In the past decade, moonshine has experienced a surge in popularity and is now part of mainstream pop culture. Although moonshine has deep roots as a regional liquor of the South, it has expanded its terrain enormously in recent years.
The rise in popularity is partly due to the reality show Moonshiners, which debuted on the Discovery Channel and focused on an illegal distillery in Appalachia. From there, the “white lightning” gained ground in popularity.
And of course, once something gets popular, manufacturers will catch on and start making more of it.
Now, many distilleries across the country are brewing and bottling their own perfectly legal moonshine. Also, if you need tips on how to store moonshine, we’ve got you covered. So what exactly is moonshine, how much does it cost, and where can you find it?
What Is Moonshine?
Contrary to what some people think, moonshine isn’t a type of liquor. Also known as white whiskey, moonshine is traditionally just a term for alcohol; usually, corn-based liquor produced illegally.
Exact rules will vary by state, but generally speaking, it’s illegal to produce alcohol for consumption without a permit within the United States.
Nevertheless, throughout our country’s history, folks have sought to evade government taxes on the alcohol they’ve produced and have gone into hiding to continue making their brews. The result was unaged corn liquor brewed by the light of the moon – what we now know as moonshine.
However, in recent years, many perfectly legal distilleries have begun to label their products as “moonshine,” causing some confusion amongst non-aficionados. Distilleries generally use “moonshine” to denote an unaged hard liquor of some type, usually a whiskey.
Traditional moonshine is made from corn, and it is almost always transparent because it hasn’t been aged. Hence the nickname “white lightning.” An alcohol’s aging vehicle, such as the oak barrels used for aging Bourbon, helps give the liquor its taste and unique flavor. Aging also helps to mellow out a liquor’s flavor and make it less like rubbing alcohol.
While not known for its mellow flavor, moonshine has become popular for its uniquely American roots, infusing ability, and versatility as a cocktail ingredient. It also boasts a high alcohol content.
Moonshines typically have a higher alcohol content, or alcohol by volume (ABV), than other hard liquor types. Most moonshines are usually around 50% ABV. For comparison, standard scotch whiskey is approximately 43% ABV, and most beers are much lower, at 3-5% ABV.
So How Much Does Moonshine Cost?
Moonshine is like any other hard liquor when it comes to cost. Depending on the brand name and the quality of the drink, it can range from reasonably priced to somewhat expensive. And of course, which store you purchase it from and local tax rates will influence the price too.
That said, we can still make a few comparisons for you. Most of the price information comes from Total Wine to best compare apples to apples.
Here are four popular brands, their price points, and a little bit of info about each one in case you’re thinking of giving them a try:
Everclear: 750mL for $21.99. Everclear is a pretty standard unaged corn whiskey that touts itself as the preferred base for moonshine infusions. Interestingly, the distillery does not make infusion varieties, although the featured recipes have a wide range of applications, from DIY deodorant spray to a tasty limoncello.
Midnight Moon: 750mL for $23.99. Midnight Moon is a moonshine brand known mostly for the wide variety of flavors it comes in, although it also makes canned cocktails.
Ole Smoky : 750mL for $19.99. This is the price for the plain moonshine brew, but like Midnight Moon, Ole Smoky also has a pretty wide selection of flavors, the apple pie being a featured favorite. Ole Smoky was also the formerly illegal distillery featured on Moonshiners.
White Dog: 375mL for $22.99. Okay, so I threw this one in there for a little variety. You’ll notice it’s about twice the price of the others, and it doesn’t appear to come in any infusion flavors. But customers seem to think it’s worth the price because the reviews are pretty good, especially considering that it doesn’t have any apple pie flavors with which to entice you.
As you can see, the most popular brands of moonshine all run around roughly the same price. It’s also worth mentioning that these are just some of the more well-known legal moonshine brands. Many distilleries that don’t specialize in moonshine will still make one or two brews for their customer base.
Where Can You Buy Moonshine?
Moonshines can typically be found anywhere liquor is sold. Alcohol superstores such as Total Wine and your local ABC store will likely carry at least one variety of moonshine. However, you may want to check the inventory beforehand if you’re looking for a specific brand.
If you’ve been following along, you may be wondering by now if you can just make moonshine at home in the great American tradition. Yes, it is possible, but please don’t try! It’s still illegal to produce liquor without a license, so we wouldn’t advise doing so.
You can, however, make moonshine infusions. Although many moonshine brands come in various infusions, such as apple pie, experimenting with your concoctions can be a fun pastime.
Check out this recipe for peach-infused moonshine, or if you don’t care to wait out the whole 9-month infusion period, you can try our various moonshine extract recipes for a shorter flavoring session.
So now that you know a little bit more about moonshine, where to find it, and – most importantly – how much it costs, what’s the next step? Of course, that’s up to you, but we suggest you give the original unaged whiskey variety a shot first and then move on to some of the popular infusions, like apple pie, blackberry, or peach.
And if you enjoy all of these options? Well, why not branch out and try infusing your moonshine?