A Storied Past That’s Full of Great Spirits

The history of the great state of North Carolina is full of colorful narratives of exploration, industry, tenacity, revolt, triumph and struggle. But perhaps none are as interesting as the area’s legacy in moonshining. From the German and Scotch-Irish settlers who brought their whiskey production skills from farms in the Old World to the hooch-loving-hillbillies of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the bootlegging runners that forged the path for NASCAR racing, moonshine has been, and always will be, part of North Carolinians’ DNA.

Maybe it’s the rebel spirit of the South. Maybe it’s the relentless pursuit of total freedom. Maybe it’s the plain old economics or the simple love of a damn good unaged corn whiskey. Whatever the case, men and women across North Carolina have risked their lives and reputations for more than two centuries in the production of illicit moonshine. Because the fact is, ever since Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s Whiskey Tax of 1791, distilling “white lightning” has been illegal in its avoidance of tax revenue collection. Not to mention, it carried a heavy moral stigma in the Prohibition era.

Legendary Moonshiners of North Carolina explores just a few of the people’s lives who helped shape the region’s whiskey heritage, although many more could be included. Given the recent rise of moonshine in popular culture and its proliferation as a legally distributed spirit, perhaps the stories you find here will inspire you to add some ‘shine to your life.