Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Jonesville, VA — Last week, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission arrested a 73-year-old man for producing and selling moonshine.

Though “moonshine” conjures 1920s prohibition-era images of dangerously potent liquor brewed in bathtubs, the term simply refers to liquor produced without a license or unaged whiskey.

Winston Delano Terry of Jonesville, Virginia, now faces felony and misdemeanor charges following a four-month investigation that ultimately yielded 67 gallons of moonshine and 22 guns after authorities obtained a warrant to search his home.

The government insists moonshine is a threat to public safety, a claim bolstered by the fact that homemade liquor is more likely to have lead in it. As Slate has pointed out, “there’s no inspection of the manufacturing process, so quality — and levels of contamination — vary.” Even so, drinking moonshine is hardly a greater threat to the public than “legal” alcohol.

“Aside from drinking too much and doing something dumb — oh, like attacking somebody with a chain saw and fire extinguisher — the biggest risk is lead poisoning, since a homemade still might consist of car radiators or pipes that were dangerously soldered together,” Slate noted.

In other words, the greatest danger of moonshine is to the person who chooses to consume it, as with most other drugs — legal or not. Though authorities may insist they are doing a public service (NBC Washington reported that “ABC’s chief operating officer said the charges against Terry help protect public safety”), the primary reason moonshine is illegal is far less altruistic.

As Slate explained:

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