Is moonshine illegal?

In this brief article we will answer the query, “Is moonshine illegal?” We will also explain what moonshine is and why it is illegal. We will discuss the alcohol percentage of moonshine and if you can buy moonshine.

Is moonshine illegal?

Yes, the production of homemade moonshine or any other homemade spirit for that matter without a license is illegal. In the US and across many parts in Europe it is unlawful to distill homemade alcohol. It is even illegal in most countries to be in possession of any type of still (vessel utilized in distilled spirits). 

If you get the proper permits and licenses you can however distill and manufacture your own distilled spirits from the comfort of your home. So if you plan on venturing out on spirit business ensure that you obtain all requisite permits and licenses so as to avoid a shut down.

In the US you risk facing jail time for even operating simple home distilleries. The federal law states that production of homemade moonshine can result in multiple federal charges, including tax evasion which can lead upto 10 years of jail together with seizure and forfeiture of land used in illegal activity.

What is moonshine?

Moonshine is a generic slang word that refers to very strong and illegal homemade alcoholic spirits which include strong types of whiskey or ‘bathtub’ gin. This is alcohol that is made and distilled in home and ramshackle still that were found in mountains and woods more so by criminals but is still being made and consumed todate.

It is known as moonshine because it was traditionally distilled at night so as not to be caught by law enforcement authorities. 

The word moonshine was first associated with bootleggers who were trying to produce and sell such types of strong and illegal types of alcohol in what was known as the Prohibition era.

Why is moonshine illegal?

The illegalization of moonshine by most federal government agencies is meant to protect the consumers. This is because homemade moonshine is largely uncontrolled and most often does not meet the safety regulations as the alcohol can be contaminated and tainted with toxic and heavy metal particles.

Most homemade moonshines makers usually add in harmful ingredients such as methanol which can result in chronic conditions such as blindness. Homemade moonshine can also result in hazards such as stills exploding because of the makers not adhering to safety hazards.

What is moonshine made from?

Moonshine is usually produced from a variety of grains but is mainly made from corn. Majority of the people that distill their spirits are usually farmers that reside in the rural areas.

They usually make use of the grains that they grow in their farms and mostly make use of the surplus farm produce for distillation of moonshine. Corn is the main grain used because it is in plenty and it is a good source of fermentable sugar.

What is the alcohol percentage of Moonshine?

Moonshine usually has an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of 40 percent and more. It can go higher to 60 percent to 80 percent. 

The distilling process is usually the main determinant to a spirit’s alcohol content. Due to the fact that moonshine is not made by professionals it can have a varied alcohol content and even at times contain very high and unsafe levels.

The alcohol content usually has a lot of effects such as on the freezing point of alcohol and how you can drink alcohol. If you are distilling homemade alcohol it is prudent that you have a hydrometer so as to better determine the ABV of your alcohol.

Can you purchase moonshine?

Yes, you can buy moonshine. There are legal and commercial moonshines available to purchase from the store. These drinks are nothing like the illegal and homemade moonshines as they are distilled by professionals and contain a safe and lower alcohol content.

You can learn how to make moonshine at home here.


In this brief article we have answered the query, “Is moonshine illegal?” We have also explained what moonshine is and why it is illegal. We have discussed the alcohol percentage of moonshine and if you can buy moonshine.


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