Moonshine: A Cultural History of America's Infamous Liquor

Moonshine: A Cultural History of America's Infamous Liquor

Jaime Joyce

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 0760345848

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Nothing but clear, 100-proof American history.

Hooch. White lightning. White whiskey. Mountain dew. Moonshine goes by many names. So what is it, really? Technically speaking, "moonshine" refers to untaxed liquor made in an unlicensed still. In the United States, it’s typically corn that’s used to make the clear, unaged beverage, and it’s the mountain people of the American South who are most closely associated with the image of making and selling backwoods booze at night—by the light of the moon—to avoid detection by law enforcement.

In this book, writer Jaime Joyce explores America’s centuries-old relationship with moonshine. From the country’s early adoption of Scottish and Irish home-distilling techniques and traditions to the Whiskey Rebellion of the late 1700s to a comparison of the moonshine industry pre- and post-Prohibition and a look at modern-day craft distilling, Joyce examines the historical context that gave rise to moonshining in America and explores its continued appeal. Even more fascinating than the popularity of the liquor itself is moonshine’s widespread effect on U.S. pop culture: moonshine runners were NASCAR’s first marquee drivers; white whiskey was the unspoken star of countless Hollywood film and television productions; and numerous songs inspired by making shine have come from such musicians as Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, Metallica, Ween, and others. While we can’t condone making your own illegal liquor, reading Moonshine will give you a new perspective on the profound implications that underground moonshine making has had on life in America.


















reputable employment, persuading an Atlanta judge to release a group of men from jail on the condition that they enlist in the army. As one newspaper article explained, “They will join the company of moonshiners being organized here by Capt. Yancey Carter, the noted revenue officer, who says they are especially adapted to guerilla warfare.” The military wasn’t an option for women moonshiners. Fiftyyear-old Melinda Turner was arrested at her one-room, hillside home in rural White County, Georgia,

newspaper said. Another editorial raised further challenges. “These hoodlums, all of them within draft age, have made no contribution to the war. Why were they not in the Army?” it said. “The next question is, where do they get tires good enough to carry on their liquorcar races and liquorrunning?” Throughout the war, Americans had been making do with tires that had been retreaded, hardly the kind of equipment that would be safe for high-speed driving. The writer called on officials to examine

Park, about eight miles south of Pigeon Forge, home to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s family-focused amusement park. Unlike Dollywood, however, Ole Smoky’s target demographic is the 21-and-older crowd. Moonshine is made on site, with free tours available for visitors to learn about the liquor’s history and lore. Moonshine samples are on the house. In the bottle room, jars of Ole Smoky sell for $25 each. Branded T-shirts, baseball caps, and glass tumblers are available in the gift shop. Outside the

Bobby Lee and Grady, played by James Mitchum (son of screen legend Robert), getting pulled over on suspicion of transporting moonshine, then segues into a bar fight at the Boar’s Nest, which lands Bobby Lee in jail. When he gets out, he makes his way to see his Uncle Jesse, who’s known to make the best moonshine around. Lately, however, sales have been slow, and a raid 162 Chapter 10 001-208_C70365.indd 162 (PMS 476U) 2/11/14 3:34 PM Job:02-40642 Title:MBI-Moonshine 02-C70365 #175 Dtp:225

busts he’d had something to do 169 001-208_C70365.indd 169 (PMS 476U) 2/11/14 3:34 PM Job:02-40642 Title:MBI-Moonshine 02-C70365 #175 Dtp:225 Page:169 A display of moonshine-making supplies at Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, in Georgia. with after becoming a revenuer in 1966, at the age of 21. Used to be, agents destroyed a whiskey haul by shattering the glass jars it came in, or simply pouring the liquor out, but one of Powell’s photos showed him backing up a van to burst and flatten an

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