Moonshine goes mainstream
Artisanal blends sold at Disney World and on a Discovery Channel show are bringing corn whiskey out of the woods.
It looks like moonshine has made its certifiable return to American pop culture, but very little of the stuff being passed around in mason jars is actual moonshine.
The problem with moonshine in its current incarnation -- the one that gets its own show on the Discovery Channel (DSCA) and puff pieces in Bon Appetit -- is that it only sort of fits the common definition of the concoction. It's still triple-distilled corn whiskey made from recipes passed down through the generations, it's still brewed in small batches and it's still surprisingly pleasant for a liquor so strong.
It overwhelmingly isn't produced in old radiators anymore, it no longer has alcohol content that can blind a person and it isn't commonly contaminated with low-grade methanol, antifreeze or other potential toxins. In many cases, it's both taxed and legally distilled by professionals using costly copper equipment. Law enforcement in the Virginia counties where the Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners" is filmed told the Associated Press that the alcohol production on the show doesn't even qualify as illegal moonshining.
That's not to say moonshine has completely separated from its law-skirting past. Back in 2010, the BBC found that still makers like Colonel Vaughn Wilson of Arkansas were selling copper stills for $300 to $1,000 to traditional markets like Kentucky and Georgia, but also to hipsters in Brooklyn looking to try it out for themselves. The Federal Government's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau notes that while it's tough to catch folks distilling small batches in their own homes, it's still illegal to distill without a license that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Getting caught means a fine of up to $15,000 and five years in jail.
It's a big reason much of what's known as moonshine today is produced above board. Junior Johnson, whose moonshine runs through the woods of North Carolina earned him 11 months in federal prison during the 1950s but laid the groundwork for NASCAR, began producing Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon moonshine back in 2007. It's all professionally distilled and supplements the original "white lighting" corn whiskey recipe with flavored varieties like apple pie, blackberry, blueberry and strawberry.
Relative newcomer Troy Ball, founder of Troy & Sons, got into making moonshine after sipping a sample back in 2008. Troy & Sons now produces more than 10,000 bottles of Platinum Moonshine and Oak Reserve Moonshine each year and distributes them across the Southeast, including to Walt Disney World's Wilderness Lodge. Even as Brooklynites set up copper stills within their meager square footage, borough whiskey bar Char No. 4 and owner Sean Josephs stock "white whiskey" moonshine as both an option and educational tasting tool.
"Tasting it with no wood, just with the raw corn flavor," Josephs told Bon Appetit, "lets you really get a sense of how char affects the spirit, as it matures into bourbon."
Moonshine distillers don't have to wait long to see the fruits of their labor either. While bourbon can spend a minimum of half a decade aging in barrels, moonshine is good to go as soon as the mash goes through the still. It's given "artisanal" or "craft" distillers a slight edge on big whiskey producers like Beam (BEAM), Diageo (DEO) and Jack Daniel's owner Brown-Forman (BF.A), but it's carved out a legacy portion of the whiskey market that many Americans have only heard about through old episodes of "The Dukes of Hazzard," if at all.
Moonshine may not be the outlaw liquor it once was, but even its safe and legal version is a potent force in America's drinking culture.
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Ferment some bananas and cook it up, take a slug and pass it around. Oh man I can't believe it's you Elvis.
I left a note on my original comment...
No I don't know everything about shine, but there are a lot of differences....And Everclear is not what I consider shine...People use EC for a lot of spiking. not the same...
I'm a Winemaker and can rework wine to 15-20% or 40 proof.
And I think they can with shine too...?
You can buy 150 proof anything in a lot of places.
Well if Shine becomes what they want to call mainstream and Brought out INTO THE OPEN ?
THE SAME DAM THING BETTER HAPPEN WITH WEED ! !
Since it is proven that WEED IS A SAFER CHOICE OVER ALCOHOL ! So hey WTF ! I will be waiting !
If you can make it yourself and avoid taxes....more power to ya! I garden for the same reason, not to mention, its better tasting, and i am not eating chemicals!
If I could make my own "superior" liquor, bet you know I would!
Extortion is to the Mafia, as what Taxes are to the US Govt!
Talk about MSN being behind the times! We could buy legal Moonshine in WV back in the early 1970s. It even had a WV liquor tax stamp across the plastic gallon top.
When I was a kid I lived in a relatively urban area and there were several stills operating on and off in the mountains within walking distance. You'd see old cars and trucks that never moved except when it was time to come to town to buy sugar - otherwise their radiators were part of the still! You were really taking a chance drinking that stuff... my neighbor had a race car and used 'shine for fuel. He said it really made the thing go, but it would burn the engine up by the end of the season.
If the US cant get "their cut" its illegal! The ONLY reason!!!! They kind of remind me of the mafia. Well, they exactly remind me of the Mafia!
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