Moonshine Whiskey is basically fermented corn mash. It contains not less than 80% corn and is distilled to 80% alcohol.
The alcoholic product of illegal stills in the United States is commonly referred to as Moonshine.
Appalachia, generally the rural region of the United States in the vicinity of the Appalachian Mountains, has a history of small-scale Moonshine whiskey production as part of its culture dating back to the times of the Whiskey rebellion For farmers in remote parts of the country, it was a way to turn their corn into quick cash when grain prices were down. The imposition of a tax on whiskey was considered an unwanted federal intervention and was largely ignored. The Department of the Treasury sent special agents — "revenuers" — to prosecute unlawful distilling.
To produce a good Moonshine Whiskey, coppersmiths were noted for forging state-of-the-art metal stills. From the top of the still jutted an elbow-shaped pipe that tapered from four inches to about one-inch in diameter. Attached to the end of this outlet was a twenty-foot coiled copper pipe known as the "worm." The worm was looped inside an adjacent barrel kept full of cold water during distillation of the sour mash
Moonshiners set up near creeks and rivers to assure a ready supply of water. All Moonshine Whiskey came from sour mash, but recipes varied.
Commonly, the moonshiner mixed corn meal and hot water in separate "mash barrels," later adding large scoops of sugar as well as yeast. After two days, the fermenting mixture began to bubble furiously and continued to do so for several days.
These methods are still largely used today to make homemade whiskey When the mash stopped working,it was incredibly potent and was ready to be transferred to the still
As the moonshiner stoked the wood fire under the still, the alcohol vapor rose to the top and then condensed into liquid as it passed through the coiled worm submerged in the cooling barrel.
A potent liquid would drip from the end of the worm into waiting half-gallon fruit jars.
The first jars were high-proof whilst the liquid from the end of the process was known as "singlings" or "low wine." The low wine was set aside, poured back into the still, and cooked again. Once more, the strong first drops were followed by a flow of lower strength spirit.
Moonshine continues to be produced in the U.S., mainly in Appalachia and parts of the South. The simplicity of the process, and the easy availability of key ingredients such as corn and sugar, make enforcement a difficult task. However, the huge price advantage that moonshine once held over its "legitimate" competition legally sold has been reduced.
Nevertheless, over half the retail price of a bottle of distilled spirits typically consists of taxes.
Many of those who buy moonshine do so for the thrill of obtaining and consuming an illegal product and as a defiance to the authorities. Also, the areas that still ban alcohol are now minimal and so it's negated the need, or indeed the desire to have to distill Moonshine Whiskey
Moonshining is far from totally over, but is certainly far less widespread than was the case decades ago. For individual moonshiners, with the buying of cheap refined white sugar, moonshine can be produced more as a hobby than as a way of consuming a drink that was readily available and far cheaper.