He'd Buy a Hundred Pounds of Yeast and Some Copper Line


Strictly speaking, "legal moonshine" is an oxymoron. Nonetheless, it exists.

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  1. I am a regular bourbon drinker, but I’ve never tried the “shine” whiskeys. How does this stuff compare? Anyone able to give more detail than “it’s a scorcher”? I would guess that it has a lot more of the sour mash flavor and less sweetness than a 3 year old bourbon.

  2. “I would guess that it has a lot more of the sour mash flavor and less sweetness than a 3 year old bourbon.”

    Uh, yeah…”less sweetness”…that’s a kind way to put it. My family comes from a part of Alabama that is *still* dry to this day, so I have actually tasted “real” moonshine. There’s a reason why you drink it fast–it makes cheap tequila look good. And there’s no way to mix it with anything to hide the taste, so you may as well chug-a-lug.

  3. They seem to like drinks that resemble radiator fluid in that part of the country. Hence I suppose the popularity of RC cola back in its day, immortalized in the old hillbilly tune “Give me an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.” Ouch.

  4. OH PUH-LEEZE. You people just don’t know what you’re talking about. Ms. Sara Engram is obviously one of them “fool yankee reporters we sometimes git round here, who’ll print anything you tell them”. Now granted, there’s plenty of rotgut running around, but there are still stills that turn out quality shine. “Smoother than a virgin’s honey pot”. In the first place, 80 proof is strictly bush-league. Even mid-grade hooch runs 150 and the good stuff is around 190. That’s why it’s so good, it’s all alcohol, pure fire with no taste at all. That’s also what makes it “sipping whiskey” and would never ever be “gulped/chugged”, though it is often cut with water. It’s not easy to find, and like all illegal drug deals you can expect to get ripped off more often than not when you don’t know whom you’re dealing with. But if you are an alcohol connoisseur, top-drawer shine is a potable not to be passed up.

  5. Untaxed and unregulated?!? How come I can’t find any on the school playgrounds? Isn’t that where illicit substances are commonly sold?

  6. Shine is “new whiskey”, meaning it’s clear from not being aged in a charred oak cask (which is where the stuff gets alot of its mellowness, flavor, and character). Commercial whiskeys come out of the barrel at about 155 proof, and the whiskey is then cut with water to bring it to its desired (and arbitrary) proofage before it goes into the bottle. And if shine/new whiskey were so yummy, it would would be making a go of it commercially. The reason that bourbon (aged in the barrel) took over in the 1850’s is because it’s a mellower, much more flavorful variant.

  7. Just for your information the title is a line from a Steve Earl song called “Copperhead Road”. My advice is to download the song you shouldn’t be dissapointed

  8. Copperhead Road
    (Steve Earle)

    Well my name’s John Lee Pettimore
    Same as my daddy and his daddy before
    You hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here
    He only came to town about twice a year
    He’d buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line
    Everybody knew that he made moonshine
    Now the revenue man wanted Grandaddy bad
    He headed up the holler with everything he had
    It’s before my time but I’ve been told
    He never came back from Copperhead Road

    Now Daddy ran the whiskey in a big block Dodge
    Bought it at an auction at the Mason’s Lodge
    Johnson County Sheriff painted on the side
    Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside
    Well him and my uncle tore that engine down
    I still remember that rumblin’ sound
    Well the sheriff came around in the middle of the night
    Heard mama cryin’, knew something wasn’t right
    He was headed down to Knoxville with the weekly load
    You could smell the whiskey burnin’ down Copperhead Road

    I volunteered for the Army on my birthday
    They draft the white trash first, ’round here anyway
    I done two tours of duty in Vietnam
    And I came home with a brand new plan
    I take the seed from Colombia and Mexico
    I plant it up the holler down Copperhead Road
    Well the D.E.A.’s got a chopper in the air
    I wake up screaming like I’m back over there
    I learned a thing or two from ol’ Charlie don’t you know
    You better stay away from Copperhead Road

  9. Yeah, I caught the Earle reference. Moonshiners were America’s first libertarians, I suppose:
    My daddy he made whiskey, my granddaddy he did too
    We ain’t paid no whiskey tax since 1792

    God bless America!

  10. Other than the facts that (A) people want to drink it, and (B) it can be taxed, is there any logical or legal reason for the extortionous taxes on hard likker?

    Or is this a Puritan leftover in trying to control sin?

  11. Tom from T
    Under the premise of “that which you subsidize you encourage, and that which you tax you discourage” I don’t reject exorbitant “sin” taxes out of hand. In fact I wouldn’t mind seeing the state funded solely off the taxes on alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, porn, prostitution, PPV wrestling etc.

    Of course this would be enshrining our elected representatives as arbitrators of social goodness, but no more than is currently the case. The real trick is when taxes get so high that a black-market develops, to lower taxes instead of spending more on law enforcement.

    I’m not saying this scheme is exemplary libertarianism. I’m just saying I could live with it, and it’d be way better than what we have now.

  12. B.P,
    Everything you say is correct. While good shine is smooth, I wouldn’t call it “yummy”. While striving to counter the ‘it’s nasty’ sentiment, perhaps I oversold it. As for commercial availability, there are a few over-priced designer labels on the market. But paying too much for moonshine misses the point.

  13. Warren — Excellent, we’re on the same page then. And if you want a REALLY smooth bourbon, aged 8 years, 91 proof, you’ll have to pick up a bottle of “Old Pogue” when it comes to market next spring/summer (and the Pogue family could, ahem, use the business).

  14. Ahh, glorious Bardstown. More fermented corn than you can shake a stick at.

    A few years back Heaven Hill’s distillery there caught fire and there were rivers of flame running in all directions. It was wild to see.

  15. I have seen such jars for sale in my local liquor store, but sadly, never bought one.

  16. That Georgia Moon stuff has been on the market for at least ten years. I’ve had it, and it’s a scorcher. And yes, Bardstown is the home of great whiskies (and is a handsome little town) — get yourself some Noah’s Mill or Corner Creek if you come across it.

  17. I would’ve gone with “Fatback and Corn Liquor” as my title.

  18. Maybe, but Steve Earle sucks.

  19. Doug has obviously been partaking of some shine himself. Steve Earle most definitely does NOT suck.

  20. Shine ain’t bad, but Vodka rules.

  21. Bob McCain was referring to:

    Copper Kettle

    Get you a copper kettle, get you a copper coil.
    Fill it with new made corn mash and never more you’ll toil.
    You just lay there by the juniper while the moon is bright.
    Watch them jugs afilling in the pale moonlight. Build you a fire with hickory,- hickory, ash and oak.
    Don’t use no green or rotten wood they’ll get you by the smoke.
    We’ll just lay there by the juniper.
    My daddy he made whiskey; my granddaddy he did too.
    We ain’t paid no whiskey tax since 1792.
    We just lay there by the juniper
    Albert Frank Bedoe

    Dylan sang it.

    “Mighty mighty pleasin’
    Pappy’s corn squeezins.
    White Lightning!”

    Or the Creature. Poitin, me boys.
    The water of life.

    “Now learned men who use the pen have wrote your praises high
    That sweet Poteen from Ireland green, distilled from wheat and rye:
    Throw away your pills, it will cure all ills of Pagan, Christian, or Jew
    Take off your coat and grease your throat wish the real old mountain dew”

    Also “legal”, now.


    “Oh they call it that old mountain dew
    And them that refuse it are few
    I’ll hush up my mug
    If you’ll fill up my jug
    With that good old mountain dew.”

    All this “singing” is making my throat a bit dry.
    I think there’s some stout in the fridge…


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