- Moonshine by country
Moonshine is a generic term for distilled alcoholic beverages made throughout the globe from indigenous ingredients reflecting the customs, tastes, and raw materials for fermentation available in each region. The term commonly applies to small scale production which is often illegal or tightly regulated in many countries.
Moonshine by country
In Albania, moonshine (Raki) is the primary alcoholic beverage consumed on daily basis. It is made from different fruits, usually grapes, but also plums, apples, blackberries, and walnuts.
The Armenian name for moonshine is aragh (the word comes from Arabic araq عرق, meaning "sweat" or "juice"), but the Armenian word oghee is used more often. The production of oghee is widespread in Armenia. White mulberry, grape, cornelian cherry, plum, and apricot moonshine are especially popular, particularly in the countryside.
Distillation of alcohol requires an excise license in Australia. The sale of stills up to 5 litre capacity and other distilling equipment, including yeasts, flavorings and other ingredients specific to distillation, is legal.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia, home distillation of rakija is common. There are different types of rakija such as: Sljivovica (made from plum), Jabukovaca (made from apples), Vilijamovka (made from pear) and Breskovaca (made from peach). Bosnians have long tradition of making rakija and its often made by individuals.
In Brazil there is a long tradition of home distilling, especially in the rural areas. Artisanal liquors (especially cachaça made on small farms) tend to be of good quality and are prized by collectors.
One form that can be qualified as moonshine is known as "Maria Louca" ("Crazy Mary"). It's aguardente made in jails by inmates. It can be made from many cereals, ranging from beans to rice or whatever can be converted into alcohol, be it fruit peels or candy, using improvised and illegal equipment.
The national spirit in Bulgaria is called "rakia" [ракия]. It is usually made from grapes, but other fruits are used as well, such as plum, raspberry or peach. Rakia is the most popular drink in Bulgaria along with wine. Like wine, it is often produced by villagers, either in a community owned (public) still, or in simpler devices at home. Home made rakia is considered to be of better quality and "safer" than rakia made in factories, since there were, especially during the 1990s, many counterfeit products on sale. By tradition, distilling a certain amount of rakia for home use has been free of taxes. In connection with Bulgaria joining the European Union in 2007, there were government decisions to raise taxes on home made spirits. This led to protests in late 2006 and early 2007. With respect to local traditions and the usually poor performance of state institutions in Bulgaria, there is little risk that the new taxes will actually have to be paid. In Bulgarian tradition, drinking ракия is accompanied by eating little dishes (called meze [мезе]), usually some kind of salad, e.g. Shopska salad. Rakia also has many uses as a folk medicine.
Burma (Myanmar) has several forms of moonshine. Although it is illegal, moonshine has majority share of the alcohol market especially in rural areas of the country. In the country side, moonshine shares the alcohol market with what some call palm wine.
The common name for home-made alcohol is moonshine or screech (although the latter name is also used by a legal distiller as a brand name). Early versions were probably made from potato skins due to the large amount of potatoes produced in Atlantic Canada but now most home producers use molasses or sugar cane in the form of "sweet feed" (for horses) as a sugar source. This is the traditional method of producing Moonshine (Shine as it is known to those that produce or drink it regularly).
Due to the fact that they are producing "Shine" in the traditional manner (molasses, and cane sugars), The Myriad View Artisan Distllery of PEI, has a Trade Mark on the word "Shine" in relation to all alcohol products in Canada. The Trade Mark was issued by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. They presently produce "Strait Shine" @50% ABV and a stronger version "Strait Lightning" @75% ABV. Shine remains a traditional drink for Atlantic Canadians. It remains the drink of choice for wedding punches and family reunions.
Another legal version of Moonshine is called Cape Breton Silver by Glenora Distillery. It has been reintroduced in Nova Scotia at NSLC . It is raw, unaged whiskey distilled in the same way as illegal moonshine and is now 45% ABV.
In Colombia moonshine is called "Tapetusa" or "Chirrinchi" and is illegal. However, it is quite popular in some regions and has been traditional for hundreds of years. The cost of tapetusa is a fraction of the heavily taxed legal alcoholic beverages. The aborigines used to make their own version of alcoholic drink called "Chicha" before the arrival of Europeans. Chicha is usually made of corn, which is chewed and spat in an earthen container that was then buried for some time (weeks). The latter is a special kind of alcoholic beverage, and similar to that made by Chilean Indians (Mapuches), but in Chile a legal version of Chicha, made of fermented apples, is sold in September. In the Caribbean coast there is a moonshine called "Cococho", an Aguardiente famous for the number of blindness cases due to the addition of methanol.
On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, the Wayuu tribe produces the "Chirrinche" which is both for local consumption and trade with tourists. Chirrinche is regarded to be very strong and often produces a severe hangover.
In Costa Rica it's called "Guaro de Contrabando", which means Counterfeit Liquor.
In the northwestern region of Croatia, Zagorje, there is a traditional drink called delanec.
In Cyprus a traditional drink is made from distilling grapes, known as zivania.
The staple Czech liquor is traditionally made from distilling plums and is known as 'slivovice' (pronounced "slivovitze"), or 'meruňkovice', made from apricots. Traditionally produced in garages and cellars, nowadays it is also produced by specialist distillers. It is found especially in the region of Moravia and is popular at celebrations, including weddings. Czech distillers also offer a service to distill your own fruit mash for you, but they charge heavily, on top of the taxes.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Home-made corn or cassava-based whiskey is known as lotoko in the DRC.
Lotoko is usually made from maize, but sometimes made from cassava, or plantain. Heads of corn are cut up and boiled into a mash which is then fermented and distilled using improvised stills made from cut down oil drums. Because of the woody core of the cobs of corn, the alcohol produced contains high levels of methanol which is toxic.
Although it is officially banned, because of its high alcohol content (over 50%), its production is widespread in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lotoko made from cassava or plantains doesn't carry the same methanol risk.
In Denmark, moonshine is referred to as hjemmebrændt (Lit.: Home burnt, that is home distilled).
In the Dominican Republic, moonshine is called cleren in the towns near the border with Haiti and Pitrinche in the eastern towns. It is made from sugar or fermented sugar cane. Its production is illegal but the law is rarely enforced. Also, there is Berunte, fermented from either corn (which is the most common), rice, melon, pineapple or wheat.
In Ecuador, moonshine is often distilled from sugarcane, and referred to as Puro, Spanish for pure, or trago from the Spanish verb tragar, to swallow. Some people refer to it as Puntas (Tips)
England and Wales
In England & Wales an excise licence is required to manufacture spirits by any means. The penalty for illegal manufacture of spirits is a fine of up to £1,000 and confiscation of the spirit-making equipment.
In Estonia moonshine is referred to as Puskar and is usually made from potatoes.
Finnish moonshine, pontikka, is home-made vodka, usually made from any fermentable carbohydrates, most commonly grain, sugar or potato, made into kilju and distilled, ideally three times (kolmasti kirkastettu). It is said that the name pontikka came about due to the poor quality French wine from Pontacq. Other names are ponu (an abbreviation of pontikka), ponantsa (a joke of Bonanza), kotipolttoinen (home burnt), tuliliemi (fire sauce), korpiroju (wildwood junk) or korpikuusen kyyneleet (tears of wildwood spruce) as stills often are located in remote locations. In Finland Swedish, the most common term is moscha, deriving from English "moonshine", as the term was first used by emigrants who had returned home from America. Home distillation was forbidden in 1866, but it was nevertheless widely practiced. Moonshining was boosted by prohibition in Finland in 1919-32, but even though alcohol was legalized, high excise taxes were still levied on it and various restrictions were in place. However, in recent years, the structural change of the rural Finland, the changes in Finnish alcohol politics due to EU membership, the rise of living standards and the availability of cheaper legal liquors, caused by lowering the excise taxes and abolishment of specific import restrictions from Estonia, have made making pontikka a rarity, and it is no longer considered a serious policy issue.
Unlicensed moonshining is technically illegal in Finland, but it is often considered a challenge or hobby. In practice prosecution follows only if the authorities become aware that the product is being sold. Most Finnish moonshiners use simple pot stills and flash distillation. Some have constructed sophisticated reflux or rock stills for fractional distillation, containing plate columns or packed columns, with reflux filling components of Raschig rings, crushed glass, nuts, glass pellets or steel wool. The city of Kitee is the most famous Finnish "moonshine-city". A legitimate brand of vodka called "Kiteen kirkas" ("Kitee's Clear") is available commercially.
Eau de vie, gnôle, goutte, lambic, fine, or more generically the simple name of the fruit they were distilled from – poire (Pear), prune (Plum), mirabelle (Mirabelle) – there is a wide variety of terms in French to speak of strong alcohols, which also reflects the wide variety of recipes and ingredients available to make them. There are strong local traditions depending on the provinces: lambic or calvados is distillated from cider in Brittany and Normandy, mirabelle, prune and kirsch are mainly produced in the East (Alsace, Lorraine, Bourgogne, Champagne), and every wine-producing region has, to some extent, a tradition of making brandy, the most famous being Cognac and Armagnac.
Unlicensed moonshining was tolerated in France up to the late 1950s. Since 1959 the right can no longer be transferred to descendants, and only a few bouilleurs de cru are still exercising their right. Owning a registered fruit orchard or a vineyard still gives the right to have the production distilled, but is no longer free, and a licensed distiller must be utilized. The excise amounts to 7.50 € per litre of pure alcohol for the first 10 litres, and 14.50 € per litre above that limit.
In Georgia the traditional grape moonshine is called chacha. Recently, with modernized distilling and aging technology, chacha is promoted as "Georgian brandy" or "Georgian vodka", and is compared to grappa.
In Germany, moonshine is called Schwarzgebrannter. The term is very often translated "black burned" since the word schwarz means black, but in this case schwarz means illegal (as in black market). A more accurate translation is "illegally distilled liquor". Generally, home-distillation of alcohol is illegal in Germany, but there are exceptions. Ownership and use of very small stills up to 500 millilitres (18 imp fl oz; 17 US fl oz) capacity is legal. Such stills are only used by hobbyists, and the products of them are not available on the black market. The ownership of larger stills must be reported to fiscal authorities, otherwise it is illegal, and the use of these stills requires a licence. The German market for moonshine is limited, in part because legal alcohol is inexpensive, compared to some other Western European countries and in part because controls are generally effective. German home-distilled alcohol is in most cases a type of traditional German Schnaps, often a type of fruit brandy. There are many legal and often very small distilleries in Germany. Most of these small distilleries are located in Southern Germany, located on farms and are home-distilleries. These producers of distilled beverages are called Abfindungsbrennerei and the operation of these small distilleries requires a special type of licence. The number of such licences is limited and it is difficult to obtain one, since in most cases all licences are in use. An Abfindungsbrennerei is only allowed to produce a limited amount of pure alcohol per year and the operation of the still is limited to some months of the year. There are tight controls of these limitations. The products of an Abfindungsbrennerei, although in many cases home-distilled, are not considered to be Schwarzgebrannter since they are taxed and legal.
Greek moonshine is known as raki (Greek: ρακή), or Tsikoudia (Greek:τσικουδιά) in the island of Crete, or tsipouro (Greek:τσίπουρο) in other parts of the country. It is usually made from fermented grapes. There are legal commercial distilleries, but private stills are quite common, particularly in rural areas. Home distilled products are generally produced in limited quantities, for the distiller's personal use, and to be given as gifts to friends and family, many of whom are often present during the distillation process. Home distilled products are not in direct competition with commercial products since moonshine is generally not sold or consumed in most public places.
The broadest term for Guatemalan moonshine is cusha. It is popular in large regions of the countryside, where it is made by fermenting fruits, particularly for Mayan festivities. If forbidden, nobody is prosecuting its manufacture. Cusha is also a valuable for shamans, who consume it during cleansing ceremonies and spit on their "patients" with it.
In Haiti moonshine is called Clairin. It is made from sugar or fermented sugar cane. Its production is illegal but the law is rarely enforced.
In Honduras, moonshine is commonly called guaro. It is normally distilled from sugarcane. In small towns, it is often sold out of the home by the producer. In cities and larger towns you can find it where other liquors are sold, usually in plastic bottles with labels of local producers.
Hungarian moonshine is called [házipálinka] (pálinka is a Hungarian spirit, házi means 'from home') because it is homemade. It is mostly made in rural areas where the ingredients, usually fruit, are readily available. Its production is considered illegal if distilled at home, since the distillation process constitutes a tax fraud if not carried out at a licensed distillery, however házipalinka is quite wide spread. Because the ingredients are usually of good quality, and the equipment used (while old and obsolete) is designed for this purpose, the quality of these spirits is higher than most of the other moonshine varieties. Community distilleries also exist, operated by one or more villages to process locally grown fruits.
Icelandic moonshine (Landi) is distilled gambri or landabrugg. It is largely made by hobbyists due to high liquor taxes, but used to be a prolific business during the prohibition. Due to the lack of natural cover and harsh weather conditions, most "moonshining" activity occurs indoors in a controlled environment. Although potatoes are the most common constituent of Icelandic moonshine, any carbohydrate can be used, including stale bread. Landi is often consumed by people who cannot buy alcohol, either due to their young age or distance from the nearest alcohol store. Landi tastes like pure vodka, if it is made right.
Locally produced moonshine is known in India as tharra, and also (among other names) as desi, desi daru, hooch, Potli, kothli, dheno, mohua, chullu, Narangi, kaju, Saaraayi and santra. It is made by fermenting the mash of sugar cane pulp in large spherical containers made from waterproof ceramic (terra cotta). However, it is dangerous, mainly because of the risk of alcohol or copper formaldehyde poisoning. In South India, moonshine is any alcoholic drink not made in distilleries. Toddy and arrack are not synonyms or Indian names for moonshine liquor. Toddy is an alcoholic beverage made from the sap of palm trees, and arrack refers to strong spirits made traditionally from fermented fruit juices, and the sap of the palm tree. In the Indian state of Goa, a locally produced cashew flavored drink Feni is popular among locals and the tourists.
Arrack is commonly produced as moonshine, as thus has resulted in deaths from contaminants.
Arak, all kinds of fruit based liqueurs as well as wine is commonly produced as moonshine, as thus has resulted in deaths from contaminants. Also because of the danger of carrying Arak in Iran (as a forbidden drink in Islam) or simply the difficulty of finding it, some use pure Ethanol made for chemical uses which increases the chance of alcohol poisoning.
Grain or potato based moonshine made illegally in Ireland is called poitín, or poteen. The term is a diminutive of the word pota ' a pot'.
Clandestine distillation of alcohol typically from grapes which is called grappa was common in the once poor north eastern part of Italy, which still produces some of the finest grappa in the country but with tighter control over the supply of distillation equipment its popularity has slumped. However, distillation of grappa still continues in the rural areas of Italy especially in the south where control over distilling equipment is not as rigid. Typically families will produce small quantities for their own consumption and to provide as gifts to others. Nowadays, the supply of production equipment larger than three litres is controlled, and anything smaller must bear a sign stating that moonshine production is illegal.
On the island of Sardinia, one can still find local varieties of grappa which are dubbed 'filuferru', the local pronunciation for 'iron-thread'; this peculiar name comes from the fact that grappa stills were buried to hide them from authorities with iron-thread tied to them for later retrieval.
Legal production occurs both by large scale industrial producers as well as small producers who still use the traditional (formerly illegal) methods.
Illegally distilled alcohol is widely made in Kenya, known as "Changaa", "Kumi kumi" or "Kill me quick". It is mostly made from maize and produced with crude stills made from old oil drums. It has been known to cause blindness and death. This may be caused by unscrupulous adulteration by sellers who want to give the beverage more 'kick', for example, adding battery acid. It may be caused by impure distillation. Because use is so widespread in Kenya the government has little control and has considered legalization to avert deaths.
In Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic) the home distillation of spirits is technically illegal, although this law is rarely enforced. 'Lao Lao' is the name given to home-produced liquor, and it is drunk openly especially in rural areas, with many small villages operating a communal still. Usually brewed from rice, it varies from well produced, smooth tasting liquor to very rough spirits with many impurities.
In Latvia, moonshine "kandža" (45–55% vol) is generally made from sugar, sometimes from potatoes or also grains. The brewing kettle commonly is old aluminum milk-can (aprox. 40l). Normally sugar, baker's yeast and water is fermented for few weeks and then distilled with help of gas-burner or wood-cooker. Brewing of "kandža" is illegal; however, in reality as long as it is used for own consumption (not for sale) there are no problems with authorities.
Moonshine Samane is made from triticale grain from Dzukija region. The fermented mash is held in stainless steel reservoir and distilled twice what determines its strength of 50–90% vol and specific aroma.
In Malawi moonshine is commonly brewed and distilled by women in townships and villages. Known as "katchasu" in Chichewa, various sources of starch may be used including potatoes, sugar cane or maize. Although technically illegal, there is no social stigma attached to moderate consumption.
In the state of Sarawak in Malaysia moonshine is called Langkau, which means 'hut' in Iban language, where people cooks them (illegally).Langkau is made from fermented rice wine (tuak) and cooked in a barrel with a little hose hanging from the top of the barrel. Some rural folks like to drink 'Langkau' at a festival and most of the time during leisure hours. In Sabah, a similar version to 'Langkau' is called 'Montoku'.
Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia is a country where moonshine is not only legal, but is also the liquor of choice. Typically, the moonshine is made out of grapes, which are the leftovers from the production of wine, but also made from plums (Slivovica). Moonshine is highly popular because it is commonly used for medicinal purposes. This process usually uses diluted moonshine with caramelized sugar, and the liquor is then boiled and consumed while still hot. Commonly is known as rakia (ракија) and widely consumed in all parts of Macedonia.
Nepal has an indigenous liquor raksi (Nepali: राक्सी) that is distilled illegally at home as well as legally in rustic distilleries. The legal product is usually made from fruit since there are statutes against diverting grain away from human consumption. Distilled liquor made from grain may also be called daru or double-daru if distilled twice. Legal raksi is seldom aged; usually quite harsh to the taste. Illegal daru may be smoother, or it can be poisonous if improperly prepared. It is not uncommon for Nepalese to tell outsiders that the concoction does not exist.
The Nepalese sometimes add rakshi to hot tea, calling the mixture ‘Jungle Tea’.
New Zealand is one of the few western societies where home distillation is legal. In New Zealand, stills and instruction in their use are sold openly. Hokonui Moonshine was produced in Southland by early settlers whose (then) illegal distilling activities gained legendary status, see Hokonui Hills. Hokonui Moonshine is now produced legally and commercially by the Southern Distilling Company which has recently started to export it.
In the country of Nicaragua, home distilled spirits are called "Cususa". [koo-soo'-sah] Cususa is made of corn and "dulce de tapa" (dried sugarcane molasses) or just plain sugar. It is distilled by means of a cold bowl of water (porra) placed over a metal drum full of the fermented corn. A tube channels the condensation to a bottle.
In Nigeria, home based brewing is illegal. Moonshine is variously called 'ogogoro', 'kainkain', 'abua first eleven', 'agbagba', 'akpeteshi', 'aka mere', 'push me, I push you', 'crazy man in the bottle', or 'Sapele water' depending on locality.
Due to the very high taxation of alcohol, moonshine production primarily from potatoes and sugar continues to be a popular, albeit illegal, activity in various parts of the country. Moonshining occurs in the Mid- and North-Norwegian regions in particular and rural areas in general. Norwegian moonshine is called "hjemmebrent" or "heimebrent" (which translates into English as "home-burnt") and sometimes also "heimkok"/"himkok" (meaning "home-cooked") or "heimert"/"himert" (slang) in Norwegian, some call it "blank vara" or "blank fløte" (meaning "clear stuff" or "clear cream") and the mash is called "sats". In rural parts of eastern Norway, it is also referred to as "ni-seks"(meaning "nine-six", referring to the alcohol content, 96% ABV) as a common moonshine variant is rectified spirits from potatoes. In the county of Telemark mash is also referred to as "bæs". In the old days on Finnskogen they called the mash Skogens vin ("Wine of the forest"), a name used by poorer people without access to distilling equipment. When talking to foreigners, some Norwegians use the term "something local" about their moonshine. In Norway, moonshine is commonly mixed with coffee, and sometimes a spoon of sugar. This drink is known as karsk, and has a special tie to the mid- and north-Norwegian regions, but is also enjoyed elsewhere. A common joke is that the traditional mixture was made by brewing the strongest, blackest coffee possible, then putting a 5 Øre piece (a copper coin of size and color of a pre-decimalization English penny, no longer in circulation) in a cup. Add coffee to the cup until the coin can no longer be seen, then add hjemmebrent, straight from the still until the coin can again be seen. Apple juice is also a common beverage for mixing, as it is said to "kill the taste" of bad moonshine.
In the documentary film Metal: A Headbangers Journey by Sam Dunn. Vocalist and bassist for Motörhead, Lemmy talked about Norwegian moonshine as "something really awful and the crew wouldn't even drink it." It is also now cited as the cause of his warty appearance.
While brewing is permitted in Norway, distillation is not. Possession of equipment capable of distilling is also illegal. § 8-5. The enforcement of this law is irregular at best.
Alcohol is strictly licensed or otherwise illegal in Pakistan. However unregulated production in rural areas thrives. Products include tharra and its variants including what is ironically known as "Hunza water" and rudimentary beers made from barley, rye and other grain mixtures. Some brandy is also produced in the north where fruit is more readily available. Methanol contamination is a serious problem in some regions.
Home-based distillation is illegal, however, small home brewing and consumption are allowed. In the faraway rural areas, there is a brew called "chirrisco". It is often made out of any kind of fruits but is especially made out of rice. Unscrupulous or ignorant distillers may add car battery acid to increase potency, thereby leading to poisoning and similarly harmful side effects. In fact, there have been cases where discarded herbicide containers have been used to store chirrisco.
Peru is one of the few countries where moonshine is completely legal. The production and sale of homemade alcoholic drinks is entirely unregulated and their consumption is common in daily meals. Pisco is one of the most common alcoholic drinks in Peru, although different types of chicha, with their generally low alcohol content, are the most popular alcoholic drinks in the country, with regional variations common in all areas. Even small children enjoy chicha as commonly as children in other countries may drink juice. This is especially true of the non-alcoholic chicha morada (purple chicha), loved by both children and adults. The low alcohol content rarely causes drunkenness or dependence, even in small children. Chicha was also consumed by the ancient Peruvians, before the Incas' empire; it was apparently consumed by Chavin De Huantar, one of the first cultures in Peru.
Lambanog is distilled from the sap either of the coconut flower or of the nipa palm fruit. Commercial versions--usually 80 to 90 proof--are widely available, but homemade lambanog can be found in the coconut-producing regions of the country.
The Polish name for moonshine is bimber; although the word samogon (from Russian) is also used. Far less common is the word księżycówka, which is roughly equivalent to "moonshine", being a nominal derivation from the word księżyc, "moon". The tradition of producing moonshine might be traced back to the Middle Ages when tavern owners manufactured vodka for local sale from grain and fruit. Later, other means were adopted, particularly those based on fermentation of sugar by yeast. Some of the moonshine is also made from distilling plums and is known under the name of śliwowica. The plum moonshine made in area of Łącko (Southern Poland) called Łącka Śliwowica gained nationwide fame, with tourists travelling long distances to buy one or two bottles of this strong liquor. Because of the climate and density of the population, most of the activity occurred indoors.
In Poland, the simplest recipe for producing moonshine by fermentation of yeast with the use of 1 kilogram of sugar, 4 liters of water, and 10 dag (= 100 g) of yeast is jokingly abbreviated as 1410 – the year of the Battle of Grunwald, the most famous victory of Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and their allies over the Knights of the Teutonic Order in the Middle Ages.
It is illegal to manufacture moonshine in Poland, as confirmed by the Supreme Court’s ruling of 30 November 2004. Selling home-made alcohol is also a tax offence as there is an excise imposed on sale of alcohol, and there is no provision for those manufacturing alcohol illegally to pay this duty if they want to. In reality the law is not consistently enforced, an example being the authorities' toleration of the large-scale manufacture and sale of Śliwowica Łącka. The small sets for home distillation can also be easily purchased in any chemical glass shop with no control whatsoever.
In Portugal the most common type of moonshine is a drink commonly named bagaço.
The common Puerto Rican term for moonshine rum is pitorro, from the Andalusian term "pintorro", given to a white wine (or rum, near the rum-producing sugar cane fields of Málaga) of inferior quality which has some grape (in the case of the wine) or molasses (in the case of rum) coloring in it. Other terms are, pitrinche or pitriche, cañita (based on the thin copper tubing of the alembic in which it is produced), lágrima de monte (mountain tears), and lágrima de mangle ("mangrove's tears" since many artisan distillers refine their product near coastal mangroves, to conceal it from police). Cañita is a common term so popular that at least two legal brands of rum have used the name, including the current brand, "Cañita Cura'o". Pitorro is an integral part of Puerto Rican culture, and musical odes to it or its production (such as the plena "Los Contrabandistas", popularized by Puerto Rican singer Daniel Santos) are part of local folklore.
Pitorro is usually much stronger than commercial fum. At times its alcohol content surpasses the common 80- or 90-proof (40% or 45% alcohol per volume) mark. Some raids have led to confiscation of rum that is up to 80% alcohol per volume (160 proof). Recipes abound, but common practices include "curing" the distilled product by burying jugs of pitorro in the ground, as well as placing grapes, prunes, raisins, dates, mango, grapefruit, pineapple, coconut and other fruits in them.
Puerto Rico is known for its production of legal rum, and since it is a major revenue-generating operation, the Puerto Rican police force, as well as agents from the local Departamento de Hacienda (Treasury Department) tend to pursue moonshine producers fervently, particularly around the Christmas season. A town famous (or infamous) for its pitorro production is Añasco, Puerto Rico.
In Romania, plum brandy is called ţuică (tzuika) or palincă (palinka), depending on the region in which it is produced. It is prepared by many people in rural areas, using traditional methods, both for private consumption and for sale. Production is subject to government inspection, for purposes of levying the alcohol tax; undeclared distilleries, even for personal use, are illegal. Some ţuică is sold in markets or fairs; it is also commonly sold on the side of the road, especially in autumn, after harvest season.
The Russian name for any home-made distilled alcoholic beverage is called samogon (ru: самого́н), literally translated as "distillate made by oneself". Historically, it was made from malted grain (and therefore similar to whisky), but this method is relatively rare nowadays, due to increased availability of more convenient base ingredients, such as table sugar. Modern samogon is most often made from sugar. Other common ingredients include beets, potatoes, bread, or various fruit. Samogon of initial distillation is called pervach (ru: первач), literally translated as "the first one" – it is well known for its high quality (pure alcohol is lighter, so it evaporates in the beginning of the process but impurities don't; over time more and more impurities evaporate, too, thus making the rest of the batch not that clean). The production of samogon is widespread in Russia. Its sale is subject to licensing. (Unauthorised sale is prohibited.) Samogon often has a strong repulsive odor but, due to cheap and fast production and ability to personalize the flavor of the drink, it is of relative popularity. However, pervach is famous for having a little or no smell.
In Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is prohibited, black-market alcohol, typically distilled from fermented sugar water, is mostly known as "siddiq" ("friend" in Arabic). South Korean workers in Saudi Arabia create improvised moonshines from water, fruits (lemons and oranges), and yeast.
Illicitly produced whiskey from Scotland is called peatreek. The term refers to the smoke (or reek) infused in the drink by drying the malted barley over a peat fire.
Many types of moonshine are produced in Serbia, even though they are almost exclusively fruit-based, made in pot-stills and commonly referred to as rakija. Šljivovica (plum brandy) is the most popular, but brandies based on other fruits, such as breskovača (peach brandy), kajsijevača (apricot brandy), viljamovka (pear brandy) and jabukovača (apple brandy). Product quality can range from poorly produced brlja to oak barrel aged fine quality rakija that is superior to the bulk of the commercial market. Rakija is readily available on open markets even in the big cities, so finding a producer of quality product is the only real challenge in the process. There has been a scarcity of reports on poisoning, which indicates a high level of product safety derived from a long tradition. While most of it is produced in the farming regions (central and north), moonshine is being produced throughout the country and one would be hard-pressed to find a village without at least one pot still. Rakija is not commonly used for mixing with any other drinks as it is considered to be a fine beverage on its own, but some people have been known to drink beton (literally translated as "concrete"), which is a shot-glass of low quality šljivovica dropped into a glass of beer.
Until recently, rakija had the image of a low-class category of drinks, not comparable to foreign imports, such as whiskey or rum. A recent upsurge in nationalism has reintroduced rakija as a connoisseur's drink to the general public and posh bars that stock quality rakija in many varieties have opened up in major cities' clubbing districts.
A common moonshine in Slovakia is slivovica, sometimes called plum brandy in English. It is notorious for its strong but enjoyable smell delivered by plums from which it is distilled. The typical amount of alcohol is 52% (it may vary between 40–60%). The homemade slivovica is highly esteemed. It is considered a finer quality spirit compared to the industrial products which are usually weaker (around 40%). Nowadays this difference in quality is the primary reason for its production, rather than just the economic issues. A bottle of a good home made slivovica can be a precious gift, since it cannot be bought. The only way to obtain it is by having parents or friends in rural areas who make it. Slivovica is sometimes used also as a popular medicine to cure the early stages of cold and other minor aches. Although illegal, small scale home production seems to be tolerated by the government. Several other fruits are used to produce similar home made spirits, namely pears – hruškovica and wild cherries – čerešňovica.
In Slovenia, especially in the western part, moonshine is distilled from fermented grapes remaining from wine production, and sugar if necessary. It is called tropinovec (tropine, means squeezed half-dried grapes, in the west of the country). Šnops or Žganje, as its otherwise known, is generally distilled from pears, plums and apples. Because it has around 60%–70% of alcohol is often mixed with boiled water to make it lighter (vol. 50%). Tropinovec is rarely drunk in large quantities. It is often mixed with fruits (cherries, pears, etc.) to cover the strong odor and taste, or herbs (Anise, Wolf's bane, etc.) for alternative medical treatment. Home distilling is legal in Slovenia. Still owners are obliged to register and pay excise duties (approximately 15 USD for 40–100 l stills and 30 USD for stills larger than 100 l). There were 20,539 registered home distillers in 2005, down from over 28,000 in 2000.
In South Africa moonshine made from fruit (mostly peaches or marulas) is known as mampoer (named after the Pedi chief Mampuru). The equivalent product made from grapes is called witblits (white lightning). Witblits has a long history in the Western Cape Province (over 200 years) and many producers take great pride in their product which is widely available from liquor stores and at farmer's markets. Most witblits is of a very high quality compared to typical moonshine worldwide and is generally comparable to grappa. A licence is required to distill alcohol in South Africa. A limited number of "cultural heritage" small scale distillers are licenced.
Most of the moonshine in Spain is made as a byproduct of wine making by distilling the squeezed skins of the grapes. The basic product is called orujo or aguardiente (burning water). The home made versions are usually stronger and have a higher alcoholic content, well over the 40% the commercial versions typically have. Starting with orujo there is a countless number of blends and flavours around. Typically adding herbs, spices or berries or fruits or mixing the moonshine with other distillates. The best known are probably: pacharán, licor café and orujo de hierbas.
In Sudan, all domestically-produced distilled alcoholic beverages can be considered moonshine, on account of a general prohibition of alcohol pursuant to the demands of Islamists for the establishment of Sharia. Nevertheless, production remains widespread, particularly in rural areas of the country, predominantly in the form of araqi, produced from dates.
The most common moonshine in Sweden (hembränt in Swedish; literally "home burnt") is made of potatoes and/or sugar. Typically of the 90–96% ABV variant. Common nicknames are HB (short for hembränt) and skogsstjärnan ("the forest star"). Also name garagenkorva (a pun from "garage" and "Koskenkorva") is known. Unlicensed manufacture, transfer and possession of distilled alcohol is illegal in Sweden, as is the manufacture, transfer and possession of stills or parts of stills intended for unlicensed manufacture of alcohol. The manufacture, transfer and possession of mash intended for this purpose is also illegal. Distilling is often done with simple distillation, but sometimes freeze distillation is used, especially to make apple brandy or other drinks with lower alcohol content. Due to relaxed import regulation since 2005, business has declined. Moonshine is most socially accepted in the countryside.
In Sri Lanka, home based brewing is illegal. However, this is a lucrative underground business in most parts of the island. Illicit brew is known by many names; 'Kasippu' is the most common and accepted name, 'Heli Arrakku' (archaic term means, Pot-Liquor), 'Kashiya' (which is a pet name derived from more mainstream term Kasippu), 'Vell Beer' (means, beer of the paddy field), 'Katukambi', 'Suduwa' (means, the white substance), 'Galbamuna', 'Gahapan Machan' (means drink it), vell fanta depending on locality. The raw materials used in the production are mainly common white sugar (from Sugarcane) manufactured in Sri Lanka, yeast, and urea as a nitrogen source.
In Switzerland, absinthe was banned in 1910, but underground distillation continued throughout the 20th century. The Swiss constitutional ban on absinthe was repealed in 2000 during a general overhaul of the national constitution, but the prohibition was written into ordinary law instead. Later that law was also repealed, so from 1 March 2005, absinthe is again legal in its country of origin, after nearly a century of prohibition. Absinthe is now not only sold in Switzerland, but is once again distilled in its Val-de-Travers birthplace, with Kübler and La Clandestine Absinthe among the first new brands to emerge, albeit with an underground heritage. The alcohol contents variation of those legal absinthes in their first few years is interesting to note. Whereas pre-2005 bootleg absinthe usually clocked in at 65-70% alcohol by volume (ABV), the first few legal absintes were aligned on the 42-45% ABV of other common domestic spirits such as fruit schnapses. This proved lacking in taste intensity for a drink that is drunk watered down as a rule, and by 2010 most Swiss absithes contained something on the lines of 54% ABV, a few being back to the pre-2005 strength that is 65%, sometimes up to 72% ABV.
In Thailand, home-brewed alcohol, most commonly distilled from glutinous rice, is called lao khao (เหล้าขาว; literally "white liquor") or officially sura khao (สุราขาว). It is sometimes mixed with various herbs to produce a medicinal drink called yadong (ยาดอง; literally "fermented herb (in alcohol)").
Yadong is prepared by mixing lao khao with various herbs and allowing the mixture to ferment for 2–4 weeks before use. Some people claim that it helps them regain strength. These days you can find instant yadong mixes that significantly reduce the time it takes to produce the final product.
Trinidad and Tobago
In Trinidad and Tobago illegally distilled alcohol brews are known as Ba-bash or mountain dew. It is primarily made from fermented sugar cane or citrus wines. The "stills" used are very similar to those used in North America. Although Ba-Bash is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago it is readily available if contacts are right.
Boukha is a spirit produced from figs in Tunisia. Its name means 'alcohol vapor' in Tunisian Judeo-Arabic dialect. It is obtained by simple distillation of Mediterranean figs from Tunisia. Its alcohol percentage ranges between 36 and 40 percent.
Boukha is consumed dry, room temperature or cold. It can also serve as the basis for many cocktails, flavors and fruit salad or drunk with a meal at room temperature.
Turkish moonshine is called Raki. Sometimes it is flavored with anise. The name however does not imply illegal distilling, as there are legal distilleries that produce raki too.
Waragi is a moonshine gin produced from bananas and often stored in jerrycans. In moonshine form, it is drunk mostly by people who cannot afford commercially available alcohol, although there are several brands that use the term "waragi" in their names.[clarification needed] In April 2010, more than 80 people were poisoned in the Kambala district after consuming waragi laced with methanol.
Moonshine continues to be produced in the United States, mainly in southern Appalachia. The product is often called white lightning because it is not aged and is generally sold at high alcohol proof, often bottled in canning jars ("Mason jars", see photo). A typical moonshine still may produce 1000 gallons per week and net $6000 per week for its owner. The simplicity of the process, and the easy availability of key ingredients such as corn and sugar, make enforcement a difficult task. However, the huge price advantage that moonshine once held over its "legitimate" competition legally sold has been reduced. Nevertheless, over half the retail price of a bottle of distilled spirits typically consists of taxes. With the availability of cheap refined white sugar, moonshine can be produced at a small fraction of the price of heavily taxed and legally sold distilled spirits. Moonshine alcohol is used by some for herbal tinctures. The number of jurisdictions which ban the sale of alcoholic beverages is steadily decreasing which means that many of the former consumers of moonshine are much nearer to a legal alcohol sales outlet than was formerly the case. Moonshine-like distilled beverages with names like Collier and McKeel White Dog, Everclear, Virginia Lightning, Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, Platte Valley Corn Whiskey Catdaddy and Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon are produced commercially and sold in liquor stores, typically packaged in a clay jug or glass Mason jar. As a result of these changes and aggressive law enforcement, moonshine production is far less widespread than it was formerly.
Home distillation of ethanol for commercial purposes is illegal in the United States. Legislation was introduced, but failed to pass in November 2001 to legalize home distillation in much the same way as home brewing of wine and beer were legalized in 1978. As early as prohibition, there have been stories of moonshiners using their product as a powerful fuel in their automobiles, usually when evading law-enforcement agencies while delivering their illegal product. The sport of "stock car" racing got its start when moonshiners would modify their automobiles to outrun federal government revenue agents. Junior Johnson, one of the early stock car racers in the mountains of North Carolina who was associated with running moonshine, has even "gone legitimate" by marketing a legally produced grain alcohol moonshine, which is made by the only legal liquor distiller in the state. Stokesdale, a town not far from where the distillery is located, has a moonshine still on its official town seal to reflect the corn liquor's history in the town's past.
Old, abandoned moonshine stills can be found throughout the Appalachian Mountains in the states of Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Moonshine made from yeast-fermented rice is called rượu, which is also the common name for alcohol.
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