Moonshine is corn whiskey, traditionally made in improvised stills throughout the Appalachian South. While quality varied from one producer to another, the whiskey had one thing in common: It was illegal because the distiller refused to pay taxes to the US government. Many moonshiners were descendants of Scots-Irish immigrants who had fought in the original Whiskey Rebellion in the early 1790s. They brought their knowledge of distilling with them to America along with a profound sense of independence and a refusal to submit to government authority. Today many Southern states have relaxed their laws and now allow the legal production of moonshine—provided that taxes are paid. Yet many modern moonshiners retain deep links to their bootlegging heritage. Moonshine Nation is the story of moonshine’s history and origins alongside profiles of modern moonshiners—and a collection of drink recipes from each.
By Mark Spivak