Moonshine legal these days: Microdistillers make government-OK'd drink

on 28/09/10 at 10:54 pm

Booze News

Bottles labeled for moonshine at Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Borough of New York describe the product as 40 percent alcohol by volume. Corn is used to make these spirits, but American bootleggers during Prohibition used improper ingredients including wood to make their often toxic whiskey. (Associated Press)

White lightning, mountain dew, firewater — you know it as the illicit substance made in secret by tax-dodging mountain men and drunk by people looking to alter their reality in a serious way.

But hooch is being infused with a whole new spirit thanks to a new generation of home and professional distillers.

“Moonshine is multifaceted these days,” said Max Watman, who researched the underground liquor industry for his book, “Chasing the White Dog.

The idea of bootleg liquor conjures up a vision of lazy creekside afternoons. And there is a small population of moonshiners still carrying out the mountain tradition.

But modern moonshine mostly falls into two different categories, said Mr. Watman. Sure there are criminal organizations that essentially prey on the poor. But there also is a burgeoning hobbyist scene made up of the same type of people that drove the microbrewed beer movement.

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