What is moonshine made in?
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- Moonshine was originally made in secret during the prohibition era and, to contemporary purists, it’s not considered “moonshine” unless it’s clandestine.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).
Is moonshine distilled or fermented?
A GUIDE TO MAKING MOONSHINE – Moonshine is one of the most famous spirits in the U.S. and it has a very long history. Moonshine is especially popular with home and craft distillers and, when made properly, it can be one of the smoothest and most potent liquors available.
- Americans have been making moonshine for centuries, and moonshine purists continue to perfect this exceptional drink.
- Moonshine is a variant of whiskey, which is distilled from corn mash.
- When made properly, it is completely clear and very potent.
- Distillation is the only way to make moonshine, and distillation in pot stills is the most popular method.
Distillation occurs when the corn mash—with appropriate amounts of sugar and yeast to cause fermentation—is heated in a large tank or pot. Vapors rise from the heated mixture into the condenser, where they are then cooled into a purified liquid. This liquid is the ethanol, which gives moonshine its powerful trademark zing.
- The corn mash consistency will affect the production of ethanol, so adjusting the yeast, corn and sugar in the mixture will make a difference in the moonshine produced.
- Different times and temperature also make a difference; the first liquid distilled can be toxic and should be discarded.
- To learn more about how to make moonshine and moonshine recipes, see our books, how-tos, videos and other resources online.
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Is vodka just unaged whiskey?
White Whiskey: Is It Vodka? – The white whiskey and vodka comparison is often made on the internet, but the only real similarity is the color. While whiskey can be made into vodka, vodka can not be put into barrels and be dubbed whiskey. Vodka MUST exceed 95% ABV during the distillation process while whiskey can NOT exceed 95% ABV during this time.
- Many associate vodkas with potatoes and whiskey with corn, but vodka can also be made with grain, in fact, vodka can be made with almost anything.
- Vodka is distilled and cut at a different ABV than whiskey is.
- Strictly regulated, whiskey must contain certain percentages of corn or grain, i.e., rye must contain 51% rye, while bourbon must contain 51% corn,
Though white whiskey is unaged, it MUST touch the inside of a barrel in order to be legally considered whiskey. For how long, does not USUALLY matter t he keyword here is “touch”. Though some states do have laws on the matter. For example, Illinois will only consider a spirit kept in a barrel for AT LEAST 24 hours a legal whiskey.
Is whiskey stronger than moonshine?
What’s the Difference Between Whiskey and Moonshine? Those who know a little bit about alcohol eventually ask the question “What’s the difference between whiskey and moonshine?” The short answer? Absolutely nothing. Both whiskey and moonshine have the same production process – give or take a few variables.
- Moonshine” came to be distinguished from whiskey for its illegal nature rather than it being a different type of alcohol – moonshine is just whiskey that hasn’t been taxed.
- The practice of making moonshine began early on in American history when the newly-established US government established a tax on liquor and spirits to help pay for the costs of the Revolution.
Feisty colonial whiskey fans, many of whom were farmers who supported their families in bad harvest years with their alcoholic product, refused to pay for the tax, leading to an underground whiskey trade. Moonshine making continued from then on up until Prohibition went into effect in 1920, when its popularity exploded.
- Suddenly, because there was no legal whiskey available anywhere, moonshine was in high demand, and the distillers who were used to evading the law already began to make a fortune.
- The practice of using sugar as a base for moonshine became more common as distillers tried to stretch their profits further.
After Prohibition, moonshine’s popularity naturally fell until it became more or less known as a backwoods country phenomenon. Historically, the taste of moonshine was closer to vodka than it is to a dark-colored whiskey. That’s because moonshine was rarely if ever aged – the process of acquiring and storing oak barrels for aging would have been very difficult undercover.
The taste could vary, though, since there were no legal standards. That’s part of what made moonshine somewhat dangerous – not only for the distiller, who could get caught and thrown in jail, but also for the drinker, who could go blind if the distiller was careless or greedy and did not remove the methanol naturally generated by the distillation process.
Of course, Grand River Spirits is a legal distillery – so our “moonshine” labeling is simply a fun homage to American history and our roots in Southern Illinois. It also means we follow all industry best practices and our spirits are perfectly safe to drink (in moderation, of course).