That’s the Spirit!
Today is a very special day! It might not be BLINDINGLY obvious why, so we’ll tell you…
It’s National Moonshine Day!
The term Moonshine is generally used to refer to high proof alcohol, usually homemade and illicit! The most common spirit under this name is typically made from corn mash – it is defined as ‘unaged whiskey’ by the American government.
It has a curious and well-documented history. The Moonshine we all know and love came to prominence during prohibition-era America, where it was illegally distilled and distributed to the very THIRSTY crowds in speakeasies and home bars. The country was rife with illegal smuggling and even rifer with poor quality alcohol – as the spirit was made in people’s homemade stills (a piece of equipment used in alcohol production), it often picked up dangerous trace elements from the ramshackle pieces they used to cobble it together.
A pot still works by heating the fermented corn mash so the alcohol (Ethanol) vapours evaporate. These vapours travel through a tube to another container where they condense in a coiled pipe (because it has a large surface area for the heat to escape through) and eventually drips from a tap at the bottom of the container.
Sounds easy right? Well, these pipes (especially the condensing coil) were particularly hard to find due to their unique nature. One thing that people used in their homemade stills were CAR RADIATORS. Those things are full of lead. Lead, as it happens, isn’t good for you – it can cause blindness (hence the common stereotype) as well as DEATH.
If you manage to procure a non-toxic coil, then your ‘Shine should go down a treat – if it doesn’t go up with a BANG! Because of the highly flammable nature of Ethanol, improperly made stills have been known to explode when heated.
After the prohibition, Moonshine production lessened, but never stopped – it was a great way for bars to avoid paying tax on their alcohol and their profits.
Maybe a pint at the local is a safer bet…
Fortunately for everyone who fanciest a taste, Moonshine has been legal and widely available across the world for a while now. Official distilleries (with properly made, sensible stills) have popped up all over the place (including one in London!) and provide to major supermarkets as well as bars.
It would be criminal not to try it, right..?