- 1 What is stronger than moonshine?
- 2 What is white lightning cider made of?
- 3 How is Firefly vodka made?
How is white lightning moonshine made?
James Rada, Jr, When the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol was banned in the United States in 1919, citizens had to choose between becoming teetotalers or criminals. Many law-abiding citizens chose the latter. Since a person could get in trouble buying a drink, people who did it, didn’t talk about it.
That didn’t mean that it wasn’t happening. Underground bars, or speakeasies, weren’t advertised. People knew about them by word of mouth. You got in by knowing someone or knowing a password. Manufacturing moved to stills hidden in the woods or basements. Moonshining (the illegal manufacture or distribution of alcohol) has been around since the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s.
The Western Pennsylvanians, who refused to pay the federal taxes on homemade liquor, were the country’s first moonshiners. However, it wasn’t until the Prohibition era that moonshining took off since the demand for liquor increased. With the profits increasing—a quart of moonshine could fetch $16 in Hagerstown ($225 in today’s dollars)—more and more people were willing to risk being arrested and became moonshiners, rumrunners, and bootleggers.
How to Make Moonshine Kenny Bray was a Western Maryland coal miner in the early 20th century. I have a copy of his unpublished memoir. It includes a section on moonshining and how it is made. First, you need a still, a tub, and a source of running water. The average still during the early decades of the 20th century was a 14.5-gallon copper wash boiler.
A worm, which was a long piece of 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch copper tubing, ran from the top of the boiler to the cooling tub. The boiler lid was sealed with flour paste. The worm was coiled inside the cooling tub, with the end coming out near the bottom. A small stream of water ran into the tub to cool the coils.
Once the still is set up, here is the recipe: a bushel of corn or grain; 50 pounds of sugar; a couple cakes of yeast; and 35-50 gallons of water. It is all mixed in a barrel and left to ferment into corn mash. The barrel is covered but it is not sealed like the boiler. As it ferments, the mash becomes milky white.
It is occasionally mixed. After the mash has fermented, the grain will settle to the bottom, and the mixture is said to be “worked off” and is ready for distilling. In preparation for the distilling, the copper parts of the still are cleaned with vinegar and salt to remove any rust. The boiler is filled with mash to within a few inches of the top and set over a low fire. Since alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, the alcohol evaporates while the water does not.
- The alcohol vapor travels up into the worm and moves through the tubing.
- As it moves through the water-cooled tub, the vapor condenses back into liquid alcohol.
- What comes out at the end of the worm is moonshine.
- This first run is called a “singling.” It is not pleasant to drink and will leave a burning sensation in your mouth and throat.
After the singling run, the still is emptied and cleaned. Then the singling is poured into the boiler, along with water, and the cooking process is done again. This is called “doubling,” and Bray calls it the best grade of moonshine. After this doubling run, you would probably have about 10 gallons of moonshine. However, if you ever see old pictures of moonshine jugs with X’s on them, that represents the number of times run through; XXX isn’t porn, it’s high-grade moonshine. The original mash can be used up to three times by adding more sugar, yeast, and water.
- This was all done without meters and gauges to tell alcohol was no longer coming out of the worm.
- The way that moonshiners could tell a run was done was that they would catch a teaspoon of moonshine out of the worm and throw it on the fire.
- If it flashed, they kept cooking.
- If it sizzled, they stopped.
Bray’s grandfather used honey instead of sugar and corn to make a good, smooth whiskey called, Honey Brandy. However, former Catoctin Mountain Park Ranger Debra Mills pointed out during a presentation at the Thurmont Regional Library, “No still ever makes whiskey, because it doesn’t have time to age.” Moonshining produces distilled alcohol.
- Some moonshiners weren’t too concerned with their quality of product and took shortcuts in making moonshine.
- Some of the things that Prohibition moonshiners did include: • Doubling the first run in mash instead of water.
- Using a 55 gal.
- Steel drum instead of a copper boiler.
- Letting the still run too long.
• Put rubbing alcohol in the mash when it was ready to run, which would increase the amount of the run 2 to 1 in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol put in, one pint of 70 percent rubbing alcohol would make two pints of 70 proof moonshine. • Putting other materials in the mash to ferment, such as overripe fruit.
• Coloring moonshine with tobacco juice or iodine instead of vanilla to make it taste strong when it wasn’t. • Using a 14 oz. bottle and selling it for the same price as a 16 oz. bottle. Wayne Martin, a Thurmont resident whose grandfathers were moonshiners, said his Grandfather Henry used to speed up the “aging” process by putting the kegs on hot water pipes, which supposedly also made the moonshine taste better.
The Waynesboro Record Herald reported about a moonshiner who took the ultimate shortcut. He sold three Waynesboro men three pints of moonshine for $2 a pint. It was a good deal that the men jumped at. “Naturally, after they had it in their possession, they wanted to sample the liquor, and on doing so found that they had purchased muddy mountain water with no more ‘kick’ than the water which runs into the pipes in homes of Waynesboro from the town reservoir,” the newspaper reported.
Thurmont Moonshining Mills points out that Catoctin Mountain was much more barren during the Prohibition era, and the people who lived on it were poor. “Prohibition was probably a good thing economically for people in this area,” Mills said. Having stills operating also gave farmers a place to sell their crops.
Although corn was the most popular grain for moonshine, Elmer Black said in a 2015 interview that he only ever knew of rye being raised to be sold to the local moonshiners in the area. The finished product was often shipped out of the area on the railroad in barrels labeled cornmeal, according to Mills.
It could leave other ways as well. Black recalled that his grandfather would often run moonshine right under the nose of the county sheriff and his deputies. He would get the family together to take a ride in their Studebaker, and off they would go. There was an ulterior motive for the drive, though. Moonshine was hidden underneath the seats.
“My grandfather would wave ‘hi’ as they went by the sheriff,” Black said. Two of Black’s uncles were some of the biggest bootleggers around the Thurmont area. Even his father was known to drive moonshine out of the area to sell. One time he took Black and his siblings along for the ride.
The kids fell asleep. “The three of us woke up and asked, ‘who lives here?'” Black said. “Some senator, they told us. They were rolling the barrels up to the house.” Stills were hidden on Catoctin Mountain near streams that could supply them with the water needed for the moonshine recipes. According to Black, if you follow the streams on Catoctin Mountain upriver, you can still see the remnants of stills that were destroyed.
Martin shared some of his family stories during a presentation at the Thurmont Regional Library about moonshining. One grandfather kept a quarter keg of moonshine in his attic, and when friends would come by with Mason jars, Martin’s grandfather would tell his son to “go up and get some ‘shine for the friends.” At some point, Martin’s grandfather moved the keg from the attic to the basement and buried it in the coal pile.
- Once, revenue agents came by wanting to search the house while Martin’s father was alone.
- The boy didn’t know what to do because he couldn’t get on the phone to call his parents, so he let the revenue agents in to search the house.
- They started in the attic, which worried Martin’s father, but the men didn’t find anything.
Martin’s father thought he was safe and that the moonshine was no longer in the house. The revenue agents continued their search, ending up in the basement. One of the agents saw the coal pile and wondered if moonshine might be buried in it. Martin’s father, not knowing that was the case, held up the coal shovel and told the agents, “Go ahead and dig, but you’ve got to put it all back or my dad will be mad.” Luckily, the agents were lazy and chose not to dig.
Martin’s grandfather moved the moonshine out of the house after that. The revenuers did eventually catch up with Martin’s grandfather. According to Martin, they came in the front door of the house, chasing Martin’s grandfather while the man went out the back door. The revenuers chased after him. Martin’s father, a young boy at the time, chased after the revenuers.
“Dad, he caught up with one revenuer and bit him on the leg and my grandfather got away,” Martin said. The Blue Blazes Still On July 31, 1929, two cars drove up Catoctin Mountain on Route 77. Six men rode in the cars. Only five would be alive two hours later. The cars pulled off the side of the road. Frederick County Deputy John Hemp and Lester Hoffman climbed out of one of them.
Although not a deputy, Hoffman was the only one in the group who knew his way through the forest to what an informant had described a week earlier as a “large liquor plant.” “The officers, in attempting to creep up on the small vale in which the still was situated, ascended a winding mountain path, which led abruptly to the scene of the tragedy,” reported the Frederick Post.
As they neared the still, shots rang out. Deputy Clyde Hauver fell and the deputies scattered for cover, as the moonshiners fired on them, hidden by the underbrush. Once Hauver was on his way to Frederick, the remaining deputies used picks and axes to destroy the vats and boiler.
The newspaper reported that Blue Blazes Still was one of the largest and best equipped in Frederick County, according to reports. It had a boiler from a steam locomotive, twenty 500-gallon-capacity wooden vats, filled with corn mash, two condensing coils, and a cooling box. A National Park Service (NPS) ranger told me that the still produced alcohol so fast that if a man took away a five-gallon bucket of alcohol and dumped it into a vat, by the time he returned to the still, another bucket would be filled and waiting to be removed.
A manhunt started for the moonshiners and eight men were eventually jailed. Charles Lewis was convicted of first-degree murder in the Washington County Circuit Court on March 7, 1930. Governor Theodore McKeldin commuted the sentence in 1950, when Lewis was sixty-five.
- He died a short time after his release.
- There is still much speculation over whether Lewis was the actual murderer.
- Mills pointed out that he was probably the informant who told the sheriff’s department about the operation.
- Names get suggested as do motives, such as a love triangle gone bad or one man coveting another man’s job, but no other person has been conclusively shown to be the killer.
Today, the Blue Blazes Still is gone, but the NPS has a 50-gallon pot still captured in a Tennessee raid on the same location. NPS uses it for presentations about moonshining in the mountains. The NPS actually operated the still for demonstrations from 1970 to 1989.
It was the first still ever to operate legally on government property, according to Thurmont Historian George Wireman. When the NPS started operating the still, the Hagerstown Morning Herald reported, “National Park officials hasten to assure that the whiskey is not for presidential consumption, although the pungent odor of mash undoubtedly wafts over the mountain retreat to be inhaled occasionally by VIP nostrils.” However, though the park had received permission from the Treasury Department to manufacture whiskey, park personnel hadn’t talked to state authorities about it.
The Hagerstown Morning Herald wrote, “on the first day the still was in operation, an agent of the state’s alcohol tax division appeared at the park with two deputies, all set to make another raid on Blue Blazes.” Since the still was on federal property, they couldn’t do anything about it, though.
- I’m still known as the only park superintendent in the service who’s been raided for being a moonshiner,” former Park Superintendent Frank Mentzer told the newspaper.
- Moonshining in Pen Mar Pen Mar, with its ideal location as a resort on the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, became a popular spot for bootleggers to hide their stills.
Also, being at Pen Mar put them close to people who wanted to relax and enjoy themselves with a drink. In 1921, an informant told police that there were thirteen stills that he knew of in the vicinity of Pen Mar. The bootleggers were making good money selling their product, though they didn’t stay very long in one place.
The Gettysburg Compiler reported that one informant about the bootlegging at Pen Mar saw “a bootlegger with a suitcase, placed the latter on a rock near the old Blue Mountain House path and did a land office business by handing the liquor out by the pint and half pint to people who appeared from among the bushes.” After a few minutes, he closed up shop and disappeared into the woods, only to reappear in another location about half an hour or so later.
In 1925, revenuers tried to get Daniel Toms’ 30-gallon still in Cascade. He held them off for a short time with a shot gun, but they eventually surrounded him and caught him and his henchmen. Smithsburg Moonshining War Revenuers also spent plenty of time in Smithsburg, combing the hills for moonshiners.
They tried to pass themselves off as tourist hikers. Smithsburg made national headlines as having an “old-time mountain feud” between John Cline and Henry Russman. There were reports of night raiding, indiscriminate shooting, and fights. They were accused of wrecking a church, dynamiting a sawmill, killing one person, and wounding others.
A 1923 article estimated that there were 500 stills between Hagerstown and the Pennsylvania line. The interest in this fighting may have been due in part to the recent coal mine riots that had grown so violent across the country. One newspaper reported about the moonshiners, “They are unmolested.
How is white lightning made?
White Lightning Description Put the the gin, the white whiskey and vodka in a mixing glass. Stir gently and pour it in a shot glass. Your White Lightning drink is ready for consumption. Cheers!
What is white lightening made of?
White Lightning | West Of The 5th Dist 45% ACL / 90 PROOF UNFILTERED NUTURAL SPIRIT Our original and base of all of our moonshines. White Lightning is fermented from 100% Alberta sugar beets, run though our Canadian hand made still and cut with the purest water you can get.No filtering, no fluff just pure clean spirit. And also our first award winner. : White Lightning | West Of The 5th Dist
How do you mix White Lightning?
Liquid White Lightning® is activated by mixing White Lightning® with equal parts of white vinegar. This step should be performed in paper or plastic cups, but not in metal as White Lightning® is an oxidizer. White Lightning® is aggressive for 8 hours once mixed with vinegar.
What is stronger than moonshine?
What is The Strongest Proof Alcohol? – At 75.5 percent and 95 percent, 151 and 190 proof respectively, Everclear is the strongest proof alcohol on the market. Putting this in perspective, many popular liquors like rum and vodka are less than half Everclear’s potency of 190, typically around 80 proof. Drinking a shot of Everclear increases the effect of alcohol on an individual’s body.
Is White Lightning vodka?
WHITE LIGHTING VODKA – White Lightning Vodka is distilled from wheat as well, yet has slightly more flavour than its Highwood Vodka brother. Western Canada’s short growing season with its long hot sunny days produces wheat known around the world for its consistency and quality. It’s from these ingredients the most enjoyable alcohol is produced, and thus our fine White Lightning Vodka.
Where is white lightning moonshine made?
Launched in 2012 by Dillingham and Koffel and made in Nashville (a fitting place given Appalachia’s relationship to moonshine), American Born Original White Lightning Moonshine is crafted from a 200-year-old, 100% corn recipe.
What is white lightning cider made of?
The Murky World of White Cider With the BMA and Tesco both calling for alcohol prices to be raised to curb underage binge drinking James Crowden takes a closer look at the murky world of white cider. In the good old days ‘white’ meant good. You had the white rabbit and the white knight on his white charger, you even had white witches, but these days the euphemism ‘white cider’ has gone a little awry.
- Many people are now blaming white cider, along with cheap lager, for fuelling underage binge drinking and antisocial behaviour.
- But white cider has been around for more than 20 years.
- Diamond White was launched by Matthew Clark of Shepton Mallet in 1986 and White Lightning made by Inch’s of Winkleigh was so successful that it was bought out by Bulmers in 1996 for £23.3 Million.
But what is ‘white cider’ exactly ? If you ask a traditional cider maker what ‘farmhouse’ cider is, then you have cider orchards trailing off into the distance and deep golden cider made from 100% cider apple juice. What you see is what you get. But mention the words ‘white cider’ and you have the cider makers running for cover and hiding behind their barrels.
They have no desire whatsoever to be associated with this phenomenon. White cider is made by processing dessert apples and the pomace after the traditional milling process, resulting in an almost colourless product that has been heavily filtered. Pomace is the dry apple pulp left behind when the juice has been pressed out of it and this is usually fed to animals or used for making pectin.
Other large manufacturers use apple concentrate from abroad and get most of the alcohol from the addition of glucose or corn syrup. This is then fermented out to about 15%abv and then brought down with water to around 7.5abv and sold in 2 or 3 litre bottles at prices that sometimes make lemonade seem expensive.
- The glucose is derived from maize or wheat starch and is changed by enzymes into sugars which in turn are changed into alcohol.
- So the majority of the alcohol in white cider has very little to do with apples at all.
- White cider is easy to make and then given zappy macho names like White Lightning, Frosty Jack’s, Diamond White, White Ace, White Star, White Strike, Three Hammers, Ice White and White Magic.
The real problem however is that, unlike pornography which is relegated to the top shelves, white cider is often found at ground floor level within easy reach of teenagers. What often happens is that gangs go round drinking large bottles of white cider, or lager and wreak havoc in public places.
The combinbation of violence and cheap alcohol is not a pretty sight and can be lethal, not just to them but to others. The production of white cider is effectively a licence to print money and has nothing whatsoever to do with the centuries old West country tradition of making high quality cider. True, white cider may have saved one or two companies from going bankrupt but where does the money go? To the Government of course and to the supermarkets, often guilty of heavy discounting, and to the cider makers.
White cider has no real cider apple content and doesn’t deserve the accolade of cider at all. It should be in a higher tax regime like alcopops. At the moment 100 litres of cider with a strength of less than 7.5% attracts a duty of 53p for a 2 litre bottle.
If it was alcopops or wine a 2 litre bottle would attract a duty of £3.56 or £2.06p if it was beer. Cider makes up 6% of total alcohol sales in UK and white cider only 10% of that. Last year white cider sales were down 6.5% and amber cider sales up 27%. But to raise the duty on cider across the board would penalise the real cider makers unfairly so there has to be some clear and honest thinking about how cider is defined, how it is made and how it should be taxed, something that has been resisted by the hardcore cider establishment for years.
The real bible for cider makers is Customs Notice 162 which was drawn up in the 1970s when we entered the Common Market. Very conveniently it left definitions of cider wide open and those loopholes still exist today and actively encourage the production of white cider and amber cider with low juice content.
Under Article 26 there is a comprehensive list of permitted cider ingredients: water no limit, sugars and sugar syrups no limit. So you can make cider with minimum apple content, add sugar in whatever form and the government doesn’t care, so long as it gets its revenue on the alcohol. Cheap lager is another culprit and can even be made from converting the starch in pasta waste into alcohol.
So who is really to blame for fuelling the drink craze? Not just the cider industry but supermarkets for advertising their heavily discounted offers, the government for turning a blind eye to inferior cider but more importantly the parents for letting their kids go rampant and of course the kids themselves.
On 19th century westcountry farms a nine year old boy would be given one pint of real cider a day but he would drink it under supervision and work it off in the fields, hoeing turnips or catching sheep. Solutions? One step forward would be if the The Food Standards Agency had the courage to insist on accurate labelling about ingredients in cider and methods of manufacture.
When for instance you buy a bar of chocolate the percentage of cocoa solids is declared on the wrapper usually between 25% to 75%. So with cider it should have the apple juice content clearly marked and anything below 85% apple should be taxed much more heavily.
The FSA commissioned a report in 2004 which found that juice content in commercial ciders varied from 7% to 100%. One solution is to find a foolproof test for apple juice markers, then regulate the use of maize or wheat derived glucose syrup, re-schedule the tax laws but without discriminating against the traditional craft cider maker.
Then cheap white cider would be a thing of the past. Hoeing turnips is another radical solution instead of issuing ASBOs. Quite white. : The Murky World of White Cider
How is Firefly vodka made?
Firefly Vodka – Created in a small still in South Carolina, Firefly became the world’s first hand-crafted sweet tea flavored vodka. Keeping true to its Southern roots, Firefly is distilled four times, infused with tea grown on a plantation five miles from the distillery and blended with real Louisiana sugar cane.