Information

Bourbon and Moonshiners


This video clip from "Hands on History" looks at the production and history of Kentucky bourbon. Watch as it follows bourbon from the Beam Family's famous Kentucky Bourbon created in 1795 to the illegal Moonshiners and backwoods stills of the prohibition era.


Bourbon making history – The News-Enterprise

Master distiller Brent Goodin has ushered in a new era for Hardin County, a place in the state’s historic bourbon business.

Goodin’s family has been in the region since the 1700s, specifically in Hardin, LaRue and Nelson counties.

When the Goodin family settled in New Haven, they founded a fort along the Rolling Fork River and distilled alcohol there, he said.

Liquor, he said, often was used as currency to barter for things in the frontier days.

Since that time, the family went into farming and other ventures until his grandmother who, along with his uncles, began working for distilleries. She worked in distilleries for 40 years, he said.

The family may not always have made liquor, but has at times been active in aspects of the distilling industry before Goodin applied for his federal permit to become a craft distiller.

Goodin spent 15 years on the Hardin County planning commission and saw this kind of development in other counties. He said he thought Hardin County needed to be a part of one of the state’s most recognizable industries.

Previously, Goodin was a local businessman for 27 years. He had a piece of property along Battle Training Road that he thought would be perfect for distilling bourbon. It has a natural source of water on the property that flows over soft limestone.

His business, Boundary Oak Distillery, is named after the tree near the water.

He trained in his craft by learning from professional distillers who he calls the best in Kentucky.

“We live in a place that’s a wealth of knowledge about distilling bourbon,” he said. “It’s a great business to be a part of.”

Some of the work has been trial and error, he said. It’s learning what you do and do not want to do.

Production of the product, he said, isn’t exactly an exciting business. You spend a lot of time waiting for it to drip and waiting on the still, he said, adding that’s why moonshiners learned to play the banjo to fill the time while waiting.

Because this is one of Ken­tucky’s signature industries, he wants Hardin County to be recognized in that history.

“I feel so excited to be able to bring that here and allow Hardin County to be a part of that,” he said.

He’s felt the support from the county. If you are someone who drinks or does not, everyone knows the impact that Kentucky bourbon has worldwide, he said.

Goodin hopes that the Kentucky Bourbon Trail soon makes a stop in Hardin County. This area has a lot to offer tourists who visit, he said.

Craft distillers are limited to making 1,000 barrels annually, he said.

“We want to make the best 1,000 barrels of bourbon ever made in Kentucky,” he said.

He thinks the Hardin County water and grains grown locally will help do that. Using local resources makes Boundary Oak a Hardin County product, he said.

Kenny Tabb has known Goodin since he was a student at East Hardin High School.

“He was outstanding back then and made an impression on me,” Tabb said. “I have kept up with him over the years and noticed that he is a visionary with public relation skills.”

With all Goodin’s recent fame, Tabb said he continues to be a “down-to-earth good guy.”

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or [email protected]

Getting to know Brent Goodin
Favorite television show:
“The Colbert Report”
Favorite book: “The Greatest Generation”
Family:
Wife, Melody, and three kids
Pet:
A Jack Russel terrier named Sadie


Illegal Moonshine

In the early part of the 19 th century, excise laws were placed on the production of spirits in the British isles. This led to distillers creating illegal operations that produced spirits at night, under the cover of darkness. The term “moonshine” became common because of the British word “moonshining”, which refers to any job that is performed late at night.

Moonshining became prevalent in the United States around the time of the Civil War when the government banned non-registered stills. Illegal still operators also worked under the cover of darkness, so were called moonshiners.

The number of moonshining operations dramatically increased during the Prohibition era in the United States (1920-1933), which completely banned alcohol production.

The tradition of moonshining continues today, with many backyard distilleries carrying it out in an effort to avoid taxation or as a hobby. Moonshine is often associated with parts of Kentucky and Appalachia, where it became extremely common.


So why don't moonshiners get arrested, then?

As far as any official police reports or news outlets are concerned, there is no proof that Digger has ever been arrested in relation to moonshining. Because production of the moonshine happens deep in Appalachian woods — and Discovery airs Moonshiners months afterward — it&aposs impossible for law enforcement to discern whether they&aposre distilling illegal liquor. (And I mean, police are typically busy with more pressing issues anyway.)


Origins in Immigration

In the years just before the Revolution, a massive influx of Scotch-Irish migrants moved from the northern Irish counties to the English colonies in North America. They weren’t the only immigrants, since the Germans were making their way over in large numbers as well, but there were absolutely differences between the groups. About the migrants of the time, they said, “When the English would arrive in the new world, the first thing they would do would be to build a church, the Germans would build a barn, but the Scotch-Irish would build a whiskey still.”

To colonial Americans, being Scotch-Irish wasn’t much better than being just plain Irish. Yeah, it’s good that they were Protestant, but that didn’t go too far in redeeming them as a group. Established colonists were, to put it lightly, reluctant to have them around. As a result, the Scots settled on the edge of the English colonies in the isolation of the Appalachian Mountains. They rebuilt their lives, continuing their Scottish twist on old Ulster culture. Lucky for us, that culture included an almost rabid love of liquor and the distilling expertise to validate that love.

Their lives in the Appalachians were based mostly on subsistence farming and what little money they needed they either obtained selling their spirits. Or they cut out the middle man completely and made whiskey their currency. Because they lived in isolation and were fueled mostly by homemade whiskey and emotional instability, they got a reputation for being drinkers and brawlers, which would come in handy not long after they arrived in the colonies.

It must take a long time to forget you hate the English, because, during the Revolution, the descendants of those early immigrants came down hard on the invading army. They claimed one of the earliest victories of the war, killing hundreds of British troops, including a general, and winning high praise from Washington himself. They were a significant force in a war that, early on, significantly lacked significant forces.

They would stay a significant force in the early years of the constitutional United States and, in true Scots-Irish fashion, cause fairly significant problems for the fledgling government.


Moonshine and its ‘Kin’ Now Part of South Carolina Tourism Scene

South Carolina moonshine is a treasured tradition from the mountains to the sea.

Moonshine has always been made in South Carolina, but it wasn't until 2009 that stills could come out of the backwoods and into the forefront of a new and long-awaited industry and tourist attraction. That's when South Carolina lawmakers unanimously passed the state's microdistillery law, heralding a new age of distillers who combine family recipes, traditional ingredients and local flavors to create a new generation of South Carolina spirits.

By 2011, The New York Times reported on Greenville's Dark Corner Distillery, whose operation was "according to Reuters . the first time moonshine will be legally produced in the state."

Since the law went into effect, nearly two dozen small distilling operations across the state have come into being, producing spirits that trace their roots to backwoods men who drove fast cars filled with illegal, locally produced alcohol along back roads, all to quench customers' thirsts.

Today, these distilleries produce an array of products, from bourbon, vodka, gin, rum and other traditional spirits to a modern version of "white lightning"-corn-based moonshine. Much like its cousin, craft brewing, South Carolina's distillery industry is growing as locals and visitors discover new ways to enjoy an evening cocktail.

Here's a look at South Carolina's microdistilleries and the spirits they offer.


Contents

Distilling was most likely brought to present-day Kentucky in the late 18th century by Scots, Scots-Irish, and other settlers (including English, Irish, Welsh, German, and French) who began to farm the area in earnest. The origin of bourbon as a distinct form of whiskey is not well documented. There are many conflicting legends and claims, some more credible than others.

For example, the invention of bourbon is often attributed to Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister and distiller credited with many Kentucky firsts (e.g., fulling mill, paper mill, ropewalk) who is said to have been the first to age the product in charred oak casks, a process that gives bourbon its brownish color and distinctive taste. [7] In Bourbon County, across the county line from Craig's distillery in what was then Fayette County, an early distiller named Jacob Spears is credited with being the first to label his product as Bourbon whiskey.

Although still popular and often repeated, the Craig legend is apocryphal. Similarly, the Spears story is a local favorite but is rarely repeated outside the county. There likely was no single "inventor" of bourbon, which developed into its present form in the late 19th century. Essentially, any type of grain can be used to make whiskey, and the practice of aging whiskey and charring the barrels for better flavor had been known in Europe for centuries. [8] The late date of the Bourbon County etymology has led Louisville historian Michael Veach to dispute its authenticity. He proposes the whiskey was named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a major port where shipments of Kentucky whiskey sold well as a cheaper alternative to French cognac. [1]

Another proposed origin of the name is the association with the geographic area known as Old Bourbon, consisting of the original Bourbon County in Virginia organized in 1785. This region included much of today's Eastern Kentucky, including 34 of the modern counties. [9] It included the current Bourbon County in Kentucky, which became a county when Kentucky separated from Virginia as a new state in 1792. [10] [11] [12]

When American pioneers pushed west of the Allegheny Mountains following the American Revolution, the first counties they founded covered vast regions. One of these original, huge counties was Bourbon, established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. While this vast county was being carved into many smaller ones, early in the 19th century, many people continued to call the region Old Bourbon. Located within Old Bourbon was the principal port on the Ohio River, Maysville, Kentucky, from which whiskey and other products were shipped. "Old Bourbon" was stencilled on the barrels to indicate their port of origin. Old Bourbon whiskey was different because it was the first corn whiskey most people had ever tasted. In time, bourbon became the name for any corn-based whiskey. [12]

Although many distilleries operated in Bourbon County historically, no distilleries operated there between 1919, when Prohibition began in Kentucky, and late 2014, when a small distillery opened – a period of 95 years. [13] [14] Prohibition was devastating to the bourbon industry. With the ratification of the 18th amendment in 1919, all distilleries were forced to stop operating, although a few were granted permits to bottle existing stocks of medicinal whiskey. Later, a few were allowed to resume production when the stocks ran out. Distilleries that were granted permits to produce or bottle medicinal whiskey included Brown-Forman, Frankfort Distillery, James Thompson and Brothers, American Medical Spirits, the Schenley Distillery (modern-day Buffalo Trace Distillery), and the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery. [15]

A refinement often dubiously [16] credited to James C. Crow is the sour mash process, which conditions each new fermentation with some amount of spent mash. Spent mash is also known as spent beer, distillers' spent grain, stillage, and slop or feed mash, so named because it is used as animal feed. The acid introduced when using the sour mash controls the growth of bacteria that could taint the whiskey and creates a proper pH balance for the yeast to work.

A concurrent resolution adopted by the United States Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be a "distinctive product of the United States" and asked "the appropriate agencies of the United States Government . [to] take appropriate action to prohibit importation into the United States of whiskey designated as 'Bourbon Whiskey'." [17] [18] Federal regulation now defines bourbon whiskey to only include bourbon produced in the United States. [19]

In recent years, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which is sometimes regarded as a different type of spirit but generally meets the legal requirements to be called bourbon, have enjoyed significant growth in popularity. The industry trade group Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) tracks sales of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey together. [3]

According to DISCUS, during 2009–2014, the volume of 9-liter cases of whiskey increased by 28.5% overall. [4] Higher-end bourbon and whiskeys experienced the greatest growth. [4] Gross supplier revenues (including federal excise tax) for U.S. bourbon and Tennessee whiskey increased by 46.7% over the 2009–2014 period, with the greatest growth coming from high-end products. [4] In 2014, more than 19 million nine-liter cases of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey were sold in the U.S., generating almost $2.7 billion in wholesale distillery revenue. [4] U.S. exports of bourbon whiskey surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2013 distillers hailed the rise of a "golden age of Kentucky bourbon" and predicted further growth. [3] In 2014, it was estimated that U.S. bourbon whiskey exports surpassed $1 billion, making up the majority of the U.S. total of $1.6 billion in spirits exports. [3] Major export markets for U.S. spirits are, in descending order: Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and France. [3] The largest percentage increases in U.S. exports were, in descending order: Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Israel, and United Arab Emirates. [3] Key elements of growth in the markets showing the largest increases have been changes of law, trade agreements, and reductions of tariffs, as well as increased consumer demand for premium-category spirits. [20]

Bourbon's legal definition varies somewhat from country to country, but many trade agreements require that the name "bourbon" be reserved for products made in the United States. The U.S. regulations for labeling and advertising bourbon apply only to products made for consumption within the United States they do not apply to distilled spirits made for export. [21] Canadian law requires products labeled bourbon to be made in the United States and also to conform to the requirements that apply within the United States. But in countries other than the United States and Canada, products labeled bourbon may not adhere to the same standards. For example, in the European Union, products labeled as bourbon are not required to conform to all the regulations that apply within the United States, although they still must be made in the U.S.

The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, codified under 27 CFR §5.22(b)(1)(i), states bourbon made for U.S. consumption [21] must be:

  • Produced in the United States and Territories (Puerto Rico) and the District of Columbia [22]
  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn[23]
  • Aged in new, charred oak containers [23] to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume) [23]
  • Entered into the container for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume) [23]
  • Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume) [24]

Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period. [25] Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon. [26] The exception is straight bourbon, which has a minimum aging requirement of two years. In addition, any bourbon aged less than four years must include an age statement on its label. [27] [28]

Bourbon that meets the above requirements, has been aged for a minimum of two years, and does not have added coloring, flavoring, or other spirits may be – but is not required to be – called straight bourbon. [29]

  • Bourbon that is labeled as straight that has been aged under four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging. [30]
  • Bourbon that has an age stated on its label must be labeled with the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle (not counting the age of any added neutral grain spirits in a bourbon that is labeled as blended, as neutral-grain spirits are not considered whiskey under the regulations and are not required to be aged at all). [27]

Bottled-in-bond bourbon is a sub-category of straight bourbon and must be aged at least four years.

Bourbon that is labeled blended (or as a blend) may contain added coloring, flavoring, and other spirits, such as un-aged neutral grain spirits, but at least 51% of the product must be straight bourbon. [31] [32]

"High rye bourbon" is not a legally defined term but usually means a bourbon with 20–35% rye. [33] High wheat bourbons are described as more mild and subdued compared to high-rye varieties. [34]

Bourbon that has been aged for fewer than three years cannot legally be referred to as whiskey (or whisky) in the EU. [35]

Geographic origin Edit

On May 4, 1964, the United States Congress recognized bourbon whiskey as a "distinctive product of the United States" by concurrent resolution. Bourbon may be produced anywhere in the United States where it is legal to distill spirits, but most brands are produced in Kentucky, where bourbon production has a strong historical association. [36] The filtering of iron-free water through the high concentrations of limestone that are unique to the area is often touted by bourbon distillers in Kentucky as a signature step in the bourbon-making process. [37]

On August 2, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution sponsored by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) officially declaring September 2007 to be National Bourbon Heritage Month, commemorating the history of bourbon whiskey. [38] Notably, the resolution claimed that Congress had declared bourbon to be "America's Native Spirit" in its 1964 resolution. [38] However, the 1964 resolution did not contain such a statement it declared bourbon to be a distinctive product identifiable with the United States (in a similar way that Scotch is considered identifiable with Scotland). [17] [39] The resolution was passed again in 2008. [39]

As of 2018, approximately 95% of all bourbon is produced in Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association. As of 2018, there were 68 whiskey distilleries in Kentucky, this was up 250 percent in the past ten years. [40] At that time, the state had more than 8.1 million barrels of bourbon that were aging – a number that greatly exceeds the state's population of about 4.3 million. [41] [3] [42] [43]

Bardstown, Kentucky, is home to the annual Bourbon Festival held each September. It has been called the "Bourbon Capital of the World" by the Bardstown Tourism Commission [44] and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival organizers [45] who have registered the phrase as a trademark. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the name of a tourism promotion program organized by the Kentucky Distillers' Association that is aimed at attracting visitors to the distilleries in Kentucky, particularly Four Roses (Lawrenceburg), Heaven Hill (Bardstown), Jim Beam (Clermont), Maker's Mark (Loretto), Town Branch (Lexington), Wild Turkey (Lawrenceburg), and Woodford Reserve (Versailles). [46]

Tennessee is home to other major bourbon makers, although most prefer to call their product "Tennessee whiskey" instead, including giant Jack Daniel's. It is legally defined under Tennessee House Bill 1084, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and at least one other international trade agreement as the recognized name for a straight bourbon whiskey produced in Tennessee. [47] [48] It is also required to meet the legal definition of bourbon under Canadian law. [49]

Although some Tennessee whiskey makers maintain that a pre-aging filtration through chunks of maple charcoal, known as the Lincoln County Process and legally mandated since 2013, [A] make its flavor distinct from bourbon, U.S. regulations defining bourbon neither require nor prohibit its use. [25] [47] [52] [53]

Bourbon also was and is made in other U.S. states. [54] [55] [56] The largest bourbon distiller outside of Kentucky and Tennessee is MGP of Indiana, which primarily wholesales its spirits products to bottling companies that sell them under about 50 different brand names – in some cases, misleadingly marketed as "craft" whiskey, despite being produced at a large wholesaler's factory. [57] [58]

To be legally sold as bourbon, the whiskey's mash bill requires a minimum of 51% corn, with the remainder being any cereal grain. [2] A proposed change to U.S. regulations will expand allowable "grains" to include seeds of the pseudocereals amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. [59] A mash bill that contains wheat instead of rye produces what is known as a wheated bourbon. [60] [61] The grain is ground and mixed with water. Usually mash from a previous distillation is added to ensure consistency across batches, creating a sour mash. Finally, yeast is added, and the mash is fermented. It is distilled to (typically) between 65% and 80% alcohol using either a traditional alembic (or pot still) or the much less expensive continuous still. Most modern bourbons are initially run off using a column still and then redistilled in a "doubler" (alternatively known as a "thumper" or "retort") that is basically a pot still. [62]

The resulting clear spirit, called "white dog", is placed in charred new oak containers for aging. In practice, these containers are generally barrels made from American white oak. The spirit gains its color and much of its flavor from the caramelized sugars and vanillins in the charred wood. Straight bourbon must be aged at least two years, and blended bourbon must contain at least 51% straight bourbon on a proof gallon basis (i.e., most of the alcohol in the blend must be from straight bourbon). [63] The remainder of the spirits in a blended bourbon may be neutral grain spirits that are not aged at all. If a product is labeled merely as bourbon whiskey rather than straight or blended, no specific minimum aging period is prescribed – only that the product has been "stored at not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume (125 proof) in charred new oak containers". [63] Bourbons gain more color and flavor the longer they age in wood. Changes to the spirit also occur due to evaporation and chemical processes such as oxidation. Lower-priced bourbons tend to be aged relatively briefly. Even for higher-priced bourbons, "maturity" rather than a particular age duration is often the goal, as over-aging bourbons can negatively affect the flavor of the bourbon (making it taste woody, bitter, or unbalanced).

After maturing, bourbon is withdrawn from the barrel and is typically filtered and diluted with water. It is then bottled at no less than 80 US proof (40% abv). [24] Although most bourbon whiskey is sold at 80 US proof, other common proofs are 86, 90, and 100. All "bottled in bond" bourbon is 100 proof. Some higher-proof bottlings are marketed as "barrel proof", meaning they have not been diluted or have been only lightly diluted after removal from the barrels. Bourbon whiskey may be sold at less than 80 proof but must be labeled as "diluted bourbon".

After processing, barrels remain saturated with up to 10 U.S. gallons (38 liters) of bourbon, although 2–3 U.S. gallons (8–11 liters) is the norm. [64] They may not be reused for bourbon, and most are sold to distilleries in Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, and the Caribbean for aging other spirits. Some are employed in the manufacture of various barrel-aged products, including amateur and professionally brewed bourbon-barrel-aged beer, barbecue sauce, wine, hot sauce, and others. Since 2011, Jim Beam has employed barrel rinsing on a large scale to extract bourbon from its used barrels, mixing the extract with a 6-year-old Beam bourbon to create a 90-proof product that it sells as "Devil's Cut". [65]

The bottling operation for bourbon is the process of filtering, mixing together straight whiskey from different barrels (sometimes from different distilleries), diluting with water, blending with other ingredients (if producing blended bourbon), and filling containers to produce the final product that is marketed to consumers. By itself, the phrase "bottled by" means only that. Only if the bottler operates the distillery that produced the whiskey may "distilled by" be added to the label. [66]

Labeling requirements for bourbon and other alcoholic beverages (including the requirements for what is allowed to be called bourbon under U.S. law) are defined in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. [67] No whiskey made outside the United States may be labeled bourbon or sold as bourbon inside the United States (and in various other countries that have trade agreements with the United States to recognize bourbon as a distinctive product of the United States).

A 2016 experiment by Louisville craft distiller Jefferson's Bourbon suggests that in the era before whiskey was routinely bottled at the distillery, Kentucky bourbon developed a superior taste because it was shipped in barrels, using water transport wherever practical. To test this theory, Jefferson's cofounder Trey Zoeller sent two barrels of the company's signature product to New York City via barge, first down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and then along the Intracoastal Waterway. As a control, he brought a batch of the same whiskey that had remained in Louisville during the same period. According to Popular Mechanics writer Jacqueline Detwiler, who documented the test, the sample that made the waterborne journey "was mature beyond its age, richer, with new flavors of tobacco, vanilla, caramel, and honey. It was some of the best bourbon any of us had ever drunk." It was theorized that the action of gentle sloshing of the whiskey in barrels for a period of 2 to 4 weeks during the barge trip led to a dramatic improvement in smoothness and taste. Chemical analysis of the two samples revealed significant differences in molecular profiles, with the sample transported by water having a greater diversity of aromatic compounds. [68]

Bourbon is served in a variety of manners, including neat, diluted with water, over ice ("on the rocks"), with cola or other beverages in simple mixed drinks, and in cocktails, including the Manhattan, Bourbon Smash, the Old Fashioned, the whiskey sour, and the mint julep. Bourbon is also used in cooking and was historically used for medicinal purposes. [2]

Bourbon can be used in a variety of confections such as a banana bourbon syrup for waffles, as a flavoring for chocolate cake, or in fruit-based desserts like grilled peach sundaes served with salted bourbon-caramel or brown sugar shortcake with warmed bourbon peaches. It is an optional ingredient in several pie recipes traditional to American cuisine including pumpkin pie, where it can be combined with brown sugar and pecans to make a sweet and crunchy topping for the creamy pumpkin pie filling. [69] It can also be used as a flavoring in sauces for savory dishes like grit cakes with country ham served with bourbon mayonnaise, Kentucky bourbon chili or grilled flank steak. [70]


Distilling Over 200 Years of Tennessee Tradition

Water and grains are the essential components of making great whiskey. Our founders settled here for both the water source and the land to build a mill for grinding grains, laying the foundation for crafting Old Forge spirits today. We continue that heritage by stone grinding our own quality grains where they once did, combining old-fashioned methods of the settlers with the modern-day know-how of our Head Distiller.

(rollover images to enlarge)

1700's

Early European inhabitants of the Great Smoky Mountains brought over their copper pot stills. Many were of Scotch-Irish ancestry – hardy settlers with a long history of distilling.

Mordecai Lewis was granted a 151 acre plot of land by Governor William Blount. Rich with natural resources and located along the banks of the Little Pigeon River, the area was ideal for building the forge and the mill.

Iron making was one of Tennessee’s first true industries. The iron forge was built by Isaac Love.

William Love, Isaac Love’s son, built the Old Mill. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been in continuous operation stone grinding corn, wheat, rye, and buckwheat.

Just a few yards away from the Old Mill, where the Head Miller grinds, fills, and hand-ties bags of quality stone-ground grains, stands a 100-year-old building. Once a farm supply store, it is now home to the Old Forge Distillery.

In 2014 Old Forge Distillery opened its doors with its own line of moonshine distilled using freshly-ground grain from The Old Mill. Today Old Forge continues to add new spirit offerings such as award wining Rum, Vodka, Tennessee Roots, Distiller’s Select, Cream, and Single-Barrel Aged Bourbon.


Whiskey + Moonshine History Walking Tour

I loved the history side of Gatlinburg Moonshine and whiskey culture. This self-guided you will take you on a historical trip through Tennessee’s spirit history. From there as you walk, you’ll visit 3 distilleries which make up part of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. I’ll tell you how to go on a behind the scenes tour at a real working still house and you’ll get to see how everything is made start to finish.

You’ll learn all about the time before, during, and after Prohibition, the state’s history with whiskey, and why those Smoky Mountains were such an integral part of Gatlinburg Moonshine culture.

Going at your own pace, you’ll see first hand what present-day distilling looks like and get to see a real working distillery! I’ll cover stories of famous moonshiners and get to see what the history and traditions of Tennessee Whiskey look like today. You’ll spend time at some of my favorite moonshineries where you will get a taste of the mountains with some world’s finest whiskey and the nation’s most sought-after moonshine.

Law enforcement officers stand beside a captured moonshine still. Photo via NPS archives.

Moonshine v. Whiskey

In these parts, you’re going to hear the terms whiskey and moonshine tossed around interchangeably so were going to start by hopefully clearing up any confusion.

Moonshine, historically, is any untaxed liquor. So, we get together and make wine in my basement, we’re good. We make beer, we’re good! The moment we take that wine or beer and distill it, it becomes moonshine. Now when you go into some of these distilleries, they are going to be selling “moonshine” but I promise you they are paying their taxes! Nowadays, moonshine is an unaged, white corn whiskey.

Whiskey, in Tennessee, is moonshine once it hits the barrel for aging – be that five minutes, five months, or five years. Once it hits the barrel, its considered whiskey. But depending on who you ask, they might call a clear unaged spirit, whiskey. Why? Well… Historians also generally state that whiskey in the United States was largely unaged. It wasn’t until trade routes and shipping grew that whiskey was aged and accidentally so! Legend has it that the unaged (clear) whiskey was put into barrels and sent down the Mississippi en route for Nola. The barrels were branded “Bourbon” for the port off of Bourbon Street they were being sent to.

There are some other specifications when you go a little deeper into the barrel – like the Lincoln County Process or the difference between Bourbon and Irish Whiskey, but that is for another tour and another day!

Starting Point: Ogle Cabin (Across the street from Landshark Bar and Grill)

The historic Ogle Cabin is our starting point for our Gatlinburg Moonshine tour mainly because it gives you a good visual of what people’s lives in the 1800s looked. The cabin is the first home built in what we know now as Gatlinburg. But it isn’t in its original location. The cabin has been moved around a few times before finally settling into its now final location.

William Ogle lived in South Carolina with his wife Martha and their children. He traveled to the Smokies, which he called “Land of Paradise” for its majestic views and wildlife, and started to build a cabin with the intent of moving his family. When he want back to South Carolina, an epidemic of Malaria broke out and William died in 1803 of a fever. As a woman and a widow, 47-year-old Martha packed up her five sons and two daughters to finish her husbands dream of living in the Great Smoky Mountains. I think we can all agree that Martha is kind of a badass! The cabin is open for visitors seasonally, Monday through Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and is furnished with period pieces, some of which are original to the Ogles.

In Martha Ogle’s time and neck of the woods in Gatlinburg moonshine and whiskey were made at home. It was made in small batches and for internal family use either medicinally or recreationally. Back then, if you didn’t have it you most likely had to make it. Whiskey was no exception.

First Distillery: Doc Collier Moonshine, 519 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

At Doc Collier’s you’ll want to ask one of the employees for a Tennessee Whiskey Trail Passport. All the distilleries you visit on this tour are stops on the Whiskey Trail, so grab your passport and don’t forget to get yours stamped! Are you ready to start your Gatlinburg Moonshine adventure?

Doc Collier was a real man. He was born in 1878 and lived on English Mountain, about an hour and a half from where the distillery is today. Doc got his nickname because he made his living selling moonshine to friends and neighbors for medicinal purposes. And even though that was the respectable way to use moonshine and whiskey, he wasn’t one to discriminate – if you wanted to party and were willing to pay, he was willing to sell. He is rumored to have been a moonshiner before it was a thing and known for having one of the best liquors in the mountains. What made him, and makes the distillery, different is their use of English Mountain spring water. Doc’s moonshine from his days and the bottles you can buy today all start from the same mountain spring water source which his family still owns the water rights to!

Doc’s is a boutique distillery so they don’t ship which means the only place you can buy Doc Collier products is in Gatlinburg! So go ahead, buy a sample round and take notes in your passport. Trust me, by the end of this they will all sound the same and you be asking yourself “What was the one I liked at the place in that bottle?”

Alright, so we’ve got some Gatlinburg moonshine and whiskey in y’all. Which means, right around this time you are asking yourself if moonshiners and rum runners were all Bonnie and Clyde like. You’re thinking about all those Dukes of Hazzard reruns you’ve watched. You’re thinking about police shoot outs and out running the cops. So, why don’t we walk across the street?

To The General, General Lee that is!Cooter’s Place, 542 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

If we’re going to talk about pop culture, whiskey, and Gatlinburg moonshine we might as well do it within earshot of The General! At Cooter’s Place, you will find one Dukes of Hazzard Museum (which is free!) filled with memorabilia from the show.

Moonshine money and moonshining were pretty civil. If you got caught, you did your time and kept on keeping on. The sheriff realized that you (the moonshiner) were just trying to feed your family by making shine, and you understood he was just doing his job to do the same thing. It wasn’t until the prohibition that you see the shoot outs and danger factor come into play because that is when men like Al Capone got into the shine business.

Al Capone. Public Domain photo

Rumor has it that he hid his moonshine in the Smoky Mountains… and while a lot of things in Moonshine culture are often exaggerated this one doesn’t seem so farfetched! Tennessee has long been a leader in producing distilled spirits. When the Irish and Scottish settled the area they brought with them the tradition of spirit making. In fact, Cocke County (which is the next country over from Sevier County) was known as the moonshine capital of the world. During the prohibition, no matter what part of the country you were in there was a really good chance that what you were drinking came from Cocke County – one county in Tennessee was supplying about 80% of the country’s illegal booze. From NYC to Chicago to LA, Cocke County spirits were being shipped all over the country. The best moonshiners and whiskey makers were in Tennessee so it would make sense, from a business and quality stand point, that Capone would seek out moonshiners in the state to supply his growing demand for illegal spirits.

Photo of RyeMabee by Skye Marthaler, All CC

Al Capone was a frequent visitor to RyeMabee in Monteagle, Tennessee (near Chattanooga) when he was traveling between his home in Chicago and his Florida estate in Miami. It is said that the house was owned by his favorite mistress too! Add into the mix that the railroad in Johnson City was only a hop and a skip away for easy shipping and it really isn’t as farfetched.

Next stop, the Gazebo on River Road by the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

I briefly touched on the Irish and Scottish immigrants that made a home in the Smokies but we didn’t really get into how that translated into whiskey making. Soft water is vital in making any spirit and if you look around you’ll see that Tennessee has creeks, rivers, and brooks all over the state. Geographically, the state has the perfect climate and humidity for whiskey making so it was easy for the families that settled the area to bring their love of whiskey and whiskey making with them when the settled in these mountains.

Any time you have an illegal activity, I think it is pretty safe to say that the police tend to be a few steps behind. Moonshiners in these mountains learned how to find good water sources by looking at the plants that grew near the banks. They came up with ways to let each other know if cops were headed your way and even if you weren’t the one making it, in some way, you were a part of moonshine culture. For the most part, whiskey making was a way of making ends meet. It created cash flow in cash-poor societies that depended heavily on bartering at the local general store.

Mountain Mall, Site of the Ogle’s General Store611 Parkway, Gatlinburg

The Ogle family was one of the first to settle in the backwoods community of White Oak Flats (now Gatlinburg), Tennessee in the early years of the nineteenth century. The Ogles were, and still are, a prominent force in all phases of local life. Back then most of them were farmers and they were active in the politics, education, economics, and religion of Sevier County. Noah W. “Bud” Ogle was descendent of Martha Ogle and lived from 1863 to 1913. He was the town’s first merchant and established the Ogle General Store where the Mountain Mall sits today.

Noah Ogle’s house and outbuildings are still standing today. They reflect the way of life in this vicinity around the turn of this century, almost a hundred years after Martha came with her children. You can see Noah’s cabin by driving along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail – something both Tim and I did often while we lived in the Smokies!

Second Distillery Ole Smoky Barrelhouse, 650 Parkway, Gatlinburg

The Jack Daniel Distillery reopened soon after law allowed in 1940 and George Dickel followed suit in the 1950s. The two were the only legal distilleries in the state and together began rebuilding the legal distilled spirits industry. It would take Tennessee almost 60 years before any real change was made even though in the mid-1990s a craft distillery opened but this is where progress stalled.

In 2009, Tennessee began reforming its prohibition-era laws. Inspired by the craft beer movement that was rewriting growler laws in states like Florida and brewing regulations across the country, a group of individuals saw the potential for tourism. Together, they worked to eliminate many of the legal barriers distilleries faced. One of the first distilleries to pop was Ole Smoky. They were able to dive into the industry head first, getting a head start which is why you can find them in every state and a number of countries today.

Ole Smoky has 3 locations in Sevier County, 2 in Gatlinburg (The Barrel House and The Holler) and a location on The Island in Pigeon Forge. The Barrel House is where you will find mostly their whiskeys. They do sample and carry a few shines but they won’t have their full shine product line up. For that, you can go up the road to the Holler, but more on that later!
Out front of the Barrelhouse location, you’ll see how the distillation process works and depending on when you visit they might have it running! You’ll notice, too, when you walk up to the distillery that there is a smell of freshly baked bread in the air. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the mash! The money maker! The start of a beautiful thing.

Mash is at its simplest terms, a really basic beer made of sugar, corn, yeast, and water. The easiest way to think about the science behind fermentation is based all on Mrs. Pac Man. Think of the yeast as Mrs. Pac Man, they eat the sugar which fuels them and as a by-product (or as a 12-year-old said on my tour once “they fart out”) you get the alcohol and carbonation. I promise you will never forget this. And someday when you win Jeopardy to Cash Cab, I don’t expect a share of the winnings, just a shout out. Once the Mrs. Pac Man process has had 5-8 days to do its thing, you have a super simple beer. That brewer’s beer as it is called is the distilled down to make liquor. Since alcohol evaporates at a lower temperate than water, you are quite literally pulling the alcohol out. That’s how you can take something that is 8-10% AVC and turn it into a 180 proof moonshine!

Over recent years, the number of Tennessee distilleries has grown from the original two to the now thirty distilleries Tennessee host’s across the state. These distilleries range from Doc Collier-like small, boutique-style operations making traditional and small-batch spirits to well-known distilleries like Daniel and Dickel that have been making legendary Tennessee Whiskey for as long as the state has allowed.

Gatlinburg Inn, the birthplace of “Rocky Top� Parkway, Gatlinburg

Of all the hotels you’ll walk by in Gatlinburg, The Historic Gatlinburg Inn has one of the richest and most intriguing histories. The hotel was built in 1937 as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was being created and was the home to many firsts – the chamber of commerce, the local newspaper, the town’s first bank, its first dentist, and the offices of the City of Gatlinburg.

The hotel boasts a long list of interesting visitors. If you’ve ever wondered what Liberace to Lady Bird Johnson have in common, well, it’s the Gatlinburg Inn! Other famous guests include J.C. Penney, Dinah Shore, and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

The Gatlinburg Inn appeared in the movie, “A Walk in the Spring Rain,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn. But its strongest connection to pop culture is by way of Hall of Fame songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, whose catalog includes more than 1,500 published songs, among those the famous “Rocky Top,” which was written in Room 388. And if you think that this is just another random trivia stop on the tour, think again and give the lyrics a listen. There is more than one reference to moonshine in the song!

Third Distillery: Sugarlands Distilling Company, 805 Parkway, Gatlinburg

Of all the distilleries, off all the Gatlinburg moonshine there is one that is my favorite. Each one of the stops on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail will have a different feel. But to me, Sugarlands Distilling is the best. If you plan on visiting I HIGHLY suggest you reserve a still house tour (you can do that here) so you can go behind the scenes. You’ll get to see, first hand, what modern distilling looks like and how the team at Sugarlands are keeping moonshine history alive! If you’re lucky enough to have Connie or Kevin as your guide, you’ll come out ready to start making your own moonshine. Both of them are incredibly knowledgeable and of the hundreds of guests that I brought in with my Airbnb experience, I don’t think there was ever a question they couldn’t answer!

I love Sugarlands’ commitment to keeping true to their Gatlinburg moonshine roots. They follow 2 traditional heritage recipes that date back to prime moonshine days and are from Cocke County. One is even rumored to be the same recipe George Washington used at Mount Vernon… I won’t give away too many of their secrets because the tour is totally worth it, so how about some recommendations?

If you can get your hands on a bottle, Roaming Man. All. Day. Long. Butter Pecan Sippin’ Cream is where it is at! I know its an old lady flavor but hear me out. It is delicious. And when it comes to buying a gift for someone back home you can never go wrong with their Appalachian Apple Pie! Unlike other apple pie shines that use red apple and allspice, Sugarlands throws you a delicious curve ball of green apples and caramel. Pay attention when you’re doing your tasting, this one does a magic trick!

Now, don’t forget to check out the back patio and their cocktail bar. Believe them when they say they have the best Bloody Mary in town! But if vegetables in your cup aren’t your style you can always go with the Purple Rain (Tim’s favorite), a Cheershine (my favorite!), or the Hot Toddy on colder evenings. We love the patio so much that we usually entertain with recipes inspired by the Whiskey Trail.

You never know who you might run into on that back patio either! If you’ve watched the Moonshiners show on Discovery Chanel, there might be a familiar face from time to time.

Optional Distillery StopOle Smoky Holler, 903 Parkway Suite 128, Gatlinburg

Generally, our Gatlinburg Moonshine tours ended at Sugarlands because I saved the best for last. But if you are looking to feel saucy, head on up the road a little to Ole Smoky’s second Gatlinburg location. Here you will find all of their moonshines and they usually have live music!

Gatlinburg Walking Tour Map

I’ve marked all the stops, interesting points for tidbits of history, and cool things to see so that they correspond with this post. Just click it and follow along, and shine on!

If you are up to visiting some other distilleries while you are in town, here are some others in East Tennessee worth checking out!


Moonshine Facts

1. There Are No Rules When Making Moonshine

Spirits like Scotch Whisky, Irish whiskey, Gin, and Saki have certain rules which dictate the ingredients, equipment, and processes that must be used to create them.

Scotch Whisky, for example, must be made in Scotland, distilled twice, matured in oak casks for 3 years or more, made from water and malted barley (with other whole grains), and have a minimum alcoholic strength of 40% ABV. The Scotts are so strict on these rules that they have legislated them.

When it comes to moonshine, anything goes. You can use a mash made from corn, malted barley, rye, wheat or any other grain that can provide soluble sugar. It doesn’t need to be aged in oak or any specific wood. In fact, it doesn’t need to be aged at all.

There is no strict rules in terms of the ABV of the finished product and many other ingredients can be added, like fruit, herbs, and spices.

This level of freedom is what attracts many distillers to moonshine. They can experiment with their moonshine and concoct delicious spirits with interesting flavors.

2. The Term “Moonshine” Refers To Illegal Activities

“Moonshine” is a slang term that describes any illicit activity that occurs at night (under the light of the moon). These types of activities would be performed at night to avoid detection by law enforcement. Because most illegal stills also operated at night, the spirits they produced were eventually nicknamed moonshine.

Contrary to popular belief, the term wasn’t coined in the United States. It was first used in Britain, where the first moonshiners operated their stills under the cover of darkness. These distillers produced whiskey, gin, and other kinds of spirits illicitly to avoid taxation by the British government (more on British moonshining later on).

3. There Are Dozens Of Slang Words To Describe Moonshine

Moonshine has its own vocabulary with dozens of unique terms being used to describe the finished product and the tools used to make it.

Some of the many English words used to describe moonshine include Hooch, White Lightning, White liquor, Mountain Dew, Choop, Homebrew, Shiney, Hooch, White Whiskey, Stump Whiskey, and Mash Liquor.

There are different names for moonshine overseas. In Poland they call it Palinka, in Armenia it is Oghi, in Bulgaria it is Rakia, in Cuba it is Gualfara, in Columbia it is Chirrinchi, while in Argentina it is Chicha. Check out this extensive list to learn all of the names of moonshine in foreign countries if you are interested.

Even the processes, equipment, and outcomes associated with the moonshine making process have unique names. Here are a few of the most interesting terms:

  • Backins is the weak whiskey that is created at the end of a double run.
  • Puke is the boiling over of a hot still
  • Granny Fees are bribes paid to law enforcement
  • Blackport is a mash which ferments directly in the still instead of a tub
  • A Runner is a person who moves moonshine while evading the law (also called bootleggers) to give the moonshine a second distillation during a single run

4. A Basic Moonshine Only Needs Four Ingredients

Moonshine can be a complex spirit involving all kinds of ingredients. However, in its simplest form, it will be made with cornmeal, sugar, water, and yeast. The simplicity of moonshine is one of the reasons why it was a popular choice amongst backwoods distillers.

5. Moonshine Had A Bad Reputation For Causing Health Problems

As you might have expected, many of the prohibition moonshiners weren’t concerned about product safety standards. They would use dirty equipment and often wouldn’t check the quality of their product before selling it.

Some prohibition moonshiners would even use old car radiators as condensers when creating their white lightning, simply because nothing else was available. Unfortunately, radiators would often contain rust, lead, and other dangerous chemicals. This could contaminate batches of moonshine, causing lead poisoning and other illnesses.

Unscrupulous moonshiners would add methanol to their product to give it a stronger kick and to improve its flavor. While this sometimes made for a sweeter hooch, it could also make a drink toxic. Methanol consumption can cause systemic acidosis, central nervous system problems, and in some cases, blindness.

Modern moonshines aren’t made using radiators or methanol, so are perfectly safe to consume (as always, in moderation).

6. The First Moonshiners Were British

Although most people associate moonshine with the backwoods distillers in the Appalachians, it is actually a British invention. The first moonshiners began operating in Britain in the late 15 th century.

They initially began distilling spirits illegally to avoid new excise taxes. Although they were moonshiners, they didn’t use the term to describe the spirits they were making until the 18 th Century.

7. Making Moonshine Is A Remarkably Simple Process

When the average person looks at a still, they might think it resembles a mad scientist’s laboratory. Despite this, the science behind creating moonshine is very straightforward.

  1. Corn is ground into a meal (other grains can also be used)
  2. The cornmeal is soaked in hot water to extract sugars. Sugar can also be added.
  3. Yeast is added and the fermentation process starts
  4. After some time, the fermented solution (called a mash) is placed in the still and heated to about 172 degrees Fahrenheit (78 C)
  5. As it heats, the alcohol vapors rise to the top of the still and are captured by the swan neck (a copper tube).
  6. The vapors then go into a condenser coil, where they cool and turn back into alcohol.

The distillation process is usually run several times to create a stronger, smoother spirit. A device called a thumper keg can also be used. It sits between the boiler and the condenser. It is used to distill the alcohol vapors from the boiler a second time before they are condensed.

8. The Earliest American Moonshine Was Not Always Made From Corn

The original Appalachian moonshiners would use cornmeal to make moonshine, simply because it was readily available. However, the earliest moonshiners would use rye or barley as they were usually growing those crops. Today, virtually all moonshine producers will use cornmeal.

9. Moonshine Is Gradually Being Legalized

For many years, it has been illegal to use a still to produce alcohol for consumption. However, that is gradually changing, at the state level at least.

Many states now offer licenses to ‘craft distillers’ which let individuals make a small amount of moonshine for private consumption. However, most states do require moonshiners to also obtain a commercial distiller’s permit or a fuel alcohol permit from the federal government. It’s worth noting that these licenses do not allow for the commercial sale of moonshine.

Some states do allow commercial moonshine distilleries, like North Carolina, where the first legal moonshine distillery opened its doors in 2005 (Piedmont Distillers).

After the financial crisis of 2009, other states relaxed laws on commercial moonshine production in an effort to stimulate their economies. So you can now operate a commercial moonshine distillery in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

It’s now relatively easy to track down a bottle of moonshine in a liquor store and sample this delicious spirit.

10. Moonshine Has Experienced A Rapid Growth In Popularity

For several decades after prohibition ended, moonshine had a bad reputation due to the substandard and sometimes dangerous beverages that were being produced. After all, no one wanted to risk going blind by ingesting a few glasses of White Lightning spiked with methanol.

However, it has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, largely thanks to the legalization of commercial moonshine production in several states. Consumers now know that the product is now safe and are interested in trying moonshine.

11. American Moonshiners Went To War To Avoid Taxation

In the early days of American colonization, there were very few rules about the production and consumption of alcohol. Industrious farmers and entrepreneurs would use stills to turn their corn, rye, and barley crops into beer or spirits. They would drink what they created, give it away to friends or family, or sell it locally.

That all changed in 1791 when President George Washington’s newly established congress imposed a liquor tax to help pay war debts. As you might imagine, distillers weren’t too happy about it and many of them established moonshine distilleries in secluded locations (America’s first moonshine operations).

The distillers and their supporters had several run-ins with tax collectors, particularly in Western Pennsylvanian counties. These conflicts escalated and eventually led to the Whiskey Rebellion (1791 – 1794).

The government eventually beat the rebels back with a large militia. However, the suppression of the rebellion was very unpopular and damaged the Federalist Party. This led to the whisky tax being repealed in 1803.

12. The American Civil War Created More Moonshiners

Everyone knows that going to war is an expensive business. So, when the federal government began to fight the civil war, they immediately turned to distillers and demanded that they pay another whiskey tax.

This time, the tax was extremely high — in some cases eight times higher than the cost of the actual whiskey. This prompted many distillers to hide in the backwoods and produce spirits illicitly.

13. Prohibition Helped Moonshiners Turn a Profit

The next major change for moonshiners was the introduction of prohibition in 1920. It banned the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages across the United States.

Before prohibition, many backwoods moonshiners would make liquor for the fun of it. It was a hobby or a part-time business. After prohibition, the moonshine they produced was worth a lot more money. Many moonshiners became full-time bootleggers, selling their hooch for substantial profits. It was how they made a living and fed their families.

It was just as well, because this period was very difficult, economically. By 1929, the nation was in a full-blown great depression. By the end of 1933, both the Great Depression and Prohibition had ended. Most drinkers turned away from illicitly produced moonshine and switched to drinks like gin and Scotch whiskey.

14. Moonshine Is Clear Because They Don’t Mature It

Spirits like Scotch whisky and Bourbon whiskey have a distinctive brown color. This comes from the time that the spirit spends maturing in charred oak casks. These spirits also take on aromas and flavors from the wood as they mature. Because moonshine isn’t aged in a cask it remains crystal clear.

15. Distillers Used XXX To Label Moonshine

Have you ever seen an old cartoon or caricature with a jug of booze inscribed with XXX? It turns out that moonshiners used to draw X’s on their bottles to show how many times it had been distilled. A single X meant that the spirit had been distilled one, two X’s indicated it has been distilled twice, and so on. Seeing XXX or XXXX on a bottle of moonshine meant it had been concentrated a few times and was probably quite strong.

16. Mountain Dew Soda Was Developed To Be A Moonshine Mixer

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed earlier that one of the slang terms for moonshine mentioned earlier was ‘Mountain Dew’. You may have wondered if there is some kind of link between moonshine and the popular soda.

It turns out there is. The original Mountain Dew soda was developed to be a mixer for moonshine and other spirits. In fact, the original mascot was named Willy The Hillbilly, in a clear reference to the intended use of the drink.

17. There Is A Connection Between Bootlegging And NASCAR

Bootleggers were the men and women who smuggled moonshine from the distillery to another location. It was dangerous work as you could be pulled over by the police or robbed by criminals at any moment. The term ‘bootleggers’ comes from the fact that hooch smugglers used to hide flasks in their boots.

After WWII, some of the soldiers returning home from war would ended up becoming bootleggers. They used the mechanical skills that the military gave them to modify vehicles so they could hide moonshine. They would also add better shocks to safeguard their hooch on bumpy roads, along with faster engines for a quick getaway.

These hot rod bootleggers would sometimes race their modified vehicles on their days off. This tradition became the foundation of NASCAR. Not surprisingly, the person who stumped up the money to start the NASCAR sporting foundation was a former bootlegger himself, named Big Bill France.

18. Modern Moonshines Are Often Flavored

Traditionally, moonshine would be consumed straight. However, many people find that the flavor is a little too strong, particularly if the hooch in question has a high proof. As a result, many of the commercial moonshines on sale are flavored spirits and have a lower proof. The takes the edge off slightly and makes it easier to drink.

The most popular flavors at the moment include blueberry, pineapple, raspberry, and apple pie. These flavored moonshines can be enjoyed on their own or mixed with soda water for a refreshing drink.

19. Moonshine Is Less Safe In Other Countries

American moonshine makers are creating delicious moonshines which are completely safe to consume. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in other countries. In 2019, at least 154 people died in India, after consuming a bad batch of homemade moonshine. Authorities suspect that methanol was added to the moonshine. Worth remembering if you intend on traveling overseas and are offered moonshine.

20. Moonshine Stills Can Blow Up

It’s not a myth! If a blockage occurs in the swan’s neck, the alcohol vapors which should have exhausted into the condenser can begin to build up to dangerous levels. If exposed to a spark or open flame, they can combust, causing a pretty large explosion. This myth was tested by the team at MythBusters a few years ago.

21. Moonshine Is Essentially The Same As Corn Whiskey

In terms of how they are made, the only difference between corn whiskey and moonshine is that corn whiskey is matured in a wooden cask. Moonshine can be consumed without maturation. If you like corn whiskey, chances are you will like the taste of moonshine, and vice versa.

22. Hooch Wasn’t Just For Drinking: alternative Moonshine uses

The original settlers of the Appalachians were tough folk living in harsh conditions. They were also very practical, knowledgeable, and industrious.

When they produced moonshine, it wasn’t just for getting drunk. It had several practical applications around the home, including as a disinfectant, tranquilizer, solvent, and anesthetic.

Moonshine was also used as currency, so they could trade moonshine for food, medicine, seeds, tools, livestock, and other things they needed to survive. Moonshine wasn’t just a drink, it was an essential asset that made life in the Appalachians easier.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This content may contain links to products. Please assume all such links are affiliate links which may result in my earning commissions and fees.


Watch the video: Buffalo Trace Whiskeys Tier List! Which Buffalo Trace Is Best? (November 2021).