Is Making Your Own Moonshine Worth It? How To Decide

Moonshine has a fascinating history in the United States, and in the past, it was part of a hush-hush industry that thrived under the light of the moon (hence the name). However, today it has entered the mainstream, and in fact, you can buy it in liquor stores and bars. You can even give making your own a try – however, there are risks and costs involved that may cause you to think twice before doing so.

Making your own moonshine is not worth it. Doing so is illegal, and kits used to make moonshine aren’t cheap. There are also health risks associated with making your own moonshine. While distilling moonshine is a unique experience, you can simply try commercially available moonshine instead.

Below, I’ll explain some of the things you should be aware of when considering making your own moonshine. This will help you reach your own decision on whether or not it is worth it.

Distilling Moonshine Is Illegal in All Fifty States

The production of moonshine without a license is illegal in the United States. If you wish to legally make moonshine, you’ll need to obtain either a Federal Distilled Spirits Permit or a Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit.

The prohibition of moonshine dates back to right after the American Revolution when the government began to tax alcohol to help pay off war debts. Nowadays, the illegalization of home distilling is meant to protect consumers. There are health risks associated with moonshine-making at home, so the government argues that the laws are in place to protect the people from consuming a potentially dangerous product.

Therefore, when deciding if making your own moonshine is worth it, consider that if you get caught distilling without the proper permits, you’re facing roughly a dozen felonies.

Consider if You’re Willing To Put the Work and Resources Into Something You Can’t (Legally) Sell

Making moonshine isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap, either. When you’re deciding if it’s worth it to make your own moonshine, keep in mind that you won’t be able to (legally) get any financial return for the time, energy, money, and other resources you put into making your moonshine, since you can’t bottle it and sell it.

Firstly, to make moonshine, you’ll need a moonshine still kit. Stills are copper or steel pot stills that are used to make spirits with sugar or grains as a base. These kits vary greatly in price, with the higher-quality ones typically costing over $300.

If you decide to try making your own moonshine, my favorite still kit is the Clawhammer Supply 5 Gallon Copper from This kit comes with 100% copper parts and access to a step-by-step online assembly video, so you don’t have to worry about complicated assembly.

The following video outlines everything you need to know before buying a still kit:

You’ll need to purchase other equipment as well, including a fermentation vessel, airlock, thermometer, and hydrometer. In addition, you’ll have to spring for the ingredients. Which ingredients are used depends on you and your desired flavor, but a traditional recipe includes the following ingredients:

  • Corn maize
  • Yeast
  • Malted barley

Furthermore, the process of fermenting and distilling moonshine is time-consuming. If you enjoy the process of selecting ingredients and making your own unique alcohol, this time investment won’t be a problem. However, if you prefer to be able to profit from your hobbies, you may feel that making your own moonshine isn’t worth your time.

Consider the Health Risks

Another thing to consider before you start making moonshine is the health risks associated with the practice. If moonshine is made improperly, it can be extremely dangerous and even fatal to consume.

The main risk with moonshine is the high methanol content in moonshine that wasn’t distilled correctly. Methanol, if consumed, can cause extreme sickness, blindness, and even death.

Methanol vaporizes at a cooler temperature than alcohol, so the first liquid produced in the process of distillation can contain methanol. If you don’t pour off the foreshot, you risk poisoning yourself and whoever else drinks your moonshine.

Try the Various Kinds of Moonshine Available on the Market

You should also know that you don’t have to make your own moonshine to get a taste of the drink. There are legal moonshines available in some liquor stores and bars. The following table outlines information about common brands:

Sugarlands Jim Tom Hedrick’s Unaged RyeSugarlands Distilling Co.Gatlinburg, Tennessee50%$
Ole Smoky Blue Flame MoonshineOle Smoky Distillery, LLCGatlinburg, Tennessee64%$$
Saint Luna Charcoal Filtered MoonshineSouthern Distilling Company, LLCStatesville, North Carolina50%$$$
Firefly Peach MoonshineFirefly DistilleryWadmalaw Island, South Carolina60%$
Catdaddy Spiced MoonshinePiedmont Distillers, Inc.Madison, North Carolina40%$
Stillhouse Original MoonshineStillhouse Spirits Co.Gables, Florida50% $$

In the past, if someone wanted to taste moonshine, they’d have to make it themselves or find someone they knew who was making it. Nowadays, however, getting your hands on some moonshine can be as easy as going to the closest liquor store.

Don’t Underestimate the Unique Experience of Distilling Your Own Moonshine

Even with all the risks involved, making your own moonshine can be an extremely rewarding and exciting experience. You can have fun experimenting with different recipes to find a combination of ingredients that you love.

Additionally, when you make moonshine, you’re participating in a tradition that is rooted in American history, often working from recipes that have been passed down for generations.

For people who are curious about the process of making moonshine and want to participate, this desire and passion can easily overshadow the potential risks involved with the activity.

Final Thoughts

There are certainly a lot of risks associated with making moonshine, and these may be enough to deter you from the task. However, there’s undoubtedly fun, freedom, and creativity involved in making your own. If the value of the experience outweighs the risks, it may be worth it to you to give making your own moonshine a shot.

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine

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