About a year after the Tennessee state laws restricting the production and sale of moonshine were relaxed, three local attorneys have opened Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distillery. The grand opening for Ole Smoky Distillery will take place on July 2nd. The distillery will offer free tours, free samples to customers at least 21 years of age, and will be selling a few unaged moonshine products, including corn whiskey moonshine, apple pie moonshine, sweet tea moonshine and peach moonshine.
Moonshining has a long history in Tennessee, and in this country as a whole. It goes back before the Revolutionary War. Most people have in their minds a stereotype of a crazy old man illegally making and selling, as well as consuming, a dangerous product. In reality it started out as a logical conclusion to a dilemma many farmers faced. Often their surplus grain and fruit crops would go bad before they could sell it all, and the fermented result transitioned easily into moonshine, which could then be sold for more than the fresh produce ever could have been.
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, the fledgling federal government imposed a large tax on alcohol to try to raise money to pay for the war. To a people who had just fought a war to get out from under the thumb of another government who had been imposing unfair taxes, this was an outrage. The taxes on the moonshine were exorbitantly more than the cost of producing it. As a result most people who produced moonshine simply began to produce it in secret. This tax has been lowered and raised again (usually during or after a war) many times throughout the years, but the only time the selling of moonshine has been fully illegal was during the Prohibition era.
Up until about a year ago, anyone who produced moonshine continued to do so in secret. That all changed when three local attorneys successfully fought to ease the restrictions on the making and selling of moonshine to the point that they have been able to open Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distillery! The Ole Smoky Distillery is now open for tours, and will be fully operational by its grand opening on July 2! Come on down!
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