Please Allow For My Love of Moonshine

The first time I got drunk, it was on moonshine, sir:

For decades, most people had never even seen a jar of moonshine, let alone tasted it. These days, you can find it at stores and restaurants around the country thanks to loosened liquor laws and changing consumer preferences. Even the industry’s biggest distilleries are experimenting with moonshine. 

Moonshine has been distilled in backwoods Appalachia since the 1800s. By its most traditional definition, the term means “illegal spirit,” and many families in that historically independent-minded, libertarian-leaning area of the U.S. made a living off making it — partly because the liquor could be produced and sold quickly, as it didn’t require years of aging in barrels. (That, by the way, is also what gives the hooch its oftentimes harsh character.) Today, moonshine is generally used as a catchall term for unaged white whiskeys, many of which are made in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Oh, this is all bunk. My hillbilly friends did not invent moonshine.

It was invented by people who needed to get drunk fast, and those people are called college kids. When my brother was in college at Dartmouth, he would often bring home his girlfriend, his pals, and two or three quarts of Dartmouth Lightning Juice, which was moonshine designed to get people drunk very quickly. It had a certain rubbing alcohol tendency to it, and I was almost blinded. I had a great time. Her name was Margaret, and she ate my shirt. I can't remember anything else that happened. I'm sure it was fabulous.


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