- 0.1 Why is moonshine so famous?
- 0.2 When was moonshine made illegal in the US?
- 0.3 Who brought moonshine to America?
- 0.4 What is the moonshine capital of the US?
- 1 Why is distilling illegal in the US?
- 2 Why do moonshiners shake the jar?
- 3 Is moonshine 200 proof?
- 4 What does moonshine mean in prohibition?
What does moonshine mean in US history?
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 The tax repealed in 1801, and the events from the decade prior came to be the Whiskey Rebellion.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 moonshine an American thing?
Moonshine is not just an American thing – R Street Institute Growing up in this great country of ours, I got the impression that moonshine was a peculiarly American phenomenon. The Dukes of Hazzard television show (1979-1985) and films like served up a simple story.
- Moonshiners lived in America’s mountains and back roads.
- They are honest country folk who make “likker” from cherished family recipes.
- Moonshiners, this story goes, are poor people whose days are spent trying to outfox the police so as to carry on the traditions of their forebears and earn a living by selling white lightning to their friends and neighbors, and college students looking for a thrill.
Judging by the many on moonshine that have been written in recent years, this “moonshine as an American thing” notion is pretty widespread. Which is understandable, because there are and have been a lot of overall-wearing, tobacco-spitting moonshiners.
- But there is way more to moonshine than mason jars and fiddle music.
- We got a distressing reminder of that truth this past week, when the U.S.
- State Department about toxic liquor being peddled in Mexico.
- One of its victims was a 20-year-old woman from Wisconsin.
- Moonshine has a global history, one that goes back 600 years, and probably even further.
Most certainly, moonshine is not an American invention. Moonshine is most accurately defined as a “distilled spirit made illegally.” Like any liquor, moonshine is made by first producing a fermented beverage (a beer or wine). Thereafter, the distiller heats the beer or wine, captures the alcoholic vapors, and then condenses them into spirit.
Moonshine was born the moment that government declared that individuals needed a license to produce it. That first happened in the 1400s in Europe, although it is entirely possible the date is earlier. Government rules on strong drink date to the reign of Hammurabi, and the process of distillation was known in the days of Aristotle.
Contrary to popular myth, the word “moonshine” is not an American term used because moonshine was made under the light of the moon. The term “moonshine” hails from the British Isles. Initially, that is, starting in the 1400s, moonshine referred to the light of the moon.
- Over time, the term evolved to mean illusory or deceptive.
- By the 1780s, moonshine took on alcoholic content.
- Lexicographer Francis Grose, who prowled the seedier parts of London in search for slang, heard moonshine used to mean unlicensed booze.
- His Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) includes for moonshine that captures both its earliest and emergent meaning.
Moonshine is: “a trifle, nothing. The white brandy smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex, are also called moonshine.” And contrary to the often-peddled proposition that moonshine is synonymous with corn liquor, moonshine has been made from just about every foodstuff imaginable, and nearly every nation has its own version of moonshine.
- Enya has Changaa’, made from sorghum and corn.
- Uganda has Waragi, AKA war gin, made from bananas.
- Myanmar has toddy made from palm tree sap, and Mongolia has Arkhi, a horse-milk-based distilled spirit.
- In prisons, moonshine has been made from ketchup packets, fruit juices and other things I shall not mention.
These days, all sorts of folks moonshine. Hobbyists and foodies in search of “authentic drink” and learn how to distill from, Some of these newbies eventually open licit craft distilleries. Some indigenous cultures still produce their own spirits for use in ceremonies.
- All too often, unfortunately, moonshining is a criminal racket that imperils public health.
- Rarely a week goes by without the media abroad on people getting sick, going blind or dying from toxic moonshine.
- Criminals, unsurprisingly, have no reservations about swindling customers and peddling poisonous methyl alcohol (commonly called wood alcohol) and other toxic chemicals.
A century ago, many Western nations enacted prohibition in a religious hissy fit, and criminal gangs rushed in to serve the market. Today, moonshining is rampant in failed states with collapsed currencies and corrupt governments, and in nations where radical Islamic regimes have banned drink or heavily taxed it.
Why was moonshine illegal in the US?
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.
Why is moonshine so famous?
Prohibition and Bootlegging – Because liquor and all other alcoholic substances were illegal, moonshine became more and more popular during prohibition, and for good reason. It was hard to sneak booze, but moonshine was so potent that you didn’t need to have too much of it on hand to get drunk.
That made it the most cost-effective alcoholic beverage to purchase and share with friends. Bootlegging moonshine was also popular during prohibition. Many people transported moonshine throughout the United States because it was easy to hide from the authorities. Instead of having to hide a large container of beer, they could smuggle a small amount of moonshine that was capable of getting the same amount of people drunk.
During prohibition, moonshine was made with a few different methods. However, the most popular was “The Studer Method” popularized by brothers Robert J. and Joseph M. Studer. They used a distiller and added sugar, yeast, water, rye, and fruits to the barrels.
Is moonshine still illegal in the United States?
Will you get in a tangle with law enforcement for your homemade moonshine? Yes, ma’am! It’s illegal to make moonshine for personal consumption. (You can, however, own and operate a still to process alcohol for fuel-with proper permits.)
When was moonshine made illegal in the US?
A Whiskey Tax – The trouble began largely when Alexander Hamilton, the founding father now famous for his tenacity and song lyrics, figured out a way to deal with the debt associated with the American Revolution. He decided that placing taxes on alcohol would be a good way to pay off the debt accumulated from the war.
Of course, all of the farmers were not on board. After all, they had just finished fighting against the British tax tariffs. This tension exploded with the Whiskey rebellion. This crackdown on moonshining was led by George Washington and resulted in a large loss of life. Making moonshine officially became illegal when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) passed the 1862 Revenue Act,
This Act imposed taxes on alcohol (along with many other items) and was written to collect taxes on imported distilled spirits, but also included the homemade variety. It has been illegal to make spirits in American homes ever since. This change did not come without backlash. Check out What is Moonshine Prohibition?
Who brought moonshine to America?
The Beginning of Moonshine – The practice of creating moonshine began in England in the 18th century and quickly spread to the US. For the first 200 years of its consumption in America, it was not illegal to produce moonshine, and issues surrounding the taxation of moonshine played a role in the American Revolution and Civil War.
What is the moonshine capital of the US?
Franklin County, VA was named the Moonshine Capital of the World after it was estimated that 99 out of every 100 county residents were involved in the moonshine trade.
Do people drink moonshine straight?
How is Moonshine Made? – Moonshine is an alcoholic drink that is typically made from corn, sugar, and water. The corn is mashed, and then the sugar and water are added. This mixture is then boiled. The alcohol content of moonshine can be as high as 95%, which is significantly higher than the alcohol content of most other types of liquor.
The first step in making moonshine is to cook the corn.
This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most common method is to use a still. A still is a device that is used to distill liquids. It consists of a pot that is heated on a stove and a tube that leads from the pot to a container that collects the distilled liquid.
The second step is to add sugar and water.
This mixture is then boiled. The boiling helps to extract the alcohol from the corn mash.
The third step is to collect the distilled liquid.
The distilled liquid is collected in a container that is known as a receiver. The receiver can be either a glass jar or a bottle.
The fourth step is to filter the moonshine.
The fourth step is to filter the moonshine. This can be filtered using a variety of methods, but the most common method is to use a filter bag. This will remove any sediment or other particles from the moonshine. You can also use a coffee filter or cheesecloth for this purpose.
The fifth step is to bottle the moonshine.
To bottle the moonshine, simply pour it into a Mason jar. You can also use other types of jars or bottles, but Mason jars are the most common. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the jar so that the moonshine can carbonate. If you want to make it look more professional, you can buy a bottle capper and caps from a store.
The sixth step is to age the moonshine.
To age the moonshine, you can store it in a barrel. This will give it a smooth, mellow flavor. You can also age it in a carboy or glass jug. If you do this, make sure to use an airtight seal to prevent the moonshine from oxidizing. Aging it will improve its flavor and color, and it will also help to remove any impurities.
The seventh step is to drink the moonshine.
The most popular way to drink it is to drink it straight, but there are other ways to consume it as well. Some people like to add it to their coffee or tea or mix it with other drinks. There are also recipes that call for moonshine to be used in place of other ingredients.
Why is distilling illegal in the US?
Why Is Distilling Whiskey At Home Illegal? No matter what you may have seen on the Discovery Channel, home distilling in the United States remains very much illegal. But why is that? Making beer and wine at home for personal consumption is perfectly within the bounds of the law – why not booze? First, here’s what the, How home distilling is often seen today (image via ) Making ethanol for fuel use at home is also legal, provided you obtain a permit from the TTB. Home fuel permits are to get, but TTB agents are allowed to visit your production area to make sure you’re not drinking the stuff.
- Making alcohol for drinking, however, is a whole different beast.
- According to federal law, making beverage alcohol at home is illegal, plain and simple.
- Why is that? The government cites several reasons for keeping distilling illegal.
- First, it can be dangerous.
- Distilleries bring two materials into close proximity – alcohol vapor and heat sources – that can cause disastrous explosions when not managed correctly.
In most states (including Oregon, where I live) getting a distilled spirits plant permit (often called a DSP) is challenging, and requires significant investment in infrastructure like sprinklers, ventilation, and other systems to keep production staff and visitors safe.
Also, some home distillers are tempted to make their own equipment, and that can be a misstep. Not all metals are rated for food-grade alcohol contact, and some can leach heavy metals and lead into the resulting spirit – not the kind of buzz most people are looking for. Cynically, there’s another reason:,
Distilled spirits like whiskey are taxed at the highest rate of any alcohol, far more than either beer or wine. (Actually, a tax on spirits as the very first tax ever levied in the United States.) Let people make whiskey at home, and the government might end up with a serious financial hangover.
Is moonshine still a thing?
Moonshine Production Today – Workers collect moonshine as it runs from the still at Casey Jones Distillery on Aug.16, 2017, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Scott Olson/Getty Images Despite all that has changed about moonshining in the last 200 years, one thing remains the same — it is still illegal.
- In some instances, that is.
- Alcohol production that’s intended for public distribution and sale is regulated by state and federal authorities.
- Under federal law, anyone can own a still without a permit, but you need a permit to manufacture alcohol for sale and distribution — and these permits are expensive and hard to get.
Individuals are not allowed to produce spirits at home for private consumption. You may produce ethanol at home for use as a fuel. When Prohibition ended in 1933, commercial moonshine production became legal, assuming you obtained a permit and paid taxes.
- But the demand for it that had skyrocketed during Prohibition, when it was difficult to obtain traditional spirits, fell just as dramatically, as people went back to drinking their standard favorites.
- So commercial production died out.
- But over the decades, people who came from a long line of moonshiners, or from parts of the country where it had a deep history, decided to pursue commercial production out of a sense of pride and nostalgia.
It helped that a craft cocktail movement was beginning, too. “Unlike other spirits, legally produced moonshine can be made with any source material, at any proof, can have coloring and flavoring added – the works. There are no rules for its classification,” said Colin Blake, director of spirits education at the Moonshine University website,
In 2005, North Carolina’s Piedmont Distillers became the first “legal moonshine” producer in the U.S. By 2010, there were legal moonshine stills in several additional Southern states. Today, moonshine comes in the traditional plain style, plus a wealth of creative flavors such as apple pie, peach, chocolate silk and salted caramel.
In a nod to its history, most moonshine is sold in Mason jars; some of the top producers are Ole Smokey Tennessee, Junior Johnson’s and Sugarlands. While commercial moonshine is now legal, individuals are still prohibited from making their own. In contrast, it became legal to produce homebrewed beer and homemade wine in the 1970s, as long as it’s done in small quantities.
(If you’re supplying half the bars in the city with your “homebrew,” the government is probably going to get suspicious.) Why the discrepancy? Unlike crafting your own beer or wine, distilling alcohol is a precise process. It’s very easy to make a mistake and create a harmful product. The government wants to make sure any spirits produced are safe.
In addition, many of today’s old-fashioned moonshiners are making their hooch at home, not in a commercial facility, and selling it to others without obtaining a permit or paying taxes. In some states, the state law appears to allow for legal distillation of spirits, but since state law is superseded by federal law (which prohibits this), it doesn’t really matter.
Is moonshine legal in the UK?
In England, an excise licence is required to manufacture spirits by any means. The penalty for ‘moonshine’ (illegally manufactured spirits) is a fine of up to £1,000 and confiscation of the spirit-making equipment.
Is moonshine illegal in New York?
It is a misdemeanor to be in possession of moonshine or attempting to sell illegal spirits. It is a felony to manufacture moonshine.
Why do moonshiners shake the jar?
Moonshine Alcohol Content Test – Unlike store bought alcoholic beverages, your homemade moonshine does not come with an ABV label. You will have to perform a simple test to calculate the amount of alcohol in your moonshine. The experienced, old school moonshiners are able to tell the proof of their moonshine by simply shaking the mason jar and observing the bubbles.
If the moonshine has large bubbles that dissolve quickly it indicates the moonshine has a high alcohol content. If the moonshine has smaller bubbles that dissolve slowly, it indicates a lower alcohol content. Even though this test has been used for more than a century to proof moonshine, nowadays, we can easily and more accurately proof moonshine by using a few simple tools– a hydromete r and a copper proofing parrot or a borosilicate glass test jar.
So, whether you are making moonshine for the first time or having been doing it for a long timehere’s what you need to know to most accurately proof it.
Is moonshine 200 proof?
Is there 200 Proof Moonshine? – Contrary to what other people think, 200 proof moonshine exists. It’s probably the STRONGEST concentration, the HIGHEST PROOF of moonshine, and the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE of alcohol you’ll find out there. Though it doesn’t take the usual distilling process and simple tools to make this one.
Instead, there’s a lot of complexities that go on to get this really strong drink. Would you dare drink a 200 proof moonshine? You’d probably say yes if you’re a daredevil. Drinking 200 proof moonshine is NOT OKAY. You’re practically drinking ethyl alcohol. Remember, 200 proof moonshine has 100% alcohol content contained on it.
Drinking it pure would seriously burn your throat, That being said, be careful with moonshines that have 150 plus final alcohol content. On average, 100 to 120 proof is pretty much the level people can comfortably drink their moonshine. Any more than that? That’s something else.
What does it mean to be called moonshine?
While moonshine can simply be a synonym for moonlight, it’s often used as slang for bootleg (or illicit) whiskey, as well as a colorful way to say ‘nonsense.’ For example, you could say, ‘I listened to her speech, but I finally decided everything she said was nothing but moonshine.’ This ‘without substance’ meaning is
What was moonshine in the 1920?
A Drinking Guide to: Manchester’s Authentic 1920’s Bootlegger’s Moonshine When someone mentions ‘ moonshine ‘ I’m sure that you immediately think of some dank, homemade booze, or indeed one of those cartoon bottles of liquor with a massive ‘XXXX’ written on the side. Well, that’s all a million miles away from what modern moonshine is, and Manchester’s very own O’Donnell’s is testament to that. Moonshine itself originates from the Prohibition Era of the 20s, when the sale of alcohol was illegal and people started distilling their own spirits in the middle of the night to avoid the authorities. This drink, made “under the shine of the moon” became known as moonshine and was an instant hit amongst thirsty secret party-goers at the time. They’ve created 7 flavoured Moonshine liqueurs, such as the,, Lemon Drizzle and my favourite – the ” which is often compared to a liquid Ferrero Rocher and is endlessly sippable, alongside their signature clear spirits, which will blow your roof sky-high! Their (50%) and their (72%) are closer in style, taste and strength as you would have found back in the world of Moonshine in the 1920’s and they’re actually an absolute pleasure to drink – despite their high alcohol content. But what do you do with it? Well, the flavoured liqueurs are extremely versatile, and can be paired with pretty much any concoction of mixers and flavours. The High Proof though? Well, there’s a couple of classics which are just begging to be tried, including a unique take on the vodka martini.
What is the origin of moonshine?
Moonshine’s Not Just a Southern Thing – Courtesy Zenith Press While moonshine is deeply rooted in Southern culture and heritage, its origins, in fact, can be traced to Pennsylvania. Farmer-distillers in the western part of the state protested when the federal government passed the distilled-spirits tax in 1791.
- They tarred and feathered tax collectors and fired upon their homes.
- These actions sparked the Whiskey Rebellion and nearly set off America’s first civil war.
- Moonshine production later took hold in big cities.
- In Brooklyn, the waterfront neighborhood known today as Vinegar Hill was a hotbed of illegal whiskey making.
In 1869, law enforcement went hard and fast against the Irish immigrants who’d set up hidden distilleries there and refused to pay government taxes on their product. In a predawn raid they hacked up stills, confiscated whiskey, and hauled it back to the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard.
- Of course, this didn’t stop people from making booze.
- By the early 1900s, more moonshine was produced in New York City than in all the South combined.
- During Prohibition, a one-day sweep in Chicago, in June, 1925, resulted in 50 raids, 320 arrests, and 10,000 gallons of seized liquor.
- According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, the Genna crime family had brought laborers over from Italy “to distill moonshine.” Meanwhile, Prohibition agents in Los Angeles found inside a five-room ranch house a 250-gallon still and 800 gallons of mash, the soupy, fermented grain that’s used to make the liquor.
A story in the New York Times reported moonshine being made in San Francisco, Oregon, and Washington State.
What does moonshine mean in prohibition?
Rotgut, white lightning, bathtub gin, popskull, panther’s breath, corn liquor or just plain old shine It has many names, but a couple of things are always true about moonshine alcohol : It’s made in secret, and it’s illegal. Moonshining is tied to the history of the United States in many ways, and it’s tied to the character of the American people just as strongly.
- From the Prohibition Era distillers to the backwoods stills of Appalachia, historians agree on one thing — moonshine will always be around in one form or another.
- In this article, we’ll find out how moonshine is made, why it exists and what makes it different from store-bought alcohol.
- 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. Because the operators of illegal whisky stills had to conduct their business out of the sight of legal authorities, these backwoods brewmasters became known as moonshiners, and the term became exclusively theirs.
- Moonshiners are the people who actually make the alcohol.
- Bootleggers are the smugglers who transport it and sell it.
- In colonial times, these distributors would conceal their product inside their tall riding boots, which is how they got their name.
- More recently, bootleggers in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s took to racing cars packed with moonshine through the night to avoid local police.
Their mechanical skills developed as they learned to drastically increase the horsepower of their vehicles to outrun the authorities. This created a culture of car lovers in the southern United States that eventually grew into the popular NASCAR racing series,
- corn meal
Sometimes, other ingredients are included to add flavor or kick. Alcohol can actually be distilled from almost any kind of grain (the earliest American moonshiners used rye or barley), but virtually all moonshine made in the United States for the last 150 years has been made with corn,
So what makes moonshine different from the whisky you find on the shelf at a liquor store? Aside from the obvious differences between something made in a sanitized production facility and something made at night in the woods, the primary difference is aging, When whisky comes out of the still, it’s so clear it looks like water.
Moonshiners bottle it and sell it just like that. Commercial alcohols have an amber or golden color to them — this is because they are aged for years in charred oak barrels. The aging process gives them color and mellows the harsh taste. There’s no such mellowing with moonshine, which is why it has such “kick.” How is Moonshine Made? Making alcohol revolves around two processes: fermentation and distillation,
- The corn is ground into meal. Today, some moonshiners use commercial hog feed because it’s mostly made of corn and is easy to buy without attracting a lot of attention.
- The corn meal is soaked in hot water in the still, Sometimes sugar is added (or even used instead of grain), but traditional moonshiners added malt to convert the starch in the corn meal into sugar. Then the yeast is put in, which starts the fermentation process. (See How Beer Works for details on the fermentation process.) This mixture, called mash, is stirred thoroughly and heated for a set amount of time in the still. The still and all the metal piping used are made of copper, which conducts heat well and doesn’t leech into the alcohol.
- The stone furnace beneath the still is brought up to about 172 degrees Fahrenheit (78 C). Wood, coal and even steam have been used in the past to heat the still, but most moonshiners started using propane decades ago.
- The alcohol evaporates, As pressure builds in the still, the alcohol steam is forced through the cap arm, a pipe that leads out of the top of the still.
- Some moonshiners use a thump keg, which is simply a heated barrel into which the steam is forced. Some solid material from the mash usually comes along with the steam, so the thump keg, so named for the thumping sound the bits of mash make when they drop into the barrel, re-evaporates the alcohol, filtering out the mash, If a moonshiner wants to make his or her alcohol extra potent, he or she might “charge” the thump keg — add undistilled mash or a few gallons of alcohol into the keg so the steam picks up extra alcohol vapor on its way to the worm box.
- The steam travels into the worm, a coiled length of pipe that winds down the inside of the worm box, The worm box is a crate or barrel that has cold water, usually diverted from a nearby creek, flowing into the top and then back out the bottom. This keeps the worm bathed in constantly circulating cold water, which condenses the alcohol steam into liquid.
- A spout, tap, or hose leads from the end of the worm into a bucket, usually through one last filter,
- The resulting clear liquid is ready to be illegally bottled and sold.
The Thing About DIY Liquor Although the general process for making moonshine doesn’t differ too much from the way they do it in commercial distilleries, there are a few reasons why drinking illegal liquor can be a gamble. The whole point of making moonshine is to escape laws, taxes and regulations.
That means that there aren’t any FDA inspectors stopping by the backwoods still to make sure all the moonshiners wear hair nets and wash their hands, and no one is there to ensure that all the ingredients are safe. Moonshiners are not known for their careful maintenance of sanitary conditions. It is not uncommon for insects or small animals to fall into the mash while it’s fermenting.
That’s pretty gross, but it probably wouldn’t kill anyone. You might have heard stories about people drinking moonshine and going blind — or even dying. These stories aren’t urban legends — they’re true. During Prohibition, when moonshine was made and sold in “speakeasies” across the United States, thousands of people died from drinking bad moonshine.
- There isn’t anything inherently dangerous about moonshine — at least no more dangerous than any other alcoholic drink.
- When made properly, it is simply very strong alcohol with a very hard taste, or “kick,” because it hasn’t been aged.
- It is usually very potent, as high as 150 proof, which is about 75 percent alcohol.
That high alcohol content can be pretty dangerous in itself; but again, the biggest problem is that there aren’t any regulations to make sure that it’s made properly. Some distillers realized that part of the appeal of moonshine was that “kick.” They experimented with different ingredients to add more kick to the drink, including manure, embalming fluid, bleach, rubbing alcohol and even paint thinner.
- It usually takes two or three passes through the still to remove all the impurities from the alcohol. One pass may not be enough to create a safe batch.
- If the still is too hot, more than alcohol can boil off and ultimately condense — meaning more than alcohol makes it into the finished product.
If the moonshiner is careless, either of these problems can result in a poisonous drink. The History of Moonshine There has to be a good reason to go to all the trouble of making moonshine. Actually, there have been several reasons, but they all boil down to one thing: government control of the alcohol trade,
- Moonshining began very early in American history.
- Shortly after the Revolution, the United States found itself struggling to pay for the expense of fighting a long war.
- The solution was to place a federal tax on liquors and spirits,
- The American people, who had just fought a war to get out from under oppressive British taxes (among other purposes), were not particularly pleased.
So they decided to just keep on making their own whisky, completely ignoring the federal tax, For these early moonshiners, making and selling alcohol wasn’t a hobby or a way to make extra cash — it was how they survived. Farmers could survive a bad year by turning their corn into profitable whisky, and the extra income made a harsh frontier existence almost bearable.
To them, paying the tax meant they wouldn’t be able to feed their families. Federal agents (called ” Revenuers “) were attacked when they came around to collect the tax, and several were tarred and feathered. All this resentment finally exploded in 1794, when several hundred angry citizens took over the city Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
President George Washington called for a gathering of militiamen under federal authority. Thirteen-thousand troops dispersed the mob and captured its leaders. This Whisky Rebellion was the first major test of federal authority for the young government.
Despite the failure of the rebellion, moonshining continued throughout the United States, especially in Kentucky, Virginia, the Carolinas and other southern states. Excise taxes on alcohol didn’t go away, so moonshiners always had incentive to avoid the law. Gun fights between moonshiners and revenuers became the stuff of legend.
These battles escalated in the 1860s as the government tried to collect on the excise tax to fund the Civil War, Moonshiners and Ku Klux Klansmen joined forces, and many pitched battles were fought. The tactics of the moonshiners grew more desperate and brutal, intimidating locals who might give away the locations of stills and attacking IRS officials and their families.
- The tide of public sentiment began to turn against the moonshiners.
- The temperance movement, which sought to ban alcohol, gathered steam as the United States headed into the 20th century.
- In the early 1900s, states began passing laws that banned alcohol sales and consumption.
- In 1920, nationwide Prohibition went into effect.
It was the greatest thing the moonshiners could have asked for. Suddenly, there was no legal alcohol available, The demand for moonshine shot up like a rocket. Moonshiners couldn’t keep up with the demand, which led to cheaper, sugar-based moonshine, as well as watered-down moonshine.
- The distillers would do anything to increase their profit.
- Organized crime blossomed as speakeasies opened in every city — these secret saloons had hidden doors, passwords and escape routes in case the “Feds” ever showed up to conduct a raid.
- When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the market for moonshine grew thin.
Although moonshine continued to be a problem for federal authorities into the 1960s and ’70s, today, very few illegal alcohol cases are heard in the courts. Large commercial distilleries can buy raw materials on such a large scale that, even with the taxes they must pay, their products aren’t too much more expensive than moonshine.
- While some counties in the south and midwest United States remained “dry” (alcohol-free) for decades after the end of national Prohibition, even those localized liquor bans have, for the most part, faded away.
- That leaves consumers of alcohol little reason to seek out moonshine other than the temptation of buying and drinking something that’s “forbidden” and the flouting of government authority.
The desire to flout government authority is one of the reasons moonshining exists in the first place. The Wrong Side of the Law Despite all that has changed about moonshining in the last 200 years, one thing remains the same — it is illegal. You might be wondering about homebrewed beer and amateur winemaking — these activities were made legal in the 1970s, but they can only be done in small quantities (if you’re supplying half the bars in the city with your “homebrew,” the government is probably going to get suspicious).
- Homebrewing is a different activity from distilling alcohol, and distilling is definitely illegal in any amount.
- The reason distilling at home is illegal is because it’s too easy to make a mistake and create a harmful product,
- Permits and licenses are required so that the government can make sure the alcohol being produced is safe.
Plus, the Feds want to get their tax money. However, moonshiners are rarely arrested or charged with making illegal liquor. The real charges come from tax evasion, A new federal push to crack down on moonshiners has also started using money laundering charges against moonshiners and their suppliers.
- A money-laundering conviction can lead to a prison term of 15 years, as opposed to five years for moonshining.
- Many moonshiners have their property seized by the government when they are caught, because tax evasion and moonshining convictions also result in heavy fines.
- The property is seized to make sure the fines can be paid.
Cited from https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/moonshine.htm