Quietly, Moonshine Makes a Comeback
Homemade spirits find a loyal following; pity about the jail sentences
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2009 10:51 AM CDT
Distilling your own spirits is punishable by a federal fine of $10,000 and five years in jail.   (©ellievanhoutte)

(Newser) – Whether it's a result of the recession or an outgrowth of the local food movement, more and more Americans are getting in on the craze for do-it-yourself food and drink. But there's a small problem with homemade spirits—unlike smoking salmon or pickling cukes, distilling your own whiskey or grappa could get you five years in federal prison. For Catherine Price of Salon, distilling is poised to be the next locavore obsession—if only it weren't a felony.

"Most commercial distillers focus on the basics, like vodka and whiskey, but there are countless other distillations waiting to be made, from applejack and peach brandy to tangerine schnapps." You aren't likely to go blind from making moonshine—that's a hangover from Prohibition—but it pays to be careful when boiling liquid over an open flame. So why is it still illegal? It's not about morals, writes Price, but money; the taxman pulls in 10 times the cash on spirits as it does on wine.