, conducted a research in 2004 in which he examined 48 samples of moonshine acquired by law enforcement from various stills.

How to Test for Purity

According to folklore, one method of determining the purity of moonshine is to pour some onto a metal spoon and light it on fire. Although lead is not harmful when burned with a blue flame, it is harmful when burned with a yellow or red flame, leading the ancient adage, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.” The spoon burning approach, on the other hand, is not fully dependable. Other poisons that may be present in the brew, such as methanol, which burns with a bright blue flame that is difficult to notice, are not detected by this method.

Public health experts are afraid that moonshine poisoning in unwell people may go unnoticed since most healthcare practitioners regard it to be an outmoded practice from years ago.

History of Moonshine

As far as historians can tell, the practice of manufacturing alcohol has been present since the dawn of civilization. Moonshine, in particular, is said to have been brought into the United States by Scotch-Irish immigrants in the late 1700s, notably in the southern Appalachian region. According to Appalachian anthropologists, the Scotch-Irish immigrants who relocated to the region in the late 1700s and early 1800s carried with them their practice of home brewing as well as their formula for high-potency hooch, which was popular during the time period.

As a result, it may be kept concealed from prying eyes such as the police or hungry neighbors “Jason Sumich, Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University, believes this is correct.

The side of the antique clay jars was frequently marked with the letters “XXX.” Supposedly, each “X” reflected the number of times the drink had gone through the distillation process before it was bottled.

What Is Moonshine & Why Is It Illegal? How To Drink Moonshine

What Exactly Is Moonshine? What Makes It Illegal in the First Place? How to Prepare and Consume Moonshine Charles-Philippe 2020-12-08T09:15:08-05:00

Learn All About Moonshine With Bespoke Unit

Take a look at the top moonshine brands.

What Is Moonshine?

Moonshine is most often recognized as a slang phrase that refers to powerful alcoholic spirits that are illegally produced. As a result, it is commonly connected with bootleggers during the Prohibition era in the United States of America. Moonshine is still used to denote illicit homemade alcohol, although reputable distilleries may frequently sell products that are labeled as moonshine in order to attract customers. Officially, the United States government considers moonshine to be a “fanciful phrase” and does not regulate its production or use.

The goal for some moonshine producers will be to recreate the clear, high-proof homemade booze that was popular during the Prohibition period.

Why Is Moonshine Illegal?

Distilling alcohol at home is not only allowed in certain areas of the world, but it is also regarded as a cultural tradition in others. In fact, some historians say that distillation is a vital sign of the development of civilizations throughout history. Distilling, on the other hand, is against the law in the United States and much of Europe. There are a variety of reasons why governments prefer to prohibit its citizens from manufacturing their own alcoholic beverages at home. In fact, in many nations, even the act of purchasing or owning any form of still is prohibited.

  • People might quickly become ill, become blind, or even die as a result of consuming alcoholic spirits that have been improperly prepared.
  • Additionally, distillation may be a harmful procedure when carried out incorrectly.
  • Finally, taxes is a crucial consideration, which many proponents of home distilling claim is the root cause of the practice’s illegality in the first place.
  • Once upon a time, peasants would distill their excess crop residues for the purpose of earning a little more money for the winter.
  • For example, there are brandies made from grape pomace, such as grappa, that are made from the leftovers from winemaking.

It goes without saying that selling these items would frequently put the local tax offices in a bad light. As a result, licenses ensure that manufacturers will be required to pay taxes on the goods they make.

Moonshine History

Although moonshine is commonly linked with the Prohibition era, it has a far longer history than that of the 1920s. Indeed, the name is British in origin, having been coined in 1785 to refer to alcoholic beverages. According to legend, the term was chosen because of the possibility of hallucinogenic side-effects from the alcohol’s impurities. Moonshine, on the other hand, is known by a variety of different names, including hooch, white lightning, and mash liquor, among others. A number of components were used to make different varieties of moonshine by various cultures throughout history.

  • While illicit alcohol manufacturing was rather frequent, it did not become well known until the passage of the aforementioned Revenue Act, which was passed in 1862.
  • Despite crackdowns, its manufacturing grew particularly concentrated in the East-Coast Appalachia region, where it was easier to escape authorities than in other regions.
  • Prior to Prohibition, spirits accounted for less than 40% of all alcoholic beverages consumed in the United States.
  • Bootleggers who smuggled alcoholic beverages discovered that transporting spirits was significantly more profitable than transporting wine or beer.
  • As a result, it resulted in a shift in the products that were offered on the market.

MoonshineNASCAR

In the late nineteenth century, the majority of moonshine produced in the United States was delivered by horse and cart. The emergence of the vehicle, on the other hand, marked a significant shift in the dynamic. The moonshine was carried to its different locations by bootleggers or runners once it had been manufactured and packaged. The runs, like the manufacture itself, took occurred at night, and the smugglers began to use automobiles in order to evade the cops as rapidly as possible. As officials began to modernize their automobiles, bootleggers quickly followed suit and began to alter their own vehicles.

  • The automobiles were also equipped with strong engines that allowed them to outpace the authorities, as well as enhanced handling.
  • Although it was critical that the automobiles be completely unnoticeable from the outside in order to avoid arousing suspicion, this was not always possible.
  • Despite the fact that Prohibition came to an end in 1933, illicit moonshine enterprises continued to operate in order to escape new taxes.
  • Stock car races gained popularity in the 1940s, and as a result, bootleggers found themselves with less employment, which finally led to the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).

The tie between NASCAR and moonshine can still be observed today, with to companies like asSugarlands, which frequently work with one another during racing competitions.

How Does Moonshine Taste?

Because of a lack of regulation and standardization, there is a wide range of legal moonshine available to consumers. As a result, they can all produce flavors that are quite distinct from one another. Some argue that a high-quality traditional moonshine should have a strong aroma of maize on the nose and on the taste in order to be considered authentic. It is possible that it will have slightly fruity flavors that are reminiscent of cider or perhaps grappa from time to time. Other types of moonshine, depending on how it was distilled and the resulting alcohol percentage, may have a flavor that is similar to vodka.

  • This results in a high concentration of potency and a significant amount of alcohol bloom.
  • Apple pie moonshine is a popular variation, which is prepared by blending the distillate with cider or apple juice, as well as sugar and spices such as cinnamon, to create a syrup.
  • Some of them may contain fragments of fruit that have been kept in the alcohol, although this is not common.
  • Typically, they contain roughly 20 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) or somewhat more.

How To Properly Drink Moonshine

We believe that there is no “wrong” way to consume something as long as you like it, and we are proponents of this belief. This proverb holds true in particular when it comes to moonshine! Indeed, there aren’t any conventional ways to consume moonshine, and there isn’t any sort of specialized glassware that is used to do so. Because there were few alternatives to moonshine in the nineteenth century and before, it was frequently taken neat. The alcohol was seldom kept in huge pottery jars, which kept it cold and made it easier to consume when the weather was hotter.

Despite the fact that cocktails were initially made with more traditional beverages, they were extremely popular in speakeasies during the Prohibition period.

Today, you may drink moonshine as you want and not have to worry about receiving negative feedback from purists.

Despite the fact that a minority of individuals believe it must be consumed in its purest form, this is really fairly unusual. Consider checking out our guide to the top 10 best moonshine cocktail recipes if you’re looking for some drink ideas or inspiration.

Similar DrinksMoonshine Substitutes

As we discussed above, there are many distinct kinds of moonshine available for purchase. As a result, you’ll most likely have a variety of alternatives for combining it with other beverages when ordering it. For starters, clear moonshine occasionally has a faint similarity to vodka in appearance. As a result, if a drink calls for one ingredient, you may substitute the other. Because moonshine has more flavor and clout than regular whiskey, the end outcome may be slightly different. It is likely that grappa bianca is the ideal choice for you because it has a comparable amount of personality as moonshine.

Gin is another possible substitution, although it does have a distinct juniper flavor, which can alter the outcome of the experiment.

Although both have strong herbal flavors, keep this in mind when experimenting with different recipes and combinations.

Fruit juice may be combined with a beverage such as vodka at any time.

What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Moonshine?

However, moonshine is not one of the historical alcoholic spirits that were initially designed to provide herbal advantages, as is claimed by many other historical alcoholic spirits. Despite the fact that it may help with digestion, it will not be as effective as brandies such as cognac and grappa. Indeed, moonshine is typically made from maize and is known for being quite harmful. However, it is probable that the majority of the historical allegations made against it were manufactured in an attempt to put a halt to illicit manufacturing.

Gluten, Carbs,Calories In Moonshine

Corn is inherently gluten-free due to its genetic makeup. Consequently, any clear moonshine produced from it should be suitable for persons who are allergic to or sensitive to the protein in question. Meanwhile, moonshine manufactured from barley may not be as harmless as it appears to be on the surface. Despite the fact that distillation generally removes gluten from grain, there have been instances of it having an adverse effect on humans. The fact that it has been distilled several times does not rule out the possibility of it being safe.

In the same way, it will not include any carbs.

There may be gluten-containing items in the recipe, and the carbohydrate and calorie counts might vary greatly.

What Next?

Now that you’ve finished reading our introduction to moonshine, let’s go a little deeper and discover even more!

  • What are the best moonshine cocktails? What are the best moonshine brands? How does moonshine get made? Armagnac Guide
  • Cognac Guide
  • Best SpiritLiquor Glassware
  • Alcoholic Spirit Homepage
  • Armagnac Guide

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Why Is It Called Moonshine?

Have you ever wondered where the term “moonshine” came from? What is the origin of the term “moonshine”? Moonshine, which is often created from maize, is a kind of whiskey that has not been matured. You would question, though, why it isn’t called maize whiskey or grain whiskey instead. How did the term “moonshine” come to be, which is today a well-known brand of alcoholic beverage? The solution to this question is centered on the unlawful state that is related with the question. Typically possessing a high concentration of alcohol, moonshine is whiskey that has been illicitly made at home by a family member.

  1. Originally, this verb referred to any action that took place throughout the night, but when it entered the United States, the meaning of the word changed.
  2. The whiskey was not created just for recreational purposes, but also to provide food for families.
  3. Paying hefty taxes meant that they had less cash to spend on their families’ food.
  4. Every penny they earned was extremely valuable to them, and they needed to retain it.
  5. The moonshiners proceeded to conduct their operations in the depths of the backwoods, where it would be difficult to detect them in order to escape being apprehended by the police.
  6. Hence, moonshine became the term for the spirit.
  7. This is somewhat correct, however any illegally produced alcoholic beverage is referred to as moonshine.
  8. This, however, was not whiskey, but rather rum.
  9. Moonshine was the name given to this alcoholic beverage since it was created illegally and late at night with the help of the moonlight.
  10. Then there’s the great question: is the legalized alcohol still referred to as moonshine, despite the fact that the word moonshine is used to refer to alcohol that has been unlawfully distilled?

Although the moonshine seen in shops has been legalized, the processes and formulas used in distilling the illicit moonshine have remained the same, resulting in the same product with the same experience, and therefore the word “moonshine” has been retained. TN Shine Company, Inc.

How Moonshine Works

There needs to be a compelling reason for going through all of the bother of manufacturing moonshine in the first place. Several factors contributed to this, but they all boil down to one thing: government control of the alcoholic beverage industry. Moonshining was practiced very early in the history of the United States. A short time after the Revolution, the United States found itself in the difficult position of having to pay for the costs of fighting a protracted war. The answer was to impose a federal tax on alcoholic beverages and spirits.

  • As a result, they decided to just continue creating their own whisky while fully disregarding the government tax.
  • It was possible for farmers to survive a difficult year by distilling their maize into lucrative whiskey, and the additional revenue made a tough frontier living practically tolerable.
  • When federal agents (known as ” Revenuers “) came around to collect the tax, they were assaulted, and some were tarred and feathered, according to the report.
  • President George Washington convened an assembly of militiamen under federal authority at the request of the president.
  • In the case of the Whisky Rebellion, it was the first significant test of federal power for the newly formed federal government.
  • Because excise duties on alcoholic beverages did not disappear, moonshiners continued to have an incentive to operate outside the law.
  • As the government attempted to collect the excise tax in order to support the Civil War, the intensity of these fights increased in the 1860s.
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The moonshiners’ tactics became increasingly desperate and vicious as time went on, frightening residents who might be able to provide information about the locations of stills and attacking IRS inspectors and their families.

As the United States entered the twentieth century, the temperance movement, which aimed to prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages, gained momentum.

In 1920, Prohibition became law in the United States.

All of a sudden, there was no legal alcoholic beverage accessible.

Moonshiners were unable to keep up with demand, resulting in the production of cheaper, sugar-based moonshine as well as watered-down moonshine as a result.

Asspeakeasies became built in every city as organized crime flourished – these secret saloons were equipped with concealed doors, passwords, and escape routes in the event that the “Feds” arrived there to perform a raid.

Although moonshine remained to be a concern for federal authorities throughout the 1960s and 1970s, today’s courts handle only a small number of cases involving unlawful alcoholic beverages.

As a result, while several counties in the southern and midwestern United States remained “dry” (i.e., alcohol-free) for decades following the end of national Prohibition, even those localized liquor laws have mostly been abolished.

One of the primary reasons for the existence of moonshining is the desire to defy the authority of the federal government.

Why Is Making Moonshine Illegal? A Brief History with an Unexpected Bite

If you’re going to go to the difficulty of brewing moonshine, there better be a solid purpose for it. Actually, there have been a number of causes, but they all boil down to one thing: government control of the alcoholic beverages industry. Early in the history of the United States, the practice of moonshining became popular. Just a few years after the Revolution, the United States found themselves unable to cover the costs of a protracted conflict with Europe. Putting a federal tax on liquors and spirits was determined to be the best answer.

  1. The decision was made to just continue producing their own whisky while fully disregarding the federal taxation.
  2. It was possible for farmers to survive a difficult year by distilling their maize into lucrative whiskey, and the extra revenue made a tough frontier living nearly pleasant for some.
  3. While en route to collect the tax, federal agents (known as ” Revenuers ” ) were assaulted, with some of them being tarred and feathered.
  4. President George Washington convened an assembly of militiamen under federal authority at the invitation of the president.
  5. During the Whiskey Rebellion, the new government faced its first serious test of federal power.
  6. Taxes on alcoholic beverages remained in place, providing an incentive for moonshiners to continue their illegal activities.
  7. As the government attempted to collect the excise tax in order to support the Civil War, the intensity of these fights increased in the 1860’s.

Increasingly desperate and cruel, the moonshiners’ tactics included threatening locals who might be able to provide information about the locations of stills and attacking IRS agents and their families.

As the United States entered the twentieth century, the temperance movement, which aimed to outlaw alcohol, gained momentum.

Prohibition became law across the country in 1920.

Everything changed overnight, and legal alcoholic beverages were no longer offered for purchase.

It was impossible for the moonshiners to keep up with the demand, which resulted in the production of cheaper, sugar-based moonshines and the diluting of the original spirit with water.

Speakeasies sprung up all throughout the country as organized crime flourished.

Moonshine’s market dwindled when Prohibition was lifted in 1933, and the industry was forced to close.

When purchasing raw ingredients on a big scale, commercial distilleries can keep their prices competitive with moonshine, even after deducting the taxes that must be paid by their customers.

Therefore, there is little motive for users of alcoholic beverages to seek out moonshine except than the lure of purchasing and consuming something that is “forbidden” and defying government regulations.

One of the primary reasons for the existence of moonshining is the urge to defy government authority.

Why is Moonshine Illegal?

“While many individuals are aware that distilling alcohol at home is against the law, many are unsure as to why or how these rules came to be,” says the author. According to Colin Spoelman, co-founder of Brooklyn’sKings County Distillery and author ofGuide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey, Inverse is a great source of information. On the surface, the legislation appears to be illogical, but when you dive a bit further into its history, it becomes a little more evident. Instead than the government being concerned that you’ll go blind from drinking moonshine, the limitations on moonshine are mostly based on taxation.

  • Because, after all, they had recently won a battle against the British government’s tax duties, the American farmers who produce the grain used in moonshine were not going to take it lying down.
  • Fast forward to the age of the Civil War, when it was formally declared that creating moonshine without paying taxes was unlawful.
  • This legislation, among other things, formally put a tax on alcoholic beverages, making it much more difficult to get away with distilling without a permission.
  • Unfortunately, this included the production of homemade spirits, and it has been unlawful to produce spirits in private residences in the United States ever since.

Is It Actually Dangerous?

While theillegalization of home distillingfeels like an obstacle in today’s craft booze boom, the federal government argues it’s a means to protect consumers. One way the government has been able to market this law is by alluding to the idea that moonshine-making at home is unsafe, due to its potential to be tainted by toxic heavy metal particles. These arguably avoidable risks include tainting the spirit with methanol, which is known to cause blindness. Other risks that can come with distilling your own moonshine include amateur-related hazards like stills exploding.

“Throughout history, the government tended to hype this danger up to push its taxes.” In general, alcohol has always been heavily scrutinized by the government.

“ Alcohol has a bad rapfor being associated with health issues, and so this makes it a touchy subject when it comes to controlling its production,” Herzberg, a professor of history at University of Buffalo who focuses on legal psychoactives like alcohol and tobacco, tellsInverse.

So How Come People Still Make Moonshine?

At this point, you may be wondering whether making your own moonshine is worth the trouble at all. While it is illegal, each state does crack down on moonshiners a little differently. States in the South — such as the Carolinas, Virginia and Florida — tend to have stricter enforcement due to their history with rebellious moonshiners, Spoelman explains. But even if you live in a state like Missouri, where an individual may produce up to 100 gallons of spirits per year without a permit, Spoelman stresses that distilling your own moonshineis still risky business.

As it turns out, while it’s easy topurchase the toolsto make moonshine online, the TBB has been known tocrack downon unregistered stills.

In other words, distill your moonshine at your owndiscretion.

How Moonshine Is Made

Firstly, a quick reminder that distilling alcohol is unlawful unless you have an approved federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant authorization in addition to the appropriate state permissions. Our distillation apparatus is intended solely for legal reasons, and the information contained in this paper is intended solely for educational purposes. We encourage you to read our comprehensive legal statement for further information on the legality of distillation.

Skip Ahead.

  • Corn Whiskey Moonshine Mash
  • Boosted “Thin Mash” Moonshine
  • Sugar Mash
  • Distilling Alcohol
  • Making Cuts
  • Legal Questions

Corn Whiskey Moonshine Mash

To reiterate what we said at the beginning of the article, making the mash recipe below and then distilling it would be illegal pretty much anywhere in the United States without the proper commercial distillers permits. So, absolutely do not try this at home. However, if you’re a commercial distiller, read on. This recipe would be considered gold standard as far as classic, all-grain, corn whiskey recipes go because the ingredients used should lend to a pleasant aroma rich flavor and a smooth finish, with the corn coming through loud and clear.

Below is a video of an all-grain mash made with a bit of malted barley to initiate starch conversion.

Ingredients

  • 6.75 gallons of water
  • 9lbs. flaked maize (corn)
  • 2lbs. malted and crushed barley
  • Yeast (distillers yeast, or even bread yeast)
  • Granulated sugar (optional)

Mash Procedure

  1. We heated water to 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. We added the corn (in a nylon strainer bag or in a steel mesh basket)
  3. We stirred and allowed to sit until temperature naturally drops to 148 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. We stirred in the malted barley and allow to sit for 60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  5. We remove the grains, allowing them to drain into the kettle
  6. We pasteurized by heating to at least 170F (optional step)
  7. We cooled the mash to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  8. We transferred to a fermentation bucket and add yeast
  9. We allowed to ferment for 7-10 days

Making the mash described above is legal but distilling it is not. Read more about thelegalities of distillingbelow.

Boosted “Thin Mash” Recipe

The full procedure illustrated in the video above, with the inclusion of the sugar addition, actually more accurately describes the process of making a thin mash. Essentially, thin mash is part grain and part granulated sugar. But why? Corn is somewhat difficult to work with during the mashing process because it gets extremely thick before starch begins to break down into sugar. This means that making a mash with corn that’s higher than 8-10 percent alcohol can be somewhat difficult. However, if making a mash for fuel alcohol, as is what we actually did in the video, starting alcohol percentage can and should be fairly high to maximize the yield.

To make thin mash, we followed steps 1-6 above then simply added granulated sugar before moving on to step 7.

However, distilling it is not.

Note, we typically also add yeast nutrient for any mash that either is not made with 100 percent grain or that exceeds 10 percent ABV.

Below is a table illustrating ABV increases caused by the addition of sugar. According to the table, to boost a 5 gallon corn mash from 10 percent to 19.5 percent (which would require an increase of 9.5 percent ), 8lbs of sugar would need to be added.

Added Sugar vs. Potential Alcohol in 1, 5, and 10 Gallons of Mash
Pounds of Sugar 1 Gallon Mash 5 Gallon Mash 10 Gallon Mash
1 lb. 5.9% 1.2% 0.6%
2 lbs. 11.9% 2.3% 1.2%
3 lbs. 17.7% 3.6% 1.8%
3.5 lbs. 20.5% 4.1% 2.1%
4 lbs. x 4.8% 2.3%
5 lbs. x 5.9% 3.0%
6 lbs. x 7.1% 3.6%
7 lbs. x 8.3% 4.1%
8 lbs. x 9.5% 4.8%
9 lbs. x 10.7% 5.4%
10 lbs. x 11.9% 5.9%
11 lbs. x 13% 6.6%
12 lbs. x 14.2% 7.1%
13 lbs. x 15.4% 7.7%
14 lbs. x 16.5% 8.3%
15 lbs. x 17.7% 8.9%
16 lbs. x 18.8% 9.5%
17 lbs. x 20% 10.1%
18 lbs. x x 10.7%
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Sugar Mash

We use the term “sugar mash” loosely here. It essentially describes high proof alcohol made with only granulated sugar and zero grain. It doesn’t require a mash to convert starch to sugar and the procedure for making it is very simple. It is made by dissolving white table sugar into water, heating to pasteurize (optional), adding yeast nutrient (very important) and adding yeast.

Distilling Procedure

We use the term “sugar mash” loosely here. It essentially describes high proof alcohol made with only granulated sugar and zero grain. It doesn’t require a mash to convert starch to sugar and the procedure for making it is very simple. It is made by dissolving white table sugar into water, heating to pasteurize (optional), adding yeast nutrient (very important) and adding yeast.

Making Cuts

This area is reserved only for commercial distillers. Their intention is to use this procedure to improve the flavor and scent of their spirits in the future. Specifically, this is performed by separating different sections of a distillation “run” into separate containers and combining just the best parts of the run, referred to as the hearts. What exactly do we mean by that? To put it another way, to oversimplify. A batch of fermented mash contains a wide variety of oils and alcohols of varying degrees of purity and concentration.

  1. Foreshots The foreshots are the initial 10 percent or so of the distillate that is produced.
  2. HeadsThe second section of the run is referred to as the heads section.
  3. These chemicals are unpalatable and have an unpleasant odor.
  4. ethanol and other beneficial substances can be found in the hearts.
  5. Keep this in mind.
  6. In this stretch of the run, the flavor is weak and watery.

Legal FAQ

Is distillation a legal activity? According to federal regulations, possessing a still of any size is allowed and does not necessitate the acquisition of a permission. It must be noted, however, that the still must be used, or intended to be used, solely for the distillation of non-alcoholic substances. In order to distill alcohol, a federal DSP or fuel alcohol permit, as well as state and local permissions, are necessary in addition to state and local permits. Additionally, several states restrict the possession of stills under all circumstances, regardless of the usage or intended use of the object.

We encourage you to read our comprehensive legal statement for further information on the legality of distillation.

Everything You Need to Know about Moonshine

Moonshine has the reputation of being a backwoods drink that can also be used as an engine cleaner, which isn’t entirely accurate. Moonshine, on the other hand, may be a premium spirit that aficionados throughout the world will willingly put a pinky in the air for a taste if they know what they’re talking about.

Don’t Worry, Drinking Moonshine Will Not Make You Blind

When talking to the general public about moonshine, the most often heard question is, “Won’t that stuff make you blind?” The answer is no, drinking moonshine will not cause you to become visually impaired. We’ve all had those regrettable mornings after consuming alcohol, if not more so than with other sorts of drink. The source of this worry stems from the fact that a byproduct of distillation known as methanol has been shown to cause blindness in certain people. Combine that reality with the fact that moonshine has an uncontrolled past, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Making Heads or Tails of Hearts

Distilling, like so many other things, is both a science and an art form. When it comes to distilling, a great distiller has his craft down to a science, and his product stands out in every manner. This covers the mash, the temps, the timing, and whatever infusions he may have under his sleeve at the time of writing. The appropriate isolation of the hearts, on the other hand, is the first thing a great distiller will pay attention to. This is most likely the most significant factor to consider while searching for excellent Moonshine.

Foreshots

When making a batch of moonshine, you must first heat your mash to the temperature you wish. Because of the fermentation process, the mash is a mixture of all of the ingredients you want mixed with a number of things you don’t want. The fact that the material you want will evaporate at a different temperature than the thing you don’t want allows you to take advantage of this fact by heating it. Immediately after you begin heating your still, the first distillate to emerge from the other end of the still is referred to as the foreshots.

Heads

Then there are the heads. Although the heads will not cause you to become blind, the volatile alcohols they contain will cause you to have a severe hangover. Aside from that, the product has a foul smell and taste due to the presence of acetone in it.

Hearts

The hearts come next, following the heads. The hearts are, without a doubt, the most essential stage in the process of separating exquisite Moonshine from degreaser for engines. Consider this transition to be a gradient, and you’ll begin to see why it’s so tough to make the move. It can be tricky to timing the opening and closing of your first and final jars of hearts, and what smells and tastes fine to you may be scoffed at by a seasoned shiner.

Tails

Finally, we get to the tails, which become greasy due to the presence of water and proteins in the meat.

If you’re drinking a lot of alcoholic beverages, you’re probably drinking tails. Gross. In order to understand more about this issue, Mile can provide you with further information. Moonshine may be made in a variety of ways, according to the website Hi Distilling.

So Where Do I Find the Good Stuff?

If you look through internet spirits stores or visit a reputable spirits retailer in your area, the odds are strong that you’ll come across a fantastic brand of Moonshine. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine one brand is superior to another because they all compete for a little portion of the same market. Or perhaps the typical sweet-corn flavor that comes from a full-blown corn Whiskey mash appeals to you. If this is the case, Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine is a must-try. Alternatively, you can like flavored Moonshine prepared from a sugar mash that is constructed on a more neutral-tasting basis.

If you have distilleries in your area, go visit them and sample their products.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Moonshine’s History

Moonshine has a rich history that is as diverse as the many different forms of the spirit itself. The majority of people are aware of the infamous side of the country’s history, yet this uniquely American spirit has many attributes that should be honored today. Do you still not believe us? Here are five interesting facts about this specialized spirit that you probably didn’t know.

1. Not all moonshine is illegal, nor is it dangerous.

Moonshiners have always produced their own booze in order to circumvent compliance with laws, taxes, and regulations. Bad batches or poor manufacturing procedures (such as distilling in vehicle radiators) might result in a product containing high levels of potentially hazardous substances, such as methanol, if there were no FDA inspectors present to guarantee that safety and quality criteria were fulfilled. Consuming methanol can cause the blood to become acidic, which can result in blindness, convulsions, and even death.

If their booze was substandard, or if people became ill or died as a result of drinking it, the moonshiner responsible would be forced out of business.

Because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) does not have an official definition for moonshine, it is often classified as a “other” or “specialty spirit” under the categorization “other spirits.” According to Colin Blake, Moonshine University’s Director of Spirits Education, “Moonshine continues to be the Wild West of spirits, but not for legal reasons.” As opposed to other spirits, legally manufactured moonshine can be prepared from any source material, at any proof, with any coloring or flavoring added — the whole shebang.

There are no guidelines regarding how it should be classified.” In other words, the “moonshine” name that we see on a variety of spirits today is a movable feast.

It is used to refer to liquor that does not fall into a single category and is used as an all-encompassing word. In other words, the moonshine you buy at your local liquor shop is legal and safe for use under reasonable conditions.

2. A triple X once indicated a moonshine’s quality.

You might recall seeing allusions to moonshine in a jug with the letter XXX in it throughout popular culture. Due to the fact that these Xs were formerly used to denote how many times a batch of moonshine had been put through the still in typical DIY fashion, Prior to the invention of current distillation processes and equipment, moonshiners were required to execute three runs in order to get a higher, purer alcohol level – typically much above 80 percent ABV. A batch of beer ended up in a jug labeled with three double X’s by the time it was truly completed.

Although early moonshine was made illegally, this does not imply that the distillers were unconcerned with the quality of the product they were producing.

That emotion continues on in many current (and now legally created) moonshines that are consumed today, and it will be indelibly etched in the annals of moonshine history for generations to come.

3. Moonshine inspired NASCAR.

Pop culture references that portray moonshining in a jug with the letter Xxxxx may have come to mind. The reason for this is that, in true DIY fashion, these Xs formerly denoted how many times a batch of moonshine had been passed through the still. Moonshiners had to go through three passes in order to obtain a higher, purer alcohol concentration – generally much above 80 percent ABV – prior to the invention of modern distillation processes and equipment. A batch of beer ended up in a jug labeled with the letter “X” by the time it was truly done.

Although early moonshine was made illegally, this does not imply that the distillers were unconcerned with the quality of the product they were creating.

That emotion goes on in many current (and now legally created) moonshines that are drunk today, and it will be permanently etched in the annals of moonshine history as a part of the tradition.

4. America’s first legal moonshine distillery was launched in 2005.

Piedmont Distillers, based in Madison, North Carolina, boasts the distinction of being the first legal moonshine business in the United States, as well as the state’s first legal distillery since Prohibition ended the prohibition era. Additionally, in addition to being a part of the history of moonshine, Piedmont’s whole company is dedicated to telling the unique tale of moonshine. A triple-distilled moonshine (remember those three Xs?) made with formulas given down from famed moonshiner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson, their Midnight Moonmoonshine is made using recipes passed down from Junior Johnson.

Since 2005, several legal moonshine distilleries have sprung up around the United States, including Sugarlands (Tennessee) and Call Family Distillers, which is likewise situated in North Carolina but produces in Tennessee.

5. Mountain Dew was originally created as a chaser for whiskey.

The brilliant yellow beverage you’re undoubtedly familiar with was called after a slang phrase for mountain-brewed moonshine, which you may not have realized at the time of its introduction. Yes, you are correct. In Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1932, brothers Barney and Ally Hartman invented the lemon-lime cocktail as a whiskey chaser for their friends. In accordance with the Smithsonian Institution, the name “Mountain Dew” was chosen to stress the intended usage of their beverage, which was emphasized further by the existence of the original brand mascot, “Willy the Hillbilly,” and his slogan, “It’ll tickle yore innards.” As a result of PepsiCo’s acquisition of Mountain Dew in 1964, distribution was increased beyond Tennessee and throughout the rest of the United States.

Although the brand’s link with moonshine has developed since then, its legacy is still alive and well.

Check out this article.

You’ll receive comprehensive, practical, and hands-on training from industry professionals throughout the program.

More information is available here: http://www.cnn.com/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/cnn/c Content that is related Moonshine University is holding a celebration of the “Moonshine.” The StaveThief Society has officially launched.

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