Moonshine is high-proof liquor that was and continues to be produced illicitly, without government authorization. The name was derived from a tradition of creating the alcohol during the nighttime, thereby avoiding detection.
- Moonshiners, the show. Why go in the woods? Because of the rape. Harder to heal pig squeals in the woods.
- 1 Why is homemade moonshine illegal?
- 2 Is making moonshine a sin?
- 3 What is the purpose of moonshine?
- 4 Is making moonshine a felony?
- 5 Is it illegal to own a still?
- 6 How much does 1 gallon of moonshine cost?
- 7 What states allow home distilling?
- 8 Is moonshine a whiskey?
- 9 Is moonshine a whiskey or vodka?
- 10 Why is moonshine called white lightning?
- 11 Can moonshine make you go blind?
- 12 Is moonshine safe to drink?
- 13 How much time do you get for making moonshine?
- 14 Moonshine still in the woods
- 15 Moonshine Comes Out of the Woods in Tennessee
- 16 Why is it against the law to make moonshine?
- 17 How to Make Moonshine the Old-Fashioned Way in 6 Easy Steps
- 18 It Requires:
- 19 5 Ways to Tell If That Pile of Garbage You Found in the Woods Is a Moonshine Still
- 20 How is Moonshine Made?
- 21 There’s Moonshine In These Here New Hampshire Woods
- 22 Moonshine’s Gone Legit But It Still Is Dangerous
- 23 What Is Moonshine?
- 24 Impact of Moonshine
- 25 Potential Dangers
- 26 How to Test for Purity
- 27 History of Moonshine
Why is homemade moonshine illegal?
So why is moonshine still illegal? Because the liquor is worth more to the government than beer or wine. Today, federal rules say a household with two adults can brew up to 200 gallons of wine and the same amount of beer each year. (A few states have their own laws prohibiting the practice.)
Is making moonshine a sin?
So back to the question, is making moonshine illegal? Technically yes, if it’s for personal consumption. You can, however, own and operate a still to process alcohol for fuel–with proper permits. Moonshine distribution, on the other hand, is legal if you’ve gone through the red tape to get the proper permits.
What is the purpose of moonshine?
What is Moonshine? Moonshine is any kind of alcohol, usually whisky or rum, that is made in secret to avoid high taxes or outright bans on alcoholic drinks. The term “moonshine” comes from Britain, where it originally was a verb, “moonshining,” that referred to any job or activity that was done late at night.
Is making moonshine a felony?
But federal law trumps state law, and to the feds, distilling at home for personal consumption is illegal, period. “If you distill without permits, you’re looking at roughly a dozen felonies,” says Tom Hogue, spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Is it illegal to own a still?
It’s perfectly legal to own a still, and you can even use it, as long as you’re not making alcohol – so, you can make essential oils without a permit, or perfume, or distilled water. According to federal law, making beverage alcohol at home is illegal, plain and simple.
How much does 1 gallon of 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.
What states allow home distilling?
This tax is built into every bottle of spirits you buy so it’s not a special tax on home made spirits. If you do the calculations, you’ll find your favourite spirits cost up to 90% less when you take the tax off.
Is moonshine a whiskey?
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.
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.
Why is moonshine called white lightning?
White lightning, a white whiskey made surreptitiously and illegally, was once produced in great quantities in South Carolina. It got its name from its color and the kick it delivers when consumed.
Can moonshine make you go blind?
If you’re drinking moonshine, yes. Although alcohol that’s properly manufactured and regulated does not by itself cause blindness, people sometimes do go blind from drinking bootleg beverages. One common concern with moonshine is lead poisoning, which has been linked to blindness.
Is moonshine safe to drink?
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.
How much time do you get for making moonshine?
Within title 26 of the United States Code, section 5601 sets out criminal penalties for activities including the following. Offenses under this section are felonies that are punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense.
Moonshine still in the woods
The legalization of moonshine has occurred. Twenty-eight small distilleries have registered with the South Carolina Department of Revenue since the state began taxing small distilleries in 2009, allowing entrepreneurs to create legal moonshine. Some of the enterprises use recipes passed down through generations. In spite of this, there are still clandestine moonshiners operating in the woods of South Carolina, people who prepare batches of the high-alcohol brew at the risk of being discovered by hunters, disapproving neighbors – or sheriff’s deputies wielding axes, as evidenced by a bust earlier this month in Orangeburg County.
Their consumers, on the other hand, do not want them to be.
Nevertheless, 46-year-old Tom Hall of Ridgeway, who learned how to brew moonshine as a child at the elbow of sharecroppers on his father’s farm in Chester County, believes the skill is still alive and well.
The personalities I grew up with were and are still making it in the world of entertainment.
- There are also YouTube tutorials that train folks with a taste for alcohol in the five-day process of brewing their own home brew, just as there are for just about everything else.
- In this field, there is a culture of people who are very talented.
- According to Shields, the political statement expresses hatred for the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) legislation of the United States government.
- “It isn’t all that complicated.” However, there are different levels of complexity in the production of moonshine.
- Corn is the most prevalent crop, according to him, with serious’shiners storing the best ears for the following year’s growing season.
- Moonshine recipes are passed down orally rather than written down.
- The materials needed to manufacture a quart of moonshine that sells for $25 are likely to cost less than $10 each.
- Deputies from the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office discovered 25 barrels of fermenting corn mash in some woods near Holly Hill earlier this month.
- The authorities did not make any arrests since the property owner said she was not responsible for the still, and they destroyed the equipment, according to spokesperson Keisa Gunby.
- She discovered records of one instance in 2013, as well as records of two cases in each of the two years before that.
- Those who are discovered brewing illicit moonshine in South Carolina face a $600 fine or six months in prison if they are found out and arrested.
This is a tradition that has most likely been passed down from generation to generation among these people, and it is a way of life for them.” Moonshine usage, according to Mike Dennis, executive director of the Tri-County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, hasn’t altered in recent years, according to him.
According to Dennis, “people have suffered some very serious ailments, and in some cases death, as a result of consuming a product that has not been properly distilled.” “There’s a reason we have rules and regulations in place.” Carl Monday is a fourth-generation moonshiner, although he is the first in his family to be licensed to manufacture alcoholic beverages.
The license is valid for two years and enables him to create up to 125,000 cases every year under certain conditions.
Before a change in the law five years ago, which made it easier to create tiny amounts of alcohol, a license to manufacture liquor cost $50,000 every two years, according to Bonnie Swingle, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Revenue.
According to him, “before this law was enacted, the only way to obtain it was illegally, through a moonshiner or bootlegger.” Now he can produce moonshine in the same manner as his great-grandfather – but he can sell it at a store right in the heart of downtown.
Moonshine Comes Out of the Woods in Tennessee
The Ole Smoky Moonshine Tasting Room’s warm oak shelves are lined with colorful glass jars, which reflect the vibrant hues of the moonshine inside. Against the Old Original, which is as clear as the Mason jars that carry the booze, the vibrant hues of Lemon Drop Shine, Moonshine Cherries, and Peach Lightnin’ stand out like a beacon of brightness. There is some moonshine whiskey being produced here in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, under the shadow of densely forested hills and hollers. One enterprise, no longer the shadowy operation conducted by hillbillies to avoid being discovered by “revenooers,” now generates substantial tax income for the city and state.
- The park is the most visited national park in the United States.
- Even while some of the original huts are still standing, you won’t discover any traces of their primary source of revenue, a handmade still.
- I’m thinking about how far moonshine has come from corn likker concoctions made on homemade contraptions hidden in the hills to becoming Oh my goodness, moonshine has become, dare I say it, fashionable.
- Almost everyone I met with in east Tennessee was proud of their relatives who had gotten into the illicit booze-making business.
- He assumed he had inherited his passion in the hospitality industry from his great-grandfather, grandpa and father who had all generated “shine,” a key product of hill hospitality.
- Surprise number two: the production of moonshine needs brains and understanding.
- They were bitterly resentful of the outsiders who had tarnished their industry’s reputation by producing inferior—and occasionally dangerous—products.
Visitors mill about a 1949 Ford coupe, which was formerly one of the favorite automobiles for moonshine runners, at the Ole Smoky Holler tasting room, in between sips of White Lightnin’ and other spirits.
Most importantly, the vehicle required a large trunk.
The same way that moonshine producers took pleasure in producing their product, runners wanted to be regarded as the quickest and finest in their field.
Surprise number four: despite the fact that selling homemade whiskey is still prohibited, individuals continue to construct stills.
In one attraction, a guide told me about his bachelor uncle, who lived with his two spinster aunts in the woods with their two daughters.
Eventually, after a year or two, the government agents showed up and attacked the still upstairs with axes, exactly as they had done out in the woods previously.
Illegal moonshiners consider the devastation to be a necessary part of their operation.
Even though I didn’t inquire, the insinuation lingered in the air. He reconstructed his still. Continue reading on Page 2 This article may be found online at: (C)Perceptive Travel2013.com. All intellectual property rights are retained.
Why is it against the law to make moonshine?
Moonshine On Wednesday, two Georgia men entered guilty pleas to charges of running a moonshine still in the Chattahoochee National Forest, according to court documents. Bootleggers risk up to 35 years in jail for their offences, which include manufacturing the beer, selling it, and failing to pay taxes on the revenues of their sales. When the Explainer was in college, he had pals who made their own beer, which was not against the law at the time. So, why is moonshine still prohibited in the United States?
- A tax of $2.14 is levied on each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared to 21 cents for a bottle of wine (with 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer, according to Uncle Sam.
- In 2005, spirits produced lawfully contributed about $5 billion to the federal excise tax on alcoholic beverages.
- However, a rising number of oenophiles and beer lovers wanted to produce their own, and they worked to persuade Congress to legalize homebrewing across the country, which was ultimately successful.
- (A number of states have passed legislation outlawing the practice.) The 1978 legislation, on the other hand, did not legalize moonshining; you are still not permitted to make spirits for personal use.
- (In certain places, commercial distillers sell a legal form of moonshine, which you may obtain from them.) Despite popular belief, not everyone who consumes moonshine does so just for the purpose of becoming drunk quickly and cheaply.
- These days, moonshine is even becoming more posh, thanks to a new generation of amateur distillers in the United States.
- Authorities have said that moonshine poses major health hazards, including heavy metal poisoning, as a result of its production.
- Because there is no inspection throughout the production process, the quality—as well as the degrees of contamination—can vary.
- Other than getting drunk and doing something stupid—like assaulting someone with a chainsaw with a fire extinguisher—the biggest concern is lead poisoning, which may occur when a homemade still is constructed from car radiators or pipes that have been hazardously soldered together.
- Inquire with the Explainer.
Correction received on October 26, 2007: Brewing any type of alcoholic beverage at home was prohibited under the original version of the law. Prior to 1978, the government had essentially granted permission for winemaking. (Return to the sentence that has been fixed.)
How to Make Moonshine the Old-Fashioned Way in 6 Easy Steps
Moonshine In a courtroom in Chattahoochee National Forest on Wednesday, two Georgia men admitted that they had operated a moonshine still there. Bootleggers risk up to 35 years in jail for their offenses, which include manufacturing the beer, selling it, and failing to pay taxes on the earnings of their activities. When the Explainer was in college, he had several pals who made their own beer, which was not against the law at that time. So what is it about moonshine that makes it unlawful to drink it nowadays.
- A tax of $2.14 is levied on each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared to 21 cents for a bottle of wine (with 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer, according to the IRS.
- One Virginia business that provided enough raw ingredients to moonshiners to produce 1.4 million gallons of whiskey was busted in 2000, resulting in an estimated loss of $19.6 million in government income as a result of the ATF investigation.
- To homebrew liquor or beer was formerly prohibited, and the regulations for creating wine were murky at best until 1978.
- A family of two people can now produce up to 200 gallons of wine and the equivalent quantity of beer each year, according to federal regulations.
- It is still illegal to make spirits for personal use under the terms of the 1978 law, which prohibits moonshining as well.
- You may acquire a legal form of moonshine from commercial distillers in some jurisdictions, however this is not the case in all.
- Some people are acclimated to the flavor of unaged whiskey, and they like the buzz that comes with drinking it.
California, New England, and the Pacific Northwest are taking a more artisanal approach to their recreational activities..
Is it, therefore, potentially hazardous?
It is possible to test the purity of hooch in an informal and imprecise manner.
(See also: According to a research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in September 2003, more than half of moonshine users have levels of lead in their bloodstream that surpass what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers to be “a threshold of concern.
Inquire with the Educator.
Michael Birdwell of Tennessee Technological University, Brent Morgan of the Georgia Poison Center, Art Resnick of the United States Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and Matthew Rowley, author of Moonshine, are among those who will be speaking at the event..
October 26, 2007: This has been corrected. Brewing any type of alcoholic beverage at home was prohibited in the original version of the law. Prior to 1978, the government had effectively granted permission for winemaking to occur. (Return to the sentence that has been fixed.) a
- Moonshine Earlier this week, two Georgia men entered guilty pleas to charges of running a moonshine still in the Chattahoochee National Forest, according to court documents. Bootleggers risk up to 35 years in jail for their offenses, which include manufacturing the beer, selling it, and failing to pay taxes on the revenues. When the Explainer was in college, he had some pals who made their own beer, which was not against the law at the time. So what is it about moonshine that makes it unlawful to consume? Because liquor is more valuable to the government than beer or wine, it is taxed more heavily. A tax of $2.14 is levied on each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared to 21 cents for a bottle of wine (with no more than 14 percent alcohol by volume) and 5 cents for a can of beer. No one knows precisely how much money is exchanged in the moonshine trade, but it’s more than enough to make a difference when taxes aren’t collected: One Virginia business that provided enough raw ingredients to moonshiners to produce 1.4 million gallons of booze was seized in 2000, resulting in an estimated $19.6 million in lost government income. In 2005, spirits produced lawfully contributed about $5 billion in federal excise taxes on alcoholic beverages. To homebrew liquor or beer was formerly prohibited, and the regulations for creating wine were unclear until 1978. However, an increasing number of oenophiles and beer lovers desired to produce their own, and they worked to persuade Congress to legalize homebrewing throughout the country. A family with two adults can now produce up to 200 gallons of wine and the equivalent amount of beer each year, according to federal regulations. (A few states have passed legislation outlawing this practice.) However, the 1978 law did not legalize moonshining
- You are still not permitted to make spirits for personal use under any circumstances. Possessing a still and processing alcohol is permissible, but only if you’re utilizing the alcohol as fuel and have a permission from the ATF. (In certain places, commercial distillers sell a legal form of moonshine, which you may obtain by asking for it.) Despite popular belief, not everyone who drinks moonshine does so just for the purpose of becoming drunk quickly and cheaply. For some, the flavor of unaged whiskey is familiar, while others love the rush that comes with it. Moonshine is even becoming more upscale these days, thanks to a new generation of amateur distillers in the United States. California, New England, and the Pacific Northwest are taking a more artisanal approach to their recreational pursuits. Moonshine, according to government authorities, carries substantial health hazards, including heavy metal poisoning. In terms of danger, how hazardous is it? Because there is no oversight of the production process, the quality — as well as the degrees of contamination — might be inconsistent. (There are a few informal and inaccurate methods of determining the purity of booze: You may check for blue flames by lighting some on fire or shaking the pint and looking for clear liquid drips that evaporate fast.) Other than getting drunk and doing something stupid—like assaulting someone with a chainsaw with a fire extinguisher—the biggest concern is lead poisoning, which may occur when a homemade still is constructed from car radiators or pipes that have been dangerously soldered together. According to a research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in September 2003, more than half of moonshine drinkers had enough lead in their system to surpass what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels a “level of concern.” Do you have a question regarding the news today? Inquire of the Explainer. Thank you, explainer Michael Birdwell of Tennessee Technological University, Brent Morgan of the Georgia Poison Center, Art Resnick of the United States Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and Matthew Rowley, author of Moonshine, were among those who spoke. On October 26, 2007, the following correction was made: Originally, it was specified that it was unlawful to make or consume any alcoholic beverage at home. Prior to 1978, the government virtually authorized the production of wine. (Return to the sentence that was fixed.)
1. Make the Mash
The method begins with the heating of 5 liters of water to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as the temperature reaches this stage, turn off the heat and carefully add the entire can of corn to the boiling water. It is critical to continually stir the corn for the entire 5 minutes. Continue to stir the corn every 30 seconds to a minute after the 5 minutes has gone, until the temperature has reduced to 152°F. After reaching a temperature of 152°F, it’s time to incorporate the malted barley into the mixture.
- During this time, however, make sure to uncover the mixture every 15 minutes and whisk it thoroughly.
- The ultimate objective of this stage of the process is to successfully convert all of the starches into sugar as quickly as possible.
- Allow the mixture to remain for another 2-3 hours after the hour and a half is up to ensure that it has completely cooled.
- As soon as the temperature hits 70 degrees Fahrenheit, sprinkle yeast evenly over the mixture.
- There is no fermentation if the yeast is not present.
- This is, without a doubt, a vital first step.
- Continue to pour the mixture back and forth between the two containers until you are certain that everything has been well combined and aerated.
2. Allow the Mash to Ferment
Fermentation is the period of time during which yeast does its miracle and converts maize mash into alcohol. It’s critical that the mash is let to rest for roughly 2 weeks before using. After the two-week waiting time has expired, wait another week to confirm that everything is breaking down as it should have. After three weeks, remove the container’s lid and discard the contents. The mash should have a strong alcohol scent to it, and it should be frothy in appearance. This is a notification that the corn and barley have begun to ferment.
You should strain everything through a big sieve or cheesecloth to eliminate any larger bits of mash or debris from the final product.
When you are certain that you have removed all of the silt and big fragments of grain from the fermented liquid, pour the liquid into the still and proceed with the rest of the distillation procedure as directed.
3. Ready the Still
A time when yeast works its magic and transforms maize mash into alcohol is known as the fermentation process. Important: the mash must be let to rest for roughly 2 weeks before being used. After the two-week waiting period has expired, wait another week to confirm that everything is functioning as it should. The cover of the container should be opened after three weeks. The mash should have a strong alcohol scent to it, and it should seem frothy. That the grain and barley have fermented is shown by this.
You should strain everything through a big sieve or cheesecloth to eliminate any larger bits of mash or sediment from the final result.
You don’t want these things to continue to circulate through your body in the next stages. Pouring the fermented liquid into the still once you’re satisfied you’ve removed all of the sediment and large bits of grain from the liquid is a good way to proceed with the process.
4. Start the Distilling Process
You’ll start by turning on the heat to the lowest setting on the still. The ideal temperature is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to switch on the water at this stage in the procedure if your system still has a condenser. Using a heat source, gradually increase the temperature of your still until you begin to observe alcohol being created. It’s important to time the alcohol drops as they come out. When the alcohol is pouring at a rate of 3-5 drips per second, it is time to reduce the heat.
- This isn’t the case, however.
- This procedure allows for the separation of alcohol from the other chemical components present in the still.
- By the interaction between the mash and the yeast, the alcohol was produced as part of the fermentation process in the first place.
- This is what distinguishes the many distillers involved in this procedure.
5. The Different Parts of the Moonshine
Moonshine production is an art form. In order to improve, you must practice as much as possible (legally!). What, on the other hand, is the difference between one person’s moonshine and another’s? This is directly related to being familiar with the many components of the product you’re manufacturing. While studying and recognizing the many components of moonshine helps to generate better products, it also helps to assure the safety of such products. The foreshots are the first 5 percent of the moonshine that comes out of your still, and they are the most expensive.
- It has been linked to the development of blindness and should not be ingested.
- The heads still contain methanol, although in lower concentrations, and they have a strong fragrance that reminds me of nail paint remover.
- Despite the fact that it does not cause blindness, it might leave you feeling groggy in the morning in the majority of situations.
- The hearts are the remaining 30% of the product generated by the still after the heads are removed.
- The delicious perfume it emits will alert you that you have successfully reached the hearts.
- You’ll notice that this area doesn’t smell as pleasant and that it has a slick feel to it when you touch it.
Additionally, you may discover that you’ve reached the tails of the run because an oily layer will begin to form on the surface of the product, indicating that you’ve reached the tails.
6. Knowing the Difference
I’ve gone over how to prepare a moonshine mash, the fermentation process, and the distillation process in detail. The many components of the moonshine product have also been discussed. Still, what is it that distinguishes the flavors of two distinct distilleries? Well, the formula might be significantly altered, resulting in a product with a somewhat distinct flavor. Yet, the capacity to separate the moonshine between two distinct moonshiners is the most important factor in determining the quality of the moonshine produced by each.
- Because the more moonshine you create, the easier it becomes to separate the product from the rest with more precision.
- Developing your ability to distinguish the difference between the point where the heads stop and the heart begins will allow you to generate superior taste as your confidence grows.
- Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a mentor.
- However, I must emphasize that you should only seek the advice of a legal mentor.
- So, you’ve learned how to make moonshine and, hopefully, gained a better knowledge of the skill set necessary to become a better moonshiner throughout the course of your career.
Aside from that, after investigating this method, I have a far higher respect for the ‘original moonshiners.’ In the hope that you would share our reverence for the wisdom they were able to acquire and pass down without the aid of modern technology or (in many cases) formal schooling, we have created this website.
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I’ve gone through how to prepare a moonshine mash, how to ferment it, and how to distill it in my previous articles. The many components of the moonshine product have also been addressed. But what is the difference in flavor between two distinct distilleries? As a result, the flavor of the finished product may differ somewhat from the original recipe. Yet, the capacity to separate the moonshine is the most important factor in determining the grade of moonshine produced by two distinct moonshiners.
- It’s true that the more moonshine you create, the easier it becomes to separate out the product with more precision.
- Developing your ability to distinguish the difference between the point where the heads end and the heart begins will allow you to generate superior taste as your confidence in your ability to distinguish between them grows.
- In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a trusted adult.
- Only a legal mentor should be sought, however, as I must stress again.
- So, you’ve learned how to make moonshine and, hopefully, gained a better knowledge of the skill set necessary to become a better moonshiner throughout the course of your life.
Aside from that, after investigating this method, I have a far higher regard for the ‘original moonshiners.’ In the hope that you would share our reverence for the wisdom they were able to acquire and pass down without the assistance of modern technology or (in many cases) formal schooling, we have created this website.
5 Ways to Tell If That Pile of Garbage You Found in the Woods Is a Moonshine Still
So you’ve discovered a rusted pile of metal in the woods and believe it to be an ancient moonshine still. What do you do now? But how can you detect the difference? Because most moonshine factories have been in operation for decades, you’ll often discover only rusted and rotting piles of sheet metal, scraps of wood, jars, and other containers. Given the abundance of waste in the woods, it might be difficult to distinguish between an old moonshine still and an illegal disposal site in the woods.
- Is it only a piece of trash, or is it a moonshine still in the making?
- Because copper is such an expensive metal, you won’t be able to find the traditional copper moonshine stills like those seen in the website’s logo and banner.
- Sheet metal stills, on the other hand, were significantly less expensive to construct and were much more frequent in the latter part of the twentieth century than wooden stills.
- When you come upon what you believe to be an abandoned moonshine still, you may have to work like a forensic scientist to piece together the evidence to assess whether or not it is in fact a still.
- (To see bigger versions of the images, please click on them.)
Is It Near Water?
Thus far, the only thing you’ve discovered in the woods is a rusted pile of metal that you believe to be an ancient moonshine still. I’m not sure how you’d determine that. Given that most moonshine operations have been in operation for decades, you’re likely to find only rusted and rotting piles of sheet metal, wood, jars, and other containers in their midst. Given the abundance of waste in the woods, it can be difficult to distinguish between an old moonshine still and an illegal disposal site, especially in the dark.
- Are they just pieces of trash, or might they be a moonshine still?
- Given the high value of copper, you will not be able to find the traditional copper moonshine stills like those depicted in the website’s logo.
- While sheet metal stills were more widespread in the late twentieth century, sheet metal stills were far more affordable to construct and much more common in the early twentieth.
- After discovering what appears to be an abandoned moonshine still, you may have to put together evidence to establish whether or not it is, in fact, a moonshine still.
If you think you’ve discovered a moonshine still, here are five things to look for to ascertain if it truly is. Please see the images below for a bigger view of each.
Supporting Cast of Characters
So you’ve discovered a rusted pile of metal in the woods and believe it to be an ancient moonshine still. But how would you know? Because most moonshine factories have been in operation for decades, you’ll generally discover nothing but rusted and rotting piles of sheet metal, scraps of wood, jars, and other containers. Because there is so much junk in the woods, distinguishing between an old moonshine still and an illegal disposal site can be difficult. Take, for instance, the photograph on the right.
- The first thing you should recognize is that you are unlikely to come across an undamaged copper still.
- Those have long since vanished, having been removed by either the original owner or the authorities.
- However, some of them may be several decades old and will be virtually unrecognizable.
- Here are five things to check for when determining whether or not that mound of debris you discovered is indeed a moonshine still.
The Still Furnace
The still furnace is the second main supporting cast member who contributes to the overall story. It was common for the boiler to be encircled by a rock furnace that was in the shape of a “U.” The moonshiners generally utilized rock from the stream to construct the furnace, although they would occasionally take cinder blocks or bricks out into the woods to use as building materials. The ruins of a still furnace are a clear sign that the pile of rusting metal you discovered is in fact a moonshine still, as does the presence of a still furnace.
When tax authorities came across a moonshine operation, they would “tear down” the still and confiscate the alcohol. Everything has been destroyed or rendered useless. With an axe, the revenuers would carve holes in the still’s walls. Mason jars were smashed on the floor. They threw the flake stand on the ground. All of the copper — the cap, the pipes, and the worm – were confiscated and eventually sold as scrap metal by the government. In the woods, you may come upon a rusted piece of sheet metal that has axe marks on it.
Another method used by the government to destroy stills was to detonate dynamite inside them. If you come across a huge piece of sheet metal that appears to have been ripped apart, it is possible that it is a still that has been blown up by the revenuers.
The Still Design
Last but not least, how does the still seem like? As previously said, you will not be able to discover the original copper moonshine still resting in a barrel in the woods. Copper was formerly an extremely valuable commodity, much like the value of gold and silver in current times. A 50-gallon copper tank will still cost close to $1000 to construct in today’s world. The cost of construction forty years ago would have been the same as it is today (inflation adjusted, of course). The idea is that copper is not going to be abandoned in the forests any longer.
- A copper still was far too precious to just leave sitting in the woods, no matter how tempting it seemed.
- In addition, if the revenuers discovered a still in the woods, the law would seize all of the copper and sell it for scrap to a scrap metal dealer.
- It’s thus unlikely that any copper stills will be found in the woods or along a riverbank.
- While the country was in the midst of Prohibition, the demand for moonshine skyrocketed, and moonshiners began mass-producing hooch in gigantic sheet metal stills capable of distilling hundreds of gallons of liquid at a time.
- There are two basic varieties of sheet metal moonshine stills: the submarine still and the groundhog still.
- Sheet metal, wood, and nails are used in the construction of both structures.
- Groundhog stills, such as the one shown in this video, are made of wood on both the top and bottom.
- If you come across a piece of sheet metal that has hundreds of nails running along the edges, it is most certainly a still in some kind.
Putting It All Together
So, let’s go back to the very first shot and use it as an example. Is this a moonshine still, or something else? Yes, it is correct. It is, in fact, the very first still that I discovered. More photographs of it may be seen here. Reading the story and looking at the photos, you’ll see that 1) it’s placed near a creek, and 2) there’s a lot of “supporting” garbage – mason jars, pail and barrel hoops – to go along with it.
3)It is distinguished by the presence of a still furnace 4)Everything has been eliminated, including the still and even the buckets 5)The sheet metal is attached to the hardwood sides using nails.
What Have You Found?
I’d be interested in hearing about any stills you’ve discovered in the woods. Please leave a remark below detailing your find! Thank you for your time! So you’ve discovered a rusted pile of metal in the woods and believe it to be an ancient moonshine still. What do you do now? But how can you detect the difference?
How is Moonshine Made?
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.
- 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.
- The formula for whiskey, brandy, or rum is almost identical to the one for moonshine in most cases.
- Whiskey is historically created from a blend of grains.
- Moonshine traditionally manufactured from maize is known as classic moonshine.
- What is the process of making moonshine?
- 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.
- The theory of alcoholic distillation is based on the fact that alcohol and water have significantly different boiling points.
- 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.
- 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
- 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. The fermentation process begins at this point, when the yeast begins to absorb the sugars and convert them to alcohol. 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. 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- The result is a clear liquid known as moonshine.
There’s Moonshine In These Here New Hampshire Woods
Moonshine has been making its way back onto store shelves over the past several years, owing in no little part to the Discovery Channel’s famous reality show “Moonshiners.” While the term “White Lightning” may have its origins in the Appalachian mountains, at least one unlawful business is developing in the deep shade of New Hampshire’s wooded forest. Todd Bookman reports as part of Foodstuffs, a new series on NHPR that celebrates the culinary arts. These forests are more renowned for flowing sap than for having a still built in them.
- “Filling this up, and then we’ll turn up the heat and get things rolling.” It will take some time for the room to warm up.
- This is, of course, against the law in New Hampshire and everywhere else, therefore it is necessary to remain anonymous.
- This is more of a recreational activity for them than a business.
- Hang out in the woods, build a fire, and have a few alcoholic beverages.
- Take some money and spend it on something you enjoy, there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?” “I enjoy simply hanging out with friends; it’s something we all have in common that we can do together and just hang out.
- Hang out in the woods, build a fire, and have a few alcoholic beverages.
- It’s fine to make a little money, you know?
“I’m sure you’re aware.
What is is is what is.
Right now, I don’t have a specific woman in mind,” I say.
He does, however, have his recipe memorized.
There are chopped apples and pears mixed in for flavor, and it is amber in color.
“That’s heating it up within the tank, and it’s filling up this cap with fumes at this point.” At 170-degrees, the vapors will be forced into the thumper, a smaller container that filters and purifies the vapors before thumps them out.
“The worm is filled with cold water,” says the engineer.
“And that’s pretty much the end of it.” In total, this process—heating, beating, and condensing—takes an afternoon, during which time burgers are made and beers are consumed.
Nobody seems to know what’s going on with it, how to find it, or even what to search for.
I mean, I wouldn’t have done that previously, to be honest.
I suppose I should be concerned about nosy individuals.
We do not police the forest, he adds.
“It’s a low-key affair up in the mountains.
I don’t believe anyone knows what’s going on with it.” The issue of moonshining, in my opinion, is one of possible health hazards, which is why it has become a topic of discussion.
Hoss is also aware of the moral ramifications of over consumption.
People getting trashed and doing dumb things that injure other people, or anything like that, is not something I encourage,” she says.
“I want people to enjoy it, but I also want them to appreciate it and be careful about it.” A 150-proof transparent liquid steadily fills a jar that has not been labeled.
However, it is only true if you can track them out because they are not planning any marketing campaigns.
For example, I’ve heard a few of tales of people saying things like, ‘oh man, we got some moonshine, blah blah, it was so amazing,’ and they had no idea that they were talking to the person who manufactured the moonshine.
And, you know what I’m talking about, it made me feel fantastic. The fact that I knew where they acquired it made me feel wonderful.
Moonshine’s Gone Legit But It Still Is Dangerous
Photograph by Scott Olson / Getty Images Home-distilled moonshine, once a closely guarded secret of Appalachian backwoods, is still in existence to this day. In fact, it is now officially legal. “White lightning,” as it is referred as, was originally considered an illegal and dangerous chemical by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but it is now approved for sale and controlled by the federal government in select states in the United States. Several other states, including Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky, have followed suit.
Many believe that over a million illegal moonshine stills are currently operating throughout the United States, making the manufacture of clear, high-potency drink more ubiquitous and pervasive than at any other time in history.
What Is Moonshine?
When you make moonshine, you’re fermenting a sugar source to generate ethanol, which is also called as “hooch” or “homebrew.” The traditional method of making moonshine is to boil maize and sugar together. A distillation procedure is used to remove the alcohol from the mash after it has been fermented. One significant distinction between moonshine and other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey or bourbon is that moonshine is not matured. It is the end product of this process that creates an alcoholic beverage with a high proportion of alcohol, often several times larger than 100 proof (50 percent), such as white whiskey.
That is, the ability to purchase commercially made, all-copper moonshine stills on the internet has removed a significant amount of the danger associated with the moonshine distillation process.
Plenty of moonshine is still being produced in stills constructed from vehicle radiator components and other potentially hazardous items.
Impact of Moonshine
Once upon a time, moonshine was a significant financial component of the Appalachian economy, serving as a source of money during difficult economic times and in places where poverty was prevalent. Moonshine, like every other product manufactured in the United States, underwent peaks and troughs in the supply and demand cycle. When the price of sugar increased in the United States beginning in the 1950s, the moonshine industry suffered a severe downturn. The spirit appeared to be slipping away as the United States witnessed a surge in the use of marijuana and prescription medications, which reached epidemic levels in the region.
With the current trend toward increasing costs at the liquor shop, particularly for foreign spirits, moonshining has re-entered the public consciousness.
Tennessee legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages at large box retailers such as Walmart and Sam’s Club the following year.
They are available for purchase for anything from $150 to $11,000, and everything in between. The demand for copper stills, according to one supplier, has more than doubled in the last few years, and he has sold copper stills to every state in the United States.
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.
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.
- Methanol tainting may develop in bigger quantities of distilled moonshine, and it is especially common in older batches.
- The greater the batch size, the greater the amount of methanol.
- Methanol is extremely dangerous and can result in blindness or even death if inhaled.
- Christopher Holstege, a physician affiliated with the University of Virginia Health System, conducted a research in 2004 in which he examined 48 samples of moonshine acquired by law enforcement from various stills.
How to Test for Purity
According to folklore, one method of determining the purity of moonshine is to pour some onto a metal spoon and light it on fire. Although lead is not harmful when burned with a blue flame, it is harmful when burned with a yellow or red flame, leading the ancient adage, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.” The spoon burning approach, on the other hand, is not fully dependable. Other poisons that may be present in the brew, such as methanol, which burns with a bright blue flame that is difficult to notice, are not detected by this method.
Public health experts are afraid that moonshine poisoning in unwell people may go unnoticed since most healthcare practitioners regard it to be an outmoded practice from years ago.
History of Moonshine
As far as historians can tell, the practice of manufacturing alcohol has been present since the dawn of civilization. Moonshine, in particular, is said to have been brought into the United States by Scotch-Irish immigrants in the late 1700s, notably in the southern Appalachian region. According to Appalachian anthropologists, the Scotch-Irish immigrants who relocated to the region in the late 1700s and early 1800s carried with them their practice of home brewing as well as their formula for high-potency hooch, which was popular during the time period.
As a result, it may be kept concealed from prying eyes such as the police or hungry neighbors “Jason Sumich, Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University, believes this is correct.
The side of the antique clay jars was frequently marked with the letters “XXX.” Supposedly, each “X” reflected the number of times the drink had gone through the distillation process before it was bottled.