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Basics of Bootleggin' and Moonshinin'

Here are the basics....a bootlegger is a person that sells illegal whiskey and a moonshiner is a person who makes the whiskey illegally. Moonshine goes by many names such as:
  • corn liquor
  • white lightning
  • sugar whiskey
  • skull cracker
  • popskull
  • bush whiskey
  • stump
  • stumphole
  • 'splo
  • ruckus juice
  • rotgut
  • stumphole
  • catdaddy
  • mule kick
  • hillbilly pop
  • white lightning
  • panther's breath
  • tiger's sweat
  • sweet spirits of cats a-fighting
  • alley bourbon
  • city gin
  • cool water
  • happy Sally
  • blue John
  • jump steady
  • see seven stars
  • old horsey
  • block and tackle
  • wild cat

Parts for a still

Small still for use in a basement, Wilkes County
Appalachian Cultural Museum
Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
The term moonshine originated in Europe and was used in England in the 1700's. It originally referred to "occupational pursuits which necessitated night work, or work by the light of the moon."

The expression "bootlegging" has an long history itself. It originated in colonial America, and it believed to have been used in reference to selling alcohol to Native Americans. Some colonists tried to prevent this practice, but those that were more determined attempted to trade "spirits" for material goods. These colonists concealed bottles of liquor in the top of their boots and covered the bottles with their pants leg; hence the term "bootlegger."


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