Categories Moonshine

What Is In Moonshine? (Correct answer)

Moonshine was a term once used for any liquor that was made illegally, but nowadays it usually refers to a specific spirit, also known as white whiskey or corn whiskey. This is because moonshine is usually made from cornmeal, sugar, yeast, and water that has been distilled, creating a clear alcoholic liquid.

  • Moonshine can be made out of a variety of things but the most common moonshine is made from: Corn Meal. A Grain Mat, Such as Rye or Barley. Water. Yeast. There are numerous moonshine variations with different ingredients but that is the most classic and traditional one. Those ingredients are mixed, fermented, and distilled, resulting in


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.

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.

Why is moonshine illegal?

So why is moonshine still illegal? Because the liquor is worth more to the government than beer or wine. Uncle Sam takes an excise tax of $2.14 for each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared with 21 cents for a bottle of wine (of 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer.

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 moonshine bad for?

Illegal moonshine remains dangerous because it is mostly brewed in makeshift stills. It can be dangerous on two levels, both during the distilling process and when consuming it.

Is making moonshine illegal?

While most states prohibit home moonshining, state laws sometimes conflict with federal law. But federal law trumps state law, and to the feds, distilling at home for personal consumption is illegal, period.

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.

Is moonshine stronger than vodka?

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.

Is moonshine a different drunk?

9. Moonshine: 0-100 Real Quick Drunk. You will be fine one second, then, very shortly after drinking, you’ll be HAMMERED. You’ll feel yourself soaring above the legal limit as you begin to move less like a sober person and more like a marionette controlled by the jerky-handed puppet master known as moonshine.

Is moonshine illegal in America?

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.

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.

Does bootlegging still exist?

Alcohol smuggling today Although the well-known bootleggers of the day may no longer be in business, bootlegging still exists, even if on a smaller scale. Absinthe was smuggled into the United States until it was legalized in 2007.

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 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.

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.

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.

Obviously, I recoiled immediately, wondering to myself, Who would drink anything like this? The response, of course, differs from whiskey connoisseurs 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. So, what exactly is moonshine, and how did it go from being one of the most illegal alcoholic beverages available in the United States to becoming a popular choice among mixologists and artisan distillers?

  1. Photograph by Valery Rizzo For purists, the spirit is defined as a handmade, unaged whiskey distinguished by its clear color, corn-based basis, and high alcohol concentration, which can reach as high as 190 proof in some instances.
  2. Tradition dictated that it be manufactured in a home-made still and then packaged in a mason jar.
  3. 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.
  4. The spirit swiftly established itself as a cornerstone of Southern culture.

However, at the same time as its popularity was at its zenith, the government’s interest in taxing was waning. It was Alexander Hamilton who, in 1791, placed a tax on whiskey manufacture, thereby rendering any untaxed moonshine manufacturing illegal under federal law. 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.

Similar to how Prohibition fueled the growth of underground bars in the 1920s, the illegalization of untaxed moonshine manufacturing ushered in a new generation of clandestine whiskey manufacturers over the course of the following two centuries. Not only was it created illegally, but it was frequently done in a substandard manner as well, which further added to its negative image. This is due to the fact that it is difficult to create. “Moonshine is one of America’s best spirits, but it’s really difficult to create extraordinarily well since it’s unaged, which makes it particularly difficult.

  1. ” “Taras Hrabowsky, a moonshine maker, discusses his process.
  2. “Oak barrels are employed to rectify flavor characteristics in old spirits, which are matured for a longer period of time.
  3. Making moonshine that can stand on its own, without the strong oak qualities that we associate with whiskey, becomes increasingly difficult.
  4. When you locate the good thing, you’ll understand why people are so enthusiastic about it.
  5. ” Hrabowsky should be aware of this.
  6. A burgeoning movement is working to put good—and legal—moonshine on the map, and he’s a part of it.

The distillation of alcohol without a distilled spirits permit is still prohibited; nevertheless, popular liquor businesses are redefining the spirit by producing their booze in distilleries and marketing it to the general public. There are a few new-age brands that stand out above the others. A moonshine named White Dog is produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. The name of the drink comes from a popular vernacular nickname for the drink.

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. Midnight Moon, named after the legendary moonshiner and NASCAR racer Junior Johnson, is manufactured by Piedmont Distillers in North Carolina, the state’s first licensed distillery since the repeal of Prohibition. 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.

  • (You can get the recipe for apple pie moonshine on this page.
  • ) Hrabowsky’s Standard Wormwood Distillery is located in Brooklyn’s Pfizer building, and its product is created with equal parts maize and rye, as opposed to the typical Southern moonshine, which is made only from corn.
  • For Hrabowsky and Sasha Selimotic, “the peppery spice rye gives on the end” is their preferred style of beer.
  • The pair’s goal is to establish moonshine as a staple at the city’s top pubs, and so far, it’s working.

A cocktail called Dream of a Mountain is served in a smoked glass at Montana’s Trail House, which is owned by Hrabowsky’s favorite Brooklyn establishment, Montana’s Trail House. The drink is made with Standard Wormwood Distillery’s moonshine, honey and orange liqueur, Aperol, and bitters from the Angostura distillery. The Wayland, located in the East Village, serves an I Hear Banjos moonshine cocktail, which is made with apple and spices. Standard Wormwood Distillery is depicted in this photograph.

Even though Hrabowsky feels that the future of moonshine is unpredictable, he is encouraged to see an increase in the number of craft distilleries pushing the boundaries to develop sipping moonshines, rather than ushering in a new era for the distilled spirit.

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


Type Whisky
Alcohol by volume At least 40%
Proof (US) At least 80°
Colour Clear
Ingredients Grain, sugar
Related products Bourbon whiskey, Corn whiskey, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Rye whiskey, Tennessee whiskey
  1. Known as moonshine, this high-proof whiskey has been and continues to be manufactured illegally, without the permission of the government.
  2. The term comes from a habit of making alcoholic beverages by night in order to avoid being discovered by law enforcement officers.
  3. Outside of a licensed distillery, the production of such beverages is still prohibited in the majority of nations.
  4. Recently, commercial manufacturers have begun to label some of their goods as “moonshine,” a term that has become more popular.


A variety of monikers are used to describe moonshine in English, including mountain dew, choop (also known as hooch), hooch (also known as homebrew), mulekick (also known as shine), white lightning (also known as white/corn liquor), white/corn whiskey (also known as pass around), firewater (also known as bootleg). Moonshine is known by several names in different languages and nations (see Moonshine by country).

Moonshine stills

In most countries, it is illegal to sell, import, or own a moonshine still unless you have authorization from the government. However, guidelines produced by home brewing aficionados and published on local brewery forums that explain where to find inexpensive equipment and how to build it into a still are frequently found. Stainless steel vessels are frequently replaced by plastic (e.g., polypropylene) vessels that can tolerate high temperatures in order to save costs. However, the principle of plastic remains the same.

  • It is possible to reach a vapor alcohol level of 95 percent ABV using a column or spiral still.
    On the basis of 48 samples, moonshine is typically distilled to 40 percent ABV and is seldom higher than 66 percent ABV. For example, ordinary pot stills typically generate 40 percent alcohol by volume and reach a peak of 60-80 percent alcohol by volume after numerous distillations. The ethanol, on the other hand, may be dried to 95 percent alcohol by heating 3A molecular sieves, such as 3A zeolite.

Evaporation stills

  1. A plastic still is a distillation equipment that is specifically designed for the separation of ethanol from water.
  2. Plastic stills are capable of producing vapor alcohol with a level of 40 percent ABV.
  3. Plastic stills are popular for homebrewing moonshine due to the fact that they are inexpensive and simple to construct.
  4. Essentially, a smaller volume of liquid is placed in an open smaller vessel inside a bigger vessel that is sealed.
  5. This is the basic concept.

The liquid is preserved at around 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) by an immersion heater, which causes it to gently evaporate and condense on the inner walls of the outer vessel. It is possible to guide the condensation that collects at the bottom of the jar to the bottom of the vessel by using an activated carbon filter. Because the finished result contains nearly double the amount of alcohol found in the beginning liquid, the process can be repeated many more times to produce an even stronger distillate.

The approach is labor-intensive and inefficient, making it unsuitable for large-scale production.

Boiling stills

  1. Washing
  2. Steaming
  3. Liquid removal
  4. Vaporizing alcohol
  5. Components that have been recycled and are less volatile
  6. The most volatile components
  7. The condenser

*Steam is used to pre-heat the columns on both sides. A column still, also known as a continuous still, patent still, or Coffey still, is a type of still that is made up of two columns that are connected together. A column still is capable of producing vapor alcohol with a concentration of 95 percent ABV.

Spiral still

A spiral still is a form of column still that has a basic slow air-cooled distillation equipment that is widely used for bootlegging and other illegal activities. The column and cooler are made of a copper tube that is 5 feet (15 meters) long and twisted in a spiral pattern. The tube is initially raised to serve as a basic column, and then lowered to chill the substance being processed. Cookware is often comprised of a 30-litre (6.6 imperial gal; 7.9 US gal) wine bucket made of polypropylene (pp).

Typically, a 300W dip heater is used as the heat source. Spiral burners are popular because, despite their simplicity of construction and low manufacturing costs, they can produce 95 percent ABV despite their low production costs.

Pot still

  1. This kind of distillation device or still is used to distill flavored spirits such as whiskey or cognac, but not rectified spirits since they are ineffective at extracting congeners from the distillate.
  2. Pot stills are used for batch distillation, as opposed to continuous distillation (as opposed to a Coffey or column stills which operate on a continuous basis).
  3. Pot stills, which are traditionally made of copper, are available in a variety of forms and sizes, depending on the quantity and kind of spirit being produced.

Geographical differences in still design are evident, with particular stills becoming increasingly popular in Appalachian regions. Spirits produced in pots typically have an alcoholic content of 40 percent and reach a peak of 60 to 80 percent after numerous distillations.


Improperly manufactured moonshine can be polluted, mostly as a result of the materials used in the building of the still. Vehicle-based stills that use vehicle radiators as condensers can be particularly hazardous; in some situations, glycol generated by antifreeze might pose a health threat. Radiators that are used as condensers may also contain lead at the points where they connect to the plumbing. These procedures frequently resulted in blindness or lead poisoning in people who drank polluted liquor as a result of their use.

This was a problem during Prohibition, when many people died as a result of taking harmful chemicals. Consumption of lead-tainted moonshine is a significant risk factor for saturnine gout, a painful but curable medical illness that affects the kidneys and joints and is associated with a high mortality rate. Despite the fact that methanol is not created in dangerous quantities by the fermentation of sugars from grain starches, contamination can nevertheless occur when unscrupulous distillers use low-cost methanol to raise the perceived strength of the beverage.

  • It is possible to make moonshine more appetizing while also making it potentially less harmful by removing the “foreshot,” which is the initial few ounces of alcohol that drips from the condenser.
  • The fact that methanol vaporizes at a lower temperature than ethanol leads to the widespread belief that the foreshot contains the vast majority of the methanol present in the mash (if any).
  • However, according to study, this is not the case, and methanol may be found in the product until the very end of the distillation process.

Despite this, distillers will often continue to collect foreshots until the temperature of the still exceeds 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit). Aside from that, the head that follows immediately following the foreshot is frequently contaminated with trace levels of other undesirable substances, such as acetone and other aldehydes. Fusel alcohols are another type of undesired byproduct of fermentation that is found in the “aftershot,” and which is normally discarded as a result of this.

At greater strengths (concentrations above 24 percent ABV are considered harmful by the Global Harmonized System), alcohol concentrations are flammable and hence dangerous to handle.

As a matter of fact, if proper ventilation is not given during the distillation process, vaporized alcohol can collect in the air to dangerous levels.

Adulterated moonshine

The use of impure moonshine has been shown to greatly increase the risk of kidney illness in people who consume it on a regular basis, principally as a result of the high lead level. When methanol is used to adulterate moonshine, it has been known to cause outbreaks of methanol poisoning (bootleg liquor).

You might be interested:  How To Make Distilled Moonshine?


  • Shaking a transparent container of the distillate can provide a rapid estimate of the alcoholic strength, or proof, of the distillate (the ratio of alcohol to water) in a few seconds.
  • When there are many large bubbles that dissolve quickly, this indicates that the alcohol concentration is high, whereas smaller bubbles that disappear more slowly suggest a lower alcohol content.
  • The use of an alcoholmeter or a hydrometer is a more reliable means of testing.

When determining the potential alcohol percent of moonshine during and after the fermenting process, a hydrometer is utilized, whereas an alcoholmeter is used after the product has been distilled to ascertain the volume percent or proof.


A typical jar of moonshine is shown here. It was formerly mistakenly thought that the presence of a blue flame indicated that the water was safe to drink. A popular folk test for the quality of moonshine was to pour a tiny amount of it onto a spoon and then light it on fire to see how it turned out.

Apparently, a safe distillate burns with a blue flame, but an unclean distillate burns with a yellow flame, according to this theory: This simple test was also used to determine whether or not lead was present in the distillate, which resulted in a crimson flame when a radiator coil was used as the condenser, according to practitioners of the simple test. As a result, the mnemonic “Lead burns red and kills you” or “Red signifies dead” came to be popular.

In addition, other harmful components, such as methanol, cannot be discovered with a simple burn test since methanol flames are blue in color and difficult to spot in natural light.


  1. The Moonshine Man of Kentucky, an image from Harper’s Weekly published in 1877 depicting five episodes from the life of a Kentucky moonshiner, may be found here.
  2. Museum exhibit featuring a vintage moonshine distillation apparatus When it comes to illicit booze, moonshine has traditionally been defined as “clear, unaged whiskey,” which was previously manufactured using barley in Scotland and Ireland or corn mash in the United States, however sugar has become just as frequent in the last century.

The term was coined in the British Isles as a result of excise rules, but it only gained significance in the United States after a levy was enacted during the Civil War that prohibited the use of non-registered distilleries. During the Prohibition era (1920-1933), when the Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution enforced a comprehensive prohibition on alcohol manufacture, illegal distillation increased in popularity. Since the repeal of the Eighth Amendment in 1933, legislation has focused on the evasion of taxation on all types of spirits and intoxicating liquors.

Formerly enforced by the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, applicable statutes are now more often handled by state authorities in most cases. Enforcement agents were once referred to as “revenuers,” which was a vernacular term for them.


The first documented usage of the phrase “moonshine” being used to refer to illegal alcoholic beverages dates back to a 1785 edition of Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, which was published in England. The term “moonshine” once applied to anything that was “illusory” or to the physical light emitted by a rising or setting moon.

Consequently, because the United States Government deems the phrase “fanciful term” and does not control its usage on the labels of commercial products, legal moonshines may include any type of spirit, as long as the type of spirit is clearly mentioned elsewhere on the label.


  • The moonshine distilling process was carried out at night to avoid detection.
  • While moonshiners could be found in both urban and rural locations across the United States during the Civil War, moonshine production centered in Appalachia because the region’s poor road network made it simple to dodge tax collectors and because transporting maize crops was difficult and expensive.
  • According to the findings of a survey of farmers in Cocke County, Tennessee: “If the maize was first transformed into whiskey, it would be possible to carry far more value.

One horse could carry 10 times the amount of liquor that it could carry in corn on its back.” Moonshiners in Harlan County, Kentucky, such as Maggie Bailey, made a living by selling moonshine in order to support their households. Others, such as Amos Owens of Rutherford County, North Carolina, and Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, made a living selling moonshine in the surrounding area. The Discovery Channel broadcasted a documentary on Sutton’s life called “Moonshiners” that chronicled his life.

It was reportedly stated by a bootlegger that the malt (a blend of maize, barley, and rye) is what makes the basic moonshine formula function properly. Although the phrase “moonshine” is no longer in common usage, it nevertheless indicates that the liquor is unlawfully made, and it is often used on the labels of legal products to sell them as delivering a banned drinking experience.

  • Drivers known as “runners” or “bootleggers,” who transported moonshine and “bootleg” (illegally imported) whiskey around the region in automobiles that had been particularly modified for speed and load-carrying capability, were known as “bootleggers” or “bootleggers.
  • ” In appearance, the automobiles were conventional, but on the inside, they had been upgraded with beefier engines, more interior space, and heavy-duty shock absorbers to hold the weight of the illicit booze.

As a result of the repeal of Prohibition, the out-of-work drivers were able to keep their talents sharp by participating in organized races, which resulted in the founding of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). A number of previous “runners” went on to become well-known drivers in the sport.

See also

  • Applejack (drink)
  • Bootleggers and Baptists
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
  • Congener (alcohol)
  • Dixie mafia, farmhouse ale, free beer, homebrewing, Kilju, and other terms.
    Moonshine as depicted in popular culture
    Nip joint, rum-running, and sour mash are all options.

Further reading

  • The image above depicts “cow shoes worn by American moonshiners during the Prohibition era to conceal their tracks, 1924.” 14th of May, 2021, according to Retrieved on the 4th of October, 2021.


  1. Kevin Kosar (born 1970) is a writer and musician from the United States (15 April 2017). The History of Moonshine on a Global Scale Spoelman, Colin (ed.). London: Routledge, ISBN 978-1-78023-742-8. CS1 maint: numerous names: authors list (link)
  2. What you need to know about urban moonshining from the Kings County Distillery, including how to create and enjoy whiskey Haskell, David, 1979-. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 1-4197-0990-9. OCLC 843332480
  3. “Spiralbrännaren” (PDF) (in Swedish)
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  29. Warburton, Rob, and Warburton (9 January 2019). “How to Make Rum: A Quick Start Guide” is a guide to making rum. The Rum Guys’ “Making Moonshine – The Dummies’ Guide” is available online. Copper Moonshine Still Kits – Clawhammer Supply. Retrieved 25 November 2018
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    The document was archived from its original form (PDF) on October 20, 2016. “Application to Include Fomepizole on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines” (Application to Include Fomepizole on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines) was published on December 24, 2011. (PDF). The article “Proofing your Moonshine – Shake Test, Gun Powder Test, and Hydrometer Test Explained” was published in November 2012 on page 10. Learn how to make moonshine. The 21st of November, 2014. It was published on November 26, 2018, and it is titled “Alcoholmeter or Hydrometer: Do You Know the Difference?”.

    Skylark Medical Clinic’s Moonshine page was last modified on October 28, 2014. The original version of this article was published on July 16, 2011. The article “Exploding moonshine: The New Golden Age of Outlaw Liquor” was published on July 23, 2008. Obtainable on the 2nd of July, 2017

  34. Guy Logsdon is a historian at the Oklahoma Historical Society. ‘Moonshine’ is a topic covered in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma State University is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The original version of this article was published on October 31, 2014. Kevin Kosar, 1970- (Kosar, Kevin, 1970- )
  35. Retrieved on March 21, 2014
  36. (15 April 2017). The History of Moonshine on a Global Scale OCLC 1028980463. ISBN 978-1-78023-742-8. Spoelman, Colin. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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  39. OCLC 843332480
  40. David Haskell, 1979-. New York: Springer-Verlag. Jason Sumich is the author of this work. This article is titled “It’s All Legal, Until You Get Caught: Moonshining in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.” Appalachian State University is located in Boone, North Carolina. On the 21st of March, 2014, I was able to get a hold of
  41. (2012), p. 98–99
  42. Peine Schafft 2012, p. Melissa Block is a writer who lives in the United States (8 December 2005). Maggie Bailey, dubbed the “Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers,” was featured on National Public Radio. Obtainable on the 4th of May, 2015
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  44. Terrill, Thomas E. Cooper, William J.
  45. Terrill, Thomas E. (2009). The American South: A History, Volume II (The American South: A History, Volume II) (4th ed.). Published by Rowman & Littlefield in Lanham, Maryland, on page 625 (ISBN 978-0-7425-6097-0)
  46. Jennifer Billock authored the article “How Moonshine Bootlegging Gave Rise to NASCAR.” Smithsonian. Obtainable on April 4, 2019


  • (Spring–Fall 2012) Peine, Emelie K., and Schafft, Kai A., Minnesota 13: “Wet” Wild Prohibition Days (2007) ISBN 978-0-9798017-0-9
  • Davis, Elaine. (Spring–Fall 2007). « Moonshine, Mountaineers, and Modernity: Distilling Cultural History in the Southern Appalachian Mountains» is the title of a research project. Journal of Appalachian Studies, published by the Appalachian Studies Association, volume 18, number 1, pages 93–112. Rowley, Matthew
  • JSTOR 23337709
  • Rowley, Matthew. Moonshine! A History, Songs, Stories, and How-Tos (2007) ISBN 978-1-57990-648-1
  • Watman, Max. Moonshine! A History, Songs, Stories, and How-Tos (2007) ISBN 978-1-57990-648-1 Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine (2010) ISBN 978-1-4391-7024-3
  • Jeff King, Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine (2010) ISBN 978-1-4391-7024-3
  • Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine (2010) ISBN 978-1-4391-7024-3
  • Chasing the White Dog: An The Home Distiller’s Workbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Making Moonshine, Whiskey, Vodka, Rum, and a Ton of Other Spirits! The year is 2012, and the ISBN is 978-1-4699-8939-6.

External links

  • “Moonshine – Blue Ridge Style,” a joint exhibition by the Blue Ridge Institute and the Museum of Ferrum College, is on display through March 31.
    A one-hour Irish documentary film about the beginnings of the craft, Déants an Phoitn (Poteen Making), directed by Mac Dara Curraidhn (produced in 1998), is also recommended.
    North Carolina is a state in the United States. Moonshine – information, photographs, music, and video snippets from the past and present
  • The Alcohol and Drugs History Society maintains a moonshine news page.
    Georgia Moonshine – History and folklore of moonshine in the state of Georgia, United States
  • “Moonshine ‘tempts new generation,'” according to the BBC, when it comes to illicit liquor distillation in the twenty-first century.
    Still from the past: Moonshine in Franklin County, Virginia – Video

However, while the phrase “moonshine” is frequently used in casual conversation, many people are unfamiliar with the substance contained therein.

The majority of people have heard of moonshine and may even have a vague sense of what it is, but there are many myths and misunderstandings around the substance. Okay, let’s dive into the specifics of what moonshine is and what it contains.

So What is Moonshine Exactly?

  • “Moonshine” is defined as “a type of alcoholic beverage that individuals create illegally,” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary.
  • While this is correct, it does not provide a thorough explanation of what is in moonshine or any specifics about it (like why it is illegal).
  • When people talk about moonshine, they are often referring to a transparent, corn-based, unaged, and high-proof (generally about 100-170 %) whiskey that is produced in a home-based or non-commercial distillery.
  • This is what a typical moonshine still would look like;
  • it is a recreation of a moonshine still from about the time of prohibition.

A Brief History of Moonshine

Moonshine has played an important role in the history of the United States. After the Revolutionary War, the government put a tax on liquors and other alcoholic beverages; many individuals at the time were unable or unable to pay the higher price for liquor, so they began manufacturing their own booze to supplement their income. That marked the commencement of “moonshining,” or the production of home-brewed alcoholic beverages. You’ve certainly heard of and are familiar with the prohibition movement; this was a period in the 1920s when all forms of alcoholic beverages were prohibited. Of course, people still wanted to drink, which meant that many people were forced to rely on moonshine to get their fix. The majority of individuals did not produce their own moonshine, but rather purchased bootleg moonshine from those who were producing it on a huge scale. Due to the fact that this was illegal, the production, distribution, and sale of moonshine would almost always take place at night; this is how the word “moonshine” came to be. A bottle of moonshine that is “legal.” Since the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the consumption of moonshine has declined, owing to the ease with which alcohol may be obtained. Moonshine, on the other hand, is still produced and sold illegally. Moonshining is now prohibited by law since the government is unable to tax it. It is not unlawful to make, sell, and distribute moonshine if it is done so by a business that has a liquor license and if it is sold lawfully (with tax) rather than illegally. In essence, “moonshine” refers to any alcoholic spirit or liquor that is not permitted to be marketed in the United States. Traditional moonshine (corn-based, unaged) may, and is, manufactured and sold lawfully in the United States. After you’ve learned a bit more about moonshine, it’s time to learn about the ingredients that make it up (the ingredients of moonshine).

What are the Moonshine Ingredients?

There are a multitude of ingredients that may be used to make moonshine, however the following are the most commonly used:

  • Corn meal, a grain mat (such as rye or barley), water, and yeast are all required.

Despite the fact that there are other moonshine versions made with various components, this is the most classic and traditional of them. All of these components are combined, fermented, and distilled to produce moonshine, which is the finished product. Although there are many different types of moonshine, they will all contain a nutrient (such as maize meal), water, and yeast since they are required for fermentation to begin.

Other additions are optional and can be used to alter the flavor, look, and kind of alcohol that is created during the fermentation process.

Is Moonshine Harmful? Can You Go Blind From Drinking It?

  1. There have been a slew of myths about moonshine that have emerged over the years, one of the most frequent of which is that drinking moonshine may cause you to go blind.
  2. Well.
  3. Is it possible?
  4. Because the answer is both yes and no, it’s a bit confusing.
  5. Moonshine that has been properly prepared (particularly on a small scale) will not include any ingredients that may cause you to go blind.
  6. However, back in the early days of moonshining, it was not uncommon for someone to accidentally mix in potentially hazardous ingredients such as gasoline, paint thinner, or other potentially hazardous substances.
  7. Additionally, a high methanol level in moonshine (or anything else for that matter) has been linked to blindness in certain people.

So What is Methanol?

Methanol is a form of alcohol that is not intended for consumption; ethanol, on the other hand, is intended for consumption. Fortunately, there are only trace levels of methanol present in all alcoholic beverages intended for consumption (wine, beer, etc.). Methanol is produced as a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and is therefore non-toxic. The difficulty is that because methanol has a lower boiling point than ethanol, when distillation takes place, the initial amounts of alcohol to come out will be methanol rather than the intended alcohol (which is dangerous). *If you are unfamiliar with the term distillation or how it works, please visit here. However, any respectable moonshiner back in the day would have been aware of this and would have disposed of the original alcohol created in a suitable manner, so that it did not become a component of their moonshine. The “evil” moonshine producers, on the other hand, refused to discard the methanol, which most certainly caused some individuals to get unwell and potentially blind, so lending credence to the idea that moonshine is a cause of blindness. Using a small scale, it is highly improbable that there would be enough methanol in the product to cause blindness, but necessary measures should be taken anyway.

Photograph by Scott Olson for Getty Images You’re certainly familiar with moonshine, the deadly alcoholic beverage that became popular (and was manufactured illegally) during Prohibition. With the help of the film Lawless, you may even be familiar with it as the type of alcohol that is powerful enough to operate a car – and, if the alcohol content is greater than 75% by volume, moonshine can truly start your automobile (via Slate). However, given all of the negative publicity surrounding its potentially lethal high alcohol level, it may come as a surprise to hear that moonshine is not only commonly available today, but it is also no more risky than other high-proof alcoholic beverages (via Wide Open Eats). However, in the United States, moonshine cannot be legally distilled to contain more than 80 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), nor can it be legally bottled with more than 62.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), and many are far lower than that. For example, Midnight Moon brand moonshine is available in a variety of alcohol by volume (ABV) levels ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent (via Midnight Moon). Keep in mind that vodka has a typical ABV of 40%, gin has a typical ABV of 35-55 percent, and Everclear has a typical ABV of 60-95 percent (via Alcohol Rehab Guide).

It may be beneficial to acquire a little background knowledge about moonshine in order to have a better grasp of how this historically harmful alcoholic beverage earned its bad image.

The true dangers of moonshine

  • Shutterstock Moonshine was formerly used to refer to any alcoholic beverage that was illegally produced, but currently it is mainly used to refer to a specific spirit that is also known as white whiskey or corn whiskey.
  • This is due to the fact that moonshine is often manufactured from cornmeal, sugar, yeast, and water that has been distilled, resulting in a clear alcoholic beverage that is easily distinguishable.
  • In essence, this liquid is bourbon that has not been matured (it is the maturing process that imparts the deeper colour and characteristic taste of whiskey), and the proportion of alcohol in it can really vary significantly.
  • In addition to being dangerously high in alcohol content (at approximately 75 percent ABV), unregulated moonshine was cut with a variety of unsafe ingredients to make the drink pack more of a punch, including bleach, rubbing alcohol, manure, and even paint thinner to make the drink pack more of a punch during prohibition (via How Stuff Works).
  • It’s no surprise that the substance caused drinkers to go blind and, in some cases, to die.
  • Due to the fact that the circumstances of the distillery are not controlled, moonshine can be filthy and harmful to consume even today when it is produced without a license.
  • Fortunately, you can obtain the legal, safe type at most liquor stores, and you can be certain that what you’re drinking is no more risky than another high-proof liquor.

Do you have a love for distilling and a desire to sell your products in a variety of various markets? You could only want to learn the basics of home distillation if that’s all you want to do. In any scenario, it’s critical to understand the legality of moonshine as well as its alcohol by volume (ABV). Alcohol by volume, often known as ABV, is the proportion of a drink’s total volume that is made up of pure alcoholic beverages. This figure represents the amount of alcohol in a drink and is used in part for the preparation of popular cocktails as well as the comparison of various types of alcohol. Continue reading to discover more about moonshine, including what it is, how much alcohol it contains on average, what flavors it comes in, and more.

What’s Moonshine?

  1. Moonshine is a high-proof liquor that is manufactured illegally and without the permission of the government.
  2. According to tradition, it has been illegally distilled during the night in order to escape being found by law enforcement officials.
  3. Moonshine is distinguished by its extremely high alcohol concentration and the fact that it is distilled in a variety of handcrafted, ramshackle stills that are typically located in the forests or mountains.
  4. During the Prohibition era, moonshine became extremely popular, and both organized and disorganized criminals were involved in its production.
  5. Today, it is still produced and eaten in small quantities.

What Is Moonshine Made From?

Moonshine may be created from any grain or fruit, although maize is the most widely used grain in the production of moonshine. In fact, because the vast majority of individuals who distill their own spirits are farmers or live in rural regions, they tend to use whatever crops they have in excess to produce the spirits that they distill into moonshine.

Due to its availability and the fact that it is a strong source of fermentable sugar, corn is frequently used as a grain for baking.

Moonshine Alcohol Percentage | Moonshine Proof

Moonshine typically has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40 percent, although it can sometimes have an ABV of 60 percent to 80 percent. The percentage of alcohol in a drink may be converted to proof by multiplying it by two. As a result, 40% ABV is equal to 80 proof. The distillation process is critical in determining the amount of alcohol present in a spirit. Due to the fact that moonshine is frequently produced by unskilled hands, the alcohol concentration can fluctuate widely and possibly come out at an unhealthy level. The amount of alcohol in a drink influences the freezing point of alcohol, the way it affects you when you consume it, and other factors. For those that distill, we strongly advise investing in a hydrometer, which may be used to calculate the alcohol by volume (ABV) of your spirit.

Moonshine Flavors

Because moonshine may be made from practically any grain or fruit, the flavors can be as diverse as the ingredients used to make it. Here are some of the most popular flavors of moonshine to try:

  • Blackberry. Blackberry is a popular moonshine flavor that lends just the right amount of sweetness to the normally severe burn of moonshine whiskey. When it comes to flavor, it’s neither too strong nor too weak to get the job done well. Whether you’re making spring drinks or summer cocktails with moonshine, peppermint is a taste you really must try. Peppermint moonshine is a refreshing addition to your favorite winter beverage, and it is a terrific choice for winter drinks. Known for its crisp and invigorating flavor that puts eggnog to shame, peppermint moonshine is a popular choice
  • Cherry moonshine is another popular choice. Cherry is a fruit that is sometimes ignored, but it is an excellent choice for moonshine because the acidity of the fruit is a good compliment to the alcoholic bite. Continue to store the cherries in their container for the extra enjoyment of eating laced cherries later on. Apple is the epitome of a win-win situation. Apple moonshine is one of the most popular varieties of moonshine because it elevates apple cider to a whole new level. Even better, because there are so many distinct apple varieties available on the market, you can purchase a range of flavors ranging from sweet to sour. Vanilla is also a fantastic mixer for fall drinks, as well as a refreshing drink for your spooky Halloween gatherings. Vanilla is the last flavor of moonshine that we urge you check out. If you think about it, this is similar to a dessert wine since the drink can be rather sweet. However, because of this, it is an excellent choice for gatherings and for mixing with a homemade mixer. Indeed, it is a very adaptable alternative.

Is Moonshine Legal | Why Is Moonshine Illegal

  1. It is prohibited in the United States to manufacture moonshine (or any other spirit) without obtaining a licence or license.
  2. There are, however, a few distillers who have turned to producing legal “moonshine” with the authorization of the government in recent years.
  3. In reality, the majority of people believe that they are only using the word “moonshine” as a brand or restaurant marketing tactic to enhance sales because what they are truly distilling is a clear alcoholic beverage.
  4. Moonshine is a term that refers to a spirit that has been unlawfully distilled.

Is Making Moonshine Illegal?

Yes, if you create moonshine without the right permits, you are committing a criminal offense. According to the information provided above, you can get permissions and licenses in order to distill and sell your own clear alcohol. Just make certain that you follow all of the procedures and have all of the necessary papers before beginning the process. Your firm should not be shut down by the authorities once you begin selling booze online. This is something you should avoid.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moonshine

Over the course of thousands of years, people have been distilling their own alcohol, and moonshine holds a particular position in American popular culture. However, this also means that there are a lot of misunderstandings about moonshine, which leads to a lot of people having questions about the beverage. The following information is for anyone who still has questions about moonshine or is interested in learning more about it for the first time. We did the research for you and found the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding moonshine. Take a look at the following examples of our responses:

What Type of Alcohol Is Moonshine?

  1. The majority of specialists agree that moonshine is a type of homebrew whiskey that has not been matured.
  2. Because of the clear hue, this may come as a surprise, but the distillation method and the components utilized are clear indications that it is whiskey.

Is Moonshine 100 Percent Alcohol?

No, moonshine does not contain 100 percent ethanol. In general, the alcohol level of moonshine ranges between 40 and 80 percent by volume, although the length of time spent distilling it and the procedure utilized will have an influence on the amount of alcohol present.

It’s crucial to remember that consuming alcohol with a high alcohol content can have serious consequences for the human body, and that consuming 100 percent alcohol is quite risky.

Can You Buy Moonshine?

Yes, there are certain commercial moonshines that may be purchased for a price. Moonshine purists, on the other hand, do not regard these beverages to be “authentic” moonshine because the alcohol concentration is lower and they are not always produced in the same manner as traditional moonshine.

Moonshine Bright Like A Diamond

Moonshine is a traditional American beverage that is shrouded in mystery. A vast range of alternatives are available to you, whether you’re distilling your own or purchasing moonshine on the open market. We propose that you use an inventory management system, such as BinWise Pro, to help you keep track of your inventory. A comprehensive inventory management system that helps you manage your wine program more efficiently and successfully, BinWise Pro is a must-have for every wine enthusiast. It maintains track of the expiration dates and shelf life of each individual bottle. The system will notify you when a bottle is going to pass its drink-by date, ensuring that you never squander any of your inventory ever again. Please get in touch with us if you would like to learn more about BinWise Pro and how it might benefit your bar. The information contained in this post is intended solely for educational reasons, and BinWise does not advocate supporting the unlawful distillation of moonshine or any other alcoholic drinks.

Up to date on COVID-19: We are fully operational at this time and ship daily, Monday through Friday. This site is intended solely for educational reasons and does not include advertisements. For further information, please see our entire overview. The 16th of November, 2018 Before we get started, here’s a little reminder: If you do not have a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as the necessary state permissions, you are prohibited from distilling alcohol. 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.

  • A boosted “Thin Mash” Moonshine made with corn whiskey
  • A sugar mash
  • Distilling booze, cutting booze, and legal questions are all covered.

Corn Whiskey Moonshine Mash

Making the mash recipe below and then distilling it would be unlawful pretty much anyplace in the United States if you did not have the required commercial distillers permits, to reaffirm what we indicated at the beginning of the essay. As a result, please do not do this at home. If you’re a commercial distiller, on the other hand, continue reading. As far as classic, all-grain corn whiskey recipes are concerned, this recipe would be regarded the gold standard since the components employed should result in a pleasing scent, rich taste, and a smooth finish, with the corn flavor and aroma coming through loud and clear. In fact, the flavor of the maize will most likely disguise the true strength of this beverage, making it extremely deadly. The video below shows an all-grain mash that includes a little amount of malted barley to help in starch conversion.

In the absence of a distillers permission, we begin the movie by discussing how to make all-grain corn whiskey mash and then add sugar to transform it into a fuel alcohol formula, which is then seen in action.


  • 2.25 pounds malted and crushed barley
  • 6.75 gallons water
  • 9 pounds flaked maize (corn)
  • Brewer’s yeast (sometimes known as distillers yeast, or even bread yeast)
  • Optional: granulated sugar (optional)

Mash Procedure

  1. We brought the water temperature up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
    We added the maize (in a nylon filter bag or a steel mesh basket), and then we added the beans.
    It was left to sit until the temperature naturally dropped to 148 degrees Fahrenheit after which it was stirred again.
    Allow for 60 minutes of simmering time, stirring every 10 minutes, after which we added the malted barley.
    We take the grains out of the kettle and let them to drip into the kettle.
    We pasteurized the food by heating it to at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit (an optional step)
  2. To achieve this temperature, we cooled the mash to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
    After that, we moved the mixture to a fermentation bucket and added yeast
  3. We let the fermentation to take place for 7-10 days.

However, while it is lawful to make the mash indicated above, distilling it is not. Continue reading for more information on the laws of distilling.

Boosted “Thin Mash” Recipe

  1. The complete approach demonstrated in the video above, which includes the addition of sugar, really more truly reflects the process of generating a thin mash.
  2. Thin mash is a mixture of grain and granulated sugar that is served cold.
  3. But why is this so?
  4. When it comes to mashing corn, it can be tough to work with since it becomes incredibly thick before the starch begins to break down and turn into sugar.
  5. In practice, this implies that producing a mash using maize that has more than 8-10 percent alcohol can be challenging.
  6. Alternatively, when producing fuel alcohol, as we shown in the video, the initial alcohol % may and should be set at a high level in order to optimize the yield.
  7. We were able to boost the initial alcohol percentage of the beer by adding granulated sugar after the mash.
  8. Following steps 1-6 above, we made thin mash and then just added granulated sugar before continuing on to step 7.
  9. It’s important to remember that preparing this mash is legal.
  10. Distilling it, on the other hand, is not.
  11. Continue reading for more information on the laws of distilling.
  12. Please keep in mind that we normally add yeast nutrition to any mash that is not made entirely from grain or that has an alcohol content more than 10%.
  13. The table below illustrates how the addition of sugar raises the alcohol by volume (ABV).
  14. According to the data, 8lbs of sugar would be required to raise the sugar content of a 5 gallon corn mash from 10 percent to 19.
  15. 5 percent (which would necessitate an increase of 9.
  16. 5 percent).
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%

Sugar Mash

The phrase “sugar mush” is used loosely in this context. It primarily refers to high proof alcohol that is manufactured only from granulated sugar and contains no grain. When converting starch to sugar, it does not require the use of a mash and the technique for manufacturing it is quite straightforward. Making it is as simple as dissolving white table sugar in water, boiling it to pasteurize it (if desired), adding yeast nutrition (which is extremely crucial), and adding yeast.

Distilling Procedure

According to what we’ve stated multiple times in this post and hundreds of times on our website, distilling alcohol without the required authorization is against the law. Don’t do it unless you have the right licensing and authorization. Our description of it here is just for the purpose of education, and it is not intended to be relied upon by any person or entity as a scientific foundation for any act or decision. Heating a combination of water and alcohol (beer) to a temperature at or above 174 degrees Fahrenheit but below 212 degrees Fahrenheit is the process by which distilling alcohol is performed. This will cause the ethanol to boil, but it will also leave behind water. Why? Because ethanol boils at 174 degrees Fahrenheit and water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

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. With somewhat varying boiling temperatures, each of these compounds will be volatilized in the still and removed from it at a little different moment during the distillation process. Foreshots The foreshots are the initial 10 percent or so of the distillate that is produced. This should be disposed of immediately since it might contain methanol and hence be toxic. Heads The second section of the run is referred to as the heads section. Acetone, acetaldehyde, and acetate are among the chemicals found in the heads. These chemicals are unpalatable and have an unpleasant odor. Set them aside for the time being. Hearts The hearts contain ethanol as well as other beneficial substances. They have a strong scent and flavor, and they are rather smooth.

Keep this in mind. Tails The richness of the middle section of the run will diminish into what are referred to as the tails of the run. In this stretch of the run, the flavor is weak and watery. Keep this and mix it in with the heads for future runs if necessary.

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.
  • The distillation equipment offered by Clawhammer Supply is developed and intended for usage solely in legal situations, and the information contained in this page is intended to be instructional in nature.
  • We encourage you to read our comprehensive legal statement for further information on the legality of distillation.

Moonshine, like most distilled spirits, is a result of the distillation process. Creating moonshine entails many steps, including preparing and fermenting the mash, utilizing a still to complete the distillation process, and collecting the distillate. However, it is what occurs in the interim between those phases that distinguishes the finest procedures from the poorer ones. To begin, let us to state that creating moonshine is still a violation of federal law in the United States and that we will continue to fight this. To make moonshine for personal use or lawful distribution, one would need to get a federal license from the Department of Agriculture. All of that being said. As moonshine’s resurgence has occurred in recent years, several establishments have begun calling their greatest drinks “moonshine” and introducing them to an entire generation of drinkers who had previously been unfamiliar with the spirit. It should come as no surprise that individuals are interested in learning how to create moonshine at home.

What is Moonshine and What is it Made from?

Moonshine is traditionally considered to be a home-brewed beverage. Farmers in the Appalachian Mountains would produce their own “shine” in their own stills and bottle it in mason jars to sell to neighbors and friends. They eventually discovered that it might be a reliable source of additional revenue, so they increased the quantity of product they manufactured for sale. A variety of grains and fruits can be used to make moonshine. Traditionally, whatever grain or fruit was readily available in a particular location at a given time would serve as the foundation for a dish. The moonshine that we are familiar with today, on the other hand, is often made with corn as the primary source of fermentable sugar. There isn’t much of a distinction between the production of vodka and moonshine in terms of the process. Both are unaged neutral spirits that are often cut with water to boost volume and produce an alcoholic beverage that is completely safe to consume in large quantities. “Moonshiners” prepare the drink from a fruit or grain mash from which natural sugars are removed via fermentation, or they can use commercial sugar, as long as the natural sugars are extracted by fermentation.

Sugar is essential in the process, and this is where the difference between it and whiskey, which is made entirely of grain, can be seen. Moonshine is sometimes referred to be a type of “clear, unaged whiskey” by certain drinkers.

Why Make Your Own Moonshine?

  1. You enjoy booze, and even we who enjoy liquor must confess that there is something unique about producing your fermented beverage from home rather than purchasing it from a bottle shop or liquor store.
  2. Even if you haven’t really done it, the simple dream of seeing that first drop come out of your still and being able to claim you created your own moonshine, followed by the picture of getting blitzed and blasted with your pals, is already fulfilling in and of themselves.
  3. Fortunately, distilling is the type of art and trade that encourages experimentation, but not without its own set of constraints.
  4. You may begin with the most basic moonshine runs then, if you’re up for it, progress to more complex grain bills, barrel maturation, and a variety of other fascinating procedures that improve the flavor of the finished product.
  5. There are several methods to experiment with spirits, particularly moonshine, that will always leave you with a desire to try something new.

First, make sure you’re authorized to distill

In the United States, you can brew your own beer or create your own wine at home, but if Johnny Law discovers that you’re creating moonshine, you’ll face severe consequences. You might be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison or fined up to $10,000, or both, if you are convicted. Why? So, there’s that. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter approved the practice of making beer at home without incurring federal taxation. The same may be said about wine as well. Homebrewing was permitted across Europe, as well as virtually everywhere else in the world, with the exception of a few Middle Eastern countries. Distilling alcohol, on the other hand, is a very other affair. See, it is not just unlawful to produce moonshine at home; distilling alcohol — any alcohol — without a permission is against the law in every state, regardless of jurisdiction. Even creating ethanol for use as a fuel will necessitate the acquisition of a license, let alone manufacturing alcohol for consumption. The law does permit you to possess a still and utilize it for a variety of purposes, including distilling water or producing essential oils. In essence, you can distill all day as long as you don’t make any alcoholic beverages and don’t report your activities to the authorities.

How to Make Moonshine

Making moonshine is not a difficult endeavor. However, it may be really stressful, especially if you aren’t doing it correctly from the very beginning of the process. It’s also uncommon for someone to receive high grades on their first effort, and the quality of your work may still be far from ideal even after your second or third attempts.

Things You’ll Need

  • Pot is still on
  • It is important to note that depending on what your still is made for, the heat source might be electric, gas, or wood fire.
    a bucket for fermenting
  • Airlock
  • A supply of running water, or at the very least a couple of litres of frozen water, for cooling the vapor is required.
    Mason jars, the most popular of which are collector containers, are the most common.
    A thermometer for cooking
  • A hydrometer


  • 3 1/2 gallons of water
  • 8.5 pounds of cracked or flaked maize
  • 1.5 pounds of crushed malted barley

1. Preparing and fermenting the mash

The first thing you must do is fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway with water. Only when the temperature hits 165°F (74°C) should the heat be turned off. Then, pour in the full amount of maize into the water and stir constantly for approximately 5 minutes. After the 5-minute mark, you will only need to stir the corn every 3 seconds until it reaches a temperature of 152°F (67°C), at which point you may stop stirring. Adding the malted barley to the container is the next stage in the process. After covering it with plastic wrap and letting it sit for an hour and a half, you must stir the mixture every 15 minutes and cover it again after you are through stirring. The reason for this is because all of the carbohydrates must be converted into sugar. After one and a half hours, you must allow the mixture to cool completely before using it. You may continue to cook it for another 2-3 hours, or you can use an immersion blender to stir it up and speed up the chilling process significantly. The target temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). After that, evenly sprinkle yeast over the entire mixture, making sure that the entire top surface is completely covered with yeast. A vital component of the fermentation process, yeast is required for the production of alcohol without it. After the yeast has been added, the following stage will be aeration of the mixture. Pour the mixture back and forth between two containers until the desired amount of mixing and aeration has been accomplished, then stop. After that, cover the mash container with an airtight lid. It is now ready for fermentation to begin. Fungi or bacteria, as well as other microorganisms — in this example, yeast – transform sugar into alcohol during the fermentation process. In order for fermentation to occur, the mash must be allowed to sit for around 2 weeks. Some folks wait an extra week to be sure that everything is breaking down as it should be. Others wait two weeks. When the waiting period has expired, you should be able to smell the alcohol as soon as you open the container’s cover. You will also note that the mash seems frothy or whisked, which indicates that the maize and barley have effectively fermented.

To ensure that lumps of mash or sediment are removed and do not become part of the distillation process, strain the mash through a big sieve or cheesecloth and set it aside. After carefully filtering the liquid, you may begin preparing to pour it into the still for use.

2. Setting up the still and starting the distilling process

  • First and first, whether you’re utilizing a new or an old still, you must thoroughly clean it.
  • The last thing you want is for dirt and dust particles to end up in your moonshine, which you’ve worked so hard to make flawless.
  • Different stills operate in a variety of ways and contain a variety of components.
  • There are also several ways for operating stills that may be used.
  • Packing a distillation column is the most effective and easiest method of increasing the final proof of moonshine while also improving its flavor.
  • Copper scrubbers, raschig rings, and glass distilling beads are all good options for accomplishing this.
  • If you want to pack columns as part of your strategy, this is the moment to do it.
  • Once you’ve done setting up the still, you’ll be able to begin distilling your product.
  • Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius).
  • If your system still has a condenser, turn on the water.
  • Simple garden hoses that drip slowly with chilly water might be used for this task.
  • Afterwards, raise the temperature of your still until you begin to notice alcohol being created.
  • When the temperature hits roughly 190°F (87°C), you should be able to see the first drips of alcohol coming from the distillery still.
  • Keep track of when the drips occur.
  • Reduce the heat if you see that the alcohol is flowing at a rate of 3-5 drips per second.
  • It is critical at this moment to keep the heat intensity at a moderate level.
  • Provide the exact proper quantity of heat to ensure that the wash maintains its temperature consistency throughout the whole procedure.
  • Prepare the mason jars that will be used to collect the distillate.
  • Due to the fact that you will only be collecting a few drops of distillate every second, the complete process will take many hours.

3. Collecting the distillate

Although the procedure is nearly completed, the most crucial portion is just just getting started. Every distiller must be familiar with and comprehend the numerous components of moonshine in order to determine which ones are safe and which ones are not. The first 5 percent of the moonshine that drips from your still will need to be discarded, so plan accordingly. The foreshots are a term used to describe this section of the game. This product includes methanol, which is a chemical that has been linked to blindness and should not be ingested. It has the potential to be dangerous as well. It is recommended that you collect and discard foreshots weighing at least 4 ounces for every 5 gallons of distillate that you are distilling. After the foreshots, it’s time to bring out the heads. This section consumes the remaining 30 percent of the liquor dropping from your still after it has been distilled. The methanol is still present in the heads, albeit in less amounts this time around. It will have a strong scent similar to nail polish remover. Not consuming the heads would also be preferable in this situation. Although it is unlikely to result in blindness, it might leave you feeling nauseated the next day. This section should not be consumed since the following one will include the completed product that you’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. It’s referred to as the hearts. It is the remaining 30% that is created by those who are still following the heads. The pleasant scent will quickly alert you to the fact that you are in the proper stage of collecting drips for ingestion. The tails are the last section of the moonshine run, and it is the most difficult to complete. This half will not have the same lovely fragrance as the hearts. If you touch it, you’ll note that it has a slight greasiness to it due to the large reduction in the quantity of ethanol present, which has been replaced by water, carbohydrates, and proteins. Most likely, you won’t have any difficulty differentiating between the tails and the hearts in this situation. As a general rule of thumb, only the heart portion of the distillate is collected for consumption, with the tails being saved for future distillation. It is not very hazardous to have some of the tails incorporated with your drink.

It does, however, have a distinctly unpleasant flavor. People describe it as having a foul, vegetable-like flavor that can detract from the overall flavor of your moonshine and leave you with a blazing headache the following morning.

Is There Another Way to Make Moonshine?

Yes! Was it ever brought to your attention that you could create moonshine in an instant pot? The items you’ll require are as follows:

  • 15-gallon metal pot
  • 2 yards of copper tubing (14-inch wide)
  • Pressure cooker
  • Drill bit (quarter-inch diameter)
  • Large plastic bucket
  • Cheesecloth

Best Flavored Moonshine Recipes

Here are some traditional moonshine recipes with a modern twist that you might like to try out. Simply click on the recipe names to be taken to detailed step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the dishes.

Peach Moonshine Mash

  1. This recipe for fruity moonshine is rather simple to prepare.
  2. Only 20 lbs.
  3. of peaches, 6 lbs.
  4. of granulated sugar, 6 gallons of water, 2 packets of Champagne yeast, and 1 packet of Pot Still Turbo with Pectic Enzyme are required to make this delicious beverage.

Strawberry Moonshine

If you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to savory meals at a Sunday BBQ, this sweet alcoholic beverage will do the trick. The following ingredients are required: 800 grams of sugar, 96 ounces of water, 40 ounces of Everclear (190 proof), 32 ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 24 ounces of strawberry purée

Watermelon Moonshine

This delicious beverage isn’t enough to make the summer season complete. This delicious spirit may be made using 16 oz. of hot water, 14 grams of yeast, 5 watermelons, 4 pounds of sugar cane, and 2 pounds of raisins, among other ingredients.

Safety is the 1 Priority

  1. We are all aware that the combination of alcohol and recklessness is a well-known recipe for spectacular mishaps.
  2. When creating your own moonshine, there are certain basic safety precautions you should follow.
  • Do not distill in a confined or enclosed environment. When liquor vapors escape from the still, there is a chance of an open fire and spontaneous combustion occurring, both of which may be disastrous. This is because you do not want your house turned into a bomb manufacturing facility. If you intend to distill in large quantities, set up a distilling facility outside your home. Because you never know what can catch fire near the still, it’s advisable to keep a fire extinguisher close at all times so you can put it out as fast as possible.
    Make an investment in suitable protective equipment. And, unless you’re keen on touching a scorching hot copper still with your bare hands, put on gloves.
    Making moonshine should not be done when under the influence of alcohol. Drinking while waiting for the procedure to complete may be tempting, and for many, it may even be considered regular practice, but the process necessitates that you maintain your focus and address possible difficulties as they arise. Checking the flavor of the hearts will give you a solid indication of whether or not you’re doing things correctly, but this should not take more than a drink or two
  • You should enlist the assistance of another person. You should have at least one other person with you in case you require assistance. Or, better yet, find a mentor who has had legitimate moonshine-making experience or at the very least has some knowledge of the process. Moonshining has survived as a tradition largely due to the efforts of those who have mentored others and kept the custom alive.

How Strong is Moonshine?

In the 2012 film Lawless, there is a scene in which the characters played by Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy were a couple of alcohol bootleggers who, after they ran out of petrol, utilized a jar of moonshine as fuel to power their vehicle. This concept was most likely formed as a result of the widespread impression of moonshine as a drink with such a high level of potency. In that specific circumstance, when moonshine was most likely produced illegally, the assumption is plausible. The proof of moonshine might reach 190 proof during the prohibition era, but the minimum proof required to drive an automobile is just 150 proof now. A Mythbusters episode included a 192-proof moonshine container that was used to power three automobiles from various decades (the 1970s, 1990s, and 2010s), and all three vehicles were able to operate, but with variable levels of performance. So, how potent is moonshine exactly? Despite the fact that many people complain about the burn or the strong flavor associated with drinking moonshine, few people are aware that excellent grade moonshine is really fairly smooth and palatable. In fact, it is often regarded as a fantastic platform for flavoring applications. Because it is colorless, moonshine is the drink of choice for distillers who want to produce a flawless blend of fruit and explosive taste in their creations.

What Makes a Moonshine Recipe Better than Others?

The majority of distillers feel that the distinctive characteristic that distinguishes the quality of moonshine produced by two different moonshiners is the method by which they separate the drink. After all, the purer the product, the richer and more flavorful the drink will be as a result of the process. This means that creating moonshine is similar to most other undertakings in life: the one who practices the most is the one who improves the most. In order to determine which phase of the process he is in, a distiller would need to smell the product, and it would take a lot of expertise for him to perfect the technique of separating the product with more precision.

To be more specific, the more sure you are in your ability to distinguish the difference between the point where the heads no longer drip and the place where the hearts begin to flow, the more flavorful your moonshine will be.

The Bottom Line

Rather than encouraging illegal moonshining, we hope that you will get a better understanding of how to create moonshine – just as legitimate distributors do – by reading this page. Again, there’s nothing quite like being able to distill your own spirit, and achieving that gratification takes careful planning, thorough understanding, and extreme caution.

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