Why is Moonshine Illegal? – “While many people understand that making distilled spirits at home is illegal, they’re not sure why or how these laws came to be,” Colin Spoelman, co-founder of Brooklyn’s Kings County Distillery and author of Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey, tells Inverse,
- The law seems unreasonable on the surface, but when you dig into its history, it becomes a little more clear.
- Rather than the government fearing you’ll turn yourself blind, the restrictions on moonshine actually boil down to taxes.
- It all began right after the American Revolution, Spoelman explains, during which time the government began to place excise taxes on alcohol in order to pay off its debt from the war.
From the start, American farmers producing the grain that’s used in moonshine were not having it — after all, they did just fight against the British’s tax tariffs. This tension eventually led to the Whiskey Rebellion, in which George Washington lead a crackdown on farmers making money by distilling their grain into moonshine.
- Fast forward to the Civil War era, and making moonshine without paying taxes was officially deemed illegal.
- In 1862 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s (ATF) passed the 1862 Revenue Act,
- This act officially imposed a tax on alcohol, among other items, which made distilling without a permit even harder to get away with.
The law is meant to “collect taxes, including highly lucrative tariffs on imported distilled spirits and tobacco products.” Unfortunately, this also covered homemade spirits, and it’s been illegal to make spirits in American homes ever since.
What is the history of moonshine?
history of moonshine In the South, tracking down and drinking moonshine is a rite of passage. Whether it’s the booze’s rebellious history or its dangerous reputation. Moonshine has cemented a place in the culture at large. Moonshine defines as “whiskey or other strong alcoholic drinks made and sold illegally.” With that definition, it may be confusing to walk into liquor stores and find booze labeled as moonshine.
Part of the problem lies in the lack of federal requirements for labeling something as moonshine. Unlike whiskey, which you must from grain, distilled and bottled at a certain alcohol content, and aged in oak, ‘shine has no equal. Like vodka, you can make it from anything fermentable: fruit, sugar, grain, or milk.
Like vodka, there’s no upper limit on its alcohol content. Unless you want to describe it as white whiskey on the label, you can make it any way you please. So, despite what you might have read in the OED, legally made hooch labeled “moonshine” is all over the place.
Despite its super Southern connotation, hooch isn’t only a Southern drink. 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 have their origins in frontier life in Pennsylvania. Also, other grain-producing states.
At the time, farms with grain mills would distill their excess product so that it wouldn’t spoil. Back then, whiskey was even used in some places as currency. history In 1791, the federal government imposed a tax on liquor made in the country, known as the “whiskey tax.” For the next three years, distillers held off the tax collectors by less-than-legal means.
- This brought a U.S.
- Marshal to Pennsylvania to collect the taxes owed.
- More than 500 men attacked the area’s tax inspector general’s home.
- Their commander was then killed, which inspired a protest of nearly6000 people.
- The tax repealed in 1801, and the events from the decade prior came to be the Whiskey Rebellion.
A lot of the lore and legend surrounding moonshine is true. Bad batches or certain production techniques (like distilling in car radiators) could result in liquor that could make you go blind—or worse. Some moonshiners claim that these stories were an effort to discredit their work.
Legal producers differ. Either way, the federal government commissioned Louis Armstrong to record radio ads about the dangers of drinking it. You should see all the Moonshine we have in our store, Don’t confuse moonshiners with bootleggers. Moonshiners make the liquor, while bootleggers smuggle it. The term bootlegger refers to the habit of hiding flasks in the boot tops around the 1880s.
But, with the introduction of cars, it came to mean anyone who smuggled booze. Mechanics found ways to soup up engines and modify cars to hide and transport as much moonshine as possible. In running from the law, these whiskey runners acquired some serious driving skills.
On their off days, they’d race against each other, a pastime that would eventually breed NASCAR. The two were so closely linked, in fact, that a moonshiner gave seed money for NASCAR to its founder Bill France. Another well-known link is Robert Glenn Johnson, better known as Junior Johnson. As the son of a notorious moonshiner, this former driver and NASCAR team owner recently partnered with a North Carolina-based distillery to produce “Midnight Moon.” Whether you call it “shine”, rotgut, white lightning, firewater, skull pop, mountain dew, or moonshine.
Its rebellious history and contentious present make it a helluva drink. If you want to learn more about the History of Moonshine, please follow Tennessee Shine. CO.
Is it illegal to own a still in USA?
Understanding the Law
Understanding the Law
Is a still illegal in Florida?
F.S.562.27 562.27 Seizure and forfeiture. — (1) It is unlawful for any person to have in her or his possession, custody, or control, or to own, make, construct, or repair, any still, still piping, still apparatus, or still worm, or any piece or part thereof, designed or adapted for the manufacture of an alcoholic beverage, or to have in her or his possession, custody or control any receptacle or container containing any mash, wort, or wash, or other fermented liquids whatever capable of being distilled or manufactured into an alcoholic beverage, unless such possession, custody, control, ownership, manufacture, construction, or repairing be by or for a person authorized by law to manufacture such alcoholic beverage.
(2) It is unlawful for any person to have in her or his possession, custody, or control any raw materials or substance intended to be used in the distillation or manufacturing of an alcoholic beverage unless the person holds a license from the state authorizing the manufacture of the alcoholic beverage.
(3) The terms “raw material” or “substance” for the purpose of this chapter shall mean and include, but not be limited to, any of the following: Any grade or type of sugar, syrup, or molasses derived from sugarcane, sugar beets, corn, sorghum, or any other source; starch; potatoes; grain or cornmeal, corn chops, cracked corn, rye chops, middlings, shorts, bran, or any other grain derivative; malt; malt sugar or malt syrup; oak chips, charred or not charred; yeast; cider; honey; fruit; grapes; berries; fruit, grape or berry juices or concentrates; wine; caramel; burnt sugar; gin flavor; Chinese bean cake or Chinese wine cake; urea; ammonium phosphate, ammonium carbonate, ammonium sulphate, or any other yeast food; ethyl acetate or any other ethyl ester; any other material of the character used in the manufacture of distilled spirits or any chemical or other material suitable for promoting or accelerating fermentation; any chemical or material of the character used in the production of distilled spirits by chemical reaction; or any combination of such materials or chemicals.
4) Any such raw materials, substance, or any still, still piping, still apparatus, or still worm, or any piece or part thereof, or any mash, wort, or wash, or other fermented liquid and the receptacle or container thereof, and any alcoholic beverage, together with all personal property used to facilitate the manufacture or production of the alcoholic beverage or to facilitate the violation of the alcoholic beverage control laws of this state or the United States, may be seized by the division or by any sheriff or deputy sheriff and shall be forfeited to the state.
(5) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of raw materials or other substances knowing same are to be used in the distillation or manufacture of an alcoholic beverage unless such person receiving same, by purchase or otherwise, holds a license from the state authorizing the manufacture of such alcoholic beverage.
(6) Any vehicle, vessel, or aircraft used in the transportation or removal of or for the deposit or concealment of any illicit liquor still or stilling apparatus; any mash, wort, wash, or other fermented liquids capable of being distilled or manufactured into an alcoholic beverage; or any alcoholic beverage commonly known and referred to as “moonshine whiskey” shall be seized and may be forfeited as provided by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.
Any sheriff, deputy sheriff, employee of the division, or police officer may seize any of the vehicles, vessels, or conveyances, and the same may be forfeited as provided by law. (7) The finding of any still, still piping, still apparatus, or still worm, or any piece or part thereof, or any mash, wort, or wash or other fermented liquids in the dwelling house or place of business, or so near thereto as to lead to the reasonable belief that they are within the possession, custody, or control of the occupants of the dwelling house or place of business, shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section by the occupants of the dwelling house or place of business.