"My daddy, he made whiskey, my granddad made it too,
We ain't paid no whiskey tax since 1792." note
— "Copper Kettle" by Albert Frank Beddoe
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. Other names include "tay", "mountain dew," and "poteen." 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. The result is often a Gargle Blaster
"Revenuers" or excise men often feature in these stories, hunting down the moonshiners. Shipping out the finished product while evading them is a job best left to a Bad Ass Driver
For the enlisted counterpart, see Military Moonshiner
- 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.
- 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.
- Luke from The Rescuers is implied to be one. His "swamp juice" is strong enough to give a Nitro Boost to a swampmobile!
- One of these is killed by the eponymous vengeance demon in Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud.
- The Return of Swamp Thing opens with a bunch of armed office workers searching for a hillbilly moonshine distillery in a swamp, and ending up attacked by a leech mutant. Later, the moonshiners themselves appear to attempt to rape the Love Interest before the eponymous hero intervenes, beating and chasing them away.
- 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 McAuslan 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 moonshiner 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.
- In the Backstory of The Dukes of Hazzard Uncle Jesse & Boss Hogg were both moonshiners. The Duke boys are permanently "on probation" for running Jesse's moonshine.
- In B.J. 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. Uncle Choi, played by George Takei, takes pride in his product and does not associate with "the lowlifes that sell bad hooch."
- Stargate SG-1:
- 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.
- These showed up repeatedly on The Andy Griffith Show.
- 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.
- George Jones' "White Lighting" is about one of these and his brew, told from the viewpoint of his son.
- 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.
- 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.
- One of the areas to be explored in Evil Dead: Hail to the King is a household of an entire family of possessed moonshiners, called Hellbillies.
- 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.
- 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 named Bob Todd 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.
- On Wacky Races, at least two episodes imply that Lazy Luke is a moonshiner. He displays a jug at the start of "The Great Cold Rush Race", and another episode has him mistaking Dick Dastardly's siren for that of the revenuers.