Clearly nothing evokes the image of Appalachia like the sight of a moonshine still. In the early history of mountain folk, Moonshine production was a fine art. People took pride in the quality of their product. Corn Whiskey was used for home doctoring and essentially Moonshine was made in small quantities by men who passed their knowledge to the younger generation. Later, greed took over and Moonshine was made for quantity, rather than for its quality.

Stills were typically located high on the north side of a mountain near the source of a stream. Great pain was taken to conceal the location of the still. They might be located in a cave or branches could be used to hide the still. Often the fire in the still would be started before dawn to prevent the initial smoke from being seen. Moonshiners were careful to cover their tracks. Often working during the night or getting the still going before daylight.

There are many names given to Corn Whiskey:
cove juice
thump whiskey
corn squeezin's
white lightnin'
headache whiskey
blockade whiskey
conversation fluid

When people start making Moonshine in large quantities, they can become careless. They often don't filter their product or keep the still clean. This can result in chemicals and elements being in the Moonshine which are hazardous. Popskull and busthead are two names that are given to Moonshine that produces violent headaches.

Today you can be certain that Moonshine is still being made....and consumed. The legendary Moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton, was buried yesterday. He was upfront about most of his Moonshining and did documentaries on its lost art. If you are interested in reading more about this character you can do so here.


  1. Buffalo Trace is going to sell its "White Dog" at the distillery gift shop for a limited time only. It lacks the cachet of true non-commercial moonshine, although it's probably an excellent opportunity for those who would otherwise never try it.

  2. My husband's grandparents had a still in Virginia long ago. They used to bury bottles of it on their property.

  3. My husband is from the same area as Popcorn. He was a true character-and I'm sorry he is gone.


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