Moonshine is the American Rebel Spirit

Q&A w/ author Jaime Joyce


Originally published on March 25, 2015. Text below:

Moonshine evokes imagery of outlaw distillers practicing their craft by the light of the moon to evade the law. But Prohibition ended in 1933. Why are illegal moonshiners still a thing?

"To make this liquor on your own is really exciting to a lot of people. It's under the radar. It remains against the law to make distilled spirits even though wine and beer you can make legally [without a permit]," explains Jaime Joyce, author of Moonshine: A Cultural History of America's Infamous Liquor.

According to Joyce, it's also a matter of economics. Illegal moonshine is most prevalent in poor, rural America where getting licensed to make and sell distilled spirits comes with prohibitive costs. To a financially strapped family, it's more beneficial to risk jail and be able to afford food on the table than it is to shell out hundreds of dollars in fees. 

Joyce sat down with Reason TV's Anthony L. Fisher to discuss the economics and cultural significance of moonshine, it's role in the creation of NASCAR, and why this old school tradition has grown so popular among urban hipsters. 

NEXT: Matt Welch Sticks up for Free Association on MSNBC

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  1. Now I’m imagining the sort of shine hipsters distill. Probably with flowers in it.

    1. The hipsters will need some rednecks to help with their hibiscus and lavender moonshine, so that they don’t blow themselves up.

      1. Acai berry and cucumber juice. Because healthy is a priority.

        I hear you asking, but is it gluten free?

        1. Yeah, it will have the latest douchey food trend. Quinoa and kale-infused artisanal moonshine!

          1. I fucking love quinoa and kale, uh, At. I’ve drunk white lightning with everything fucking berry and plant known to man. Far better than drinking it out of a milk jug. FAR fucking better. Moonshine in my pussy ass view is way fucking better with something IN it because getting excellent and pure moonshine is very difficult to get in this part of Ohio and I’ve drunk everyone’s uncle and grandpa’s concoctions around here and because I don’t want to die and I find it all perfectly fit for cleaning engines I generally prefer Everclear. I was at a party the other night and I can’t say too much but a dude brought HORRIBLE smelling REFINERY grade lab ethanol which was interesting because after he tipped his plastic milk jug a few times all our drunk asses decided to go for a ride in his 4×4 and he almost tipped 10 of us dudes out of the back of his pickup onto a muddy farm field. That would have been a fucking LOT of broken bones if you ask me.

            1. You were made of rubber by that point. Someone probably would have pissed themselves, but it sounds as if that was inevitable anyway.

              1. Hamsters are demons

            2. Nothing wrong with quinoa and kale except their trendiness. I don’t really trust

              1. Ha. Oops. Yeah, I don’t really trust Bubba to not poison me with methanol, either.

            3. I once had moonshine with a peach in it, two years in a row (jar of shine with a peach in it, at Christmas.) First year it was harsh as fuck. Second, it was awesome.

              1. a million midgets in a blender make moonshine taste tiny

      2. I’v3 been wanting to checkout Asheville, NC because of it’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smokeys. Sounds like hippies may be a problem there. wouldn’t live in town so prolly wouldnt care.

        1. Irony – I’m in Asheville this very second! Lovely area – stay in the rural parts and it’s absolutely lovely. Friend from college lives about an hour from here near Greenville, SC, so we headed to his place as well. I like SC even MOAR!

          1. Sweet. Trying to keep proximity to family in Columbus to an 8 hour drive. we love the mountains and I want a little bit of land that won’t cost a fortune. At the same I don’t want my restaurant bar choices limited to sonic and applebees. We checked out k oxville and surrrounding area north of smokies but wasn’t really finding what we want so thought I would check out south side which brought me to Asheville. want to visit. Sounds like you like it?

            1. Thats knoxville not koxville pervs:)

          2. Avoid the Omni in Asheville if you desire great internet. Spectacular place, amazing history, big ass rooms, unreal food- got hammered there last summer in a dark practically empty piano bar. Spent a couple of hundred on top shelf gin and tonics which was truly fucking stupid because after about 4 gin and tonics it really doesn’t fucking matter what the fuck is poured in that glass. It’s all good. Got back in the room at three am but before all this unfolded some plucky high falutin’ chef fed me Moroccan stew for dinner on the top of that mountain which is the most horrible thing ever to eat before getting hammered into the next century. Well, as I started to say about the room at three in the morning… the Moroccan stew decided to pay a visit on the carpets and all.

            Besides from this… everything is kind of perfect except Omni’s internet. Hideous doesn’t begin to describe it. Worse than dialup. Had the same fucking problem at the Omni at Amelia Island in Florida. Nice place. Got stoned into a parallel universe and went body surfing. Bliss. Then the internet. Hell.

            1. Thanks for the advice AC

              1. Lovya babe

                1. Back atcha bro

    2. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing

  2. At first, I thought this was an interview with James Joyce, and I wondered why they dug that miserable old bastard up just to talk about booze. Then again, he was Irish, so I suppose maybe he knows a thing or two about booze. But still.

  3. OT: riot amongst protected class. Multiple news sources blatantly refuse to release identifying info about dozens of suspects… And wait for it …almost none of the posting sites have comments or they are disabled.…..index.html

    This seems to be a repeating theme with any story that makes team blue look bad. But heaven forbid if some pizza joint starts serving deep dish or some nonsense.

    1. How does a big fight at a casino ‘make team blue look bad?’

      1. Team Blue has claimed ownership of all minorities. Thus they have to ass cover for every instance of bad behavior. Whether it’s blame shifting, or blatant media taming of the story.

        In fact if it wasn’t for the internet, I bet there would be 0 non-local coverage of this.

        … With that said I seem to become quite the race baiter when I haven’t had a drink in 3 days. My appologies, I’m usually more menacing and fun

    2. Favorite tweet, “Once y’all saw that dude in the 8-ball jacket y’all should have known things about to go up.”

    3. WORLDSTAR!!!!

  4. More OT:
    I am told by an acquaintance among the ruling class on the SF peninsula that when the city of Palo Alto asked where the invoice was to be sent for the LEO overtime costs resultant of a visit by Obo, they were told not to worry; the costs had been FDA-inspected and approved, so they could simply eat them.
    Now, I, like most, found this to be obnoxious, but expected from the lying bastard in the WH. Well, it turns out to have precedence:
    In “The Wars of the Roses” (Dan Jones) it is noted that traveling English royalty in the 15th century simply requisitioned from the locals (without payment) what was needed during the travels, the royal thievery becoming known as “purveyance”.
    Now you know how that POS flies around the country on our dime and presumes there is no cost to him or the D party; Obo the Ist is simply carrying on the royal privileges!

    1. Since he only travels to fund raise, this is pretty much fundraising with tax dollars.

      Suck it, taxpayers!

  5. I don’t know how I missed this, but here’s a blog post from last year whining about science fiction writers who say we should judge artists by the quality of the work rather than their political opinions:

    We do not care whether Vox Day has the scintillating talent of a reincarnated Shakespeare. We do not care if reading his novelette is the literary equivalent to coming home and finding Alexander Skarsgarde and Ian Somerhalder waiting for you, naked in your bed (or Nina Dobrev and Lana Parilla). We are angry because he is a bigot. Whether he is a talented bigot or a talentless bigot is irrelevant – the man is a bigot. That is his defining characteristic, that is why we are hurt by his presence on this ballot

    In other words, a Science Fiction award shouldn’t go to the best sci-fi writers, it should only go to people who hold the proper thoughts.


    1. Hurt by his presence on the ballot, that’s great.

      Here’s a more big boy way to deal with the guy:

      In June of 2013, Beale used the SFWAuthors Twitter feed to post a link to his blog, in which he referred to African-American author N. K. Jemisin as “an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature” [33] and Teresa Nielsen Hayden as a “fat frog.”[34] In August, after complaints from members and an investigation initiated by the board of the SFWA, Beale posted an excerpt of a letter from the SFWA president on his blog.[34] Jemisin later commented that “if you represent the civilization to which I’m supposed to aspire then I am all savage, and damned proud of it.”[35]

  6. Damn it interns, where are all the old comments!

    1. Yeah! Where’s the Mountain Dew talk?!?


  8. Do the web guys hate Amanda.? Is that why my comments keep going into the ether?fuck.

  9. something short goes through. Ok then. Go Big Ten!

    1. Second try…
      Is it the Terrible Two now?

      1. F4. Hope its Big Ten in the championship

  10. Just finished Chocolate mint russian imperial stout called Iron Fist. Sampled Troganator double boch. Now Im on a blond from Zaubers called Buxom.

    1. This reads as if we’re discussing your latest porn habits.

      Go on…

      1. Yeah, when I order the Zaubers I always tell the girl I want a Buxom Blond and a beer too:)

      2. You should see the chick serving me these beers. Would not complain if this did turn into a porn movie:) Young hot redhead:) Been flirting. Shes mentioned her boyfriend a few times but just now mentioned he lives 6 or 7 states away:)

        1. No girl with a delicious vagina should have a boy days away. See if she’ll bend the rules and thrill some labia, brutha. Life too short to live right.

  11. That Russian Imperial Stout sounds disgusting, yet intriguing. I’m going to have to try that once I start drinking again.

    1. I wasn’t sure I would like it but it was pretty good The mint is way in rhe back so bately noticable but its goid. Love every Zaubers makes. Local Columbus brewer specializes in Belguim style beer.

      1. I love the way you drink. I pound a couple of hundred bucks alone in stouts out a month.

      2. I love the way you drink. I pound a couple of hundred bucks alone in stouts out a month.

        1. I did not know that it was possible to double post without squirrels. Fuck Lewis and his balls of fire.

  12. Everytime I swipe my screen to move down page to submit, it refreshes the page, loses my comment, and brings up Matt Welches article. WTF?

  13. Let’s see – ended last week in Youngstown, OH – then on to Richond, VA, Bristol, TN, Nashville, TN, Gatlinburg, TN, now in Asheville, NC (with a little trip to Greenville, SC to see a friend) – then to Berea, KY tomorrow. Then back to MI Monday.

    WOOOOOO! What a great trip! Watching MSU play KY. Don’t really care who wins.

    Kinda wish I was back in Nashville so I could be drinkin’ beers at Tootsie’s and listening to live music, but NCAA and a Mountain Dew in the hotel will do tonight.

    Hope all o’ ya’ll are having as much fun as Mrs. Almanian and I! Go State! Or not! Don’t really care!

    1. Awesome dude:) party on:) sounds like an awsome trip!

    2. That’s sooooo complicated. My vacation this week is: Drive to desert. Drink by pool. Drive home 7 days later.

      1. Peyote lives in the desert. If you get caught with it tell them you are with the NAC. And don’t cut it too deep… leave the root. You want the fucking button.

        1. Don’t even try to tell me that you use drugs. We all know that you’re straight edge.

      2. Yeah, it’s a lot of moving around, but god DAMN we love us all these mountains and different places. Took a hike in the Smokies that was perfect, another yesterday in Hendersonville, NC yesterday. checked out my buddies new chickens and chicken coop at his crib built in the 1880’s on a river!! So fucking cool – haven’t seen him since college – he’s a biologist in SC now. Cool.

        This has been a great vacay!

        1. You’re welcome to visit any time (or even relocate) but please tell your fellow Yankees how much better it is to be back home in “civilization”. It’s probably too late as most of the places you listed are already thoroughly infested, particularly Asheville.

    3. Mrs. Almanian can sit on my lap while you go fishing, dear.

      1. HIYOOOOO!!!!

  14. What the hell is wrong with these mobile comments? I scroll down so far and automatically wind up at Matt Welch’s msnbc video.

  15. so all these midgets are fucking shoutin in my head

  16. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

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