Moonshine evokes imagery of outlaw distillers practicing their craft by the light of the moon to evade the law. But Prohibition ended in 1933. Why are illegal moonshiners still a thing?
“To make this liquor on your own is really exciting to a lot of people. It’s under the radar. It remains against the law to make distilled spirits even though wine and beer you can make legally [without a permit],” explains Jaime Joyce, author of Moonshine: A Cultural History of America’s Infamous Liquor.
According to Joyce, it’s also a matter of economics. Illegal moonshine is most prevalent in poor, rural America where getting licensed to make and sell distilled spirits comes with prohibitive costs. To a financially strapped family, it’s more beneficial to risk jail and be able to afford food on the table than it is to shell out hundreds of dollars in fees.
Joyce sat down with Reason TV’s Anthony L. Fisher to discuss the economics and cultural significance of moonshine, it’s role in the creation of NASCAR, and why this old school tradition has grown so popular among urban hipsters.
About 8 minutes.
Produced by Amanda Winkler and Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Jim Epstein and Dan Rogenstein.