7 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Moonshine

Moonshine is something that conjures up vivid images among both those who drink it and those who are simply curious about it. We’re willing to bet that there is a lot about moonshine you probably don’t know. We aim to enlighten you, so fasten your seatbelts and hold on for the ride.

Moonshine has a long history dating back long before Prohibition. But it was Prohibition that really brought it to the forefront and, some would argue, even into the mainstream. If that sounds interesting, here are some additional fun facts you probably didn’t know about moonshine:

The “Moonshine” Name

The term “moonshine” was actually brought to this country by British settlers who used it to describe various tasks that had to be done at night. It was adapted as a nickname for different types of illegal endeavors that were undertaken under the cover of darkness.

Using that definition, I think we might have hit upon a new name for Congress. We can call them something like the Dirty Moonshinin’ Politicians Who Act like They’re Drunk Most of the Time.

Mountain Dew and White Lightning

One of the alternate names for moonshine during Prohibition was Mountain Dew. That’s unfortunate if you’ve ever tasted the modern Mountain Dew product that, quite frankly, is not all that appetizing. As for White Lightning, that name comes from the fact that real moonshine has no color.

Going back to the Mountain Dew thing for just a minute, I’m sensing a pattern here. The original Mountain Dew was linked to moonshine while the original Coca-Cola contained traces of a certain white powder drug that is now illegal. What else were they making back then to sell at the corner drugstore and soda bar?

The Secret of XXX

If you’re old enough to remember the Beverly Hillbillies (and would you admit it?), you already know that the designation “XXX” on a jug says there’s moonshine in it. But what does it mean? It means the shine has been run through the still three times so it’s almost pure alcohol.

The use of canning jars by modern moonshiners has pretty much put an end to the XXX designation, and that is probably a good thing, given the fact that we keep graduating kids from school who can’t spell.

The NASCAR Connection

Hard-core NASCAR fans are probably already aware that their beloved sport goes back to the bootlegging days of the 1920s. Good ol’ boys with names Cooter and Hoss were just trying to make a living so they modified their cars in order to outrun the cops on those midnight moonshine runs.

Eventually someone got the bright idea of racing those cars on a track, and stock car racing was born. Sometimes you can watch a race on Sunday afternoon and you’d swear some of these guys were still drinking. I wonder about Dale Junior and his Mountain Dew car…

Moonshine Is Not Aged

The fact that moonshine is so potent comes down to the fact that it neither cut nor aged. When it comes out of the still the final time it is crystal clear and anywhere between 150 and 170 proof. That’s enough to make even the most manly beer drinker wet his pants and cry for his mama.

The downside is that too much moonshine in a single shot can be dangerous. Some even say it’s so potent you could use it as an alternative for fuel if need be. Of course that’s just a legend; wink, wink.

Home Brewed Shine Is Illegal; Wine and Beer Aren’t

The thing that gets shiners so bunched up in their britches is the fact that it is completely legal to brew your own beer or make your own wine at home, but homebrewed moonshine is illegal. Ever wonder why that is? It comes down to one simple word: taxes.

Moonshine is classified as a distilled spirit and, since the Revolutionary War, distilled spirits have been taxed at a festively high rate. Beer and wine, not so much. The good folk in Washington don’t want you making your own shine because it costs them tax dollars.

At the end of the day, moonshine is as American as hot dogs, baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Some would say it’s better than all four of those things combined. If you’re not into moonshine, maybe your beverage of choice is a wine cooler (please say it ain’t so) or a mint julep.

If that’s the case, there’s one thing you need to consider. If it weren’t for shiners doing their best to keep the white lightning flowing during Prohibition, the Constitution may never have been amended to outlaw the outlawing of liquor. It was the moonshine that got the speakeasies jumping and the thirsty patrons coming back for more.

Despite its less-than-stellar reputation, maybe moonshine isn’t that bad after all.


The Institute of Man – http://www.instituteofman.com/2011/08/24/the-science-and-history-of-moonshine/
Kentucky Farmhouse – http://kentuckyfarmhouse.com/moonshine-quick-facts-get-good-information/
Moonshine Heritage – http://www.moonshineheritage.com/blog/what-does-the-xxx-on-moonshine-jugs-mean/
NASCAR – http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2012/11/01/moonshine-mystique.html
Potsdam University – http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/20071221100130.html