Popcorn Sutton's moonshine legacy continued by Hank Williams Jr. & a mason jar

on 14/11/10 at 10:50 pm

Spirits

Hank Williams Jr. usually lays off the moonshine.

“I’m kind of at the red wine and cigar stage of life,” said Williams, 61, who three decades ago sang, “The hangovers hurt more than they used to/ And cornbread and iced tea took the place of pills and 90 proof.”

Yet Williams has joined with J and M Concepts in launching Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey, an “un-aged whiskey” (i.e., moonshine) that replicates the liquor made by East Tennessee moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, a banjo-playing, tax-avoiding distiller whose life and 2009 death were chronicled on television, in documentaries and in national newspapers.

“This guy was real Appalachian Americana,” Williams said. “He was a folk hero.”

Williams attended Sutton’s funeral, saw the outpouring of community support for the Cocke County local legend and shook his head at the circumstances behind Sutton’s death: He committed suicide at age 62 rather than go to jail for selling untaxed liquor.

“The government couldn’t leave him alone, so he killed himself,” Williams said. “It was all about something like $5,000 in taxes, which is about five minutes of my panty and T-shirt sales.”

In Sutton’s final year, he determined to pass along his moonshine methodology to Northern Californian Jamey Grosser, a former professional Supercross motorcycle racer and current J and M partner who saw in Sutton a figurehead and a storyline. Here was a modern-day Jack Daniel, only there are no YouTube clips of Mr. Daniel being interviewed by Johnny Knoxville.

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