|Alcohol by volume||At least 40%|
|Proof (US)||At least 80°|
|Related products||Bourbon whiskey, Corn whiskey, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Rye whiskey, Tennessee whiskey|
Moonshine is high-proof liquor that was and continues to be produced illicitly, without government authorization.The name was derived from a tradition of creating the alcohol during the nighttime, thereby avoiding detection. Distilling such spirits outside a registered distillery remains illegal in most countries.
In recent years commercial producers increasingly label some of their products as "moonshine".
Moonshine is known by many nicknames in English, including mountain dew, choop, hooch, homebrew, mulekick, shine, white lightning, white/corn liquor, white/corn whiskey, pass around, firewater, bootleg.[ citation needed ] Other languages and countries have their own terms for moonshine (see Moonshine by country ).
Moonshine stills are illegal to sell, import, and own, in most countries without permission. However, guides are often written by home brewing enthusiasts published on local brewery forums that explain where cheap equipment can be bought and how to assemble it into a still.To cut down most of the cost, stainless steel vessels are often replaced with plastic (e.g. polypropylene) vessels that can withstand heat, a concept of the plastic still.
A plastic still is a device for distillation specially adapted for separating ethanol and water. Plastic stills can achieve a vapor alcohol content of 40% ABV. Plastic stills are common for homebrewing of moonshine because they are cheap and easy to manufacture. The principle is that a smaller amount of liquid is placed in an open smaller vessel inside a larger one that is closed. The liquid is kept heated by an immersion heater at about 50 °C (122 °F), which causes it to slowly evaporate and condense on the inner walls of the outer vessel. The condensation that accumulates in the bottom of the vessel can then be diverted directly down through a filter containing activated carbon. The final product has approximately twice as much alcohol content as the starting liquid and can be distilled several times if stronger distillate is desired. The method is slow, and is not suitable for large-scale production.
A column still, also called a continuous still, patent still or Coffey still, is a variety of still consisting of two columns. A column still can achieve a vapor alcohol content of 95% ABV.
A spiral still is a type of column still with a simple slow air-cooled distillation apparatus, commonly used for bootlegging. Column and cooler consist of a 5-foot-long (1.5 m) copper tube wound in spiral form. The tube first goes up to act as a simple column, and then down to cool the product. Cookware usually consists of a 30-litre (6.6 imp gal; 7.9 US gal) wine bucket in pp plastic. The heat source is typically a 300W dip heater. The spiral burner is popular because despite its simple construction and low manufacturing cost it can provide 95% ABV.
A pot still is a type of distillation apparatus or still used to distill flavored liquors such as whisky or cognac, but not rectified spirit because they are bad at separating congeners. Pot stills operate on a batch distillation basis (as opposed to a Coffey or column stills which operate on a continuous basis). Traditionally constructed from copper, pot stills are made in a range of shapes and sizes depending on quantity and style of spirit. Geographic variations in still design exist, with certain stills gaining popularity in regions of Appalachia.
Spirits distilled in pots is commonly 40% ABV, and top out between 60 and 80% after multiple distillations.
Poorly produced moonshine can be contaminated, mainly from materials used in the construction of the still. Stills employing automotive radiators as condensers are particularly dangerous; in some cases, glycol produced from antifreeze can be a problem. Radiators used as condensers could also contain lead at the connections to the plumbing. Using these methods often resulted in blindness or lead poisoningin those who consumed tainted liquor. This was an issue during Prohibition when many died from ingesting unhealthy substances. Consumption of lead-tainted moonshine is a serious risk factor for saturnine gout, a very painful but treatable medical condition that damages the kidneys and joints.
Although methanol is not produced in toxic amounts by fermentation of sugars from grain starches, 80 °C (176 °F). Additionally, the head that comes immediately after the foreshot typically contains small amounts of other undesirable compounds, such as acetone and various aldehydes. Fusel alcohols are other undesirable byproducts of fermentation that are contained in the "aftershot", and are also typically discarded.contamination is still possible by unscrupulous distillers using cheap methanol to increase the apparent strength of the product. Moonshine can be made both more palatable and perhaps less dangerous by discarding the "foreshot" – the first few ounces of alcohol that drip from the condenser. Because methanol vaporizes at a lower temperature than ethanol it is commonly believed that the foreshot contains most of the methanol, if any, from the mash. However, research shows this is not the case, and methanol is present until the very end of the distillation run. Despite this, distillers will usually collect the foreshots until the temperature of the still reaches
Alcohol concentrations at higher strengths (the GHS identifies concentrations above 24% ABV as dangerous) are flammable and therefore dangerous to handle. This is especially true during the distilling process when vaporized alcohol may accumulate in the air to dangerous concentrations if adequate ventilation is not provided.
The incidence of impure moonshine has been documented to significantly increase the risk of renal disease among those who regularly consume it, primarily from increased lead content.
Outbreaks of methanol poisoning have occurred when methanol is used to adulterate moonshine (bootleg liquor).
A quick estimate of the alcoholic strength, or proof, of the distillate (the ratio of alcohol to water) is often achieved by shaking a clear container of the distillate. Large bubbles with a short duration indicate a higher alcohol content, while smaller bubbles that disappear more slowly indicate lower alcohol content.
A more reliable method is to use an alcoholmeter or hydrometer. A hydrometer is used during and after the fermentation process to determine the potential alcohol percent of the moonshine, whereas an alcoholmeter is used after the product has been distilled to determine the volume percent or proof.
A common folk test for the quality of moonshine was to pour a small quantity of it into a spoon and set it on fire. The theory was that a safe distillate burns with a blue flame, but a tainted distillate burns with a yellow flame. Practitioners of this simple test also held that if a radiator coil had been used as a condenser, then there would be lead in the distillate, which would give a reddish flame. This led to the mnemonic, "Lead burns red and makes you dead." or "Red means dead." [ unreliable medical source? ]
Other toxic components, such as methanol, cannot be detected with a simple burn test, as methanol flames are also blue and difficult to see in daylight.
Moonshine historically referred to "clear, unaged whiskey",once made with barley in Scotland and Ireland or corn mash in the United States, though sugar became just as common in illicit liquor during the last century. The word originated in the British Isles as a result of excise laws, but only became meaningful in the United States after a tax passed during the Civil War outlawing non-registered stills. Illegal distilling accelerated during the Prohibition era (1920-1933) which mandated a total ban on alcohol production under the Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Since the amendment's repeal in 1933, laws focus on evasion of taxation on any type of spirits or intoxicating liquors. Applicable laws were historically enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the US Department of Justice, but are now usually handled by state agencies. Enforcement agents were once known colloquially as "revenuers".
The earliest known instance of the term "moonshine" being used to refer to illicit alcohol dates to the 1785 copy of Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Prior to that, "moonshine" referred to anything "illusory" or to literally the light of the moon.The U.S. Government considers the word a "fanciful term" and does not regulate its use on the labels of commercial products, as such, legal moonshines may be any type of spirit, which must be indicated elsewhere on the label.
Moonshine distillation was done at night to avoid discovery.While moonshiners were present in urban and rural areas around the United States after the civil war, moonshine production concentrated in Appalachia because the limited road network made it easy to evade revenue officers and because it was difficult and expensive to transport corn crops. As a study of farmers in Cocke County, Tennessee, observes: "One could transport much more value in corn if it was first converted to whiskey. One horse could haul ten times more value on its back in whiskey than in corn." Moonshiners in Harlan County, Kentucky, like Maggie Bailey, sold moonshine in order to provide for their families. Others, like Amos Owens from Rutherford County, North Carolina and Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton from Maggie Valley, North Carolina, sold moonshine in nearby areas. Sutton's life was covered in a documentary on the Discovery Channel called "Moonshiners". The bootlegger once said that the malt (a combination of corn, barley, rye) is what makes the basic moonshine recipe work. In modern usage, the term "moonshine" still implies the liquor is produced illegally, and the term is sometimes used on the labels of legal products to market them as providing a forbidden drinking experience.
Once the liquor was distilled, drivers called "runners" or "bootleggers" smuggled moonshine and "bootleg" (illegally imported) liquor across the region in cars specially modified for speed and load-carrying capacity.The cars were ordinary on the outside but modified with souped-up engines, extra interior room, and heavy-duty shock absorbers to support the weight of the illicit alcohol. After Prohibition ended, the out-of-work drivers kept their skills sharp through organized races, which led to the formation of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). Several former "runners" became noted drivers in the sport.
Distillation, or classical distillation, is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Dry distillation is the heating of solid materials to produce gaseous products. Dry distillation may involve chemical changes such as destructive distillation or cracking and is not discussed under this article. Distillation may result in essentially complete separation, or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture. In either case, the process exploits differences in the relative volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial applications, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.
Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries.
Vodka is a clear distilled alcoholic beverage. Different varieties originated in Poland, Russia and Sweden. Vodka is composed mainly of water and ethanol, but sometimes with traces of impurities and flavourings. Traditionally it is made by distilling liquid from fermented cereal grains. Potatoes have been used in more recent times, and some modern brands use fruits, honey, or maple sap as the base.
Whisky or whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Various grains are used for different varieties, including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, which are often old sherry casks or may also be made of charred white oak.
A still is an apparatus used to distill liquid mixtures by heating to selectively boil and then cooling to condense the vapor. A still uses the same concepts as a basic distillation apparatus, but on a much larger scale. Stills have been used to produce perfume and medicine, water for injection (WFI) for pharmaceutical use, generally to separate and purify different chemicals, and to produce distilled beverages containing ethanol.
A pot still is a type of distillation apparatus or still used to distill flavoured liquors such as whisky or cognac, but not rectified spirit because they are bad at separating congeners. Pot stills operate on a batch distillation basis. Traditionally constructed from copper, pot stills are made in a range of shapes and sizes depending on the quantity and style of spirit desired.
A column still, also called a continuous still, patent still or Coffey still, is a variety of still consisting of two columns. Column stills can produce rectified spirit.
Aguardiente, in Spanish, or aguardente, in Portuguese is a generic term for alcoholic beverages that contain between 29% and 60% ABV. It originates in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Iberian America.
Pálinka(stamesz /stampedli) is a traditional fruit spirit in Eastern and Central Europe with origins in Hungary, more exactly known under several names, and invented in the Middle Ages. Protected as a geographical indication of the European Union, only fruit spirits mashed, distilled, matured and bottled in Hungary, and similar apricot spirits from four provinces of Austria can be called "pálinka", while "Tótpálinka" refers to wheat-derived beverages. Törkölypálinka, a different product in the legal sense, is a similarly protected pomace spirit that is commonly included with pálinka. While pálinka may be made of any locally grown fruit, the most common ones are plums, apricots, apples, pears, and cherries.
Rum-running or bootlegging is the illegal business of smuggling alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law. Smuggling usually takes place to circumvent taxation or prohibition laws within a particular jurisdiction. The term rum-running is more commonly applied to smuggling over water; bootlegging is applied to smuggling over land.
Arrack is a distilled alcoholic drink typically produced in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers or sugarcane, and also with grain or fruit depending upon the country of origin. It is sometimes spelled arak, or simply referred to as 'rack or 'rak. It is not to be confused with the anise-flavored distilled spirit called arak or araq.
Rectified spirit, also known as neutral spirits, rectified alcohol, or ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is highly concentrated ethanol that has been purified by means of repeated distillation in a process called rectification. In some countries, denatured alcohol or denatured rectified spirit may commonly be available as "rectified spirit".
Poitín, anglicized as poteen or potheen, is a traditional Irish distilled beverage. Former common names for Poitín were "Irish moonshine" and "mountain dew". It was traditionally distilled in a small pot still and the term is a diminutive of the Irish word pota, meaning "pot". The Irish word for a hangover is póit. In accordance with the Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín technical file, it can only be made from cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes.
Applejack is a strong alcoholic drink produced from apples. Popular in the American colonial era, the drink's prevalence declined in the 19th and 20th centuries amid competition from other spirits.
Lambanóg is a traditional Filipino distilled palm liquor made from coconut or nipa palm sap. It is derived from tubâ that has been aged for at least 48 hours. It originates from Luzon island in the northern Philippines. It is commonly described as "coconut vodka" due to its clear to milky white color and high alcohol content. It is particularly potent, having a typical alcohol content of 80 to 90 proof after a single distillation; this may go as high as 166 proof after the second distillation. Its smoothness has been compared to that of Japanese sake and European schnapps.
An alcoholic drink is a drink that contains ethanol, a type of alcohol produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar that acts as a drug. The consumption of alcohol plays an important social role in many cultures. Most countries have laws regulating the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Regulations may require the labeling of the percentage alcohol content and the use of a warning label. And some countries ban such activities entirely, but alcoholic drinks are legal in most parts of the world. The global alcoholic drink industry exceeded $1 trillion in 2018.
Moonshine. The term commonly applies to small-scale production, which is often illegal or tightly regulated in many countries.
Straight whiskey, as defined in United States law, is whiskey that is distilled from a fermented cereal grain mash to a concentration not exceeding 80% alcohol by volume (abv) and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years at a concentration not exceeding 62.5% at the start of the aging process.
Nip joints, found most commonly in Appalachia and similar areas where corn is grown in abundance, are venues where illegal liquor is sold, often by the drink. Most nip joints are located in residential areas inside homes. The individual in charge is therefore referred to as the "House Man" or "House Lady". Some nip joints have more amenities than others.
Whisky or whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Various grains are used in different varieties, including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.