Think the days of bootleggers, backwoods stills and "white lightning" are over? Not a chance! It's a multi-million dollar industry. But perhaps more importantly to the moonshiners, it's a tradition dating back hundreds of years, passed down to them from their forefathers. It's part of their history and culture. While this practice is surprisingly alive and well, it's not always legal.
Discovery Channel's all-new series MOONSHINERS tells the story of those who brew their shine - often in the woods near their homes using camouflaged equipment - and the local authorities who try to keep them honest. Viewers will witness practices rarely, if ever, seen on television including the sacred rite of passage for a moonshiner - firing up the still for the first time. They will also meet legends, including notorious moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton.
Deep in Appalachia, where many shiners live, there are some areas where more sugar is sold than local residents could consume on their own. The main ingredients in moonshine "mash" are water, sugar, corn and yeast. It's also no accident moonshine season is from June to October - the height of the corn harvest and the peak of foliage to hide the illegal operations.
The origin of moonshining in the United States has been linked with the Whiskey Rebellion during the 1790's. Under President George Washington, a Federal tax was imposed on whiskey, which farmers strongly resented - leading to a backlash and rise in illegal distillers. Even the origins of NASCAR have been linked back to the skilled driving of moonshiners eluding law enforcement.