Moonshine: What is it and where is it going?
Moonshine has appeared many times on television whether it be in a jar with XXX on it or mentioned by name. Very few people can tell you exactly what it is when asked though. The answer isn’t as easy as many people think it is. There isn’t just one alcohol that falls into the category of moonshine. Traditionally the term moonshine refers to any illegal alcohol but even that has changed.
Now moonshine refers to a variety of different alcohols. The most popular, and publicly available, moonshine is white whiskey. Most of these white whiskeys are made in Tennessee and North Carolina. Moonshine has the benefit of being quick to make and sell because it doesn’t need the typical aging process, however; this leads to the harsh taste that is usually associated with the term moonshine.
What many people don’t realize about NASCAR is that it has roots in the tradition of moonshining. Moonshiners used souped up cars to transport their homemade liquor across the country roads and trails. These people were so adept at driving cars fast that they became some of the top NASCAR racers. For example, former bootlegger turned NASCAR driver Junior Johnson won 50 races in his 11 year stint as a race car driver.
Moonshine businesses are able to produce their products legally now that many states have loosened their liquor production laws. The popularity of small distilleries and local alcohol production is to thank for this. The economic boost that towns and cities get from this has helped to make the legalization decision. Tennessee, the former hub of illegal moonshine, has now specifically legalized the production of moonshine.
The illegal moonshine production market has not completely gone away yet though. There are still people in producing shine in locations that have yet to make it legal. These people have a much more dangerous and difficult market but with the increase in the popularity of moonshine these areas will probably soon legalize the business of moonshine production.
Legalization of the production of moonshine brings with it production standards. This means that there is less of a risk during the production process. Moonshine has to be made just the right way or it has been known to cause blindness or death. Now that it is regulated there is virtually no chance that it will be made the wrong way as there are now requirements for production facilities. The main part of shine that is poisonous is the first two or three glasses which are poured then thrown away for safety.
Now you may be wondering where all of this new liquor is going and that is a good question. A lot of the people who were buying moonshine illegally are now able to buy it from licensed alcohol stores in their states. It isn’t only limited to stores though, many restaurants are also buying moonshine to give their customers a new taste.
Another big selling point for moonshine is flavor. A good portion of moonshine sales are flavored. Sellers report that around 65% of all moonshine sales have a flavoring added to them such as apple pie or blackberry. The best production companies have kept the flavored moonshine recipes true to its nature and used the traditional recipes.
There is question from moonshine traditionalists though as to whether modern moonshine even qualifies as moonshine now that it is legal. Since the prohibition moonshine has been illegal and the traditionalists argue that part of the spirit of moonshine is its heritage. Not only that, the fact that moonshine is now taxed adds more to the argument that the age old tradition of smuggling moonshine is gone.
Whether the modern use of the term moonshine is true to its name or not it is hard to miss its popularity. It is selling like crazy with moonshine businesses selling over 250,000 cases a year. The trend of producing moonshine is also alive and well in other countries. Especially countries in the Middle East where alcohol sales are illegal. No matter if you are a traditionalist or new to the moonshine world, the new flavorful yet strong alcohol is worth a try.