When you think of moonshine, you probably think of backwoods stills, bootleggers, and Appalachian car chases. Or maybe you think of George Jones singing the praises of "Pappy's corn squeezing'" in his 1959 hit "White Lightning." Appalachia and the South are steeped in moonshine lore -- and for a good reason. Countless distillers and bootleggers risked life and limb to make and deliver homemade spirits in dry counties. It even gets its name from distillers brewing batches beneath the light of the moon so as not to be detected by the law.
By definition, moonshine is illegally made, untaxed liquor. But the term moonshine has come to represent the process of making high-proof spirits, and many commercial distilleries use family recipes passed down for a couple of hundred years.
So is moonshine made by commercial distilleries authentic moonshine? Well, some would argue that any alcohol made legally isn't real moonshine. We just say it's delicious. And it seems like a lot of folks agree. Here are the ten best legal moonshine brands in the United States.
10. Hudson New York Corn Whiskey
Hudson New York Corn Whiskey is brewed at Tuthilltown Spirits Farm Distillery, New York's first whiskey distillery since prohibition. The distillers use a blend of locally grown corn for their whiskey.
9. Tim Smith's Climax Moonshine
Created by a moonshiner in Climax, Virginia, Tim Smith's Climax Moonshine is made from a family recipe using corn, rye, and barley malt.
8. Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine turns heads for being bottled in classic Mason jars, but it tastes just as good as it looks. Whether you prefer the original recipe, apple pie flavored, or any other twist on this classic, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine remains one of the best moonshine brands out there.
7. Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon
6. Troy & Sons Platinum
Made from heirloom corn, Troy and Sons Platinum is crafted at the Asheville Distilling Co.
5. Stillhouse Clear Corn Whiskey
Stillhouse Clear Corn Whiskey is crafted in distilleries in Virginia and Kentucky in authentic copper whiskey stills.
4. Bill Elliott's Moonshine
Distilled at the Dawsonville Distillery in Dawsonville, Georgia, Bill Elliott's Moonshine is a partnership with legendary NASCAR driver Bill Elliott.
3. Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1
The Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1 is distilled in Kentucky's Buffalo Trace Distillery, a National Historic Landmark.
2. George Dickel White Corn Whisky
Known for its "mellow as moonlight" smoothness, George Dickel's White Corn Whisky is perfect in a mixed drink or over ice.
1. Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey
Named for legendary moonshiner and bootlegger Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey is made from the Appalachian icon's original recipe. As Sutton himself once said, "Jesus turned the water into wine, I turned it into likker."