Categories Moonshine

What Type Of Alcohol Is Moonshine? (Solved)

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

What are the side effects of drinking moonshine?

  • Word of Caution: If taken in excess, as with any alcohol, moonshine can cause high levels of intoxication and loss of muscle control. In serious cases, it has even been known to cause neurological damage and blindness. Care is recommended both in choosing and consuming different types of alcohol.


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 whiskey or bourbon?

Moonshine, both then and now, is whiskey as it comes out of the still: no oak barrels, no caramel color, no aging. It’s just straight liquor from fermented corn or wheat mash. None of the luxury-tinged language that surrounds its grown-up siblings, like bourbon or scotch, applies to the dog.

What alcohol content is moonshine?

The amount of alcohol in moonshine differs depending on the distillation process, but in the United States, moonshine can’t legally be distilled to more than 80 percent ABV, and can’t be bottled at more than 62.5 percent ABV, and many are much lower than that.

Is vodka basically moonshine?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

How is moonshine different from whiskey?

“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. Historically, the taste of moonshine was closer to vodka than it is to a dark-colored whiskey.

Is moonshine just unaged whiskey?

They are raw, unaged whiskeys made from a primarily corn mash — at least 80% — and distilled to a maximum of 160 proof. So technically speaking, any product that is labeled moonshine could also be called white whiskey, but moonshine draws its name due to its illegal origin.

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.

Can you get drunk off of moonshine?

It’s easy to get drunk on moonshine quickly, since it’s so strong. Try to limit yourself to 1 drink per hour if you’re drinking moonshine.

Is moonshine the strongest alcohol?

What Is The Highest Proof Moonshine. The highest proof moonshine you can make using distillation will be 191 proof (95.5% ABV). That’s because alcohol begins to attract moisture from the air at concentrations higher than 96% ABV, immediately diluting your moonshine.


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

Known as moonshine, this high-proof whiskey has been and continues to be manufactured illegally, without the permission of the government. The term comes from a habit of making alcoholic beverages by night in order to avoid being discovered by law enforcement officers. Outside of a licensed distillery, the production of such beverages is still prohibited in the majority of nations. 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

A plastic still is a distillation equipment that is specifically designed for the separation of ethanol from water. Plastic stills are capable of producing vapor alcohol with a level of 40 percent ABV. Plastic stills are popular for homebrewing moonshine due to the fact that they are inexpensive and simple to construct. Essentially, a smaller volume of liquid is placed in an open smaller vessel inside a bigger vessel that is sealed. 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
  1. *Steam is used to pre-heat the columns on both sides.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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. 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). 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.

  1. This was a problem during Prohibition, when many people died as a result of taking harmful chemicals.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).


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.


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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
You might be interested:  What Size Heater Element For Moonshine? (Solution found)


  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)
  4. Holstege, CP
  5. Ferguson, JD
  6. Wolf, CE
  7. Baer, AB
  8. Poklis, A. Holstege, CP
  9. Poklis, A (2004). “Analysis of moonshine for the presence of pollutants.” 97866750
  10. 97866750
  11. 97866750 Carmo, M. J., and Gubulin, J. C. (2001). (September 1997). A study on the effects of ethanol and water on commercial 3A zeolites was published in the journal “Kinetics and Thermodynamics”. ISSN 0104-6632
  12. Burfield, David R.
  13. Hefter, Glenn T.
  14. Koh, Donald S. P.
  15. Koh, Donald S. P. Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering. 14. doi: 10.1590/S0104-66321997000300004. ISSN 0104-6632
  16. (1984). “Desiccant efficiency in solvent and reagent drying 8. molecular sieve column drying of 95 percent ethanol: An application of hygrometry to the assessment of solvent water content” is the title of the paper that was published in the journal. Chemical Technology. 34 (4): 187–194. doi: 10.1002/jctb.5040340408
  17. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology. Chemical Technology. 34 (4): 187–194. Simo, Marian
  18. Sivashanmugam, Siddharth
  19. Brown, Christopher J
  20. Hlavacek, Vladimir
  21. Brown, Christopher J (21 October 2009). Industrial Engineering Chemistry Research. 48 (20): 9247–9260. doi: 10.1021/ie900446v
  22. “Why Your Copper Moonshine Still Needs To Be Lead Free – Whiskey Still Company”
  23. “Why Your Copper Moonshine Still Needs To Be Page 97 of Peine Schafft’s 2012 book
  24. Sam R. Dalvi and Michael H. Pillinger are co-authors of this work (May 2013). Saturnine gout, revisited: a survey of the literature Issn 1555-7162
  25. PMID 23510947
  26. “Distillation: Some Purity Considerations”. Moonshine Still. doi: 10.1016/j.moonshinestill.2012.09.015. ISSN 1555-7162
  27. “Distillation: Some Purity Considerations”. 5th of May, 2015
  28. Retrieved Nermina, Spaho, Nermina (28 June 2017). “Distillation Techniques in the Production of Fruit Spirits” is the title of this paper. Innovating Applications and Modeling for Distillation [DOI: 10.5772/66774], ISBN 978-953-51-3201-1
  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
  30. “Hazardous Goods Management.” Retrieved 31 August 2017
  31. “Risk of End Stage Renal Disease Associated with Alcohol Consumption.” Retrieved 25 November 2018
  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. 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

During a raid on a bootlegging operation in Tennessee in 1929, officials posed next to a partially demolished distillery, which was producing a mediocre white moonshine at the time. (Photo courtesy of Bettmann/Getty Images.) Despite the fact that a glass of clear moonshine looks just like a glass of water, this unlawful alcoholic beverage is famed for its power — as well as the dangers involved with consuming it. What exactly is moonshine? According to experts, moonshine is any sort of distilled whiskey that is produced without the involvement of the government. However, some claim that moonshine may only be branded as such if it is prepared with specified components or originates from specific geographic places, according to Live Science. Moonshine is produced and consumed by people all over the world, particularly in countries where alcohol is outlawed or where legal alcohol is unreasonably costly or difficult to procure. However, distilling spirits may be a difficult chemical process, and mistakes, ignorance, or shortcuts on the part of the maker might result in a potentially poisonous product. As a result, what causes this to happen, and how can you know if a glass of moonshine is safe, is discussed. Intoxicating beverages such as moonshine and other intoxicating beverages are made from fruits or grains that have been fermented, which means they have been exposed to yeasts or bacteria that break down sugar molecules into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The ingredients used to make moonshine vary greatly based on what is readily accessible. Corn mash was traditionally used by American moonshiners in the early twentieth century; in fact, legal versions of classic American moonshine are currently being manufactured commercially by artisan distilleries in the United States. However, according to Kevin Kosar, author of “Moonshine: A Global History,” moonshine may also be manufactured from grapes, plums, or apricots (in Armenia), barley (in Egypt), palm tree sap (in Myanmar), bananas (in Uganda), and cashew fruit (in India) (Reaktion Books, 2017).

“It’s just a matter of elementary chemistry. In the event that you can coax sugar from something, you’re well on your approach to producing a drink “According to Kosar, a spokesperson for Live Science.

Potent potables

Methanol, which is also known as wood alcohol, is produced during the fermentation process. Ethanol is produced during the fermentation process. According to new study published by the American Chemical Society, methanol is liberated from pectin and is consequently more plentiful in fermented fruit. Despite the fact that ethanol is widely regarded to be safe for use, both ethanol and methanol depress the central nervous system and impair brain function. ethanol According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming too much alcohol — even the “safe” variety — can result in alcohol poisoning, which can impair heart rate and respiration, and potentially result in coma and death if not treated immediately. The psychiatric specialist Anne Andrews, a professor of psychiatry, chemistry, and biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes that methylene chloride is significantly more harmful than ethanol. methanol is metabolized in the human body to formaldehyde, which is the same molecule found in embalming fluid, and then to formic acid, which is very poisonous to cells, according to Andrews, who spoke with Live Science. “It causes cells to suffocate because it interacts with their mitochondria,” Andrews explained. Candy is nice, but whiskey is more expedient. Workers at the Casey Jones Distillery in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, gather moonshine that has been commercially produced as it runs off the still. The image is courtesy of Scott Olson/Getty Images. Immediately following fermentation, moonshine is distilled in order to concentrate the ethanol and other volatile flavoring agents. ethanol, on the other hand, boils at 173.1 degrees Fahrenheit (78.37 degrees Celsius), whereas methanol boils at 148.5 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) (64.7 degrees C). Because methanol has a lower boiling point and evaporates more quickly than water, it can concentrate in the distillate, which is the vapor that is condensed and collected during the distillation process, according to Andrews. The manufacturing of regulated alcoholic beverages, including commercial moonshine, is closely supervised. Methanol separation from beverages and the identification of the quantity of alcohol by volume on packaging and labeling are both carefully tested in order to guarantee that methanol is removed from the beverage. However, there are no uniform criteria or safety inspections that can be enforced in the case of unlicensed moonshine producers. As a result, moonshine may be far more strong than legal beverages, and a batch of moonshine can quickly become lethal, according to Andrews. Unsterilized fermentation vats can encourage the development of bacteria that pump out methanol, resulting in a greater concentration of methanol than planned, according to Andrews, who detailed how this might happen. If moonshiners do not cultivate microbial communities for fermenting the moonshine — “inoculating” it with species that produce primarily ethanol — unanticipated alterations in ambient microorganisms can also cause a methanol increase, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Several years might have passed before the liquor was contaminated, according to Andrews.

“But then something happens in the environment that has an effect on the bacteria that are conducting the fermentation in the first place. There is now a larger concentration of methanol present, and the individual who made it would never be aware of it.”

Poison for profit

In certain circumstances, the toxicity of moonshine is due to avarice on the part of the distiller. If producers want to boost the volume of their moonshine, they either don’t remove the methanol or add a cheap, hazardous alcohol like isopropyl, which can be found in rubbing alcohol, according to Kosar. Despite the fact that this strategy may increase earnings, it considerably increases the likelihood that the drink will be deadly. According to Kosar, “alarmingly frequently, there are accounts — typically originating in regions of Asia — about individuals going out and purchasing unlawful alcoholic beverages and then throwing a party, and then hours into the party, people simply start fainting and having convulsions.” Drinking alcohol with high concentrations of methanol can also cause blindness: According to a 1922 story in The New York Times that referenced a report by the United States National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness, methanol was responsible for 130 deaths and 22 incidents of blindness in just six months during Prohibition’s first six months. In spite of the fact that moonshine does not contain dangerous quantities of methanol, it is impossible for a casual drinker to determine how powerful a batch may be without testing it – an ambiguity that might result in unintentional alcohol intoxication. According to Kosar, the easiest way for drinkers to be safe is to avoid consuming unlawful alcoholic beverages. Do not consume moonshine unless you are a close friend of the person who is generating it and have complete confidence in their ability to create it, he said. Note from the editor: This story has been updated to reflect the correct boiling points of ethanol and methanol, as well as to include information about the legal production of commercial moonshine. It has also been updated to reflect that, while chemical tests for methanol in moonshine are available, most casual drinkers do not have these tests on hand while consuming these beverages.

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The original version of this article appeared on Live Science. Mindy Weisberger is a senior writer at Live Science, where she covers a wide range of topics such as climate change, paleontology, strange animal behavior, and space exploration. Ms. Mindy has a Master of Fine Arts in Film from Columbia University, and previous to joining Live Science, she worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she produced, scripted, and directed media. Her movies about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity, and evolution have been exhibited in museums and scientific centers across the world, and she has received accolades such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence for them. Other publications that have featured her writing include Scientific American, The Washington Post, and How It Works Magazine.

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?

Moonshine is a high-proof liquor that is manufactured illegally and without the permission of the government. According to tradition, it has been illegally distilled during the night in order to escape being found by law enforcement officials. 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. During the Prohibition era, moonshine became extremely popular, and both organized and disorganized criminals were involved in its production. 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

  1. Moonshine typically has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40 percent, although it can sometimes have an ABV of 60 percent to 80 percent.
  2. The percentage of alcohol in a drink may be converted to proof by multiplying it by two.
  3. As a result, 40% ABV is equal to 80 proof.
  4. The distillation process is critical in determining the amount of alcohol present in a spirit.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

It is prohibited in the United States to manufacture moonshine (or any other spirit) without obtaining a licence or license. There are, however, a few distillers who have turned to producing legal “moonshine” with the authorization of the government in recent years. 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. 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

  1. Over the course of thousands of years, people have been distilling their own alcohol, and moonshine holds a particular position in American popular culture.
  2. 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.
  3. The following information is for anyone who still has questions about moonshine or is interested in learning more about it for the first time.
  4. We did the research for you and found the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding moonshine.
  5. Take a look at the following examples of our responses:

What Type of Alcohol Is Moonshine?

The majority of specialists agree that moonshine is a type of homebrew whiskey that has not been matured. 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?

  1. Yes, there are certain commercial moonshines that may be purchased for a price.
  2. 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.

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.

Most of the time, when people talk about “moonshine” and they’re talking about what may be bought legally, they’re really talking about “white whiskey” (also known as un-aged whiskey), which is whiskey that hasn’t been matured in an oak barrel. However, certain boutique style whiskeys are made from grains such as quinoa, spelt, flax, and other seeds and grains that are not often found in whiskey. Most whiskey is made from maize and another grain (such as rye). Technically, any grain may be used to manufacture whiskey, but it does not become “whiskey” until it has been aged in an oak barrel for at least two months. There are just a few additional “rules,” such as the proof at which it is distilled, that must be followed. Whiskey must be 95 percent ABV (190 Proof) as it comes out of the still, and it must be reduced with water to no less than 40 percent ABV before being bottled (i.e. 80 Proof or higher). Corn may be used to make vodka; but, in contrast to whiskey, vodka can be manufactured from just about anything that can be fermented. Potatoes, wheat, rye, and a few other grains are some of the most popular starting materials for Vodka production, but it can be manufactured from practically anything else that can ferment, including grapes (Ciroc vodka), tomatoes, cucumbers, doughnuts, and just about anything else. I’ve seen almond vodka and even milk vodka on the market (as in vodka fermented from almonds and from milk respectively). It is necessary for vodka to be 95 percent ABV when it comes out of the still, but it is acceptable if it is reduced with water to at least 80 poof (40 percent ABV) or higher to be considered vodka. It doesn’t matter where it all began. The same identical maize “vodka” may be referred to as whiskey since it is distilled to 95 percent ABV and then aged in wood barrels for many months. Please keep in mind that I typed “placed” rather than “aged” in oak. Whiskey has no minimum age restriction, thus any “white whiskeys” you encounter that do not bear the moniker “moonshine” have at the very least had some contact with oak. If the label says “moonshine whiskey,” it has also been aged in oak barrels; if the label says “moonshine” and it has never been aged in an oak barrel, it is technically strong grain vodka, but “moonshine” has a more rebellious ring to it, I suppose. Corn “vodka” that is 96 percent ABV or greater as it comes out of the still but does not come into contact with oak is still Vodka, but it may theoretically be referred to as “Moonshine.” Whiskey can be referred to as “bourbon” if it is produced in the United States and contains 51 percent maize. It must be no more than 160 proof/80 percent ABV when it comes out of the still, and it must be 125 proof (62.5 percent ABV) when it goes into the barrel.

It must also be aged in oak for at least four years in bonded warehouses under the supervision of the United States government. The Bottle-in-Bond Act of 1897 made it possible.

A flood of new-make spirits called “moonshine,” “white dog,” or “white lightning” has accompanied the growth in craft spirits over the last 15 years, with flavors ranging from apple pie to jalapeo and pumpkin spice among the most popular. But, exactly, what is this substance? Is it only a marketing ploy? Now, let’s take a step back and define some vocabulary. To begin with, the term “moonshine” is a misnomer for any commercial product since, by definition, moonshine is illegally produced liquor, which is not the case with any other commercial product. Actual moonshine (the stuff you’d purchase on the black market if you didn’t want to pay taxes) may now be created from any fermentable substrate, including sugar, grains, and stone fruits. Whatever distillers can get their hands on and are interested in experimenting with is fair game for them. Moonshine is a type of commercial liquor that is generally made from one of two ingredients: neutral grain spirits or unaged whiskey. But what exactly is the distinction here? In a nutshell, there is a variation in proof during the distillation stage. In order to be classified as neutral spirits, of which vodka is a subset, the spirit must have at least 95 percent alcohol when it is distilled, whereas whiskey must contain less than 95 percent alcohol when it is produced. Breweries in the United States are prohibited from distilling whiskey with an alcohol content more than 80 percent by volume. These distinctions are significant because the lower the proof at distillation, the greater the amount of tasty congeners that are transferred from the grain to the finished spirit. White whiskey, in other words, is distinct from vodka, however part of the “moonshine” that is marketed is actually vodka under the law. Pay attention to the tiny print: if the label states “neutral spirits,” it isn’t actually whiskey. So, what is it about these spirits that is so fashionable these days? To a significant extent, this is due to the fact that whiskey, like other aged spirits, is a costly and time-consuming product to make. A fresh batch of bourbon or rye might take years to mature before it is ready to be sold on the market, and tiny start-ups can’t afford to sit around doing nothing while whiskey is aging. That left them with two options: either purchase and bottle whiskey from a reputable source, or create clear spirits that can be sold immediately. Spirits such as gin, vodka, and white rum are all choices, but so-called moonshine has an outlaw image that is in keeping with the branding of many local distilleries. The trend has subsequently caught on with several big distilleries like as Buffalo Trace, who have launched their own limited edition bottlings of new-make whisky. However, just because a “white dog” strategy is typically employed for marketing or commercial purposes does not indicate that it should be avoided in all cases. For starters, it may be a fantastic mixer, offering as a more flavored option for vodka in some instances.

It may also be intriguing to test different varieties of whiskey in its new-make state, and if you have the space and time, you can even try maturing whiskey at home provided you have the right equipment.

Skip to the main content What Exactly Is Moonshine? What Makes It Illegal in the First Place? Charles-Philippe explains how to drink moonshine. 2020-12-08T09:15:08-05:00

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Take a look at the top moonshine brands.

What Is Moonshine?

  • Moonshine is most often recognized as a slang phrase that refers to powerful alcoholic spirits that are illegally produced.
  • As a result, it is commonly connected with bootleggers during the Prohibition era in the United States of America.
  • Moonshine is still used to denote illicit homemade alcohol, although reputable distilleries may frequently sell products that are labeled as moonshine in order to attract customers.
  • Officially, the United States government considers moonshine to be a “fanciful phrase” and does not regulate its production or use.
  • As a result, the phrase “moonshine” is frequently employed as a nostalgic marketing term that gives a great deal of space for creative interpretation.
  • The goal for some moonshine producers will be to recreate the clear, high-proof homemade booze that was popular during the Prohibition period.
  • Moonshine, on the other hand, may legally be anything!

Why Is Moonshine Illegal?

Distilling alcohol at home is not only allowed in certain areas of the world, but it is also regarded as a cultural tradition in others. Even some historians believe that distillation is an important sign of a civilization’s development. Distilling, on the other hand, is against the law in the United States and much of Europe. There are a variety of reasons why governments prefer to prohibit its citizens from manufacturing their own alcoholic beverages at home. In fact, in many nations, even the act of purchasing or owning any form of still is prohibited. First and foremost, requiring distillers to get licences assures both traceability and quality control. People might quickly become ill, become blind, or even die as a result of consuming alcoholic spirits that have been improperly prepared. Therefore, it contributes to the regulation of this business and helps to keep low-quality moonshine off the shelves. Additionally, distillation may be a harmful procedure when carried out incorrectly. Not only may novice distillers mistakenly harm others, but stills are also very dangerous to handle. Finally, taxes is a crucial consideration, which many proponents of home distilling claim is the root cause of the practice’s illegality in the first place. After the United States approved the Revenue Act of 1862, authorities were able to shut down unlawful stills while simultaneously prosecuting the owners with tax fraud if they sold the alcohol they produced. Once upon a time, peasants would distill their excess crop residues for the purpose of earning a little more money for the winter. It was also used as a means of recycling in some instances. For example, there are brandies made from grape pomace, such as grappa, that are made from the leftovers from the winemaking process.

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

Moonshine History

Although moonshine is commonly linked with the Prohibition era, it has a far longer history than that of the 1920s. Indeed, the name is British in origin, having been coined in 1785 to refer to alcoholic beverages. According to legend, the term was chosen because of the possibility of hallucinogenic side-effects from the alcohol’s impurities. Moonshine, on the other hand, is known by a variety of different names, including hooch, white lightning, and mash liquor, among others. A number of components were used to make different varieties of moonshine by various cultures throughout history. In the past, clean and unaged whiskey was the norm in the United States and the United Kingdom. While illicit alcohol manufacturing was rather frequent, it did not become well known until the passage of the aforementioned Revenue Act, which was passed in 1862. Because distilling maize into whiskey was far more profitable than selling the raw grain, many moonshine enterprises continued to operate despite the economic climate. Despite crackdowns, its manufacturing grew particularly concentrated in the East-Coast Appalachia region, where it was easier to escape authorities than in other regions. Moonshine became significantly more prevalent after the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which took effect more than half a century after its inception. Prior to Prohibition, spirits accounted for less than 40% of all alcoholic beverages consumed in the United States. However, by the time it came to a close, it had risen to 75 percent! Bootleggers who smuggled alcoholic beverages discovered that transporting spirits was significantly more profitable than transporting wine or beer. They discovered, as did the 16th-century Dutch traders who distilled French wine into cognac, that greater proof alcohol was simpler to transport since the amounts were smaller. As a result, it resulted in a shift in the products that were offered on the market.

Moonshine NASCAR

In the late nineteenth century, the majority of moonshine produced in the United States was delivered by horse and cart. The emergence of the vehicle, on the other hand, marked a significant shift in the dynamic. The moonshine was carried to its different locations by bootleggers or runners once it had been manufactured and packaged. The runs, like the manufacture itself, took occurred at night, and the smugglers began to use automobiles in order to evade the cops as rapidly as possible. As officials began to modernize their automobiles, bootleggers quickly followed suit and began to alter their own vehicles. The inside were completely redesigned in order to minimize weight and enhance storage capacity. The automobiles were also equipped with strong engines that allowed them to outpace the authorities, as well as enhanced handling. Finally, a resistant suspension was added to allow for the transportation of huge amounts of alcohol. Although it was critical that the automobiles be completely unnoticeable from the outside in order to avoid arousing suspicion, this was not always possible. Bootleggers preferred compact automobiles rather than large trucks because they were less visible to law enforcement officers. Despite the fact that Prohibition came to an end in 1933, illicit moonshine enterprises continued to operate in order to escape new taxes. With time, the automobiles became more refined, and it wasn’t unusual for bootleggers to organize races for both money and recreational purposes. Stock car races gained popularity in the 1940s, and as a result, bootleggers found themselves with less employment, which finally led to the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).

The tie between NASCAR and moonshine is still visible today, thanks to companies such as Sugarlands, which frequently work with one another during racing events.

How Does Moonshine Taste?

Because of a lack of regulation and standardization, there is a wide range of legal moonshine available to consumers. As a result, they can all produce flavors that are quite distinct from one another. Some argue that a high-quality traditional moonshine should have a strong aroma of maize on the nose and on the taste in order to be considered authentic. It is possible that it will have slightly fruity flavors that are reminiscent of cider or perhaps grappa from time to time. Other types of moonshine, depending on how it was distilled and the resulting alcohol percentage, may have a flavor that is similar to vodka. When considered an alcoholic spirit, moonshine must contain at least 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), although it can contain as much as 65 percent ABV or more. This results in a high concentration of potency and a significant amount of alcohol bloom. Between now and now, it has been common practice to dilute the distillate with fruit juice or other flavoring agents. Apple pie moonshine is a popular variation, which is prepared by blending the distillate with cider or apple juice, as well as sugar and spices such as cinnamon, to create a syrup. There are several different flavors to choose from, including blackberry, peaches, root beer, and strawberry. Some of them may contain fragments of fruit that have been kept in the alcohol, although this is not common. These are technically liqueurs, however they are far weaker in flavor. Typically, they contain roughly 20 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) or somewhat more. Because they’re sweeter, they’re frequently more enjoyable on their own, although they may also be used in cocktails.

How To Properly Drink Moonshine

We believe that there is no “wrong” way to consume something as long as you like it, and we are proponents of this belief. This proverb holds true in particular when it comes to moonshine! Indeed, there are no conventional methods of drinking moonshine, nor is there any sort of specialized glassware that is used for doing so. Because there were few alternatives to moonshine in the nineteenth century and before, it was frequently taken neat. The alcohol was seldom kept in huge pottery jars, which kept it cold and made it easier to consume when the weather was hotter. Cocktail culture first appeared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Despite the fact that cocktails were initially made with more traditional beverages, they were extremely popular in speakeasies during the Prohibition period. Due to the fact that much of the alcohol used was either extremely powerful or of low quality, they were added to cocktails in order to make them more appealing to the consumer. Today, you may drink moonshine as you want and not have to worry about receiving negative feedback from purists.

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

Similar Drinks Moonshine Substitutes

  • As we discussed above, there are many distinct kinds of moonshine available for purchase.
  • As a result, you’ll most likely have a variety of alternatives for combining it with other beverages when ordering it.
  • For starters, clear moonshine occasionally has a faint similarity to vodka in appearance.
  • As a result, if a drink calls for one ingredient, you may substitute the other.
  • Because moonshine has more flavor and clout than regular whiskey, the end outcome may be slightly different.
  • Grappa bianca is probably your best bet, as it has a comparable amount of personality as moonshine and is hence a good choice.
  • The manner in which this personality is expressed is a little unusual.
  • Gin is another possible replacement, although it has a distinct juniper flavor, which might alter the outcome of the experiment if used incorrectly.
  • If you like something stronger, you may try akvavit or perhaps Absinthe Blanche.
  • Although both have strong herbal flavors, keep this in mind when experimenting with different recipes and combinations.
  • Finally, fruit-flavored moonshine is a little different from the norm in this regard.
  • Fruit juice may be combined with a beverage such as vodka at any time.
  • Alternatively, various fruit liqueurs such as limoncello or schnapps can be used instead of brandy.

What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Moonshine?

However, moonshine is not one of the historical alcoholic spirits that were initially designed to provide herbal advantages, as is claimed by many other historical alcoholic spirits. Despite the fact that it may assist digestion, it will not be as beneficial as brandies like as cognac or grappa in this regard. Indeed, moonshine is typically made from maize and is known for being quite harmful. However, it is probable that the majority of the historical allegations made against it were manufactured in an attempt to put a halt to illicit manufacturing. When used safely and in normal quantities, it should not have a significant detrimental impact on your health.

Gluten, Carbs, Calories In Moonshine

Corn is inherently gluten-free due to its genetic makeup. Consequently, any clear moonshine produced from it should be suitable for persons who are allergic to or sensitive to the protein in question. Meanwhile, moonshine manufactured from barley may not be as harmless as it appears to be on the surface. Despite the fact that distillation generally removes gluten from grain, there have been instances of it having an adverse effect on humans. The fact that it has been distilled several times does not rule out the possibility of it being safe. The calories in the meantime should be kept to a minimum, with a shot of clear moonshine containing no more than 90 kcal. In the same way, it will not include any carbs. When it comes to flavoured moonshine, all of the information presented above is quite questionable. There may be gluten-containing items in the recipe, and the carbohydrate and calorie counts might vary greatly.

What Next?

  • Now that you’ve finished reading our introduction to moonshine, let’s go a little deeper and discover even more!
  • What are the best moonshine cocktails? What are the best moonshine brands? How does moonshine get made?
    This page contains links to articles on Armagnac, Cognac, Best Spirit Liquor Glassware, and Alcoholic Spirit Homepage.

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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. Because excise duties on alcoholic beverages did not disappear, moonshiners continued to have an incentive to operate outside the law. Gunfights between moonshiners and revenuers became the stuff of legends as a result of their brutality. 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). 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.

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

  1. As far as historians can tell, the practice of manufacturing alcohol has been present since the dawn of civilization.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. “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.
  5. 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.
  6. Moonshine was first sold in clay jugs, and then in mason jars, before being packed in glass bottles.
  7. The side of the antique clay jars was frequently marked with the letters “XXX.
  8. ” Supposedly, each “X” reflected the number of times the drink had gone through the distillation process before it was bottled.
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