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Legal Moonshine

By Joe Ruvel · November 16th, 2011 · No Comments

I recently read in Specialty Food magazine about Legal Moonshine. I have just started to look into the laws surrounding moonshine–I thought beer laws were crazy. It seems that white, unfinished, corn whisky is getting popular – but that is a different product than moonshine…sometimes…possibly. It probably has to do with the process by which it is made, how much corn or other ingredients are used, and maybe a bit of how it is marketed.  But even more interesting is the fact that moonshine – the real stuff – is only legal to make in a few states. As far back as around 1990 a legal moonshine company was started in the United States. I had no idea. That company is Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm in Culpeper, Virginia.  Also interesting is the fact that people to this day are still getting sent to prison for running moonshine. Of course, if you made wine or beer and sold it at the monetary levels that this hooch is worth, then I bet the ATF would be after you too. An interesting parallel.

Now – how does this stuff taste? I have no idea. I have had Hudson Valley Corn Whiskey – which was great in the bloody mary at Bottle Cap. But that’s about it. I would like to try more and see what the hype is about. One that caught my attention is Tennessee’s first legal moonshine – Ole Smoky Distillery from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I mean if there is going to be good moonshine it might as well come from this part of the country. As a kid, my family visted the Smokey Mountains. We manged to break down driving through them and, while getting help, my mom rode along with a cop on a moonshine bust! Still can’t say if it tastes good, but it sure is an exciting beverage with a lot of history.

Jasmine says: I recently read in Imbibe magazine a question about “white dog” and moonshine. The answer, from author Max Watman was “White dog and moonshine are both slang for spirits. White dog is legal, moonshine is not.” The entirety of his answer suggests that if some thing is legal, is is just white corn whiskey, or white whiskey or whatever. If it’s illegal, it’s moonshine. The illegal-ness is inherent in the term. If it’s not illegal, it’s just marketing. Therefore, I don’t understand how a legal moonshine company exists at all. Once it’s legal, it’s not moonshine. Also, can moonshine have terroir?

As a side note, my great-grandpa had a still out by the creek on the farm where I grew up. It was just what you did back then, if you had a creek. Probably more to save money than anything else.

Tags: Magazines · Non-Beer Beverages