Tag: the drinking life

What Is Moonshine?


If it shed any light on the subject at all — and it doesn’t remotely — I might be tempted to elaborate on the actual term “moonshine,” and where it originated (i.e., rural England, circa 1780), when country smugglers hid illicit barrels of French brandy in shallow ponds to avoid the taxman, but were discovered one fated summer night, when the moon shone down so brightly on the surface of the pond that it looked as if a wheel of cheese were floating there. These bootleggers told the taxmen that they were raking the water not for contraband but for a creamy piece of that cheese.

This, however, is all rumor and rodomontade, easily sliced with an investigative blade. It is in any case generally agreed that the term “moonshine” comes from the term “moonraker,” which indeed comes from this legend.

It is also generally agreed that moonshine — or white-lightning, if you prefer, or white-whiskey, or mountain dew — entered America in the early 1800s, when Scots-Irish immigrants, who back home often made their whiskey without aging it, began settling the Appalachian region of America.