What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

“Moonshine” is now a fashionable word. You may know it as hooch, bootleg, firewater, rotgut or white lightning, or as just plain old moonshine. Some dictionaries will tell you that “moonshine” is illegally made alcohol while others will explain that it is smuggled liquor that got its name because it used to be transported at night.    

The story of the “moonshiner” seems to start in the 1800s in southern Appalachia, which stretches along Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. During that time, people would illicitly distill spirit because they saw it as the best way to make money from corn crops. Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of American History, the liquor they made was commonly known by locals as “brush whiskey” and “blockade”, and not many people called it “moonshine”. By the time Prohibition came around in the 1920s, “moonshine” was used to describe any illegal liquor.

Moonshine may conjure thoughts of bathtub hooch and smuggler bootleggers but, these days, the stuff is going legit. While perusing bottle shop shelves or online liquor stores you may notice a product labeled “moonshine” which certainly is legal.

What gives? What the heck is this legal breed of “moonshine”?

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