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April 8, 2015
Last updated

What Color Is Moonshine?

Owner of Clawhammer Supply
What Color Is Moonshine?

What Is Moonshine?

Moonshine is often called white lightning, mountain dew, or white whiskey. The terms used to refer to high-proof distilled spirits that were produced illegally. However, many companies, like Ole Smoky, for example, now make and sell it commercially. Moonshine is a spirit that is typically made from a mash of corn and sugar.

The word moonshine is believed to derive from the fact that the distillation was done during the night to avoid discovery. Moonshine implies that the liquor is produced illegally and not taxed- however as we mentioned above many distilleries have started marketing a legal version of commercially produced moonshine.

Why Is Moonshine Clear?

Since moonshine is clear a lot of people think that it is made though a different process than legal liquor whiskey. Legal store bought whiskey- jim beam, jack Daniels, Tullamore Dew, any legal whiskey- is clear as moonshine when it comes out of a still. All whiskeys begin as a clear spirit- it isn’t until whiskey is aged in wooden barrels that it takes on darker colors.

How Does Whiskey Get Its Color And Flavor?

When un-aged whiskey (which is a clear spirit) is transferred into wooden barrels for storage there are many factors that come into play during the aging process that give the whiskey its characteristic. Changes in temperature and humidity cause alcohol to be pushed into and sometime sucked out of out of the wooden walls of barrels.  During this same process, vanillins and tannins are extracted from the wood and impart their unique flavor and color to the whiskey. The process of barrel aging whiskey produces a final product that has more character and is also less harsh than the un-aged spirit that went into the barrel at the beginning of the barreling process.

Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • I just distilled about 7 gallons of white wine to make brandy. My product came out with a yellow tint to it. Did I over fill my still. It’s an 8 gallon pot still and I used a sight glass with a copper bubbler.

    Posted by Denis on June 12, 2019

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