Out: Buying Marijuana. In: Making Moonshine

A worker at New York's Kings County Distillery, which opened in 2010. Before going legit with the operation, co-founder Colin Spoelman (not pictured) learned to make moonshine in his Brooklyn apartment without a permit.

A worker at New York’s Kings County Distillery. Before going legit with the operation, co-founder Colin Spoelman (not pictured) learned to make moonshine in his Brooklyn apartment without a permit. Courtesy of Valery Rizzo

Is it Legal? Of course not…

ALASTAIR BLAND  reports:  Within days after each season premiere and season finale of the Discovery Channel’s reality show “Moonshiners,” they come — a small but perceptible wave of people — to purchase suspiciously large amounts of corn, sugar and hardy strains of fermenting yeast at Austin Homebrew Supply.

“We know what they’re up to,” says Chris Ellison, the manager of the Texas store.

That is, it’s obvious they’re planning to ferment the sugars from grain or fruit juice into alcohol, then distill the resulting mid-strength beverage into high-alcohol hooch.

Making spirits at home with plans to drink it is against federal law. Only with the right permits may a person make ethanol at home, either for use strictly as fuel, or as part of a commercial endeavor — like launching a craft spirits company, of which hundreds have opened nationwide in recent years.

Yet more and more people seem to be making home moonshine, according to sources.

“The interest level is growing rapidly,” says Gary Robinson, owner of Moonshine Still Pro, a supplier in Missouri. Robinson sells stills — which are perfectly legal to own — from roughly three gallons in capacity to about 13. He ships to all states, but the core regions of his business are the traditional southeastern moonshine districts and the West Coast.

Mike Haney, owner of Hillbilly Stills in Barlow, Ky., says his sales of ethanol stills have doubled every year for three years since he opened. “Just that someone buys a still doesn’t mean they’re out to break the law,” Haney points out. “A lot of people are making fuel.”

Haney also sells miniature oak barrels — the sort used for aging bourbon and brandy.

“But they might be aging wine in them, or just buying everclear from a supermarket and putting that in the barrel,” he says. “Anyone can buy a barrel.”

Haney reports that the distilling business seems to be booming globally. He recently shipped equipment to start-up distilleries in China and in Sweden.

And interest in distilling is on the rise in Portland, Ore., too, according to Duke Geren, of F.H. Steinbart homebrew supplies shop. Geren says many customers seem to be inspired by Discovery’s popular ongoing television docudrama, now in its third season. Many others, Geren says, are recent immigrants from Eastern Europe wishing to keep alive old traditions of making chacha, rakya, ouzo, vodka, firewater and grappa.

“People have brought me some very interesting stuff to try,” Geren says.

Yet he says he and his colleagues, when they sell a still, must assume that customers are interested in making perfumes, distilled water or some other legal liquid…

Read the rest…

Making Moonshine – NPR – KPCW

3 Comments on “Out: Buying Marijuana. In: Making Moonshine”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet Is it Legal? Of course not… ALASTAIR BLAND reports: Within days after each season premiere […]

  2. Brittius says:

    Yep… I wear my Moonshiner’s Bonnet, and en-joy some 190-Proof Everclear (95% Alcohol).
    Can’t find any shine liquor anymore like years ago, at least not on Long Island, NY, so Everclear is the drink.
    You know, Clem.., I en-joy a mug of triple espresso, and add about, oh, two ounces of Everclear 190, to it. It’s real good.
    God forbid if I ever lived in the hills. You would have to get me off the floor with a mop and blotter. >Hic!<

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