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Often, moonshine's made with corn, though it can and has been made with anything that ferments, from grains like rye or wheat to plain old sugar. It's unaged and clear.

Whiskey without the wood, it's called. Bourbon without the barrel. Go to a liquor store, pick up a bottle of moonshine and look closely at its label: Chances are it's either corn whisky yes, spelled without the e or neutral spirits—vodka, essentially.

Some brands market their product as white whiskey—a more accurate descriptor than 'shine, perhaps, given that it's made by licensed, tax-paying distillers. Others stick with history, with heritage, with moonshine. It's a name with a story behind it. But what is the story behind moonshine? Perhaps you've wondered: where did moonshine get its start? Here are a few facts you might not know.

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While moonshine is deeply rooted in Southern culture and heritage, its origins, in fact, can be traced to Pennsylvania. Farmer-distillers in the western part of the state protested when the federal government passed the distilled-spirits tax in They tarred and feathered tax collectors and fired upon their homes. These actions sparked the Whiskey Rebellion and nearly set off America's first civil war. Moonshine production later took hold in big cities.

Urban Dictionary: moonshine

In Brooklyn, the waterfront neighborhood known today as Vinegar Hill was a hotbed of illegal whiskey making. In , law enforcement went hard and fast against the Irish immigrants who'd set up hidden distilleries there and refused to pay government taxes on their product. In a predawn raid they hacked up stills, confiscated whiskey, and hauled it back to the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Of course, this didn't stop people from making booze. By the early s, more moonshine was produced in New York City than in all the South combined. During Prohibition, a one-day sweep in Chicago, in June, , resulted in 50 raids, arrests, and 10, gallons of seized liquor.

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  • According to the Chicago Daily Tribune , the Genna crime family had brought laborers over from Italy "to distill moonshine. You may think of moonshining as more of a man's world. But women were also making hooch. One of these women was "Nancy the Moonshiner. What she really was, though, was a moneymaker and a hardscrabble businesswoman.

    At night she stole apples from an orchard near her home. She used them to make Jersey lightning, or apple jack, a distilled hard cider. When a government detective snuck into her hillside home near the Pequest River in hopes of apprehending her, Nancy knocked him out and took off running. Folklore tells us one way to test the purity of moonshine is to pour some in a metal spoon and set it on fire.

    Moonshine Is Growing in the U.S., and Big Whiskey Wants a Taste

    If it burns with a blue flame it is safe, but if it burns with a yellow or red flame, it contains lead, prompting the old saying, "Lead burns red and makes you dead. But, the spoon burning method is not completely reliable. This test does not detect other toxins that might be in the brew, like methanol, which burns with a colorless flame.

    With millions of gallons of moonshine being produced each year in the United States, chances are some of it is going to be tainted. Health officials are concerned that moonshine toxicity in ailing patients might be overlooked because most healthcare providers consider it a tradition of the past. Learn the best ways to manage stress and negativity in your life. There was an error.

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    Information About Commonly Abused Drugs. Traditional distillers would pack up their stills and brew the liquor in the woods, with an eye out for the law.


    Moonshine is usually derived from corn mash. Nascar racing was born from moonshiners racing in modified vehicles.

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    • Today, legal moonshine sponsors legal racing. Moonshine has been boosted by popular culture depictions, such as Robert Mitchum's "Thunder Road" and "Moonrunners" movies, as well music from artists such as Bob Dylan. Revenuers make their presence felt in an American town during prohibition, Public information campaign attacking moonshiners. Other publicity materials stressed the health risks. Former U. President George Washington used to distill his own liquor, which was reportedly very drinkable. In the golden age, folk heroes like Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton and Doc King avoided high alcohol taxes by hitching their stills to souped-up cars and lighting out for the Appalachian woods after dark, where they distilled eye-watering liquor from corn mash, to be sold in mason jars off the books.

      They played a game of cat and mouse with the authorities, as illegal distilling was an offense that carried jail time. But it was also high risk for the hated "revenuers" from the liquor authority, who were sometimes attacked, tarred and feathered. The product itself could be dangerous. For much of its year history, moonshine referred to any illegal home-made spirit, including low quality brews with deadly contaminants. Today it usually describes clear, unaged whiskey, and standards have improved as the distillers no longer need to operate in the shadows. When the global financial crisis hit the Appalachian heartlands, counties all over the region tapped into one of the few growth industries by legalizing moonshine.

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