Categories Moonshine

Why Us It Called Moonshine? (Solution)

The term “moonshine” comes from the fact that illegal spirits were made under the light of the moon. In every part of America, early moonshiners worked their stills at night to avoid detection from authorities. Many farmers relied on moonshine manufacturing to survive bad years.

Why is moonshine illegal to distill at home?

  • Moonshine can become tainted with toxic liquids, especially methanol, the form of alcohol reputed to cause blindness and death. Making moonshine also poses obvious risks of fire or explosion. Laws against moonshine may place those who wish to make their own line of commercial brandy or other spirit in a tricky situation.


What does the name moonshine mean?

Usually containing very high content of alcohol, moonshine is whisky that is distilled illegally at home. The name moonshine originated from the way it was distilled during the night “Using the moon light”.

Why is moonshine banned in America?

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 it legal to make beer but not moonshine?

Why is it legal to homebrew beer or make wine in the US but not make your own liquor (Moonshine)? Its about money. It is because the Federal Government is unwilling to forego the tax revenue, and because existing distillers, who pay high taxes, don’t want competition from cheaper, untaxed spirits.

Is moonshine stronger than other alcohol?

What’s the Difference Between Moonshine and Grain Alcohol? It is way stronger than many other alcoholic beverages, such as whiskey, vodka, and beer as the grain is usually allowed to get to high ethanol content before it is being distilled. Moonshine is a neutral spirit made from corn and malted barley.

Where did word moonshine come from?

The term “moonshine” comes from the fact that illegal spirits were made under the light of the moon. In every part of America, early moonshiners worked their stills at night to avoid detection from authorities. The United States started taxing liquors and spirits shortly after the American Revolution.

Is moonshine illegal in UK?

Home brewing of beer and wine is legal in the UK, but distilling of spirits is illegal without a licence.

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.

Who invented moonshine?

The term moonshine has been around since the late 15th century, but it was first used to refer to liquor in the 18th century in England. The American roots of the practice (and of modern American whiskey production in general) have their origins in frontier life in Pennsylvania and other grain-producing states.

Can you buy moonshine in England?

Home brewing of beer and wine is legal in the UK, but distilling of spirits is illegal without a licence.

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.

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.

What percentage of alcohol is moonshine?

Moonshine is usually distilled to 40% ABV, and seldom above 66% based on 48 samples. For example a conventional pot stills commonly produce 40% ABV, and top out between 60-80% ABV after multiple distillations. However, ethanol can be dried to 95% ABV by heating 3A molecular sieves such as 3A zeolite.

Is moonshine a vodka?

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

What is the strongest alcohol in the world?

With a whopping 95% abv, Spirytus Vodka is the strongest commercially-available spirit in the world. Consumers are warned to never drink the spirit neat, and instead mix it with juice or use it as a base for liqueurs and other infusions.

What is the proof of real moonshine?

On average, a proof moonshine could range somewhere between 100 to 150 proof. When you convert that alcohol by volume, 150 proof is equivalent to 75% alcohol by volume.

Why Is Moonshine Called Moonshine

Moonshine, which is often created from maize, is a kind of whiskey that has not been matured. You would question, though, why it isn’t called maize whiskey or grain whiskey instead. How did the term “moonshine” come to be, which is today a well-known brand of alcoholic beverage? The solution to this question is centered on the unlawful state that is related with the question. In most cases, it has a high concentration of alcohol. Moonshine is whiskey that has been illegally made at a residence.

British Beginnings

The term “moonshining” originated in Britain, where the word “moonshine” was often employed. Originally, this verb referred to any action that took place throughout the night, but when it entered the United States, the meaning of the word changed.

Hard times

Moonshiners began manufacturing their alcoholic beverages illegally at the time that the United States put a high tax on high-distilled spirits produced by its residents in order to pay the Civil War. The whiskey was not created just for recreational purposes, but also to provide food for families. Obtaining more revenue was advantageous at the time due to the difficult economic climate. Paying hefty taxes meant that they had less cash to spend on their families’ food. Those who worked as moonshiners were also hardworking farmers, and this was unacceptable for them.

As a result, they continued to manufacture their alcohol illegally in order to escape the high taxes that they were compelled to pay.

Operations in the Backwoods

The moonshiners proceeded to conduct their operations in the depths of the backwoods, where it would be difficult to detect them in order to escape being apprehended by the police. The only source of light available to them because they were working late into the night to make their whiskey was the moonlight. Hence, moonshine became the term for the spirit.

Is Moonshine Just Whiskey Made of Corn?

As a precaution against being apprehended by authorities, the moonshiners began to conduct their operations deep in the woods, where it was difficult to detect them. It was just the moonlight that they could use for illumination because they were making their booze so late at night. Hence, moonshine came to be known as what it is.

Is There Moonshine That Is Legal?

The United States government approved spirit distillation for a small number of designated distillers in certain places, allowing them to produce and sell moonshine lawfully. Then there’s the great question: is the legalized alcohol still referred to as moonshine, despite the fact that the word moonshine is used to refer to alcohol that has been unlawfully distilled? Although the moonshine seen in shops has been legalized, the processes and formulas used in distilling the illicit moonshine have remained the same, resulting in the same product with the same experience, and therefore the word “moonshine” has been retained.

What Else Is Moonshine Called?

Moonshine is referred to by a variety of different names in addition to the word “moonshine,” which is the most often used term.

A short sampling of names that you may have heard previously is presented below. Check to see if you can identify any of them:

  • Alley bourbon
  • White lighting
  • Bush whiskey
  • Donkey punch
  • Skull cracker
  • Wild cat
  • Mountain dew
  • Hooch
  • A few examples include: the cold water, the branch water, the jet fuel, the mule kick (also known as the cat daddy), the rotgut (also known as the rotgut), the pop skull (also known as the pop skull), the white dog (also known as the hillbilly pop), and many others.

Why is Moonshine called “Moonshine”?

Moonshine is a kind of whiskey manufactured from grain, often maize, that has not been matured. As a result, why isn’t it simply referred to as “grain whiskey,” “corn whiskey,” or “unaged whiskey”? How did it come to have such a distinctive name that is now well recognized throughout the United States and the rest of the world? It all boils back to the fact that it is unlawful in the first place. Find out more about its etymology in the section below.

From Britain to America

The term “moonshining” comes from the United Kingdom, where it was used as a verb to describe moonshining. At initially, moonshining was simply defined as engaging in any activity or performing any labor that was performed late at night. However, when the name made its way to the United States, it took on a whole other connotation.

Times Were Tough

When the United States imposed a disproportionately high distilled spirits tax on the sale of whiskey produced by its residents, in part to pay the Civil War, moonshiners began manufacturing their alcoholic beverages illegally to supplement their income. They weren’t creating whiskey as a recreational activity; rather, they were making it to provide for their families. It was a difficult time back then, and any little bit of extra revenue was appreciated. If they agree to pay the high tax on the sale of their products, they may find themselves with insufficient funds to put food on the table and provide for their family.

They needed to be able to retain every cent they earned.

Backwoods Operations

In order to avoid detection by the police and avoid being apprehended, they began performing their activities deep in the woods, where they would be difficult to track down. After midnight, in complete darkness with only the light of the moon to guide them, they went about their business distilling alcohol. As a result, the name “moonshine” came to be linked exclusively with the illicit alcohol that these moonshiners produced.

Just Corn Whiskey?

When you think of moonshine, you probably think of a clear, unaged whiskey created from corn mash, which is what most people think of. You’d be basically true, but the word is also commonly used to refer to any alcoholic beverage that has been unlawfully produced. During the Prohibition period, there was a high demand for alcoholic beverages, which led to a glut of moonshiners. As a result, in order to produce a lower-cost product and generate more revenue from their sales, they began producing batches of alcohol using white sugar instead of corn mash, which was technically rum rather than whiskey.

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However, because all of this alcoholic beverage was produced illegally, late at night, and under the light of the moon, it was collectively referred to as moonshine.

Can There Be Such a Thing as Legal Moonshine?

What comes to mind when you think of moonshine is generally a clear, unaged whiskey derived from maize mash. However, the word is also commonly used to refer to any alcoholic beverage that has been unlawfully manufactured. A high demand for alcohol existed throughout the Prohibition period, and moonshiners took advantage of the situation. Consequently, in order to produce a more affordable product while also generating more revenue from their sales, they began producing batches of alcohol using white sugar rather than corn mash, which was technically rum rather than whiskey.

For some, fruits entirely replace grains as a staple diet. All of this alcoholic beverage, however, came to be known as moonshine because it was produced illegally, in the wee hours of the morning, and by the light of the moon.

Alternate Names

When you think of moonshine, you usually think of a clear, unaged whiskey created from corn mash, which is what you should think of. You’d be basically true, but the word is also used to refer to any alcoholic beverage that has been unlawfully produced. In the years leading up to Prohibition, there was a high demand for alcoholic beverages, and moonshiners became greedy. As a result, in order to produce a cheaper product and generate more revenue from their sales, they began producing batches of alcohol using white sugar instead of corn mash, which was technically rum rather than whiskey.

However, due to the fact that all of this alcohol was produced illegally, late at night, and under the light of the moon, it was collectively referred to as moonshine.

Why is Moonshine Called Moonshine?

When you think of moonshine, you typically think of a clear, unaged whiskey created from corn mash. You’d be basically true, but the word is also commonly used to refer to any alcoholic beverage that has been unlawfully manufactured. Moonshiners became very greedy during the Prohibition period, when there was a high demand for alcoholic beverages. As a result, in order to produce a lower-cost product and earn more money from their sales, they began producing batches of alcohol using white sugar instead of corn mash, which was technically rum rather than whiskey.

However, because all of this alcohol was produced illegally, late at night, and under the light of the moon, it was collectively referred to as moonshine.

England Circa 18th Century

The name moonshineas as we know it now has its origins in England during the 18th century. Its meaning is derived from the concept of light without heat, or light emitted by the moon, respectively. It referred to illegal or smuggled alcoholic beverages. Moonshiner was a phrase used to denote anyone who engaged in unlawful activities while concealing their identities in the dark. It might refer to any number of crimes, including robbery, burglary, and grave robbing.

America Post-Revolution

Originally from England in the 18th century, the wordmoonshineas as we know it now was born. Light without heat, or light coming from the moon, are the concepts that underpin its meaning. Smuggled or illegal booze was intended. In the past, the word “moonshiner” was used to designate someone who engaged in criminal actions while hiding in the shadows. Robbery, burglary, and grave robbing are all possibilities.

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

The name moonshineas as we know it now has its origins in the 18th century in England. Its meaning is derived from the concept of light without heat, or light emitted by the moon, respectively. It was a reference to illegal or smuggled booze. Moonshiner was a phrase used to designate someone who engaged in unlawful activities while remaining hidden in the shadows. It might refer to anything – robbery, burglary, or grave robbing, for example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Moonshine inspired NASCAR.

For the avoidance of doubt, moonshiners produce the whiskey while bootleggers carry it. The name “bootlegger” was used in the 1880s to describe smugglers who would conceal flasks in the tips of their boots. Of course, as automobiles entered the scene, the term’s definition was broadened to include anybody involved in smuggling booze. As troops returned home from World War II, equipped with new mechanical abilities, they immediately found work as bootleggers in their own areas. Modifying automobiles allowed these modern bootleggers to increase the amount of moonshine they could carry while also gaining the driving abilities essential to escape the authorities.

More than just a source of bragging rights, this rite laid the groundwork for the modern-day NASCAR.

To this day, the official spirit of NASCAR is produced at the moonshine-based distillerySugarlands Distilling Co.

There, they manufacture ” Sugarlands Shine ” in a range of unique tastes ranging from old fashioned lemonade and blueberry muffin to maple bacon, root beer, and peanut butter and jelly.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Although the brand’s link with moonshine has developed since then, its legacy is still alive and well.
  2. Check out this article.
  3. You’ll receive comprehensive, practical, and hands-on training from industry professionals throughout the program.
  4. More information is available here: Content that is related Moonshine University is holding a celebration of the “Moonshine.” The StaveThief Society has officially launched.

How Did Moonshine Get Its Name? An Era Of American History

What exactly is in a name? In the case of moonshine, there’s a lot of history and more than a little bit of mystery to be discovered. Moonshine conjures up images of a wild past replete with bearded bootleggers, stock cars speeding away from the authorities, and other illicit acts if you’re anything like me. As it turns out, all of those scenarios played a significant role in how the company got its name. An in-depth examination of the unique title given to moonshine, including its meaning and relationship to the history of this infamously strong drink is provided below.

Why the Name “Moonshine?”

First, a short review of the material: Moonshine is a type of whiskey that has not been aged and is made from grain, usually corn. Consequently, why is it referred to as moonshine rather than the more obvious alternative names such as:

  • Corn whiskey
  • Grain whiskey
  • Rye whiskey
  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Almost everything that contains the term “whiskey”

The solution, like with so many things associated with’shine,’ includes criminal activity. During the peak of American moonshine manufacturing, back when it was a massively illegal activity, distillers would produce large batches of alcohol at night to keep their operations running smoothly. Why is it at night? This is due to the fact that the distillation process produces a plume of smoke, which might serve as a signal to law enforcement that “Hey authorities, illicit spirits are being manufactured here; come bust these folks.” The telltale smoke trails were masked by the darkness.

Their stills were also hidden deep into the forest, adding an extra degree of secrecy to the operation.

Of course, any form of artificial illumination was out of the question because the light would give away where they were hiding. As a result, distillers would work under the illumination provided by, you guessed it, the moon.

The Surprising British Origins of the Term

It should come as no surprise that moonshine is produced under the light of the moon, but there is a twist to the story. The word “terminus” was not used until the 1860s by American distillers. Instead, it dates back more than a century and originated on the other side of the world. The town of Wiltshire, in the English county of Wiltshire, had a bit of a reputation issue in the late 1700s. Their neighbors dubbed to them as “moonrakers,” and they related tales of Wiltshire men who once mistaken the moon’s reflection in a nearby lake for a wheel of cheese.

It was portrayed as a weird, maybe feeble-minded local activity – and local men went so far as to really stay out at the local ponds at night, casting nets to catch the moon’s reflection – that the practice was eventually banned.

They’d go out to the ponds and grab their illegal kegs, and the local police were completely unaware of what was going on.


Moonshine Arrives in America

Early hilly regions of colonial America were populated by English, Scottish, and Irish settlers. They carried their liquor recipes with them, but they had to make modest modifications to them due to the limited availability of certain ingredients. Instead of using spirits manufactured from wheat and rye, they utilized spirits derived from maize. Corn whiskey was popular and lawful in all of the colonies throughout the colonial period. Because there was such a huge demand for alcohol, those who produced it had little trouble finding buyers, and they also utilized it as a kind of trading.

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In addition, corn was abundant, and if you had a surplus, its liquid form was more convenient to store than sacks of grain.

The Whiskey Tax was instituted by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who was burdened by debt from the Revolutionary War.

The militia headed by President George Washington battled with farmers, distillers, and other people over the course of many months in 1776.

Why Appalachia Is Commonly Associated with the Term Moonshine

The federal government put a halt to the insurrection and also made amendments to the legislation in the process. With time, the country began to chill. However, among distillers, there was still a simmering hatred against this distant federal government and its authority to levy taxes on them. The tax was paid by the majority of distillers, but not all of them. Those that flatly refused to participate then relocated their stills away from the public eye. Despite the fact that they employed maize rather than wheat or rye, the liquor they created was still clear, white, and unaged whiskey, and – probably most crucially – it was manufactured illegally.

Aside from the fact that many distillers did not want to pay taxes, many others simply could not.

There were limited economic prospects available in rural and hilly areas such as the Appalachian Mountains. Farmers, particularly during difficult economic times, relied on moonshine as a source of additional money – and every cent made was critical.

The Modern Usage of the Term Moonshine

Currently, the name “moonshine” refers to two distinct forms of distilled spirits. First and foremost, there is legal moonshine. Following the relaxation of some liquor rules by the United States government a few years ago, several major distilleries are now permitted to manufacture and sell moonshine lawfully. Essentially, it’s the same recipe that was utilized in the past, just without the legal ramifications, and made in a far more sanitary and well-regulated environment today. However, the term “moonshine” can refer to any form of unlawful alcoholic beverage.

In a technical sense, they were distilling rum.

It is mostly used in a historical setting that the second phrase appears.

The good news is that, barring a few exclusions, it is legal to own and even create moonshine using a home still (although you should always check your local regulations first).

Final Thoughts

Many people are unaware that the term “moonshine” refers to much more than just alcoholic beverages. When a term travels over a continent, it comes to symbolize a whole era of American history, and you can get a taste of that history by sampling some moonshine today, you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

There have been many other names given to moonshine throughout the years, including “rot gut,” “white lightnin’,” and “corn liquor.” Moonshine is defined as “intoxicating liquor, particularly illegally produced maize whiskey,” according to the dictionary. A “moonshiner” is defined as “a person who manufactures or sells illegal whiskey.” The European form is “whisky” (the American version is whiskey), which is derived from the Gaelic phrase for “water of life” that means “water of life.” The water of life, also known as illegal, illicit liquor, has been a part of world history and lore for thousands of years, and it is still a tradition in the southern United States of America today.

  • Oklahoma is no different, with many citizens having a long history of illicit booze production, distribution, and use.
  • Thus, the primary motivation for illegally producing whiskey has been to avoid paying taxes on the alcohol produced.
  • Many Scotch-Irish settlers, who not only drank whiskey but also distilled it and sold it for a living, felt that the levy was unfair and discriminatory.
  • They were taken into custody, but President George Washington eventually released them.
  • In order to avoid paying the tax, many distillers in the 1870s chose to bribe revenue collectors and politicians at all levels of government in order to avoid paying it.
  • In the end, Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin Bristow was responsible for breaking the ring, which was one of numerous scandals that occurred during President Ulysses S.
  • It was against federal law to sell or distribute alcohol to American Indians in Indian Territory, according to federal law.

Over the next two decades, the amount of liquor trade increased to the point where the authors of the 1907 state constitution placed a restriction on the sale of all alcoholic drinks.

Following the lifting of national prohibition in 1933, the state government, inspired by religious conservatism, issued a legislation stating that no alcoholic beverages with an alcohol percentage level more than 3.2 beer may be sold in Oklahoma.

Moonshine is an alcoholic beverage created from fermented grains or mash.

A distiller’s own preference for other components, like as yeast, malt, and sugar, influences the final product (moonshiner).

Cooking sugar generally produces a sweet aroma in the air while it cooks, which is pleasant.

The final product has traditionally been “bottled” and sold in jars similar to those used for canning fruit.

Because it was illegal to sell 3.2 beer in places where dancing was permitted, the bootlegger quickly established himself as a common sight at dance halls.

However, rather than retailing moonshine, the majority of bootleggers sold booze that had been lawfully produced and bottled in other states and “imported” into their state from elsewhere.

It was possible to acquire the “jake leg” or “jake walk,” a permanent, debilitating condition that caused a leg to be pulled into an almost useless position, by consuming moonshine distilled with Jamaican ginger or by consuming Jamaican ginger, which was typically 70 percent alcohol, in large quantities.

Jamaican ginger also included a number of potentially hazardous compounds.

A number of moonshiners in the late twentieth century employed a variety of procedures and additional chemicals, such as lye, battery acid, or other caustics, to abbreviate the distillation and aging times of their spirits.

Oklahoma has a substantial market for non-taxed and unlawful alcoholic drinks like as home brew, moonshine, Choc beer, and/or other illicit alcoholic beverages.

In Oklahoma, the custom of moonshining has survived into the twenty-first century. Guy Logsdon is a writer who lives in the United Kingdom. Other terms to consider: CHOCOLATE BEER, FOLKLIFE, FOODWAYS, PROHIBITION


The Second Oldest Profession: An Informal History of Moonshining in America (Jess Carr, The Second Oldest Profession: An Informal History of Moonshining in America) (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 1972). Born Sober: Prohibition in Oklahoma, 1907–1959 (Jimmie Lewis Franklin, Born Sober) (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971). Moonshine: Its History and Folklore (Esther Kellner, Moonshine: Its History and Folklore) (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1971).

A Brief History of Moonshine

Finding and drinking moonshine is considered a rite of passage in the Southern United States. With its rebellious past and deadly image, moonshine has secured a position in popular culture as a result of its presence in the country’s history. When it comes to whiskey or other strong alcoholic beverages that are made and sold illegally, moonshine is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as follows: As a result of this definition, it may be perplexing to walk into a liquor store (or Costco) and find booze that has been labeled as moonshine.

  1. Unlike whiskey, which must be prepared from grain, distilled and bottled at a specific alcohol concentration, and matured in oak barrels,’shine does not have a comparable product in the marketplace.
  2. There is no upper limit to the amount of alcohol in this drink, unlike vodka.
  3. As a result, despite what you might have read in the Oxford English Dictionary, legally produced booze called “moonshine” can be found all over the world.
  4. The word moonshine has been in use since the late 15th century, but it was only in the 18th century that it was first used to refer to alcoholic beverages in England.
  5. When grain mills were operating at the time, farmers who had extra produce would distill it in order to keep it from spoiling.
  6. The “whiskey tax,” as it was known at the time, was imposed by the federal government on liquor produced within the country in 1791.
  7. marshal to Pennsylvania to collect the taxes owed.

Their leader was assassinated, which sparked a massive demonstration that drew approximately 6000 people.

There is a lot of truth to the folklore and legends around moonshine.

Despite the fact that some moonshiners claim that these stories were spread in an effort to discredit their work, legal producers are of the opposite opinion.

Don’t make the mistake of conflating moonshiners with bootleggers.

The termbootlegger originally referred to the practice of concealing flasks in the boot tops of automobiles in the 1880s, but with the introduction of automobiles, it came to refer to anyone who smuggled alcoholic beverages.

During their time spent evading the cops, these whiskey runners picked up some serious driving talents.

NASCAR and moonshiners were so intertwined, in fact, that a moonshiner provided seed money to Bill France, the organization’s founder.

After inheriting the fortune of his father, who was an infamous moonshiner, this former driver and NASCAR team owner recently teamed up with a North Carolina distillery to create “Midnight Moon.” No matter what you choose to call it—moonshine, white lightning, firewater, skullpop, mountain dew, or just moonshine—its rebellious past and controversial present make it a terrible drink.


What Is Moonshine, And Why Should You Care?

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

  • The answer, of course, ranges from whiskey enthusiasts to cocktail connoisseurs, with moonshine becoming increasingly popular over the last decade, outliving its reputation as a potent liquor that can render you dead, blind, or paralyzed if consumed in large quantities.
  • Photograph by Valery Rizzo In the eyes of the purists, moonshine is a home-made, unaged whiskey that is distinguished by its clear color, corn-based basis, and high alcohol concentration, which can reach as high as 190 proof in certain cases.
  • In the 18th century, Scottish and Irish immigrants, many of whom lived in the southern region of the nation, were the first to introduce moonshine to the United States of America.
  • However, at the same time as its popularity was at its zenith, the government’s interest in taxing was waning.
  • Whiskey drinkers were able to escape paying taxes by manufacturing and purchasing moonshine at night, under the cover of darkness and the light of the moon, which some believe is how the term “moonshine” came to be.
  • Not only was it created illegally, but it was frequently done in a substandard manner as well, which further added to its negative image.
  • “Moonshine is one of America’s best spirits, but it’s really difficult to produce extraordinarily well because it’s unaged,” explains Taras Hrabowsky, a moonshine maker in New York City.

Making moonshine that can stand on its own, without the strong oak qualities that we associate with whiskey, becomes increasingly difficult.

A burgeoning movement is working to put good—and legal—moonshine on the map, and he’s a part of it.

There are a few new-age brands that stand out above the others.

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

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

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

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

Standard Wormwood Distillery is depicted in this photograph.

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

What is Moonshine?

Moonshine has been dubbed a variety of derogatory names, including Rotgut. Skullpop. Firewater. Panther Piss is a term used to describe a substance that is excreted by a Panther. As implied by the name, it is a type of whiskey for which no taxes have been paid and which is made by a group of good ol’ boys under cover of darkness and by the light of the moon, before being loaded into souped-up coupes and transported to consumers through winding country roads. Thunder Road, a 1958 cult film starring James Mitchum as moonshine runner Lucas Doolin, comes to mind.

  1. Moonshine is often manufactured from maize, however it may and has been created from any fermentable material, including cereals such as rye or wheat, as well as plain old sugar.
  2. It’s referred to as “whiskey without the wood.” Bourbon that hasn’t been aged in a barrel.
  3. Pay attention to the label: Almost certainly, it’s either corn whisky (yep, it’s written with an e) or neutral spirits, which is practically vodka.
  4. Others choose to remain with what they know: history, heritage, and moonshine.
  5. But what exactly is the backstory to moonshine?
  6. Is all of the information you’ve heard about moonshine and its link to NASCAR correct?
  7. Here are a few interesting facts that you might not have known.
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Moonshine’s Not Just a Southern Thing

The following image is courtesy of Zenith Press. While moonshine is strongly ingrained in Southern culture and tradition, its origins may really be traced back to the United States state of Pennsylvania. When the federal government enacted the distilled-spirits tax in 1791, farmer-distillers in the western section of the state took to the streets to demonstrate their displeasure. Tax collectors were tarred and feathered, and their homes were attacked with firearms. These activities provoked the Whiskey Rebellion, which almost resulted in the outbreak of America’s first civil war.

  • Vinegar Hill, a waterfront area in Brooklyn that is currently known as Vinegar Hill, used to be a hub of illegal whiskey production.
  • After conducting a pre-dawn raid, they cut up stills and confiscated whiskey, which they transported to the neighboring Brooklyn Navy Yard.
  • By the early 1900s, New York City was producing more moonshine than the whole southern United States combined.
  • As reported by the Chicago Daily Tribune, the Genna criminal family had imported Italian laborers “to brew moonshine” into the United States.

According to a report in the New York Times, moonshine is being produced in San Francisco, Oregon, and Washington State.

Women Made Moonshine, Too.

The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. You can think of moonshining as more of a man’s world than anything else. Women, on the other hand, were distilling booze. “Nancy the Moonshiner” was one of the ladies that lived in this world. When she was growing up in Warren County, New Jersey, folks thought she was a bit of an oddball. What she really was, however, was a moneymaker and a tenacious businesswoman who worked hard to make ends meet.

  1. The apples were used to manufacture Jersey lightning, also known as apple jack, which is a distilled hard apple cider.
  2. She managed to get away.
  3. Wazeniak was apprehended when a guy wandered home at the end of the night and then fell into a marsh, where he later died.
  4. She was the first woman to be found guilty of selling poisoned liquor in the state of Illinois.
  5. Willie Carter Sharpe was one of the most well-known whiskey trippers in Franklin County, Virginia, where he lived for many years.
  6. Her diamond-studded teeth drew attention during her testimony in the Moonshine Conspiracy Trial in 1935, which was shown live on television.

NASCAR Really Does Have Moonshine Roots.

What exactly is contained within the cases? Of course, we’re talking about moonshine. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. Whiskey trippers were masters of the vehicle, as no one else could match them. Many of them enjoyed competing against one another in their spare time. Lloyd Seay was one of those drivers, and he was a rising star in the world of stock car racing. He was killed by his cousin in a disagreement over moonshine in 1941, though, and his career was effectively finished.

  • It was his mechanic, Louis Jerome “Red” Vogt, who coined the term NASCAR at a conference held in France in 1947 at Daytona Beach, where he was present (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing).
  • Junior Johnson, on the other hand, is perhaps NASCAR’s most well-known connection to moonshining.
  • Johnson’s ability behind the wheel resulted in success on the racetrack for the team.
  • After that, he drove directly home to Wilkes County, where he was arrested the next morning for starting up his father’s stills in the family’s basement.
  • When he got out, he immediately returned to the two things he enjoyed doing the most: racing and moonshining.

Johnson was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 after being convicted of moonshining. In 2010, the racing veteran was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of the first class of honorees.

Modern-Day Moonshine

Photograph courtesy of Nan Palermo on Flickr What you’ve been hearing is correct: Back in the day, drinking moonshine might literally cause a person to go blind. The problem was caused by shady manufacturing practices. For example, some illegal distillers used lye to speed up the fermentation process in their product. Others utilized automobile radiators to create their moonshine, which can result in lead seeping into the product and building up in the body of those who consume the alcohol. The situation was so severe that, as part of its Poison Moonshine Publicity Program in the 1960s, the federal government sought the services of Louis Armstrong to record radio advertisements to raise awareness about the dangers of backwoods liquor.

  • The brands mentioned on this page are carefully crafted on licensed still frames.
  • Even better, one of them comes from a woman-owned distillery, one is manufactured in Brooklyn (not the South!
  • TheDawsonville Moonshine Distilleryin Georgia produces maize whiskey using a 150-year-old formula that was passed down from a moonshiner named Simmie Free who wore overalls and worked in the distillery.
  • Put a rural spin on Sex on the Beach by substituting Wood’s moonshine for the traditional vodka.
  • “I prefer to drink it neat and carefully since this thing has a lot of kick to it!
  • Flickr user DeShaun Craddock The Kings County Distillery, which is housed within the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was New York City’s first licensed distillery since the repeal of Prohibition.
  • Prior to establishing KCD, he and business partner David Haskell ran a moonshine distillery out of their home.

The beverage has a pleasant sweetness to it, and it has a smooth texture on the tongue.

I’m aware of the situation.

However, it is moonshine that has been infused with cacao bean husks, making it taste like alcoholic liquid dark chocolate.

Midnight Moon is the product of Junior Johnson, and unlike Dawsonville or King’s County moonshines, Midnight Moon is available throughout the country, making it simple to get your hands on a bottle of the alcoholic beverage.

Try the basic taste, which comes in a Mason jar, or venture out to the Apple Pie flavor, which is an Appalachian favorite made with apple juice and cinnamon sticks and packaged in a jar.

The latter truly does taste like dessert—but with a kick—and is a fantastic treat for the upcoming cold fall evenings. There will be no rotgut here. It’s just plain old mountain dew.

You Keep Using That Word Moonshine but I Don’t Think You Know What It Means

According to the synopsis for “Moonshiners,” a hit Discovery Channel reality show currently in its seventh season, “each Spring, a fearless group of men and women venture deep into the woods of Appalachia, defying the law, competitors, and nature itself to keep the centuries-old tradition of craft whiskey alive.” ‘As the illicit market for white whiskey heats up, desperate shiners put new, potentially lethal still designs into action, while renowned old-timers come out of retirement to travel back into the hills for one more run,’ says the author.

  • According to the series description, hardscrabble country folk, trudging up hollers in Kentucky or Tennessee to peer into bubbling stills are conjured up in the mind’s eye.
  • In an untidy beard, the stub of a hand-rolled cigarette pokes out from beneath the surface.
  • There’s only one problem with it.
  • Don’t let a drop pass you by!
  • “I haven’t seen it much, but I believe that anything that adds attention to what we’re doing is beneficial,” says Gregg Brooks, head of production and research and development at Belle Isle Craft Spirits, a moonshine distillery in Richmond, Virginia.
  • “It’s nice for them that it helps to advertise their brand, but ultimately, it’s simply amazing entertainment,” says the producer.
  • The only significant distinction between what Smith is producing and the $60 bourbon that sits next to it is the price.
  • Jack Rose Dining Saloon’s Brittney Roberson, manager and whiskey expert, describes the drink as “essentially simply unaged whiskey, white whiskey.” Most people believe that whiskey comes out of the still brown, but it actually comes out clear like any other distilled spirit.

In the past, the term “moonshine” referred to an illegal spirit, and Roberson believes that people still associate this practice with what is now being referred to as moonshine: unaged whiskey from reputable, taxed distillers who are using the term “moonshine” to harken back to the “old days,” so to speak, and to reference a tradition.

All of them are unaged, however they have been tempered for smoothness.

“You have to explain things like, ‘It’s not what you think of when you think of moonshine or white lightning, and it’s not any hair of the dog type of stuff,'” says the author.

Photograph courtesy of Since the 17th century, when liquor-starved European colonists experimented with substituting locally plentiful maize for the barley they were used to distilling with at home, Americans have been whipping up their own whiskey to celebrate their independence.

  • The LongmanEagle’s Tony Correale describes the story as “a distinctively American narrative,” despite the fact that it has European roots.
  • Instead, they distilled maize.
  • Distillers sell unaged, corn-based liquors under a variety of names, including white whiskey, white dog, white lightning, and moonshine, to name a few examples.
  • In order to fulfill all of the requirements for being classified as whiskey in the state of Illinois, Koval’s Hukee says the whiskey must be aged for at least 24 hours.
  • In order to distill your whiskey, you must first purchase a barrel, which is prohibitively expensive, limiting its availability to only the most serious distillers, explains Hukee.
  • It takes time for aged whiskey to mature in the barrel, which means that new enterprises may not have anything to market for years.
  • Maker’s Mark, on the other hand, is a major company whose choice to bottle its characteristic white whiskey had little to do with financial considerations.
  • our consumers, individuals who are passionate about Maker’s Mark, or simply bourbon aficionados in general.” Maker’s Mark White allows ardent fans the opportunity to “have a glimpse into the commencement or the birth of bourbon,” according to the company.
  • “When we initially launched, we had a much larger selection of white whiskies.” Basically, we had a flight of all of the different unaged Kovals, or a white flight, to put it another way.
  • ” In addition to Buffalo Trace White Dog and Benchmark, which is a three- to four-year-old version of the same mash bill, we have Eagle Rare, which is a ten-year version of the same mash bill.
  • The image is courtesy of Moonshine/ When it comes to bad-boy allure, moonshine and absinthe are both excellent choices.

It’s true, Correale concedes, “people are still getting drunk and high on moonshine.” “It has a sharper flavor, and it is not considered to be something that can be sipped lightly and pleasantly.” In a way, it’s for the more experimental drinker, and I believe there’s still a lot of stigma attached to that.” That’s why some moonshine proponents are moving away from the traditional Mason jar presentation and promoting it as a substitute for other clear spirits or an interesting addition to artisan cocktails.

When Jack Rose’s Roberson started working there, he remembered having a drink made with Dickel White, strawberries, lemon, and mint to get him started.

Roberson believes that “if you’re looking for that type of nutty, sweet corn flavor, then maybe an unaged corn whiskey is a better approach than a bourbon” to achieve this.

According to Belle Isle’s Brooks, the company’s goal has been to “disrupt the vodka business” from the beginning.

Belle Isle’s moonshine is packaged in a tall, narrow bottle that looks more like a Grey Goose bottle than anything you’d expect to see on a back road in the South.

“That was critical from the beginning: getting on these back bars, getting on cocktail lists, and getting the bartenders on our side,” Brooks adds.

For the time being, the category’s future growth is unknown.

As Brooks explains, “we constantly come back to the fact that that was the original pure spirit of America.” This is not vodka, this is not gin, this is not any other type of whiskey,” says the narrator. “It is what it is,” says the author. Originally published on December 11, 2017.

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