Moonshine: From Woods To Whiskey Throughout its storied past, moonshine has been called many things: shine, white lightning, hooch, fire water, white dog, or bathtub gin. Without regulation, there was no standardization to the methods or monikers of “moonshine”.
- Currently, to be called “moonshine”, there are some loose qualifications the spirit must meet.
- Ultimately, moonshine is grain alcohol at its purest form.
- Moonshine was originally made in secret during the prohibition era and, to contemporary purists, it’s not considered “moonshine” unless it’s clandestine.
However, most distilleries now legally produce moonshine, regardless of whether they bottle and sell a product labeled as “moonshine.” Whiskey, prior to aging, is moonshine! So, What is Moonshine? Moonshine is defined as a homemade, un-aged whiskey, marked by its clear color, corn base, and high alcohol content (sometimes peaking as high as 190 proof).
- Traditionally, it was produced in a homemade still and bottled in a mason jar.
- For most of its history, moonshine was distilled in secret to avoid taxes and alcohol bans (specifically during the Prohibition Era).
- The term “moonshiner” was popularized in the 18 th century, where individuals deep in the woods of the Appalachia attempting to avoid being caught by police distilled under the light of the moon.
How it’s Made Moonshine consists of:
Corn Barley Wheat or Rye (optional) Yeast Water
While distillate or moonshine can be made from pretty much any type of grain, it originally was made from barley or rye. Moonshine at its purest form, is whiskey, or bourbon distillate. It is un-aged, high in proof, and clear in color. During the Prohibition Era, if grains were unavailable or too expensive, moonshiners would use white sugar which still gave them that alcohol “kick” they were looking for, but with a sweeter taste to it.
- Making moonshine has two main steps: fermentation and distillation.
- Fermentation is the process of yeast breaking down the sugars in the grains to produce alcohol.
- Once the fermentation process is complete, the “moonshine mash” (fermented grains and yeast) is sent to the still.
- As the temperature rises in the still, the steam is forced through the top of the still into the worm box.
The worm box is typically a barrel with cold water flowing through it and a metal coil pipe down the center. Alcohol vapors flow through the coil pipe where they cool and condense back into a liquid. The last part of distillation is the spout or valve that leads from the worm box to a bucket or steel drum.
- Typically this would be sent through at least one filter, but potentially more.
- The “XXX” label, that has been popularized in moonshine imagery, was originally an indication of quality; each “X” represented a time that it had been distilled.
- Moonshine Today Moonshine has changed quite a bit since the backyard bottlers of Prohibition.
In 1933, U.S. alcohol production became legal, as long as you paid the appropriate taxes and had the correct permits. While this makes moonshine legal, you are still prohibited from distilling some at home. Why is this? Mainly for safety reasons. Distilling is a very precise chemical process that, when done incorrectly, can create a dangerous environment or produce a toxic libation.
- Governmental regulations are not just for tax purposes, but to protect the consumer from drinking something that could cause serious health issues.
- 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,
With such a loose classification of this grain alcohol, many different flavored products can still be considered moonshine! At Jeptha Creed, we offer a high-proof original moonshine highlighting the traditional flavor profile, but made with modern distillation processes.
- All of our moonshines start with the same four grains as our flagship bourbon, featuring our heirloom Bloody Butcher Corn.
- If you’re less interested in this pure un-aged whiskey flavor, we have expanded into the modern spectrum of moonshine with a naturally-flavored lineup.
- Delicious moonshine flavors like apple pie, blackberry, cinnamon, and lemonade represent our ode to the history with a focus on the future.
Our moonshine is even sold in mason jars as a “hats off” to the non-regulated history it came from. Our line of moonshines are a far cry from the potentially deadly spirits that used to flow from homemade stills. Representing its full integration into the contemporary alcohol industry, moonshine now even has its own holiday! National Moonshine Day is on the first Thursday in June (June 2 nd of 2022).
What makes alcohol moonshine?
How is Moonshine Made? – The traditional ingredients for moonshine are corn and sugar, and during fermentation, the sugar produces ethanol, which makes hooch or moonshine. During distillation, alcohol separates from the mash. Unlike other liquors such as whiskey or bourbon, moonshine is unaged, which produces a distilled spirit with high alcohol content.
The stereotype of moonshiners centers around how “country folk” distill and transport their potables in jugs marked “XXX” during the night to avoid being detected. But having access to commercially produced all-copper moonshine stills on the internet has made moonshine distillation less risky in the modern era.
But for a great drink, here is the recipe:
What classifies as moonshine?
Moonshine is generally considered to be a clear, unaged whiskey with a corn base and a high alcohol content that is made at home. For much of its history, moonshine was produced in secret to avoid high taxes or outright bans on alcoholic drinks.
Is vodka watered down moonshine?
Physically speaking, there is no real difference between vodka and moonshine. Both are unaged neutral spirits, usually cut with water to increase volume and produce a more drinkable product. The difference is mostly geographic.
What’s the difference between ethanol and moonshine?
Methanol – A Deadly Byproduct – The fermentation process used to make moonshine produces alcohol in two forms: methanol and ethanol. Ethanol is the drinkable version. Methanol, known as wood alcohol, is a byproduct that’s toxic when large amounts end up in the finished product,
The distillation process that follows produces concentrated ethanol by boiling the fermented product. The problem moonshiners run into is ethanol has a boiling point of 173.1 degrees Fahrenheit while methanol’s boiling point is 148.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This means methanol evaporates at a faster rate than ethanol and can become concentrated.
When done correctly, it only forms in small amounts and is easily separated out and discarded. Without the right equipment, high concentrations of methanol can end up in the drink. What makes methanol so dangerous is the human body converts it to formaldehyde, an ingredient used to make embalming fluid.