Tuesday, January 3, 2012


So I'm doing what  people do on New Years Eve and Day -- watch marathons -- and I come across a show both awesome and odd at the same time. It's called 'Moonshiners' and it airs on The Discovery Channel.


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It centers on those who brew their shine - often in the woods near their homes using camouflaged equipment — and the local authorities who try to keep them honest. According to the network, viewers will witness practices rarely seen on television including the sacred rite of passage for a moonshiner — firing up the still for the first time. This is where it gets tricky. "Moonshiners" includes actual western Virginia state ABC agents and while I thought that, in and of itself was quite odd, it turns out that the plot is thickening a bit.

The Associated Press reports that the program misleads viewers into thinking the state is tolerating illegal booze manufacturing and that it wouldn't have participated if they knew how the episodes would turn out. Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw told the AP that viewers have asked why the state is allowing a crime to take place?

Here's the rub: Shaw said the show is a dramatization, and no illegal liquor is actually being produced. "If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action," Shaw wrote. But it certainly appears differently on the show. The department issued a statement saying it would not have participated in the filming had they known how the show would've turned out. "Virginia ABC agreed to participate in an informative piece that documents the history of moonshine and moonshine investigations in Virginia. Virginia ABC did not participate nor was aware of the false depiction of moonshine manufacturing, distribution and/or transportation in the filming, and would not have participated in the 'documentary' had it known of this portrayal," the statement said.

The origin of moonshining in the United States has been linked with the Whiskey Rebellion during the 1790's. Under President George Washington, a Federal tax was imposed on whiskey, which farmers strongly resented — leading to a backlash and rise in illegal distillers. Even the origins of NASCAR have been linked back to the skilled driving of moonshiners eluding law enforcement.


  1. Yep, this was fun, but don't forget the history of beer.

  2. cool -- i had no idea and i study substance use for a living. i often wonder about other shows, like intervention, where you sometimes get glimpses of meth labs, and def see individuals firing up. and loved your bootlegger poem. peace...

  3. I just saw that show the other day & thought the characters were so cliche, I had a hard time believing it could be real! But there are a lot of shows like that out now, and still I watch, in horrified fascination.

  4. Although I live in California, I'm from rural Kentucky. My father was a State Trooper. The state's economy hasn't done well in a long time. He told me that it's a weird relationship between the bootleggers and local police. Same thing with the pot growers. He said they know who is doing what and pretty much where they are doing it. They tended to "not see" what was going one, because in some cases it was the only money coming into the local economy. The only time they went after folks, was when there was some violence involved. I think things have changed a lot since then though. I've heard that the Mexican cartels are involved in the pot growing there now. I don't know if that's true or not.

  5. It's sooooo fake it makes me cringe everytime i see the advert for it. People should stop watching Discovery channel or any other that commisions or shows programmes that stoop to such a low level as to put out this total and utter crap!!!!!

  6. it has to be fake as you can not buy bib and brace denim overalls since the 60s at least in Australia anyway , but if you could there is a united nations international covenant about wearing them in public

  7. Let's get something straight: the show is not broadcast live, so certain scenes may be scripted for entertainment value. Also, there is no doubt the characters are real, as they are definitely not actors. Lastly, as far as illegal activity goes, have you ever been to Chinatown in NYC? Do you have any idea how many unlicensed, illegal and counterfeit goods are trafficked all day everyday for decades? If you filmed that place live, you would quit watching in five minutes!

  8. The producers of this show actually tell you it's fake. They call it a "dramatization" for the simple reason that if they were actually filming something illegal happening, did not tell the authorities, and then showed it on TV they'd go to jail.


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