A lot of us over fifty can recall watching the Waltons when we were growing up -- and the two old Baldwin sisters who made the recipe, handed down to them from their father. Nothing made Grandpa Walton any happier than to get the odd jug of it. But just as it was illegal in the prohibition era, the rules haven't changed in North America. While its perfectly legal in Canada to make your own wine or beer, distilling your own beverage such as moonshine, is against the law.
Moonshiners have been known to have their mixtures go horribly wrong; sometimes causing fatalities. One can die from the spirits if it hasn't been prepared properly or if some of the ingredients are tainted. And... we have all heard stories of how volatile the mixture can be. Stories of explosions and fires aren't uncommon.
Watch the quick video below of what appears to be some happy moonshiners.
Obviously, the people in the video above are making large quantities of it; probably to sell. Which is another reason why it's illegal. Moonshiners avoid paying and collecting tax on it. In 2001 a ring of moonshiners was broken up, operating between North Carolina to Philadelphia. Twenty-six people were arrested. The way I understand it, their operation dodged about 20 million dollars in taxes.
One other safety issue, I might point out, is... moonshine can have a much higher alcohol content than anything you can buy from your local store. The strength of distilled liquor is controlled by cutting it with water. A ratio of 1:1 is 100 proof. If it's cut with less water, it's over 100 proof. You would certainly need to be careful on how much you added to your drink. I had a drink one time of moonshine, and I was warned how strong it was. I added one tablespoon to a half glass of pop, and then after tasting it, added more pop. I suppose this is another reason why it is nicknamed "white lightening" ... because if you're not careful, it can hit you very fast.
For those of you who might be interested in learning how to make your own, there is a book called Moonshine 101: A Beginners Guide to the Art of Moonshine written by Nicholas Moore. In the book you'll learn step by step, with photos, how to build your own small batch moonshine whiskey pot still. Topics covered include construction, safety concerns, distillation, mash recipes and more! The book is being offered for free today as part of an Amazon promotion. If you don't get it today, the regular price is $4.01.
But you might want to check your local laws before you start experimenting. If it's illegal, I would suggest you don't try it. This book is only for educational purposes; so you can understand the process.
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