Created By: PrfnoffJune 4, 2013 Last Edited By: PrfnoffDecember 16, 2013
Troped

Hillbilly Moonshiner

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Someone who illegally distills whiskey from corn or other farm products in a rural area where alcohol is prohibited or heavily taxed.

The illegal activity is often carried out at night, which is how "moonshine" got its name. Typically, the distilling process involves a copper still (the most basic version of which is a pipe run through a hollow log) set up in a remote clearing, preferably near a stream of soft water.

"Revenuers" or excise men often feature in these stories, hunting down the moonshiners.

For the enlisted counterpart, see Military Moonshiner.
Examples:

Advertising
  • The soda brand Mountain Dew was originally developed by Barney and Allen Hartman to be mixed with whiskey. (And "mountain dew" used to be Southern US slang for moonshine, before the soda's popularity completely eclipsed the original meaning.) The original packaging (as well as the deliberately retro "Throwback" packaging) features a cartoon hillbilly.

Film
  • In The People Vs Larry Flynt, the boyhood days of Larry Flynt had the enterprising youngster make and sell moonshine in the Kentucky hills.
  • The Soviet short film Moonshiners (Samogonschiki) by Leonid Gaidai. The titular moonshiners are played by the popular Soviet comedy trio Nikulin, Vitsin & Morgunov.

Literature
  • In The Little Golden Calf, Ostap Bender reveals his experience as a moonshiner when he teaches visiting American bootleggers some Soviet moonshine recipes.
  • In Frank Merriwell Down South, one of the book's stories has Frank and a friend mistaken for revenue agents by Appalachian moonshiners. They're saved because the mysterious masked rider the moonshiners all respect is a girl they helped out and befriended earlier in the story.
  • The Mc Auslan story "The Gordon Women" focuses on the characters, on leave, dealing with moonshining in the Scottish highlands — from both sides of the law.
  • Discworld's Nanny Ogg only escapes the appellation of being a mooonshiner by King Verence taking great care to exclude witches from being included in the prohibition on distilling liquor (not that she would be ashamed in the slightest of being known as one); however, she does keep her classic hillside still in an out-of-the-way grove just for the look of the thing. This does mean she has cornered the local market with her product, known affectionately as "Old Suicider." It's made from apples—well, mainly apples.
  • In The Goblin Reservation by Clifford Simak, one of the characters, a Neanderthal named Alley Oop (intelligent, but still not quite adapted to modern society) makes moonshine at his hut. There is no indication it's illegal (it's the 26th century or so), but the quality is ghastly.

Live Action TV
  • In the Backstory of The Dukes Of Hazzard Uncle Jesse & Boss Hogg were both moonshiners. The Duke boys are permanantly "on probation" for running Jesse's moonshine.
  • In BJ And The Bear/The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, Lobo is a Corrupt Cop who runs moonshine on the side.
  • In one episode of Hawaii Five 0 we learn that one of Chin Ho's uncles is one of these, and makes moonshine from the roots of the ti plant. According to Chin the stuff is very tasty but not for the faint of heart.
  • In some versions of the Stargate SG 1 pilot "Children of the Gods" Skaara shares moonshine his town made with Jack's team. After asking Daniel (who stayed behind on Abydos after the movie) what he's "been teaching these kids", Jack tries it and it makes him hoarse.
  • Moonshiners, a Reality Show on the Discovery Channel, follows a group of hillbilly moonshiners. Despite the cameras and publicity, moonshine is still just as illegal as you'd think it to be.
  • Granny Moses in The Beverly Hillbillies is not a moonshiner; she just happens makes her "medicine" in a giant copper still and it is only mildly explosive.
  • The Baldwin sisters in The Waltons would be horrified if you accused them, as respectable elderly spinsters, of being moonshiners. They just take care to brew the medicine that their father devised in the traditional manner...in the giant copper still, and keep it hidden from revenue men.
  • An episode of The Glades dealt with two Feuding Families of moonshiners who went legit and now sold legally produced moonshine. However, Jim discovers that old habits die hard and someone is still producing and selling moonshine off-the-books.
  • The History Channel Reality Show, Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning, revolves around the Real Life Feuding Families of the Hatfields and McCoys trying to come together to run a legitimate moonshine business.

Music
  • Ridiculously common in traditional folk music from Scotland, Ireland and the Appalachians. There are innumerable songs about this; some of the old standards are "The Rare Ould Mountain Dew", "The Moonshiner" ("I'm a Rambler, I'm a Gambler"), and "The Hills of Connemara".
  • The song "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle is about three generations of moonshiners. The latest generation has expanded the operation to growing drugs in the hollow where his grandpappy used to have his still.

Newspaper Comics
  • Parodied in The Far Side: "Suddenly the cops stepped into the clearing, and the Spamshiners knew they were busted." The scofflaws are caught in the act of forcing a pig down a funnel of their apparatus.
  • The irascible Snuffy Smith has to guard his moonshine still from "infernal revenuers" and some of his hooch-mooching neighbors.

Tabletop Games
  • Call Of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "The Asylum". The degenerate backwoods Cthulhu Mythos cultists who serve Freygan brew moonshine, which is taken away and sold by gangsters.
  • In the Kingmaker adventure path in Pathfinder, the players encounter Munguk the Hill Giant. Munguk is wandering the countryside looking for berries to make into moonshine.

Theatre

Web Comics
  • The first group of antagonists in Lackadaisy were a bunch of pig farmers. As Rocky's burning down their farm he finds a still, causing him to wonder why they were bothering to steal watered-down swill from Lackadaisy's supplier.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • Cletus Spuckler is occasionally seen moonshining. One episode has Homer becoming a moonshine connoiseur.
    • The episode "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" has Homer becoming a moonshiner after alcohol is banned in Springfield.
  • One of the American Dad Christmas specials has Roger learning how to make moonshine from a hillbilly after his alcoholism gets so bad that the stuff at the liquor store can't satisfy him. The liquor store clerk told him the guy was a blind, four-armed satyr, which he isn't but the hallucinations from his booze make him look like that.
  • Appears in Squidbillies as would be expected. One episode has a slight subversion as the Sheriff notices what appears to be a still and points out that moonshine is illegal only for Lil to casually state she's not making moonshine.... it's her meth lab.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • June 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Call Of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "The Asylum". The degenerate backwoods Cthulhu Mythos cultists who serve Freygan brew moonshine, which is taken away and sold by gangsters.
  • June 5, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Newspaper Comics
    • The irascible Snuffy Smith has to guard his moonshine still from "infernal revenuers" and some of his hooch-mooching neighbors.

    Film
    • The boyhood days of Larry Flint had the enterprising youngster make and sell moonshine in the Kentucky hills.
  • June 8, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    • In the Backstory of The Dukes Of Hazzard Uncle Jesse & Boss Hogg were both moonshiners. The Duke boys are permanantly "on probation" for running Jesse's moonshine.
    • In BJ And The Bear/The Misadventures Of Sheriff Lobo Lobo is a Corrupt cop who runs moonshine on the side.
    • There's a film called This Stuff'll Kill Ya which appears to be about moonshiners, but I only saw the trailer many years ago so I can't give any more details than "it exists."
  • June 8, 2013
    aurora369
    In The Little Golden Calf, Ostap Bender reveals his experience as a moonshiner when he teaches visiting American bootleggers some Soviet moonshine recipes.

    Another Soviet example, the short film Moonshiners (Samogonschiki) by Leonid Gaidai, where the titular moonshiners are played by the popular Soviet comedy trio Nikulin, Vitsin & Morgunov.
  • June 8, 2013
    TonyG
    • Cletus Spuckler from The Simpsons is occasionally seen moonshining. One episode has Homer becoming a moonshine connoiseur.
      • The episode "Homer vs the Eighteenth Ammendment" has Homer becoming a moonshiner after alcohol is banned in Springfield.
    • Not a hillbilly, but Hawkeye Pierce had a still in MASH to fuel his martini habit.
  • June 8, 2013
    SKJAM
    In Frank Merriwell Down South, one of the book's stories has Frank and a friend mistaken for revenue agents by Appalachian moonshiners. They're saved because the mysterious masked rider the moonshiners all respect is a girl they helped out and befriended earlier in the story.
  • June 8, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • One of the American Dad Christmas specials has Roger learning how to make moonshine from a hillbilly after his alcoholism gets so bad that the stuff at the liquor store can't satisfy him. The liquor store clerk told him the guy was a blind, four-armed satyr, which he isn't but the hallucinations from his booze make him look like that.
  • June 8, 2013
    StarSword
    TV:
    • In one episode of Hawaii Five 0 we learn that one of Chin Ho's uncles is one of these, and makes moonshine from the roots of the ti plant. According to Chin the stuff is very tasty but not for the faint of heart.
  • June 8, 2013
    StarSword
    TV:
    • In some versions of the Stargate SG 1 pilot "Children of the Gods" Skaara shares moonshine his town made with Jack's team. After asking Daniel (who stayed behind on Abydos after the movie) what he's "been teaching these kids", Jack tries it and it makes him hoarse.
  • June 8, 2013
    StarSword
    See also Gargle Blaster, as that's frequently what they end up with.
  • September 18, 2013
    aurora369
    bump-o
  • September 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • The first group of antagonists in Lackadaisy were a bunch of pig farmers. As Rocky's burning down their farm he finds a still, causing him to wonder why they were bothering to steal watered-down swill from Lackadaisy's supplier.
  • September 18, 2013
    darthcaliber
    Appears is Squidbillies as would be expected. One episode has a slight subversion as the Sheriff notices what appears to be a still and points out that moonshine is illegal only for Lil to casually state she's not making moonshine.... it's her meth lab.
  • October 27, 2013
    JenBurdoo
    Ridiculously common in traditional folk music from Scotland, Ireland and the Appalachians. There are innumerable songs about this; some of the old standards are The Rare Ould Mountain Dew, I'm a Rambler, I'm a Gambler, and The Hills of Connemara.
  • December 5, 2013
    JenBurdoo
    The description should be longer, and also mention the "revenuers" or excise men who often feature in these stories, hunting down the moonshiners.

    • The Mc Auslan story "The Gordon Women" focuses on the characters, on leave, dealing with moonshining in the Scottish highlands — from both sides of the law.
  • December 5, 2013
    StarSword
    This becomes automatically Up For Grabs December 27.
  • December 5, 2013
    DRCEQ
    Moonshiners on the Discovery Channel is entirely about this. It's a reality show that follows a group of hillbilly moonshiners, and despite the cameras and publicity, is still just as illegal as you'd think it to be.
  • December 5, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    Granny Moses in The Beverly Hillbillies is not a moonshiner, she just happens makes her "medicine" in a giant copper still and it is only mildly explosive.

    Likewise The Baldwin sisters in The Waltons would be horrified if you accused them, as respectable elderly spinsters, of being moonshiners. They just take care to brew the medicine that their father devised in the traditional manner...in the giant copper still, and keep it hidden from revenue men.

    Discworld has Nanny Ogg who only escapes the appellation of being a mooonshiner by King Verence taking great care to exclude witches from being included in the prohibition on distilling liquor (not that she would ashamed in the slightest as being known as one), however she does keep her classic hillside still in an out of the way grove just for the look of the thing. This does mean she has cornered the local market with her product, known affectionately as "Old Suicider". Its made from apples, well mainly apples.
  • December 5, 2013
    Boston
    ^^^^ The traditional title of the second song is "The Wild Rover" (not "I'm a Rambler, I'm a Gambler" — although those words begin the chorus.)
  • December 5, 2013
    XFllo
    My edit: I just fixed the Example Indentation (The Simpsons examples).
  • December 6, 2013
    nielas
    • An episode of The Glades dealt with two Feuding Families of moonshiners who went legit and now sold legally produced moonshine. However, Jim discovers that old habits die hard and someone is still producing and selling moonshine off-the-books.
  • December 6, 2013
    JonnyB
    Live Action TV
  • December 7, 2013
    MetaFour
    Referenced by the soda brand Mountain Dew. It was originally developed by Barney and Allen Hartman to be mixed with whiskey. (And "mountain dew" used to be Southern US slang for moonshine, before the soda's popularity completely eclipsed the original meaning.) The original packaging (as well as the deliberately retro "Throwback" packaging) features a cartoon hillbilly.
  • December 8, 2013
    Omeganian
    In The Goblin Reservation by Clifford Simak, one of the characters, a Neanderthal named Alley Oop (intelligent, but still not quite adapted to modern society) makes moonshine at his hut. There is no indication it's illegal (it's the 26th century or so), but the quality is ghastly.
  • December 15, 2013
    JenBurdoo
    I think there should be a page quote, but there are a lot of choices. Pick a verse from one of the songs. There should definitely be a quotes page to put some of them in.

    I've never heard of "Wild Rover" as a name for "I'm a Rambler, I'm a Gambler;" I think the official name is simply "The Moonshiner."
  • December 15, 2013
    foxley
    The song "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle is about three generations of moonshiners. The latest generation has expanded the operation to growing drugs in the hollow where his grandpappy used to have his still.
  • December 15, 2013
    Floria
    • In the Kingmaker adventure path in Pathfinder, the players encounter Munguk the Hill Giant. Munguk is wandering the countryside looking for berries to make into moonshine.

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