A moonshine operation
Though it is still illegal for most people to make, there are some small, legal moonshine distilleries popping up nationwide. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The taboo associated with some things makes them more attractive, and the appeal of taboo has been acutely observed in the adult beverage industry. Absinthe finally made its return to store shelves in the United States in the past few years, and soon there may be moonshine available at the local liquor store.

Loopholes for small business create legal moonshine

The appeal of the forbidden is strong, and so it is in the adult beverage industry. In the United States, there is a long tradition of making an illicitly distilled liquor commonly referred to as “moonshine,” so named because people used to covertly make it by the light of the moon. Home distilling is still illegal. However, according to Reuters, laws granting certain exemptions to micro-distilleries in some areas are leading to legal moonshine.

Must be a legal distiller to make it

Some states, such as South Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin and New York have passed laws that ease tax burdens on small liquor distilleries, leading to more micro-distilleries opening up shop, including some that make moonshine. Moonshine is a neutral grain spirit, the simplest of liquors to make. It is the distillation of alcohol from a mash of grain, yeast, sugar and water. However, some of the legal moonshine distilleries will steep the brew in fruits and spices before bottling, according to PressofAtlanticCity.com. One company called Piedmont Distillers, based in Madison, N.C., sells a range of sweetened “moonshine,” including one flavored to taste like apple pie and another called Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon, crafted using a recipe straight from NASCAR legend Junior Johnson himself. Other companies, such as Kings County Distillery in New York City, according to the Village Voice, make small batches of simple corn liquor. However, not all states have embraced such laws.

Do not try this at home

Risks associated with making or consuming moonshine include jail and death. A group of five men, according to a Spartanburg Herald-Journal article on goupstate.com, were recently busted for making and selling moonshine in Inman, S.C. Each could face six months per charge of selling or making moonshine, including the four and one-quarter gallons one of them sold to an undercover police officer. Also, distilling without knowing how it’s done is dangerous. According to The Guardian, a moonshine operation in Boston, England, ended in tragedy when a still exploded, killing five. Not every illegal distiller is ethical when it comes to ingredients, either. The nation of Ecuador, according to the Daily Mail, banned all alcohol sales for three days last month when 21 people died from drinking tainted, illegal liquor. Some form of spirit akin to moonshine, from Irish poitin (pronounced “poo-tch-een”) to Icelandic brennevin, is enjoyed worldwide, according to Wikipedia.

Sources

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/29/us-usa-moonshine-odd-idUSTRE76S4E820110729
Press of Atlantic City:
http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/life/moonshine-makes-its-mark-as-a-boutique-brew/article_162e735d-4de4-56f9-bf41-10a95c0ecd13.html
Village Voice: http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-08-03/news/brooklyn-nyc-moonshiners-distillers-whisky/
GoUpstate.com:
http://www.goupstate.com/article/20110709/ARTICLES/107081017/1001/sports02?Title=Inman-man-charged-in-moonshine-still-operation&tc=ar
The Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/14/inferno-moonshine-liquor-factory-five-dead
Daily Mail:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2016082/Ecuador-bans-alcohol-days-21-people-die-bootleg-liquor.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
Moonshine by country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonshine_by_country

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