Recently, I attended a wedding in North Carolina where the hosts gave a small jug of moonshine to all attendees. Impressed by the “shine’s” smooth taste (and potency), I immediately began researching how to make the infamous liquor myself upon arriving back home.
Initially created in the late 19th century by poor farmers who struggled to grow crops on hillsides and in hollers, moonshine has recently enjoyed newfound popularity nationwide.
Today, many varieties of moonshine are legally available to consumers. Plus, if you have a liquor distiller’s license, you can even make moonshine at home.
However, one question I initially struggled with involved moonshine storage. What type of container works best? Does it need refrigeration? How long does it last after it’s made?
After conducting thorough research, I found the answers. Here’s everything you need to know about storing moonshine!
Select a Container
You have three options:
- Ceramic jug
Truthfully, each type will work just fine for most situations, although there are some essential differences to note.
Moonshine typically has a high alcohol percentage. 100 Proof or more is common. Because of this high alcohol content, many people mistakenly believe moonshine will burn through a plastic bottle.
While that might have been true 100 years ago, today, plastic containers are strong enough to handle all manner of harsh chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid. You should have no issue using any type of basic plastic containers, such as a pitcher with a lid or even a (clean) two-liter soda bottle.
The main advantage of storing moonshine in plastic containers is that they’re cheap. You can store a lot more moonshine, for a lot less, in plastic containers compared to glass ones. Plus, they’re durable and less likely to break if dropped.
The main disadvantage is that plastic containers can melt. You’ll want to keep them away from hot temperatures, direct sunlight, and open flames. So, they’re not the best choice if you’re transporting moonshine in a vehicle, either in the trunk or backseat.
A glass jar is the best option for storing high-quality moonshine long-term. It keeps the flavors pure. Plastic can subtly change the flavor of moonshine over time, but with glass, the shine you make today will taste the same months or years from now.
You’ll find a vast range of glass moonshine jar options. They’re typically called moonshine bottles, spirit bottles, or glass liquor bottles. While a glass bottle specifically made for liquor is best, practically any type of glass container with a sealable top will also work.
Don’t forget about a Mason jar. Homemade moonshine is commonly associated with mason jars, mainly because they’re often used with thumper kegs, a key component of the distilling process. But they also make great storage containers for small amounts of moonshine – and you can drink right out of them!
Moonshine jugs are typically made from ceramic and offer a tasteful and traditional option. They come with a rubber stopper, and most are either one gallon or one-half gallon in size.
Here’s a fun fact: The stoneware and moonshine industries both got their start in the South around the turn of the century, which is a significant reason why ceramic jugs became one of the earliest and most popular ways to transport and store moonshine.
Make sure you get a ceramic jug specifically made to store liquor safely. It should have no lead, lacquer, or harmful chemicals. Sometimes, ceramic moonshine jugs are called “old whiskey jugs” or “whiskey jugs.”
They have a few benefits. First, they look fantastic. You can store your moonshine on the kitchen counter with pride. Also, because they’re opaque, they help protect the moonshine from direct sunlight and heat.
Store the Container
Once your moonshine is in the perfect container, you’re ready to store it. Pick your storage spot carefully because it significantly influences the moonshine’s flavor, freshness, and alcohol content.
First, avoid direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can cook the moonshine, which causes it to spoil. It’s mainly an issue with glass and plastic containers.
A ceramic jug can protect against moderate amounts of indirect sunlight, as long as the area’s not too warm. Otherwise, put your container somewhere cool, dark, and dry.
You can also store a jar of moonshine in the refrigerator. Consistently cool temps help keep moonshine fresh. Plus, some people feel chilling the moonshine makes it go down smoother.
Freezing moonshine usually isn’t recommended or necessary – or even possible. Most hard liquor needs exposure to a temperature of at least -150 degrees before it’ll freeze. Considering moonshine is among the highest-proof spirits in existence, the standard home freezer simply isn’t strong enough to freeze it.
If the moonshine is harsh, try storing it at room temperature. Doing so allows the heavier oils and alcohols to decompose, mellowing the taste over time.
Finally, keep your moonshine away from kids and pets. Although it’s tempting to think the high-proof alcohol content will act as a natural deterrent, any fan of liquor knows that’s not always the case. Moonshine can be surprisingly smooth and easy to drink, allowing children and animals to ingest a dangerous amount quickly.
Here are the answers to common questions about storing shine.
What’s the Best Way to Store Moonshine?
Store it in sealed glass bottles in a dark location away from direct sunlight. Glass keeps the flavor authentic while preventing spoilage. If you want to store the moonshine for a long time, refrigerate it.
Is Storing Moonshine Safe?
Generally, yes. Sunlight and heat can spoil moonshine but won’t cause a fire or explosion. However, moonshine can have a high alcohol content, so you want to keep it away from any source of heat which can potentially cause a fire, such as machinery.
Don’t keep moonshine containers near your moonshine still. Even though a modern still is very unlikely to explode, it maintains operating temperatures of 200 degrees for several hours.
How Long Does Moonshine Last?
It depends on the proof and type. After bottling, unflavored, high-proof moonshine stored in cool, dark conditions will retain its flavor for several years or more.
Lower-proof (around 38) or flavored moonshine is generally best consumed within two to three months after it’s made. If bottled and refrigerated, it can last a few years unopened or a few months after opening.
Does Moonshine Spoil?
Technically, unflavored moonshine can’t spoil because it contains no sugars. However, people do refer to moonshine as “spoiled.” They usually mean the sunlight or air has altered the flavor of the moonshine beyond what was initially intended.
You can still drink “spoiled” unflavored moonshine – it won’t blind or harm you – but it might taste harsh or odd. For the freshest shine, store it in sealed containers somewhere dark and cool.
Flavored moonshine is a different story. Any type of fruit component can spoil. Spoiled fruit moonshine can make you nauseous. Fortunately, fruit moonshine takes several years to spoil. Plus, it’s usually easy to identify, as it often smells rancid.