Moonshine has had its colorful place in American history, hasn’t it? While pictures might resonate in your head of mountain men tramping through the Appalachian woods, brewing up batches of illegal shine in homemade stills and then proceeding to run from the long arm of the law, there was much more to the inception and evolution of this historic drink. During the dark and grim years known as Prohibition, millions of gallons of this illegal drink were produced, and demand far exceeded supply, making it sought after and coveted. Some might say that its scandalous nature lent itself to the appeal.
After 1933, when alcohol distribution and consumption again became legal, the demand for the shine waned as loyals continued to make, consume, and distribute their homemade batches, keeping the tradition of this southern drink alive. In recent years, it has again gained popularity, and thanks to more stringent control of its production and distribution, it is safe to consume by most. While most of us are familiar with the topic of Prohibition and how it affected moonshining in America, there are some noteworthy things that you need to know about “hooch,” as these little tidbits will make it even more colorful and flavorful to experience. Here are five cool things you should know about moonshine:
Nascar was made possible because of moonshine.
Today’s NASCAR machine is a feat of engineering; scientifically proven processes and aerodynamics are used in putting together a car that will not disappoint on the raceway. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are poured into both the mechanics of racing and all of the associated consumerism around it. Did you know, though, that NASCAR’s roots are firmly entrenched in the time of Prohibition when bootleggers used souped-up cars to outrun the long arm of the law? Even after this period ended, the racing continued, with a new thirst for danger and speed that had to be quenched. Many early names in racing were actually former bootleggers turned racers; Junior Johnson spent some time behind bars for operating an illegal still before transitioning to the NASCAR circuit, where he went on to win over 50 races. What an impressive turnaround!
Whiskey and moonshine have very similar chemical composition.
The major difference between these two brews is that whiskey is aged for several years to obtain depth and breadth of flavor, while moonshine retains its youthful taste as a blast of pure alcohol. Chemical composition is very similar between the two mashes---grain, water, yeast and sugar, but the end result is quite different.
Moonshine has quite a sultry past.
After the Revolutionary War, the American people found themselves under a mountain of debt. As a countermeasure for all of this additional war debt, the American government levied an alcohol tax on all alcoholic beverages. This made the newly emancipated Americans furious, as they had just become free from an oppressive government. They rallied together and found ways to enjoy the spirits under the radar, and this caused quite a bit of conflict between law enforcement officers and shiners who ran bootleg all across the South. Though a few were caught and forced to comply with production and tax laws, these laws only served to drive moonshiners further underground, forming a culture that is a unique part of American history to this day.
Distilling is easier than you would think.
To make moonshine, only four ingredients are required---corn, yeast, sugar, and water. Other ingredients that could be used instead of corn include barley, rye, and fruit, although corn seems the easiest to obtain. The resulting cocktail is heated to nearly boiling, causing a byproduct of alcoholic condensation which is then collected and filtered to remove solid ingredients. The condensation is then pushed through a “worm,” a copper pipe that is cooled, forcing the steam to transform into liquid alcohol, that which we know as moonshine. Now before you run right out and buy a home moonshining kit, you might want to consider purchasing some quality product from those of us that know how to make it.
XXX doesn’t just stand for adult entertainment.
This was a code stamped on jugs of moonshine to indicate how many times the batch had been distilled. One X stood for a batch that wasn’t of high quality, and it was likely to be weak and full of solid impurities. More than one X indicates that the batch is getting purified, and is likely to be a higher proof, while XXX means you will be cracking open some serious stuff, so use with caution. In the past, moonshiners used this code to fly under the radar when transporting jugs to and from various destinations.
Palmetto Distillery: Holding Fast To Southern Roots
At Palmetto Distillery, we know moonshine. Our legacy goes far back into the Appalachian mountains, where Doc Boggs began running the best bootleg the South had ever seen. Using his recipes and tweaking the production process, we have perfected our product, bringing to you the highest quality spirits money can buy. If you want a one of a kind, unique taste experience, you will find it here! Visit www.palmettodistillery.com to order products and schedule a tasting tour. The flavor of the South is calling!