Making moonshine was a part of American history for many years, starting with the English, Irish and Scottish settlers who made as a substitute for the whiskey they had drank in their home countries. Although the drinking of moonshine was pretty much restricted to just these settlers at first, it became more widespread when high taxes were placed on alcohol in order to help pay for the civil war. It did of course take on far more popularity though, during the prohibition years and it is from those days that it will probably be most remembered. Certainly though, for at least the first couple of hundred years of American history, moonshine played a prominent role but a role which is sadly starting to be forgotten in more recent times. Perhaps to act as a reminder or just as a topical ornament that will promote lively discussion, some websites are now offering copper moonshine stills for sale and they are starting to once again become popular around the country.
A still, for the making of moonshine, could be made from any metal but if was generally accepted that 100% copper stills, like the ones available for sale today, were perhaps the best. A still is the name which has been given to the apparatus required to make moonshine which requires two processes. First there is the fermentation which is a process that is also shared by beer makers as well as wine makers. In order to make moonshine or beer, a type of grain is required and the favourite grain used by American moonshine makers was corn. For wine, although the same process is used, fruit substitutes the grain in the process. To make moonshine, the corn or other grain is ground together with heated water until it creates a pulp, usually referred to as a mash. Yeast is added to this mash which encourages a chemical reaction which changes any sugar in the grain, into alcohol. To increase the amount of alcohol produced, sugar could be added to the mash or, malt could be added which also created a chemical reaction; this one turning any starch in the grain into alcohol. It is at this point where the process of making moonshine differs from both beer and wine as for moonshine, distillation then takes place. Distillation is the process which separates the alcohol from the mash and is made possible because the boiling point for alcohol is 173°F compared to water’s higher 212°F. As the mash is heated to over 173°, the gas is collected separately in another container which, when cooled will be alcohol, devoid of water and is therefore basically moonshine.
Although the 100% copper stills that are available to buy today, would have been ideal for making a good moonshine, federal law prohibits moonshine from being made although it does allow for the stills to be owned. In this area, some state laws may differ from federal law and so if considering buying a piece of American history in the form of a still; you should perhaps first review your state laws on the matter.