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Moonshine, or high-proof distilled spirit, has an important place in American culture. In fact, it has a history as old as the country itself. After the American Revolution, the U.S. placed a high tax on spirits. Americans weren't happy with this, especially after having just escaped high taxes imposed by the British. As a result, many people just completely ignored the tax. Moonshine was also a useful trade for farmers, who could save a bad year by turning their corn into more profitable spirits.
Today, of course, most people accept the idea of alcohol being taxed. That hasn't stopped the production of illegal high-proof spirits, though. For many, moonshine is an emblem of American character on par with apple pie. If you are planning to use a moonshine still kit, here are three things you should keep in mind.
1. Controversy Over Legality of Distilling at Home
Making your own wine or beer is perfectly legal, but not your own distilled spirit. This legal precedent goes back to the same Revolutionary War era when, once again, the issue was taxes, and spirits had a much higher tax. In modern times, though, all items are taxed and the distinction is largely meaningless. For this reason, there is a lot of momentum in the U.S. for legalizing moonshine. Although home distilling is still illegal, Tennessee, among other states, has relaxed many of its rules regarding commercial distilleries. The recession was an unexpected boon: states were looking for ways to generate employment, and saw an opening with commercial distilling.
2. Moonshine Still Kits Can be Dangerous
Making moonshine can be fun, but there's no denying that there are some inherent risks involved. High proof alcohol is especially flammable and can be dangerous, especially when vaporized -- and this is only one potential risk of several. Don't get involved in home distilling kits until you've read extensively on the subject and done some hands-on training. If you purchase moonshine still kits, make sure they are manufactured from legitimate materials. In the past, people have been poisoned by stills made from automotive radiators.
3. Alternate Tastes for Your Moonshine
There are many ways to get great additional flavoring for your moonshine. One way is to follow a recipe; another way is buying a mix. Although stores can't sell moonshine, they can certainly sell the spices used to flavor them! Finding a good recipe isn't hard, though. Two of the most popular flavors are apple pie and peach, both adding the taste of sweet Southern desserts to your distilled moonshine. If you don't know how to distill spirits but want flavored moonshine, just buy a generic high-proof liquor and add the spices!
Do you own a home distillery kit? Let us know your tips in the comments.