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Military Moonshiner

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Alcohol for medicinal purposes, you understand.

"It's rotgut. Wheresoever men are gathered together, someone will find something to ferment in a rubber boot, distill in an old kettle, and flog to his mates. Made from rats, by the smell of it."
Sergeant Jack Jackrum, Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett

A military unit has one member — usually low-ranking — who secretly brews or distills liquor.

Well, more or less secretly, depending on how strict regulations are. Usually winked at all around. Especially by those who drink it. Officers sometimes find it hard to find out how to get a bottle for themselves, or they may disdain the sketchy hooch because they have access to Luxurious Liquor on the Black Market.

The moonshiner is often quite skilled at it; the Hillbilly Moonshiner is often his backstory. And the hooch itself, though frequently of fire-breathing potency, is at least drinkable without danger. Although the drinkers may curse it and describe it negatively, it generally doesn't blind or kill them, presumably because (from the characters' POV) if it were truly dangerous it wouldn't get the necessary nod-and-a-wink from higher up, and (from the writer's POV) they don't want to take out characters that way.

Often produces it for a toast To Absent Friends who were lost in combat.

Appearances before The Renaissance are usually anachronistic, as prior to about 1500, stills were rare and usually used for medicinal and alchemical purposes (though that's not to say that making spirits of wine wasn't a hobby of alchemists...). This character has been known to appear earlier, making fermented brews rather than distilled liquor.

If he's not The Scrounger, he gets his parts (copper tubing, large pots) from him. The moonshiner may need to negotiate with the Camp Cook to creatively obtain sugar, fruit juice, and other ingredients.

See also: Camp Cook, Hillbilly Moonshiner.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ryoko Sakaki in Food Wars! is a trainee chef, who specialises in fermented ingredients, and also makes "special rice juice" (read: illegal homebrewed sake) for dorm parties. The setting is a boarding school rather than an army base, but the "making illicit alcohol in a strictly controlled environment" is still there.
  • A couple chapters of Kurogane Puka Puka Tai feature a sake-brewing ring aboard the Unebi. It's run by several officers: the ship's doctor, the chief engineer, the purser, and the gunnery officer, and was almost discovered when a fermenting container exploded in a storeroom.
  • In Sound of the Sky the garrison of the Time-Keeping Fortress has taken the tradition of distilling calvados and selling it to the local mafia in a fairly large numbers to make up for late payments. It's a serious felony.
    Noel: Violation of monopoly and tax laws too. At worst, treason, as well.

    Fan Works 
  • Peace Forged in Fire: Morgan has a side business brewing Romulan ale, and Praetor Velal is very impressed at the quality of her product. She also mentions she had a vineyard on Virinat before the Tal Shiar and Elachi destroyed the colony, and in another scene speaks hopefully of one day going back there. Unusually for the trope, she's a flag officer (her rank of khre'riov is equivalent to a rear admiral).
  • The Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith aren't exactly military in Surgical Steel's Serindë stories, but surgeons and apprentices do accompany the army on campaign; the stills that inevitably pop up are their work.
  • The War of the Masters:
  • Rocketship Voyager. Tom Paris buys a squeeze-tube of booze from the ship's cook, and explains to B'Elanna Torres that there's a vacuum-still hidden somewhere on Voyager (or maybe outside the hull) that their Master-At-Arms hasn't tracked down yet. It also helps that the crew subsist on yeast-based food.
    "Yeast!" Paris grimaced. He had been raised on raw yeast mush in the Unemployment Barracks and had a visceral loathing of the stuff. "Only if it's been used to ferment glucose."
    "Man does not live by bread alone."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Updated in Buffalo Soldiers (2001). Ray Elwood doesn't make moonshine; he bakes heroin.
  • Not a distiller himself, the cook for the C57D in Forbidden Planet did get a lot of booze in an unorthodox way. After befriending Robbie the robot and asking him if he could make him more bourbon, Robbie supplies him with several gallons, all in hundreds of bottles identical to the one he let Robbie scan.
  • This is a subplot of The Great Escape, where the American prisoners buy up all the potatoes in the camp and secretly ferment it to make a very powerful potato whisky. The English and Americans are blown away by the power of the alcohol, but the Scottish prisoners actually don't seem terribly affected by it.
  • In House on Bare Mountain, Granny Good and the Wolf Man Krakow are running an industrial scale still in the basement of the school.
  • Subverted in Inglourious Basterds in that Lt. Aldo Raine implies he did this in Tennessee before the war.
  • One - Corporal Harrigan - appears in the movie Jarhead, providing the supplies for the party in Iraq.
  • The Master: The highly emotionally unstable, über-alcoholic Navy seaman Freddie Quell operates a still amid ship in which he concocts a moonshine made out of alcohol and industrial solvents.
  • The crew of the HMS Surprise is seen heating a still, apparently fueled with prickly pear cactus, over an open fire pit when they land on the Galapagos Islands in Master and Commander. Unlike many other examples, there isn't much reason to believe they are distilling behind the backs of their superiors at all. At the time, the rum ration was hallowed tradition and medical common sense in the Royal Navy and one of the reasons Jack Aubrey chose to return to the Galapagos Islands was to replenish his food stocks. To assume that "food stocks" includes some form of liquor to replace or stretch the supply of regulation rum isn't that big a stretch.
  • Dozer in The Matrix.
    Cypher: It's good for two things: degreasing engines and killing brain cells.
  • Never So Few: Cpl. Bill Ringa offers his CO Capt. Tom Reynolds a flask of some noxious gin. When Tom asks how he got it, Bill reveals that he himself makes, bottles, and sells it.
  • In Red Planet, Commander Bowman discovers that two of her crew members have made a still in the lab after the computer tells her that the lab's thermostat is set a little high. She confronts the crewmembers... and then asks for a drink. She downs the shot in one go and, at the crewmembers' shocked expressions, reminds them that she was in the Navy.

  • Moloch, in the novelization of the Girl Genius webcomic, Agatha H. and the Airship City, is revealed to have been this, making him relatively popular amongst his peers. A later volume, Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle, states that some of the engineers on Castle Wulfenbach have managed to distill vodka so powerful that it spontaneously ignites when exposed to direct sunlight. The Baron's chief administrator is fully aware of this... and drinks it regularly.
  • In the Alexis Carew series, larger ships brew small beer legally in vats to give off-duty crew an alternative to ship's water, which tends to taste bad after being cycled through the ship's treatment plant a jillion times.
  • The novelisation of Aliens has an administrator of the terraforming colony on Acheron noting that his assistant is chewing something illegal. He doesn't raise it because too much insistence on rules and regulations on a colony far from Earth can get you lost outside without a communicator. Besides he's hoping to score some himself.
  • On the Ark Royal The chief engineer has a still, which provided most of the booze Cpt. Smith drank while the ship was stuck in orbit. Newcomer Commander Fitzwilliam is momentarily surprised to see unlabeled rotgut served openly at his first briefing with the senior crew, then remembers that he hadn't seen a ship yet where the crew wasn't fermenting something.
  • Assignment Gestapo by Sven Hassel. 2 Section have spent the past few days lugging their dismantled still around Russia, with the contents distributed among their water bottles until they can get it fully fermented. Their officers know better than to interfere, but one feels the need to mention the fact that they're not filtering it.
    "Not worth the trouble," said the Legionnaire.
    "But my God, you drink it in that state and you'll be bowling about the ground in hoops!"
    "So long as it's alcoholic," said the Legionnaire calmly. "That's all that matters."
    Lt. Ohlsen shook his head again and retired with Spat. Clearly they did not give much for our chances.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's first Ciaphas Cain story, a soldier tells Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, he's not what they expected. Cain laughs and reels off all the things they doubtlessly did to prepare for his arrival — including dismantle the stills.
  • Trying to run a "dry" army in The Citizen Series essentially just means that the men avoid being drunk on duty; they'll otherwise make tonk with anything that has cellulose.note  Hawthorne at one point combines the moonshiners' output (from sea algae in this case, and it tastes exactly as horrible as it sounds) with lubricating oil to make Molotov cocktails. He obtains the liquor by telling the senior NCO that either the liquor "miraculously" appears outside his quarters in the middle of the night, or he tears the base apart until he finds where the still is hidden (taking it as a given that there is one somewhere). The requested miracle occurs.
  • In the chronologically first Dragonriders of Pern novel, the now ex-Navy personnel who are part of the newly founded Pern colony note that the first two types of plants that people look for on a new planet are ones that can be distilled into liquor, and ones that can be brewed into a coffee substitute.
  • EarthCent Ambassador: Joe has a sideline in homebrewing and his products are served at a number of bars on Union Station. It evidently dates back to his mercenary days, since he's able to barter permission to land at a merc encampment when he offers several kegs to an old war buddy.
  • The Forever War: William Mandella has virtually nothing in common with his unit by the time he becomes a Major. Except that one of the cooks has cobbled-together a still and is selling booze to the troops. More than anything, he's amazed at how they got the raw materials out of a closed-system. They pulled it off by offering crewmen their products in exchange for sugary desserts to use as feedstock.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Bragg is noted at the regiment's finest maker of sacra. After his death, others make it, but the old bottles are prized.
    • In The Armour of Contempt, when they gather to greet Dalin Criid back from his first day of training, they succeeded in digging up some of Bragg's sacra. When Gaunt arrives to wish Dalin well, he points out that there are regulations about that sort of stuff — so they had better drink it up and get rid of it.
    • In Only In Death Larkin brings a bottle of Bragg's to Rawne so they can drink To Absent Friends.
  • Sir Horace Harkness from Honor Harrington did it for the most of his recorded career — and, probably, still does. While alcohol doesn't seem to be contraband in the Royal Manticoran Navy (the wine mess for officers is alive and well, and Honor has been spotted having a beer with lunch on more than a few occasions), luxuries like alcohol, tobacco or chocolate would be on sale from the ship's stores at a crewman's own expense. The stock taken aboard is fairly limited, prices are high and there are heavy restrictions on how much alcohol one can buy at one time. This creates lucrative opportunities for the likes of Harkness.
    • One minor character in one of the short stories was apparently a noted moonshiner who got away with it because he was very good at his official job and produced very good hooch.
  • While commanding the war effort at Alwa Station, Kris Longknife relaxes several regulations on conduct aboard ship, including consumption of alcohol off-duty (she had run a "wet" ship as a previous command due to a mixed crew of sailors, Marines, and various civilian contractors, and had no problems). This is met by general approval from the rank-and-file sailors, except usually by one leading chief per ship who is suspected to run the still.
  • George MacDonald Fraser, in the McAuslan stories, relates how his first independent command involved marching eighty Scottish soldiers through miles of Libyan desert to garrison an ex-French Foreign Legion fort and "maintain a presence" there. At first naive enough to think his men aren't likely to get drunk in such an isolated posting, Lieutenant Dand McNeill soon discovers the wily Scots have managed to obtain arak, the extremely potent Arab liquor distilled from dates...
  • In Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment, Sgt. Jackrum manages to find some moonshiners and buy a bottle of rotgut liquor known as "hangman" (because "one drop, and you're dead."). He doesn't actually drink the stuff, he just washes his mouth out with it to give the illusion of a harmless drunk while helping Polly and Shufti steal some clothes from a group of Camp Followers to use as disguises.
  • The Mote in God's Eye: Captain Blaine always has a good supply of Irish Mist, supplied courtesy of Sergeant Maloney and his vacuum still. Officially, Blaine doesn't know where it comes from. It has a part in the climax, when a Motie imitates the captain, but doesn't know about the still.
  • The RCN novels have slash, which is literally distilled from the alcohol-based hydraulic fluid used in ships' power rooms. The RCN attitude toward it seems to be benign neglect: as long as the crew aren't drunk on duty the officers are fine with it and will usually partake themselves. (Daniel being asked to partake of native liquors will usually elicit some comment to the effect that he's tasted slash that was a hell of a lot worse.)
  • In Space Doctor by Lee Corey, several riggers turn up to see the doctor and quickly lapse into a coma after drinking orbital moonshine.
  • A Discussed Trope in Starman Jones, when Sam Anderson explains to the title character why it's convenient for all concerned to turn a blind eye to such activities.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Star Trek: The Original Series novel "Vulcan's Glory" establishes that producing "Engine Room Hooch" was almost universal on early Starfleet vessels and other installations. Predictably, newly arrived junior engineer Montgomery Scott was very skilled at producing hooch of the highest quality. Even by-the-book officers like Number One and the Commandant of Starfleet Academy largely looked the other way (in exchange for having the first squeezings from the still, of course). After Scotty took over hooch production on the Enterprise, Number One commented that the hooch was better than that from the Lionheart. However the batch in the novel was subsequently accidentally contaminated by radiation from the warp reactor, which made it much stronger than intended. This had the fortunate side effect of bringing their attention to a damaged reactor that they would have missed otherwise. After this incident, Chief Engineer Barry put a firm end to any further production of the hooch on the Enterprise.
    • Later, in the novel "Ghostwalker" several junior officers justify to themselves setting up a customized food synthesizer to produce better chocolate by stating that they were not setting up a still or making illicit substances. When discovered Scotty tried to convince Spock not to go too hard on them as the compartment the "chocolate factory" helped keep Spock safe for several days, and plenty of Enterprise crew members would thank these crew members for making decent chocolate.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: In the novel "Bloodline" Leia recalls that back in her Rebel Alliance days starfighter pilots always made the best hooch.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • X-Wing Series:
      • In Wraith Squadron, the squadron mechanic looks at a hastily-cobbled-together ship he just out built of a smuggling compartment ripped from a shuttle and the ejection seat boosters from a crippled fighter, he says it's the second most hazardous thing he's ever made. The most hazardous was his first still.
      • In Starfighters of Adumar, one pilot mentions that he knew their new diplomatic liaison when said liaison was a pilot. He didn't make his own alcohol, but he smuggled it and all manner of other things in.
    • Rebel Stand, written by Aaron Allston like the other two Star Wars Expanded Universe examples, also has moonshine. Moonshine which one character thinks smells like paint thinner.
      Jag: We're not that lucky. While we've been waiting, I've been determining its effects on local insects. One hundred percent deadly.
      Jaina: Hush. This is the finest example of the Borleias distiller's art. It's dereliction of duty to be drinking it when another Vong barrage might start at any minute. That means it's going to taste wonderful.
      She took an experimental sip.
      To her credit, she did keep her reactions from her face. But through the Force Kyp could feel her physiological reaction as nerve endings in her throat protested the intrusion of the homemade brew.
      • The scene continues on with notes like Jaina's voice now sounding like an elderly mechanic's, Jag tasting it and making "a noise that suggested he'd just been punched", Kyp tasting it and surmising that it seems to be "part alcohol, part pepper, part rotted fruit" and then asking if the other two had had the antidote before he showed up, Jag taking another sip and having a clearly visible ripple of anguish from his neck to his feet, and at the end Jaina saying they should drink to the (unrelated) conclusion of the conversation.
        Kyp: Do we have to?
        Jaina: We have to.
        Jag: (chuckles) It's a drink that makes death-duels with Vong pilots pale in comparison.
  • A Study in Murder by Robert Ryan. Despite there being in theory nothing to ferment thanks to the surrounding populace being on starvation rations, and the fact that Allied prisoners can pay to have proper booze mailed to them, moonshine still exists in the POW camp where Dr. Watson is imprisoned. Watson drinks a sample and promptly passes out, waking with a splitting headache. It could have been worse—several men had died after drinking the stuff and Watson suspected they'd been deliberately poisoned.
  • Nellie Coombs in The Thin Red Line secretly brews "swipe", an alcoholic drink made of canned fruit. When discovered, he's forced to teach the trick to the rest of the C Company, which leads to everybody getting staggeringly drunk.
  • The Unknown Soldier features the soldiers brewing alcohol during a stalemate. They nickname the container it's brewing in "Boy".
  • While they were never actually shown in a scene, a later Vorkosigan Saga novel has Miles commenting that in his ten year career in the military, he has never once seen a spacecraft or station larger than a courier or personal transport that didn't have an unauthorized still on it somewhere.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40,000 novel Scourge the Heretic, when Kyrlock and Drake are standing guard at the beginning, Kyrlock produces a drink distilled by one of the tank drivers.

    Live Action TV 
  • The prisoners of G-Wing in Bad Girls brew up a batch of "Chateau Larkhall" using fruit, powdered drink mix, and yeast tablets nicked from the prison kitchen. Winds up tasting as good as it sounds (that is: horrible), but at least it's alcoholic. It's later consumed at an impromptu wake for Monica's son.
  • Averted in Band of Brothers; Easy Company lacks a moonshiner. The biggest drinker among the main characters has to smuggle his booze in the luggage of a known teetotaler, and later resorts to looting when his supply runs dry. As they were fighting through France and into Germany finding left-behind alcohol wasn't too hard.
  • The flight deck crew in the new Battlestar Galactica set up a still and are harshly reprimanded for it by Chief Tyrol... because it was a sloppy job that made "liquor" liable to kill someone, and teaches them to build a better version. Later, Colonel Tigh catches Tyrol brewing liquor to trade for engine parts, directs him to the parts he needs, and takes a jar as payment.
  • A not-quite-as labor-intensive version was the fatal flaw/clue in a Columbo episode. The killer, a colonel in charge of a military academy who rigs a ceremonial cannon to explode and killing the owner of said academy, gets on his subordinates to find apple cider the cadets are fermenting into alcoholic after seeing a bottle of it. When the bottle is found, he drags the cadets outside to where he saw it to lay into them, as Columbo had planned, He reveals to the colonel that there was only one place on the campus of the military school where the bottle could be seen: the cannon, and only seen before reveille, as the cadets made sure to hide the bottle before then, blowing the colonel's alibi of sleeping at the time.
  • Firefly: Not strictly military, but alcohol is still hard to find in the Black:
    Mal: To Kaylee, and her inter-engine fermentation system.
  • In F Troop, Sergeant O'Rourke gets around this by having the local Indian tribe, the Hekawis, make the booze for him. He still provides them with parts and raw materials...and sells the finished product in Fort Courage's saloon, which he secretly owns.
  • JAG: In "Cabin Pressure", Harm & Mac are sent out to a ship to investigate the death of a moonshiner.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Hawkeye and Trapper John (and later BJ) have a still in their tent. They say that they're distilling gin (hence the martini glasses), but what actually comes out is little more than high-proof grain alcohol.
    • Colonel Potter once mentions that he had had a still in Guam during World War II that exploded and injured him. He got a Purple Heart for the wounds he suffered when said distillery explosion occurred.
    • This very still received a Shout-Out in Community, where the TV-obsessed Abed constantly compares Jeff Winger to Hawkeye. Jeff immediately orders a "Hawkeye still" be built in his editorial office.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Poussey fills this role at Litchfield, notably contributing a two-liter bottle of it for Trica's wake. Other inmates have tried their hand at the trope as well.
  • Not military, but still a strictly regimented, all-male institution. A Christmas Episode of Porridge features one of the prisoners distilling hooch in one of the shower blocks. Served in a disinfectant bottle, its taste causes Fletch to comment that they should have taken the disinfectant out first.
  • Referenced, but never seen, in SeaQuest DSV. Lt. Krieg manages to purchase and assemble a still aboard ship, only to find out that the genetically modified barley on offer doesn't yield alcohol when mashed and distilled, a failure Lucas teases him for.
  • Chief of Security Tony Verdeschi from Space: 1999's second season spends his off-duty period trying to brew beer using Moonbase Alpha's hydroponics equipment, resulting in varying degrees of failure.
  • Brody assembled a still from the lab/kitchen tools aboard Destiny in Stargate Universe. The drinks usually taste horrible (most likely due to being brewed from alien flora), but the crew doesn't complain too much because hey, alcohol!
    "It only has one redeeming quality."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Twilight: 2000, a still is essential as a source of fuel, and the game includes rules for distilling alcohol. Keeping a still supplied and functional is frequently a full-time job for The Scrounger.

    Video Games 
  • This is referenced in one of the data entries in Mass Effect: the Alliance ships have ablative armor and void spaces between the decks and the main outer hull; in the entry it's mentioned that you'd often find illegal stills in these void spaces. Chief Ashley Williams (no, not that one, the other one) jokes that a still is the second thing Alliance engineers install in a starship — the engines being the first — before her toast to absent family members.
    • Not quite military, but in Mass Effect: Andromeda, an overheard conversation on Ryder's first visit to The Nexus implies the A.P.E.X. Strike teams have been doing some of this. (Squadmate Liam can be heard talking with one of them, and notes she's brewed something fierce. When he asks how she made it, she just replies "you'd be surprised.")

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • While the cast are technically military, they haven't been moonshining. But Schlock does find a still while working undercover at a circus - being used by the clowns. They were apparently trying to make Merlot Brandy. Schlock stated that they were closer to making biodiesel.
    • Captain Tagon recounts a time when he was in the infantry and a greenie major gave their company far too much living space.
    "Within two weeks we had four stills, two smack labs, an on-site escort service, a two-star casino, and a greenhouse full of hyperjuana."

    Western Animation 
  • Referenced in The Simpsons episode "Brother from Another Series" after Sideshow Bob is released from prison:
    Cecil Terwilliger: Now make yourself at home. Perhaps a glass of Bordeaux? I have the '82 Chateau Latour and a rather indifferent Rausan-Segla.
    Sideshow Bob: I've been in prison, Cecil. I'll be happy just as long as it doesn't taste like orange drink fermented under a radiator.
    Cecil Terwilliger: That would be the Latour, then.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: this trope is common in Real Life. A soldier's life is hard and stressful, and getting drunk or high on drugs is considered essential for staying sane. While almost all armed services in the world view drunkenness in the service negatively, the Cannon Fodder at the bottom of the military food chain has its ways to avert the watchful eye of the superiors. Many junior officers turn a blind eye on military moonshiners (as long as no one is getting too out of control, or hurt worse than a hangover), as they know their troops and how they need to blow off steam occasionally.
  • Bill Mauldin (in Up Front) noted these moonshiners existed during World War II, and that higher-ups winked at them, and even warned them when there might be crack down. Partly because they produced safer booze than the locals did. One of his cartoons also shows an enlisted man busily adjusting his still, as an officer looks on. The officer says, "Hell of a way to waste time. Does it work?"
  • There are stories of stills blowing up in American military bases in countries like Saudi Arabia with strict alcohol bans (please note, though, that there are no longer any American bases in Saudi).
    • Pilots in the leadup to the Gulf War would be known to ferment fruit juices or have alcohol smuggled in from the US via emptied mouthwash bottles. What was irksome to them is that personnel housed in neighboring Bahrain only a few miles away were allowed to purchase alcohol.
  • Self-sufficiency forefather John Seymour wrote that during his time in the King's African Rifles, each company had one assigned brewer, who would knock up some kind of beer from whatever he could scrounge and let the company drink it once a week. "Horrible stuff, but it kept us sane."
  • During WWII Allied prisoners of war would make alcohol in German prison camps. It gets scary when you read how they used lead pipes for their stills but apparently no one died from lead poisoning due to the lack of exposure. Although one book, The Colditz Story, did mention a powder at the bottom of the jars that they made sure not to drink.
    • Distillers of poitín in Ireland had a superstition that the first glassful of any new brew out of the (lead) pipe of the still was for the faery folk. Any human incautious enough to drink this sacred offering would be cursed, by the Sidh-folk, with blindness and insanity. Actually the first use of the still flushed out toxins,note  poisons and lead salts that really could kill somebody: after the system had cleansed itself, the subsequent distillate was as safe as it got.
  • WWII era torpedoes were often fuelled by grain alcohol, albeit doctored to make it undrinkable in its normal state. Sailors devised crude stills to separate the alcohol from the additives.
  • This trope is omnipresent in the Russian Army. The army is based on conscription with very little for the soldiers to do and with the service conditions being hellish at best. Many conscripts attempt to escape the everyday misery into alcohol (if stationed in North) or into heroin and other drugs (if stationed South). Some of the moonshiners are very skilled and can turn unbelievable stuffs into drinkable alcohol. Though they usually extract alcohol from various technological fluids rather than distill true moonshine.
    • The Russian Army does not denature the alcohol used as fuel or coolant on its equipment (the alcohol-based de-icer used in the air force and army aviation is particularly famous). They know their troops and that they would drink it anyway, were the stuff rendered toxic or not.
    • While most Russian Vehicles run on diesel or gasoline, Russia also uses mixed fuel engines which can run on fuel of most octane levels, including pure alcohol (though in practice it is often mixed with a much less potent trash fuel first). Most mixed fuel engine personnel transports have a tank of chemically pure ethanol as "Emergency fuel," though we know what it really used for.
  • A high-ranking Red Army officer who defected to the West in the mid-1970's described during his debriefing how anything up to a third of all Russian tanks committed to the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 were immobilised and rendered useless owing to soldiers either drinking vital alcohol-based lubricants, or else using reserve fuel tanks for illicit distilling and transportation of home-brewed vodka - which was so utterly unsuitable for powering a tank that once the reserve tank was switched on, the "fuel" it contained fouled (and often destroyed) the engine. He described a situation where the whole of the march route into Prague was lined by immobilised tanks that had broken down largely for this reason.
    • This apparently also happened a lot during the Soviet Union's abortive attempt to "pacify" insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1980's.
    • Fighter pilot and defector Victor Belenko wrote that oftentimes jet fuel would be dumped and nonexistent flight plans and reports created so that the crews could swipe the alcohol.
    • Another defector, Viktor Suvorov, wrote in his semi-autobiographical book how during the invasion of Czechoslovakia, his unit came across an alcohol plant. Next day, all the soldiers were a bit drunk. The commanders conducted a search, and everything that could hold water turned out, naturally, to be full of alcohol. They poured it all out, yet soldiers kept turning up drunk. No one could figure out where the alcohol was... until Suvorov bribed one soldier to reveal that the radiators of the APC's were filled with alcohol instead of water.
  • Truth in Television: the novel about American marines in the Pacific in WW2, The Thin Red Line, describes how the first PX stores to be set up in places like Guam and Guadalcanal to provide troops with extra comforts very quickly sold out of two items - cheap cologne aftershave and tinned pineapple juice. On investigation, it was discovered the American soldiers were getting round the "no alcohol while on campaign" rule by drinking the aftershave for its alcohol content. The only thing that made it palatable and masked the taste of perfume was the pineapple juice. In real life, submarine crews used the alcohol-based torpedo engine fuel to make "torpedo juice." Cases of poisoning from drinking it were not unknown.
  • After the privations of home service and the spartan conditions of the North African desert, British soldiers posted to the Italian war in 1943 soon discovered one thing the Italians made in abundance - wine and spirits. Drunkenness in this theatre was at epidemic levels, the British soldiers discovering wine had three or four times the alcohol content of the beer they were used to. Comedian Spike Milligan relates how the British Army in northern Italy and Austria celebrated the German surrender in May 1945: a fountain near Milligan's billet was made to work and literally flowed with wine. According to Milligan, the official Order Of The Day for 7th May 1945 was ''Every man is ordered to get drunk!"
    • For its part, the US military has, on a number of occasions between its inception and World War I, found reason to issue advisories reminding troops that they are not allowed to drink with the enemy in wartime. In the lulls between fighting—and, obviously, this only applied to the least bitter conflicts—troops were known to hang out with whoever had the best still, regardless of their affiliation.
  • At least one group of Glassblowing students have set up a still, using the incredibly hot air coming off of a glass furnace. Unlike most example, most of the alcohol produced was used for fuel in torches to shape the glass without causing it to melt.