Moonshine History

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Moonshine, white lightning, mountain dew, hooch, homebrew, and white whiskey are terms used to describe high-proof distilled spirits that are generally produced illicitly. Moonshine is typically made with corn mash as the main ingredient. Liquor-control laws in the United States that prohibit moonshining, once consisting of a total ban under the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, now center primarily on evasion of revenue taxation on spiritous and/or intoxicating liquors, and are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the United States Department of the Treasury; such enforcers of these laws are known by the often derisive nickname of "revenooers".
History
The word "moonshine" is believed to
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This white whiskey most likely entered the Appalachian region in the late 18th century to early 1800s. Scots-Irish immigrants from the Ulster region of Northern Ireland brought their recipe for their uisce beatha, Gaelic for "water of life". The settlers made their whiskey without aging it, and this is the same recipe that became traditional in the Appalachian area.
In the early 20th century, moonshine became a key source of income for many Appalachian residents, since the limited road network made it difficult and expensive to transport corn crops. As a study of farmers in Cocke County, Tennessee, observes: "One could transport much more value in corn if it was first converted to whiskey. One horse could haul ten times more value on its back in whiskey than in corn." Moonshiners in Harlan County, Kentucky, like Maggie Bailey, made the whiskey to sell in order to provide for their families. Others, like Amos Owens, from Rutherford County, North Carolina, sold moonshine to nearby areas.
In modern usage, the term "moonshine" ordinarily implies that the liquor is produced illegally; however, the term has also been used on the labels of some legal products as a way of marketing them as providing a similar drinking experience as found with illegal liquor.
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Large bubbles with a short duration indicate a higher alcohol content, while smaller bubbles that disappear more slowly indicate lower alcohol content.
A common folk test for the quality of moonshine was to pour a small quantity of it into a spoon and set it on fire. The theory was that a safe distillate burns with a blue flame, but a tainted distillate burns with a yellow flame. Practitioners of this simple test also held that if a radiator coil had been used as a condenser, then there would be lead in the distillate, which would give a reddish flame. This led to the mnemonic, "Lead burns red and makes you dead." or "Red means dead." Although the flame test will show the presence of lead and fusel oils, it will not reveal the presence of methanol, which burns with an invisible flame.
A more reliable method of testing is to use scientific testing equipment, such as an alcoholmeter or hydrometer. A hydrometer is used during and after the fermentation process to determine the potential alcohol percent of the moonshine, whereas an alcoholmeter is used after the product has been distilled to determine the volume percent or proof.
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