Moonshine 101: How Moonshine Is Made and Our Favorite ‘Shine Cocktails Do you ever find yourself asking, “Is moonshine legal?” Well, if you ask the dictionary, it would appear the answer is no. The official definition points to moonshine being any illicitly made liquor.
- But we have a whole collection of moonshine from craft distilleries across the United States.
- Even though our initial reaction may be to associate moonshine with Prohibition-era bootleggers, the spirit is one deeply rooted in tradition.
- For many of our moonshine-making distillery partners, moonshine is a way of life.
A piece of their family that’s been around for generations. So What Is Moonshine? Let’s start with the basics. The origin of the name is fairly self-explanatory. The illicitly distilled spirits were made under the light of the moon in an effort to avoid detection.
Really, it was to avoid paying taxes on the liquor. At more than one point in America’s history, the government has implemented taxes on liquor to recoup the enormous cost of war. In 1971, to make money following the Revolution, Alexander Hamilton introduced an excise tax on liquor. An act that spawned the Whiskey Rebellion.
As the Civil War began, the government knew they needed to balance the costs of war. So they established the IRS to collect taxes on all types of goods, including luxuries like tobacco and liquor. This is where the term moonshine begins to take hold. As the newly established agency sent patrols out to collect taxes, moonshiners retreated into the woods with their stills to make their spirits underneath the glow of a full moon. Ultimately, the backwoods moonshiners clashed violently with the collectors, resulting in moonshine’s tarnished image and reputation.
These days, craft distilleries across the country are reclaiming moonshine. Bringing it out of the backwoods and into distillery tasting rooms. How Is Moonshine Made? Even though you can get it delivered to your door, the specific regulations surrounding moonshine are less exacting than those around other spirits like whiskey or rum.
There are no specific ingredients that must be used, there is no limit for how high or low it needs to be proof, nor are there any aging requirements. In fact, there are no federal requirements for labelling a spirit as moonshine. That isn’t to say that any distillery can slap the word ‘moonshine’ on a label and have it be authentic. Howling Moon Distillery in Asheville, North Carolina was founded on seven generations of moonshine making history. It’s been more than 200 years since Cody Bradford ‘s family made their way to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shortly after their arrival, they noticed their neighbors were particularly active at night.
They were making ‘shine. Soon after their realization, Cody’s family started distilling themselves. Nowadays, two centuries later, Howling Moon continues the family tradition picked up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But they aren’t just going based on ancestral stories told around the fireplace. Howling Moon’s range of moonshines are based on a recipe that’s more than 150 years old.
The heirloom recipe is run through a handmade still modeled after the old, illegal stills that Cody’s family once used. In fact, the still’s condenser originally belonged to his great-great-grandfather. In the Bluegrass state, another grandfather was working surreptitiously. Casey Jones may not have been distilling hooch back in the pre-Prohibition days. But he was definitely helping. His story, and stills, led his grandson, Arlon Casey Jones, better known as AJ, to open Casey Jones Distillery,
The Kentucky distillery, located in Hopkinsville, is just a short drive away from the Golden Pond area. The same land where Casey Jones made a name for himself as one of the era’s go-to stillmakers. Every moonshiner in Kentucky had to have one. And with more than 170,000 acres of open forests in the area known as the Land Between the Lakes, there was more than enough cover for Casey to build his stills.
In 1967, Casey would build his final still. And unlike the illegal stills he had made for decades, this one was a commission from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area’s Visitors Center. The distinct box still would sit in a moonshine exhibit for 40 years before AJ brought it back to sit in Casey Jones Distillery.
- Casey’s legendary craftsmanship remains on display at the Kentucky distillery.
- But AJ took it a step further.
- He replicated his grandfather’s distinct box design and unique condenser that creates a smoother, higher-proof moonshine quicker.
- Chances are, if you’ve heard of moonshine, you’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Though their feud over a stolen pig may occupy all of the headlines surrounding the infamous American families, there’s more to the Hatfields. Mark Hatfield is here to make that known. He’s carrying the legacy of his great-great-grandfather, Devil Anse Hatfield. Devil was a successful timber businessman and real estate magnate. But, his heart was in the world of moonshine. Moonshine held such importance for the Hatfield family that there was only one logical place for their secret family recipe to be kept.
The family bible. It’s that very recipe Mark uses to create the expansive line of family-history-filled moonshine from The Original Hatfield Family Moonshine, More than anything else, making moonshine is a preservation of Mark’s family history. How To Drink Moonshine If you haven’t already, you have to try moonshine straight.
It’s an experience unlike any other. Unless it’s a moonshine infused with fresh fruits or other ingredients, what you’re tasting is the unadulterated spirits. Sometimes straight off the still. But if sipping and shooting ‘shine straight isn’t really your speed, use moonshine to replace the main spirit in any of your signature cocktail recipes. Three of Casey Jones moonshines collide in this summertime favorite. All it takes to make this big batch cocktail is Peach Cut, Barrel Cut, and Casey’s Cut Moonshines with margarita mixers, That’s it.
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- White Mule by Howling Moon Distillery
Moscow mule, meet moonshine. But this is no ordinary mule. Howling Moon’s Mountain Moonshine pairs beautifully with the floral tones of Fleur de Sureau Elderflower Liqueur,
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- Strawberry Moonshine Daiquiri by Roberson’s Tennessee MelloMoon
Moonshine cocktails are better when they’re quick and easy. And it doesn’t get much easier than three ingredients. Roberson’s Strawberry Shine, Swoon Simple Syrup, and lime juice. Give it a shake.
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- Moonshine Sparkler by Palmetto Distillery
Moonshine and champagne may be an unlikely pair. But give them a shot. Pair your favorite bottle of bubbly with Palmetto Distillery’s Blackberry Moonshine and you’ll come to see they’re a dynamic duo.
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- Southern Belle by WIllie’s Distillery
Sweet tea, some lemon and mint. There’s nothing like it on a hot summer day. Add a splash of Montana Honey Moonshine from Willie’s Distillery, and just like that you have the perfect summer cocktail.
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- Raspberry Moonshine Smash by Twin Stills Moonshine Distillery
Raspberries, raspberries, and more raspberries. This bright splash of fruity flavor comes from Twin Still Moonshine Distillery. The cocktail centers on the lush sweetness of their Raspberry Moonshine,
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- Boozy Strawberry Lemonade by Hendrick’s Family Distillery
Moonshine is lemonade’s best friend. Best enjoyed while lazing around in a hammock or in a rocking chair out front, a splash of Eureka Moon Strawberry Shine is all it takes to make the Boozy Strawberry Lemonade. Get the Recipe >> : Moonshine 101: How Moonshine Is Made and Our Favorite ‘Shine Cocktails
What are the levels of moonshine?
However, moonshine is quickly gaining popularity as more distillers get government permission to sell and otherwise distribute it. It is a very high proof liquor and its alcohol levels can range all the way from 40%-80%.
What is the difference between moonshine and regular alcohol?
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).
What is the purest alcohol?
Purest spirit on the market: mezcal. – This agave-based spirit has a distinct, smoky flavor, so it’s nice to sip and savor. Straight up, mezcal is very low in sugar and calories thanks to its traditional production process. By law, it must contain 100% agave, which means no added sugar.
Calories per shot : about 100 Sugar per shot: 0 grams
What is the highest grade of moonshine?
Legal Alcohol Proof Levels – Before we dive right into our list of the most powerful moonshines, you should know that moonshine brewers are a little bit limited when it comes to the strengths they are legally allowed to make. In most regions, the strongest legal moonshine has proof of 197. In other regions, 130 proof is the legal limit for alcoholic beverages.