Moonshine has appeared once or twice in America’s history and on each occasion, although it has been in an illegal capacity, it still made an impression on the history of the country. Moonshine was first made in America by the Scottish and Irish immigrants that wanted to make a drink similar to the whiskey they had accustomed to back home. In order to make what became known as moonshine, these settlers would ferment grains and then distil them and the basic equipment they used became known as a still. Although fermentation also takes place in the making of beer and wine, neither of those drinks then go on to be distilled and wine is made from the fermentation of fruit, not grain. The grain most commonly used to make moonshine is corn which, with water added, is ground to a pulp, known as a mash. Yeast is then added to the mash to create a chemical reaction which changes the sugars in the grain, into alcohol. The amount of alcohol produced from each batch of mash can be increased if extra sugar is added or if malt is added as that will also change the starch into alcohol. The distillation is a process which separates the alcohol from the mash and this is done by heating the mash. As the mash heats to 173°F, the alcohol turns into a gas and that is then removed to another container and as water does not turn to a gas until the mash reaches 212°F, when the alcohol cools, it contains no water and is them called moonshine. The equipment therefore needed to make moonshine is one container for the mash and another one to hold the moonshine, plus of course a means of providing heat to the mash. These containers could be made of any metallic material but it is generally thought that copper containers produce the best moonshine.
How moonshine became more popular in America was because in order to help pay for the civil war, high taxation was placed on alcohol and so illegal stills became a source of making an alcoholic drink at an obviously cheaper price. This practice was of course re-introduced during the prohibition years and it are probably those years for which moonshine will be best remembered and made a name for itself in America’s history.
Today it is possible to own an authentic piece of American history that looks interesting; can certainly be a conversation starter and is easily available online at sites like moonshine still in the form of a 100% copper still. Although these 100% copper stills are allowed to be owed by federal law, some state laws may not allow them to be owned but, even though stills are permitted by federal law to be owned, it is not allowed for them to be used to make moonshine. Even though the stills cannot be used to make moonshine, they are still becoming popular as American memorabilia.