Moonshine in the U.S

In the United States moonshine made its way in to the history of the country. Although moonshine first started to become popular when the taxes on alcohol were raised to help pay for the civil war, it had been made prior to that by the English, Scottish and Irish immigrants that were trying to make a drink like the illegal whiskey which they had enjoyed at home. Of course when alcohol was banned during the prohibition years, it was then that moonshine took on its real popularity and became a famous part of the American history. Today there are still moonshine stills for sale in America but as federal law prohibits the making of moonshine, these modern stills are just meant as pieces of nostalgia; a piece of physical American history.

Perhaps one of the reasons why moonshine became as popular as it did was because it was relatively easy to make and needed very little equipment. The equipment needed is a pot or heating the mash and another for capturing the alcohol and although the ones used in the past may have been made from a variety of materials, the ones for sale today are made of copper. The first part of the process in making moonshine is known as the fermentation and this has very little difference from the fermentation of beer or wine. Traditional, in American history, the moonshiners would use corn although any grain could be used. The corn would be ground up with heated water into what is known as a mash. Fermentation takes place once this mash has had yeast added to it and it is heated again. The yeast causes a chemical reaction with the mash which turns the sugar in the grain to alcohol. Sometimes in order to create more alcohol, extra sugar was added to the mix or malt was added as malt will also break down starch into alcohol. This is a similar process to making beer, where grains are also use, or wine when fruit replaces the grains to form the mash. What separates moonshine from either beer or wine is that moonshine is then distilled. Distillation is a process by which the vapours of the alcohol are captured thereby separating them from the water. This is able to be achieved because alcohol vaporizes at a lower temperature than water and so whilst the mash is kept at a temperature between 173-212° F, only the alcohol will turn to vapour and the water will not yet have turned to steam.

Having a still today will mean that you have a piece of unique American history, one which as the years pass, becomes more and more forgotten. As today’s stills are made from 100% copper, they are no eyesore, in fact can make a very compelling ornament if placed in the right spot and will always be subject to becoming the focal point for conversation. Although federal law permits the owning of a still, before buying one you should perhaps check your State laws.

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