Yes moonshine, or white lightning as it’s often called by those who make and drink it. I’ve been reading a book on moonshine, Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine by Max Whitman. I’ve been interested in it as it shows up often in the Appalachian mysteries. I confess that I did try moonshine once while traveling in the Smoky Mountains some years ago. It was offered up by a fellow musician, while I was sitting up on his back porch, in the proper serving vessel – a mason jar. You do know that over it’s a hundred proof or even higher? That’s fifty percent alcohol!
It’s sort of akin to drinking pure ethanol – it has no taste, burns all the way down, and (at least to me) really, really packed a kick. One jar, well maybe two, was enough for me. Though I admit that sitting on that back porch looking over the mountains while my fiddler host and a banjo player played some tunes with me on my concertina might have heightened my appreciation of it just a bit.
Moonshine’s a corn, rye and/or barley based liquor and indeed is made like whisky or vodka. In terms of the distilling process, it’s very similar to Irish whisky, which is to say a single pot is used for brewing. Bootleggers during the era of American Prohibition made shitloads of money and to this day do easily distill it in those hollows where federal agents still tread very carefully, if at all.
You can now buy legal moonshine, which is fine but really defeats the myth of it, as I figure the allure is like that of absinthe, which too has become legal: the thrill of getting away with something that the authorities don’t approve of. I certainly am not planning on stocking legal moonshine in our Pub.