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Edited by Cameron D. Lippard and Bruce E. Stewart

Now available!
PB 978-1-946684-82-0
CL 978-1-946684-81-3
eBook 978-1-946684-83-7



The craft of making moonshine—an unaged white whiskey, often made and consumed outside legal parameters—nearly went extinct in the late twentieth century as law enforcement cracked down on illicit producers, and cheaper, lawful alcohol became readily available. Yet the twenty-first century has witnessed a resurgence of artisanal distilling, as both connoisseurs and those reconnecting with their heritage have created a vibrant new culture of moonshine. While not limited to Appalachia, moonshine is often entwined with the region in popular understandings.

The first interdisciplinary examination of the legal moonshine industry, Modern Moonshine probes the causes and impact of the so-called moonshine revival. What does the moonshine revival tell us about our national culture? How does it shape the image of Appalachia and rural America? Focusing mostly on southern Appalachia, the book’s eleven essays chronicle such popular figures as Popcorn Sutton and explore how and why distillers promote their product as “traditional” and “authentic.” This edited collection draws from scholars across the disciplines of anthropology, history, geography, and sociology to make sense of the legal, social, and historical shifts behind contemporary production and consumption of moonshine, and offers a fresh perspective on an enduring topic of Appalachian myth and reality.


Bruce E. Stewart is an associate professor of history at Appalachian State University. He is the author or editor of several books, including Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia.

Cameron D. Lippard is a professor of sociology at Appalachian State University. He is the author or editor of several books, including Building Inequality: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in the Atlanta Construction Industry and Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft Beer (West Virginia University Press).



List of Illustrations      

Introduction: The Revival of Moonshine in Southern Appalachia and the United States     

Bruce E. Stewart and Cameron D. Lippard

Part I: Socially Constructing the Origins of the Modern Moonshine Revival

1. Fire Up the Stills: A Brief History of Moonshining in Southern Appalachia before the Twenty-First Century   

Bruce E. Stewart

2. Jim Tom Hedrick, Popcorn Sutton, and the Rise of the Postmodern Moonshiner

Daniel S. Pierce

3. Moonshiners and the Media: The Twenty-First-Century Trickster          

Emily D. Edwards

4. Making Criminals, Making Ends Meet: Constructing Criminality in Franklin County, Virginia

Robert T. Perdue

Part II: The Legalization and Marketing of Modern Moonshine

5. The Rise of “Legal” Moonshine: Breaking Down the Legal Barriers to Craft Distilling in the United States    

Kenneth J. Sanchagrin

6. From the Appalachian Mountains to the Puget Sound and Beyond: Distilling Authenticity in Modern Moonshine       

Kaitland M. Byrd, J. Slade Lellock, and Nathaniel G. Chapman

7. Entrepreneurial Family Values and the Modern Moonshiner: Appalachian Craft Distilling beyond Its Neoliberal Frame         

Jason Ezell

8. The “Uncatchables”: A Case Study of Call Family Distillers in Wilkes County, North Carolina

Cameron D. Lippard

Part III: Historic Preservation and Tourism in the Name of Moonshine

9. Distilling Commercial Moonshine in East Tennessee: Mashing a New Type of Tourism           

Helen M. Rosko

10. Heritage Spirits in Heritage Spaces        

Kristen Baldwin Deathridge

11. Automotive Heritage and the Legacy of High-Octane Moonshiners: A Unique Cultural Intersection of Alcohol and Motor Vehicles            

Barry L. Stiefel

Contributor Biographies         


“I like this book very much. The editors have brought together a wide range of scholarly voices, and their essays, taken together, give an excellent overview of the state of modern moonshine.”
Michael Lewis, author of The Coming of Southern Prohibition