Moonshiners (TV series)

Last updated

Genre Docudrama
Narrated by Jeremy Schwartz
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes185 (list of episodes)
Running time42 minutes
Original network Discovery Channel
Original releaseDecember 6, 2011 (2011-12-06) 
Related shows
External links

Moonshiners is an American docudrama television series on the Discovery Channel produced by Magilla Entertainment that dramatizes the life of people who produce (illegal) moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The series dramatizes their liquor production efforts, law-evading techniques and life. [1] There have been claims by local officials that the show is not what it portrays to be. Virginia authorities have stated that no illegal liquor is actually being produced by the people depicted in the show. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) said in March 2012 that, "If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action." [2] They also said that they had requested for the producers to add a disclaimer to clarify that the show was only a dramatization, "but the request was overlooked", [2] and the show's producers, Magilla Entertainment, have stated their documentary content is real. [3]


Portions of the show that feature Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton were taken from a documentary film by Neal Hutcheson. Hutcheson's documentary was filmed in 2002 and released the same year with the title This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I'll Ever Make. [4] In 2008, a version of the documentary that was edited for television was broadcast on PBS [ citation needed ] and the Documentary Channel [5] with the title The Last One, and it received a Southeast Emmy Award in 2009. [6] Sutton was arrested in 2007 by ATF agents in Cocke County, Tennessee (led by Jim Cavanaugh of Waco siege fame) for illegally distilling liquor and possession of a handgun by a felon, and was sentenced to eighteen months in jail in 2009. He subsequently committed suicide, apparently to avoid serving the federal prison term, and because he had been diagnosed with cancer. [7]

The show's first season premiered on December 6, 2011, and its second season premiered on November 7, 2012. Season 3 premiered on November 3, 2013. Season 4 premiered on November 4, 2014. [8] Season 5's premiere date was November 17, 2015. Season 8 premiered on January 2, 2019. [9]

On October 30, 2019, it was announced that the ninth season will premiere on November 19, 2019. [10]

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedAverage rating
First airedLast aired
1 6 + 1December 6, 2011 (2011-12-06)January 4, 2012 (2012-01-04)2.76
2 12 + 3November 7, 2012 (2012-11-07)January 30, 2013 (2013-01-30)3.03
3 13 + 7November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05)February 4, 2014 (2014-02-04)2.53
4 14 + 10November 4, 2014 (2014-11-04)February 3, 2015 (2015-02-03)2.00
5 17 + 1November 17, 2015 (2015-11-17)March 8, 2016 (2016-03-08)1.85
6 17 + 5November 15, 2016 (2016-11-15)March 14, 2017 (2017-03-14)TBA
7 18 + 12November 15, 2017 (2017-11-15)March 27, 2018 (2018-03-27)1.59
8 18 + 10December 11, 2018 (2018-12-11)July 9, 2019 (2019-07-09)TBA
9 17 + 4November 19, 2019 (2019-11-19)May 9, 2020 (2020-05-09)TBA


Key:     indicates a season in which a person appeared

CastRoleSeason 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5Season 6Season 7Season 8
Tickle Moonshiner
Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton Moonshiner
JesseLaw Enforcement Agent
Jim TomMoonshiner
ChuckDeputy Sheriff
Mike (MS) Moonshiner
Chris ThompsonMoonshiner
Big ChuckMoonshiner
Mike (TN) Moonshiner



In May 2013, it was announced that, in addition to renewing Moonshiners for a third season, Discovery Channel would be purchasing a spinoff about Steven Ray Tickle, to be called Tickle . [11] The series premiered on August 13, 2013. [12]

Moonshiners: Whiskey Business

In February 2019, a new series titled Moonshiners: Whiskey Business was announced through Discovery Channel. The spinoff sprouted from a Moonshiners season seven special titled Whiskey Business, in which Tim Smith travels to help out struggling Missouri Ridge Distillery and keep them in business. The special proved successful and four more episodes were made to air at the end of Moonshiners' season 8. The spin-off started airing March 13, 2019. [13]

Moonshiners: Master Distiller

A new series titled Moonshiners: Master Distiller premiered on March 3, 2020 on Discovery Channel. [14]

Theme song and introduction sequence

The theme song for the show is Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road". The intro montage introduces the cast members, and also shows some of the difficulties they face while making the moonshine. Since season 5, the theme song has been Bleeding Fingers' "Livin' Outside the Law". [15]

Related Research Articles

Moonshine High-proof distilled spirit, generally produced illicitly

Moonshine was originally a slang term for high-proof distilled spirits that were produced illicitly, without government authorization. Distilling beverage alcohol outside of a registered distillery still remains illegal in the United States and most countries around the world. In recent years, however, commercial products labeled as moonshine have seen a resurgence of popularity.

Poitín Traditional Irish distilled beverage

Poitín, anglicized as potcheen, poteen or potheen, is a traditional Irish distilled beverage. Poitín 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.

Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton was an American Appalachian moonshiner and bootlegger. Born in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, he grew up, lived, and died in the rural areas around Maggie Valley and nearby Cocke County, Tennessee. He wrote a self-published autobiographical guide to moonshining production, self-produced a home video depicting his moonshining activities, and was later the subject of several documentaries, including one that received a Regional Emmy Award.

Moonshine in popular culture

Moonshine is referenced in many works, including books, motion pictures, musical lyrics and television.

Moonshine is a generic term for distilled alcoholic beverages made throughout the globe from indigenous ingredients reflecting the customs, tastes, and raw materials for fermentation available in each region. The term commonly applies to small-scale production, which is often illegal or tightly regulated in many countries.

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Steven Ray Tickle, usually referred to as simply "Tickle", is an American television personality, known for his role in Discovery Channel docudramas Moonshiners and Tickle. Tickle lives in rural Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and is shown as working in the town of Gretna.

Tickle is an American docudrama television series that aired in 2013 on the Discovery Channel. A spin-off of Moonshiners, the series follows moonshiner Steven Ray Tickle as he attempts to sell a large stash of moonshine that he found in the backwoods of Virginia. Tickle opens a fishing store called "Tickle's Tackle" in the town of Gretna as a front to move the liquor, but discovers that managing a business is more difficult than he expected.

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  1. "About Show : Moonshiners : Discovery Channel". Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Virginia Authorities Claim Show 'Moonshiners' Doesn't Show Illegal Moonshining". Fox News. December 30, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  3. Meagan Murphy. "'Moonshiners' Producer Stands By Show's Accuracy in Face of State's Claim Show Is a Hoax". Fox News.
  4. "The Last One – Popcorn Sutton Documentary – Special Edition (2012)" . Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  5. The Last One – Popcorn and moonshine in North Carolina, The News & Observer, December 11, 2008.
  6. Popcorn Sutton Documentary Wins Emmy Award Archived February 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine , The News & Observer, June 30, 2009.
  7. Tom Landess (June 1, 2009). "Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, R.I.P." Archived from the original on November 3, 2011.
  8. "Moonshines: Discovery Channel" . Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  9. "Mark & Digger Facebook"
  10. "Rise and 'Shine: TV's Favorite Outlaws Head Back to the Woods for an All New Season of "Moonshiners"". The Futon Critic . October 30, 2019.
  11. "Discovery Renews 'Moonshiners', Adds Spinoff 'Tickle' (Exclusive)" . Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  12. "New series Tickle premiers on Discovery Channel August 13 at 10pm" . Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  13. "Moonshiners: Whiskey Business" . Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  14. "May the Best Booze Win: Discovery's All New Series "Master Distiller" Premieres March 3". The Futon Critic . February 11, 2020.
  15. "Livin' Outside The Law - Moonshiners". Discovery. Retrieved April 22, 2018.