Brief history of the infamous moonshining

This multi-million dollar industry, we as Northerners don’t often hear about has been around since before the Civil War. It was started and has remained a necessity to survive economically and a means of fast cash. Immigrants from Western Europe and sometimes Africa started new traditions in the Appalachian Mountains, one major one being the distilling of whiskey. The main creators of whiskey were Scotch-Irish settlers. The settlers from these regions began farming separately in the mountains, but together began distilling whiskey and brandy with left over crops and fruits, like corn and apples (apples being one of the main ingredients in distilled brandy, and corn in whiskey). They perfected their techniques and distillers by learning from each other and working together.

The distribution and consumption of this alcohol quickly became engrained in the culture of the people living in the mountains, and also became a form of social bonding. The farmers who made and sold this whiskey were able to bond not only with the other farmers in Appalachia, but the people of the towns near them as well. Unlike, the sales of their crops, whiskey allowed them to make cash quickly and in quite large sums. The whiskey tax of 1791 only made this industry boom, being that the creation of the alcohol was done at home and off the books. In the years of 1861-1865 after the Civil War, the taxation became much more serious and led to the illegalization of “moonshine.” Despite the repercussions of making and distributing moonshine today, people are still doing it.

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