Categories Moonshine

What Is Moonshine Made Out Of? (Question)

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.

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.

What kind 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.

How strong is moonshine?

There isn’t anything inherently dangerous about moonshine — at least no more dangerous than any other alcoholic drink. 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 real moonshine bad for you?

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 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.

Is moonshine a 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 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 similar to whiskey?

Absolutely nothing. Both whiskey and moonshine have the same production process – give or take a few variables. “Moonshine” came to be distinguished from whiskey for its illegal nature rather than it being a different type of alcohol – moonshine is just whiskey that hasn’t been taxed.

Is moonshine straight alcohol?

As an alcoholic beverage, moonshine does have a high alcohol content; it’s not called white lightning for nothing. Everclear, the pure grain alcohol, is sold as a 190 proof/95 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). In fact, if you see a moonshine labeled as a “neutral spirit,” it’s closer to Everclear than whiskey.

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.

How much does moonshine cost?

The selling price is around $25 a gallon if sold in bulk, or $40 for retail price. “They can make as much as $10,000 a month,” the task force said. Producers make five to six gallons every seven days in the winter and 7 gallons every five days in warmer weather.

Can a shot of moonshine get you drunk?

You’ll feel mildly drunk until you get used to it and then it’ll just be a warm feeling as it goes down. As long as you stick to the one shot glass a day, and don’t let it creep up into pints, you’re fine. The quality of the moonshine.

Can you go blind from drinking moonshine?

If you’re drinking moonshine, yes. Today the most common cause of blindness from drinking is methanol. Methanol, otherwise known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, can damage the optic nerve and even kill you in high concentrations.

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.

What exactly is moonshine? Moonshine is any type of alcoholic beverage that is produced in secret in order to escape excessive taxes or prohibitions on alcoholic beverages. The phrase “moonshine” comes from the British verb “moonshining,” which referred to any activity that was carried out late at night by the light of the moon. The name “moonshine” is derived from the term “moonshining.” The ingredients for moonshine are rather straightforward, and generally include corn meal, yeast, sugar, and water.

When moonshine or whiskey is originally distilled, it has a distinct structure that is easy to discern. Whiskey that you buy at your local liquor shop is usually matured in charred oak barrels for several months or years before being released into the market to get its darker color and mild flavor. Even though moonshine does not need to be aged, it can be enhanced by the addition of fruits such as cherries or strawberries. The formula for whiskey, brandy, or rum is almost identical to the one for moonshine in most cases.

  1. The base material that is utilized prior to distillation is what distinguishes them from one another.
  2. Whiskey is historically created from a blend of grains.
  3. This is no longer the case.
  4. Moonshine traditionally manufactured from maize is known as classic moonshine.
  5. When it comes to spirits, brandy may be manufactured from practically any type of fruit, whereas rum is derived from fermented sugar cane and vodka can be made from potatoes or simply a mixture of sugar water and yeast.
  6. What is the process of making moonshine?

The techniques of making moonshine or any other distilled alcohol are divided into two categories: fermentation and distillation. When yeast is used in the absence of oxygen, alcoholic fermentation is a metabolic natural process by which sugar is transformed into acids, gases, and alcohol in the absence of oxygen. Distillation is the process of evaporating the alcohol from a fermented mixture that has been heated to around 172 degrees Fahrenheit (78 degrees Celsius) and collecting the steam before condensing it back into a liquid form of alcohol.

The theory of alcoholic distillation is based on the fact that alcohol and water have significantly different boiling points. Because ethanol (alcohol) has a lower boiling point than water, it is the first component of the fermented mixture to evaporate when it is heated to a boil. The alcohol vapor is subsequently cooled and condensed within the condenser, resulting in the formation of a liquid. After any remaining ethanol has been vaporized from the boiling liquid, the temperature rises, causing the water to condense and evaporate as well.

The following is the sequence of events that occurs during the distillation process:
As many different mash preparation procedures as there are moonshiners, but the fundamentals are pretty much the same for everyone.

This is, nevertheless, the basic procedure, step by step, in most cases. Consider the following as a description of “old school” moonshine production utilizing “old school” moonshine equipment, not as a description of current distillation equipment.

  1. In a good fermentation vessel, begin by adding ground corn meal, cracked corn, or even commercial hog feed (which is primarily composed of ground corn and other grains) to the jar and mixing thoroughly. Others prefer to boil the corn combination and stir in particular enzymes to convert the starches to sugars before transferring it to the fermentation vessel
  2. More sugar and water are then added to the corn mixture before moving it to the fermentation vessel. In the following step, yeast (either bread yeast or specialist “turbo yeast”) is added to the mixture.
    1. The fermentation process begins at this point, when the yeast begins to absorb the sugars and convert them to alcohol.
    2. According on the combination of yeast and enzymes employed, as well as where the fermentation vessel is maintained, this process can take anywhere from three days to several weeks.
    3. The absence of bubbling in the mixture will be a solid indication that the fermentation process has come to an end.

    Due to the fact that alcohol is less buoyant than water, much of what was originally floating on top of the mixture will have gone to the bottom

  3. The mash is now ready for distillation. Pour the mash into the still and make sure it is securely closed and sealed. Raise the temperature of the furnace beneath the still to approximately 172 degrees Fahrenheit (78 C). Wood, coal, or even steam can be used to heat the still, depending on the kind of still, although propane is the most commonly utilized nowadays. As the alcohol evaporates, the pressure in the still develops, and the alcohol is extracted. The alcohol steam is driven through a pipe that emerges from the top of the still
  4. Alternatively, a thump keg may be used, which is essentially a heated barrel into which the steam is forced. This device, which was given its name because the thumping sound the chunks of mash make when they drop into the barrel, re-evaporates the alcohol while filtering out the mash since some solid material from the mash is generally carried along with the steam in this device’s operation. It’s possible to “charge” the thump keg by adding undistilled mash or a few liters of alcohol to it before filling it with steam, which allows the steam to suck up additional alcohol-vapor on its way into the worm box
  5. But, this will make your moonshine less strong.
    The steam is channeled into the worm, which is a coiled piece of pipe that snakes its way down the inside of the worm box to the bottom. In the worm box, cold water is channeled into the top of the crate or barrel and then back out the bottom. This keeps the worm immersed in cold water that is continually moving, which helps to condense the alcohol vapour into liquid.
    A tap or hose connects the end of the worm to a bucket, which is then passed through one last filter
  6. The result is a clear liquid known as moonshine.

There needs to be a compelling reason for going through all of the bother of manufacturing moonshine in the first place. Actually, there have been a number of causes, but they all boil down to one thing: government control of the alcohol trade in the United States. 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 expenses of a lengthy war. The idea was to impose a federal tax on alcoholic beverages such as liquors and spirits.

  • The American people, who having recently fought a war to free themselves from oppressive British taxation (among other things), were not overjoyed with the outcome.
  • As a result, they decided to just continue producing their own whisky while fully ignoring the government tax.
  • Making and selling alcoholic beverages wasn’t just a recreational activity or a method to supplement their income;
  • it was a means of survival for these early moonshiners.

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. They believed that paying the tax meant that they would be unable to provide for their family. 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. All of this hatred culminated in the siege of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1794, when several hundred enraged people took control of the city.

President George Washington summoned an assembly of militiamen who would be under government jurisdiction. Approximately 13 thousand troops dispersed the riot and apprehended its leaders. The Whisky Rebellion was the first significant test of federal power for the nascent government, and it proved to be a watershed moment. Despite the collapse of the revolt, moonshining persisted throughout the United States, with concentrations in Kentucky, Virginia, the Carolinas, and other southern states, particularly in the South.

  1. Because excise duties on alcoholic beverages did not disappear, moonshiners continued to have an incentive to operate outside the law.
  2. Gunfights between moonshiners and revenuers became the stuff of legends as a result of their brutality.
  3. These fights intensified in the 1860s as the government attempted to collect the excise tax in order to support the American Civil War (Civil War I).
  4. In several fierce conflicts, moonshiners and Ku Klux Klansmen joined forces, and the result was a stalemate.

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. The tide of public opinion began to shift against the moonshiners in the late 1800s. As the United States entered the twentieth century, the temperance movement, which aimed to prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages, gained momentum. States began adopting legislation prohibiting the sale and use of alcoholic beverages in the early 1900s.

Prohibition was officially implemented across the country in 1920. It was the most wonderful thing that the moonshiners could have wished for. All of a sudden, there was no legal alcoholic beverage accessible. The demand for moonshine soared like a rocket in the following years. 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. The distillers are willing to go to any length to maximize their profits. As speakeasies sprung up in every city, organized crime flourished.

  • These secret saloons were equipped with concealed doors, passwords, and escape routes in case the “Feds” turned up to perform a raid.
  • Moonshine became scarce when Prohibition was lifted in 1933, causing the market to decline.
  • 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.

Huge commercial distilleries have the ability to purchase raw ingredients on such a large scale that, even after deducting the taxes they must pay, their products are not significantly more expensive than moonshine. 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.

There is little motivation for alcohol drinkers to seek out moonshine except than the lure of purchasing and consuming something that is “forbidden” and the defiance of government authority.

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


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).


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.


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  32. “Hazardous Goods Management.” Retrieved 25 November 2018
  33. “Risk of End Stage Renal Disease Associated with Alcohol Consumption” (PDF). Publications by the University of Oxford.

    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)
  37. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  38. What you need to know about urban moonshining from the Kings County Distillery, including how to create and enjoy whiskey ISBN 1-4197-0990-9
  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
  43. “Popcorn Sutton Moonshine Recipe” is a recipe for making moonshine from popcorn. whiskey still company a b whiskey still company Cooper, William J.
  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. Retrieved 4 April 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

It may be defined as any type of alcoholic beverage that is produced in secret in order to evade excessive taxes or prohibitions on alcoholic beverages. The word “moonshine” was coined in the United Kingdom. When it was first coined, the term “moonshining” referred to any action that was carried out in the dark of the night by the light of the moon. Moonshine is made from a few simple ingredients: maize meal, sugar, yeast, and water. The formula for whiskey is quite similar to that of rum. When moonshine or whiskey is originally produced, it is always clear in color. When you buy a bottle of whiskey off the shelf at your local liquor shop, it has been matured for years in charred oak barrels, which gives it its amber color and mellow flavor profile. Moonshine does not require any maturation. Due to the fact that it is bottled and sold directly from the still, it is clear and has a stronger kick.

You may have seen moonshine that has been blended with fruit, such as cherries or strawberries, at some of your local liquor stores. This moonshine will have a tinted look as a result of the fruit that has been used in its preparation.

Moonshiners, Bootleggers, and Rumrunners

  • Operators of illicit whiskey stills performed their operations at night in order to escape discovery by law enforcement agencies, earning them the nickname “Moonshiners” for their efforts.
  • Bootleggers were the individuals that Moonshiners used to convey their illicit alcoholic beverages to their customers.
  • The word “bootlegger” stems from colonial times when smugglers traveled on horseback with their alcoholic beverages disguised in their tall riding boots, thus the name.
  • During the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, bootleggers exchanged their horses for automobiles.
  • These later bootleggers honed their mechanical talents as they modified their automobiles to accommodate bigger springs to handle the weight of the booze and greater horsepower to aid them in their efforts to evade the authorities and escape capture.
  • NASCAR was created as a result of this fascination with automobiles and speed.
  • One week prior to the event, the winner of the first-ever NASCAR race had used his automobile to sneak illegal alcoholic beverages into the country.
  • Rumrunners are essentially the same as bootleggers, with the exception that they transport their contraband via the water, employing swift vessels with disguised cargo hold compartments.

How is Moonshine Made?

The processes of fermentation and distillation are essential in the production of alcohol. Yeast fermentation is a chemical event that takes place when sugar is broken down by the yeast. One of the byproducts of this process is alcohol. Evaporating the alcohol at 172 degrees Celsius and collecting the steam before condensing it back into liquid form is the process of distillation. Procedure for Making Moonshine: Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Corn meal is made by grinding it up. Most commercial hog feed is composed of maize, and it is inexpensive and easy to obtain without drawing too much notice. Corn meal is steeped in hot water in the still before being infused with other ingredients to make whiskey. Sugar is occasionally added, although traditional moonshiners use malt to convert the starch in the maize meal into sugar, which is a process that takes time. It is next necessary to add the yeast, which kick-starts the fermentation process. This combination, known as mash, is well churned before being cooked in the still for a certain period of time. When making bourbon, copper is often used for the still and all metal piping since it transmits heat effectively and does not contaminate the alcohol. A heat source is utilized to get the mash temperature up to around 172 degrees Fahrenheit. Stills have been heated using wood, coal, and even steam in the past, but today’s stills are generally heated with propane gas
  • At this point, the alcohol is completely evaporated. As the pressure in the still develops, the alcohol steam is driven via the cap arm, which is a pipe that comes out of the top of the still
  • The steam then travels into the thump keg, which is just a barrel into which the steam is forced to the bottom as the pressure in the still builds. In honor of the thumping sound generated by the steam being driven under the level of alcohol in the barrel, the thump keg was given this name. At this stage, the proof of the alcohol steam is doubled
  • The steam continues into the worm, which is a coiled piece of pipe that spirals along the interior of the worm box
  • And the steam continues into the worm. Water is poured into the top of the worm box from a nearby water source and then expelled through the bottom of the crate or barrel, which is known as a worm chamber. This keeps the worm immersed in cold water that is continually moving, which helps to condense the alcohol vapour into liquid.
    When the worm’s end is reached, the alcohol drains into a pail or container.
    A proving barrel is then used to equalize the quantity of alcohol in the moonshine and mix it to get the correct proof.
    The clear liquid that results from this process is ready to be packaged or jarred and sold.

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? 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. Tradition dictated that it be manufactured in a home-made still and then packaged in a mason jar. 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. 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.” “Taras Hrabowsky, a moonshine maker, discusses his process. “Oak barrels are employed to rectify flavor characteristics in old spirits, which are matured for a longer period of time. Making moonshine that can stand on its own, without the strong oak qualities that we associate with whiskey, becomes increasingly difficult. When you locate the good thing, you’ll understand why people are so enthusiastic about it.” Hrabowsky should be aware of this. 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.

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

Boosted “Thin Mash” Recipe

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. Thin mash is a mixture of grain and granulated sugar that is served cold. But why is this so? 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. In practice, this implies that producing a mash using maize that has more than 8-10 percent alcohol can be challenging. 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. We were able to boost the initial alcohol percentage of the beer by adding granulated sugar after the mash. Following steps 1-6 above, we made thin mash and then just added granulated sugar before continuing on to step 7. It’s important to remember that preparing this mash is legal. Distilling it, on the other hand, is not. Continue reading for more information on the laws of distilling. 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%.

The table below illustrates how the addition of sugar raises the alcohol by volume (ABV). 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 19.5 percent (which would necessitate an increase of 9.5 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

  1. This area is reserved only for commercial distillers.
  2. Their intention is to use this procedure to improve the flavor and scent of their spirits in the future.
  3. 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.
  4. What exactly do we mean by that?
  5. To put it another way, to oversimplify.
  6. A batch of fermented mash contains a wide variety of oils and alcohols of varying degrees of purity and concentration.
  7. 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.
  8. Foreshots The foreshots are the initial 10 percent or so of the distillate that is produced.
  9. This should be disposed of immediately since it might contain methanol and hence be toxic.
  10. Heads The second section of the run is referred to as the heads section.
  11. Acetone, acetaldehyde, and acetate are among the chemicals found in the heads.
  12. These chemicals are unpalatable and have an unpleasant odor.
  13. Set them aside for the time being.
  14. Hearts The hearts contain ethanol as well as other beneficial substances.
  15. They have a strong scent and flavor, and they are rather smooth.
  16. Keep this in mind.
  17. Tails The richness of the middle section of the run will diminish into what are referred to as the tails of the run.
  18. In this stretch of the run, the flavor is weak and watery.
  19. 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.

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, followed suit, as did Tennessee, which saw the nation’s first legal moonshine distillery open its doors in 2010. The number of illegal moonshine stills in operation in the United States has been estimated to be more than a million, making the manufacture of the clear, high-potency drink more ubiquitous and pervasive than it has ever been in history. Furthermore, due to the materials, byproducts, and flammability of the result, it is potentially exceedingly dangerous to create at home.

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.
  • While the term “moonshine” may conjure up traditional ideas of “country-folk” distilling and carrying their strong potables in jugs labeled “XXX” in the middle of the night to evade discovery, the reality is far more complex.
  • 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.
  • Despite these advancements, this does not imply that all moonshine is safe to consume in large quantities.
  • 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 an increase in the use of marijuana, as well as an increase in the use of prescription opioids, which reached epidemic levels in the region. Moonshine appears to have had a rebirth in recent years. With the current trend toward increasing costs at the liquor shop, particularly for foreign spirits, moonshining has re-entered the public consciousness. Approximately one million Americans were found to be violating the law by creating moonshine in 2010, according to a BBC investigation on moonshine production in the United States. Tennessee legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages at large box retailers such as Walmart and Sam’s Club the following year. Stills constructed entirely of copper are available for purchase on the internet from websites ranging from 1-gallon personal models to 220-gallon business operations.

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.


  • 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.
  • Antifreeze glycol components left over from outdated radiators might also be included in the brew, adding more poisons to the potent concoction.
  • Methanol tainting may develop in bigger quantities of distilled moonshine, and it is especially common in older batches.
  • It is possible that the initial liquid generated by the distillation process will contain methanol, because methanol evaporates at a lower temperature than alcohol.
  • The greater the batch size, the greater the amount of methanol.
  • Most moonshine producers nowadays are aware of the need of pouring out the initial drippings from the condenser, often known as the foreshot, although not all of them are aware of or perform this procedure.
  • Methanol is extremely dangerous and can result in blindness or even death if inhaled.
  • Dr.
  • 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.
  • The doctor discovered lead contamination in 43 out of the 50 samples he tested.

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. Due to the fact that the United States produces millions of gallons of moonshine each year, the likelihood that some of it may be polluted is very high.

Health experts are concerned that the presence of moonshine toxicity in unwell people may be undetected since most healthcare practitioners regard it to be a relic of a more distant period.

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. “The phrase stems from the fact that it is done at night so that the smoke from the still will not be seen to onlookers. 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. Moonshine was first sold in clay jugs, and then in mason jars, before being packed in glass bottles. 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.

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  • I have to admit that I was once just as intrigued as you are today.
  • Moonshine, with its strong kick and distinct stench, is both intriguing and terrifying due to its tremendous kick and distinct stink.
  • Of course, this prompted me to start asking myself some questions.
  • What ingredients are used to make moonshine?
  • Most of the time, this homemade alcoholic beverage is created from maize meal, sugar, water, and yeast.
  • When compared to brandy and whiskey, the recipe for moonshine is quite similar.
  • The difference is that this alcoholic beverage does not require aging;
  • nonetheless, sweet fruits may be added for a richer and more nuanced flavor profile.
  • Next, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of moonshine, covering everything from its legal status to its potency and other vital information.

What Type of Alcohol Is in Moonshine?

Take one of the most crucial questions as a starting point. In particular, what form of alcoholic beverage is moonshine? As you may expect, there is no one correct solution. Because moonshine is created at home, the formula, the amount of alcohol in it, and the flavor can all vary. The most common types of moonshine are rum and whiskey, depending on the components used to make them. It is possible to claim that most commercial moonshines are just unaged whiskeys (in which case they aren’t actually moonshines at all).

However, this does not imply that authentic moonshine would taste anything like the whiskey purchased at a liquor store that you are accustomed to drinking. Next, we’ll take a closer look at what makes moonshine special, starting with its distinct flavor. Stay tuned for more information.

What Does Real Moonshine Taste Like?

What precisely does actual moonshine taste like, given all of this, remains a mystery. Moonshines can be sweet, bitter, watery, and/or contain overtones of maize in them, to name a few characteristics. However, this often asked question is a legitimate one that gets a variety of responses depending on who you ask. This is due to the fact that no two moonshine recipes are precisely same. The fact that moonshine isn’t created in accordance with any specific federal regulation or general formula means that batches might differ depending on who is manufacturing it, what components are utilized, and how the distillation process is carried out. As previously said, genuine moonshine is often flavored with a combination of the following flavors:

As previously stated, the majority of moonshines are created from some form of maize meal or other grains. As a result, many authentic moonshines have a distinct “corny” flavor, which is not surprising. Obviously, this is dependent on the amount of corn meal used, as well as the other grains that have been added to the moonshine mixture (some distillers use rye, for example, to take out some of the overpowering taste of the corn meal).

  1. Real moonshine can sometimes be devoid of any discernible flavor.
  2. If the wine has been matured for a while, in particular, you should anticipate the alcohol to be smooth and even suspiciously so.
  3. Don’t be shocked if a batch of authentic moonshine has no flavor and no discernible kick when poured into a glass.
  4. It’s also vital not to interpret this as a license to gulp down your beverage in one sitting (because you will certainly feel it later).

Real moonshine can be sour or sweet, depending on the formula and the ingredients used (or bitter). In some cases, the alcohol has a taste that is nearly cider-like, whereas in others, the alcohol has a lemony flavor. That’s because fruits are occasionally added to moonshine to make it taste less harsh and more acceptable, however the amount and kind of fruit used will vary depending on the batch and where the moonshine is purchased.

True moonshine, on the other hand, has a distinct punch that distinguishes it from other spirits. Many of the actual moonshines you’ll come across will go down hot and fast—and may even come back up hot and fast. The effects of these powerful cocktails may be devastating if you’re not careful (and this is not an exaggeration). Would you be interested in giving it a shot? Check out the step-by-step instructions for making this moonshine.

How Strong Is Moonshine?

So, how potent is moonshine in its purest form? You might be shocked by what you find. Putting this spirit in context with other popular alcoholic beverages can help you better appreciate the enormity of the potency of this spirit. Generally speaking, your favorite can of store-bought beer has around 5 percent alcohol, whereas that glass of wine you enjoy to unwind at the end of the day contains approximately 12 percent alcohol. Standard moonshines, on the other hand, can contain an incredible 75 percent alcohol by volume (or 150 proof). Obviously, this isn’t something you want to consume on a regular basis. Because moonshine does not age, it has a strong flavor. It also used to have a strong flavor because of the harsh and uncontrolled distillation techniques that were employed to create illegal alcohol in the olden days. The potency of moonshines means that they are often consumed in shot form or blended with non-alcoholic beverages to diminish their effect. Even if you are able to tolerate the strong tastes of the alcohol, it is not recommended that you consume large quantities of it at once.

The reason for this is because moonshine, even when diluted, contains a greater proportion of alcohol than most beers, wines, or even spirits, and can render you completely incapacitated (or worse, as we’ll discover later).

Is Moonshine Stronger Than Vodka?

  1. Anyone who has ever consumed vodka will tell you that it is not for the faint of heart.
  2. If you find the appropriate bottle of vodka, which is 80-100 proof, it may take you to new heights of inebriation (and the worst hangover of your life).
  3. It’s no surprise, therefore, that vodka has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most potent alcoholic beverages.
  4. Here’s where you can learn how to produce homemade vodka.
  5. However, even the strongest moonshines, which, as we’ve seen, are often bottled at 150 percent, pale in contrast to the strongest vodkas.
  6. FACT: Some moonshines made during the Prohibition era had proof levels as high as 190 proof, which is almost double the strength of a conventional vodka.
  7. The non-drinkable whiskey has even been used to power automobiles, so you’ll want to steer clear of it and stick to the commercially approved alternatives instead.
  8. Even the lightest moonshines are typically 125 proof, which means that the usual alcohol level of even the lightest moonshines is more than what you can consume in a casual setting.

Why Is Moonshine Illegal?

Even while there are a variety of possible health risks associated with consuming (and distilling) pure moonshine, these have little to do with the reasons why moonshine is outlawed in most places. What is of more concern is the massive loss of government income that will result from the operation of at-home distilleries in the future. Let’s take it step by step. Currently, the excise duty on proofs with more than 80 proofs is more than $2. This may not appear to be a significant amount at first glance, yet it adds up to millions of dollars in tax income each year. When moonshine is made at home, the government loses out on a significant amount of money as a result of the production and marketing of this alcoholic beverage. As a result, persons who manufacture alcohol at home must get a license from the federal government, failing which they risk spending decades in prison. Keep in mind that consuming moonshine is not considered a criminal in and of itself, and so does not fall under this category. Simple acts such as the production, distribution, and even possession of moonshine may result in legal consequences for you. Always remember that these laws do not apply to home-brewed beers and wines that are produced through the fermentation process. This is due to the fact that the yeasts used to make these beverages normally cannot create more than 12 percent alcohol. Illegal alcohol is only regarded such when it must be distilled in order to be consumed.

Can Moonshine Kill You?

It’s possible that you’ve heard the stories. “Moonshine is lethal.” For a more dramatic statement, “Moonshine will cause you to go blind.” But are these rumours accurate? Is drinking moonshine truly as harmful as people make it out to be? The solution is a little difficult to give. While drinking commercial moonshines from your local bar or from a well-established store will not put your health at danger, drinking real moonshine, particularly if you are manufacturing it yourself, may pose a health risk in some circumstances. Due to the fact that moonshine includes methanol, a gas that may be hazardous or even lethal if drank in big enough quantities, it is not recommended for consumption. Let’s take it step by step. During the distilling process, moonshine emits both methanol (a toxic chemical) and ethanol, which are both harmful to human health (a good compound). While commercially certified alcoholic beverages will only include the latter, it is impossible to get such a pure (and hence safe) spirit at home. Methanol may irreversibly damage your visual neurons in as little as 30mL, so you’ll want to be cautious about the moonshines you’re taking into your body. There are a number of other issues to consider. For starters, home moonshine distilleries have been known to catch fire and explode. The absence of any actual regulations governing the distillation process, on the other hand, is of more concern to individuals who consume the substance. In addition to methanol, there are additional contaminants in the alcohol that must be removed, and this process takes time. ADVICE: Do not use the same moonshine kit for both oils and liquor to avoid the possibility of an explosion. Some DIY moonshines that have only been through a single pass, on the other hand, can be deadly, particularly if they are cooked too long at a high temperature, allowing additional potentially poisonous elements to enter the alcoholic beverage.

As a result, it is recommended that you consume only commercial moonshine that has been made and sold by authorized sellers. Even in that case, you’ll want to go cautiously in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the alcohol’s kick.


Do you prefer your booze to have a punch to it? It’s possible that it’s time to give moonshine a shot. Despite the fact that real moonshine is illegal and should only be consumed with caution, there are a variety of commercial moonshines available that pack a similar punch while also meeting all applicable federal health laws. The topics addressed in this tutorial were how to make moonshine, what ingredients are used, and how potent moonshine is. We also discussed the many types of moonshine and how potent they are. Make a note of this page and return to it if you have questions regarding moonshine! Cheers!

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