Making Moonshine: A Renegade Art

This summer sure did sneak up on us here at and as every summer does, this one seems to be packed full of festivals, campouts and bonfires. As we sat around going over our event calendars and telling stories from parties past, the subject of that evil little pass-around jar came up, and that got us thinking. For an activity that operates on the edges of the law, the moonshine trade is still running at full speed in the Midwest. We reached out to our friends at Mile Hi Distilling to ask what the current legal landscape is for shiners, and if they had anything to say on the matter, and here’s what we got back!


It may bum you out to hear that distilling in the comfort of one’s own home has been illegal since the years of prohibition, even though home brewing, or “craft brewing” has been legal since 1979. Don’t be bummed! Distilling is not straight out illegal; down to the root of it, distilling is separating a liquid through the process of vaporizing the liquid, condensing, and collecting the vapor put off. It’s the same process you would use to purify water, in fact! It’s a harmless, and legal, hobby so long as you follow a few guidelines.


What all the “illegality” talk boils down to is good ole’ fun taxes. 5% of the United States revenue comes directly from alcohol taxes. Such a hefty contribution keeps home distilling illegal, resulting in fines that can make you stop in your tracks, a visit or two to the nearest jail, and seizing of your personal property. And yet, moonshining in the hidden rooms of homes all around hasn’t let up one bit!


Of course, if you don’t have the intent to do anything naughty, this is purely academic. You’d probably be amazed to hear that there’s an estimated 200,000 US moonshiners in full operation. While we do not condone taking on home moonshining and risking it all for a sip of “white whiskey” made with your own two hands, there are some that are putting in all their innocence chips and getting their shine on! The equipment used for distilling is a work of art in it’s own right. To see for yourself, check out our website Mile! In order to produce this beautiful equipment, we have a team of artisan welders on hand that make their delicate work look easy. As we say at Mile Hi, “let’s take a walk in the moonlight.”

Mile Hi Distillery on Country Music News Blog!So basically, our thoughts in the office were right… While it’s one of those things that where it’s fine to own the equipment, and fine to fail at the art, it’s getting good at it that gets you into dangerous territory. Of course when has that ever stopped the party? Now we want to know… When did you last get YOUR shine on?

About Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena

Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena is a freelance writer for both Country Music News and Country Music On Tour. Want to collab on some content? Email me. Want my rates for commercial promo work? Get them right here.