How Discovery’s Moonshiners get away with it

Moonshiners has followed different moonshiners for over a decade, and there are a few theories about how the show’s stars avoid arrest for their illegal brewing.

Discovery’s Moonshiners has been shedding light on the age-old practice of distilling moonshine for well over a decade now.

The legality of Moonshiners

If you have ever watched Moonshiners, you will know that evading authorities is a big part of the bag-of-tricks that the show’s cast shares with its viewers.

However, since Moonshiners has now concluded 13 seasons on the air, you may be wondering just how the cast has managed to get away with their reportedly illegal distilling of moonshine for so long.

Moonshiners frequently asked questions

Moonshiners has always gone above and beyond to inform viewers about all of the finer details of the usually-in-the-shadows world of moonshining.

But before we get into how the stars of Moonshiners evade arrest, you may need a recap of the answers to a few frequently asked Moonshiners questions, such as:

Question Answer
Where does the name ‘moonshine’ come from? It is rumored that moonshine got its name from the very first bootleggers, who used to rely on the cover of darkness during the night’s moonlit hours to distill their illegal spirits.
What type of alcohol is moonshine? Moonshine can vary drastically from one distiller to the next. But moonshine is best described as a homemade, non-barrel aged whiskey.
What is moonshine made of? Typically moonshine is made using corn, but as we have seen on Moonshiners through the years, it can really be made from any grain or fruit.
How much alcohol is in moonshine? There is a myth that moonshine is 100% alcohol, but in reality, most moonshine actually has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of about 40%.

They need to be caught in the act

The questions about how the stars of Moonshiners manage to not only skirt past the law with their illegal moonshine distilling, but to evade serious repercussions whilst publicizing their moonshining activities have been plaguing the show for years.

But, longtime stars of the show, Tim Smith and Steven Ray Tickle, actually gave fans some insight into how things work behind the scenes in a 2013 interview with Fox News.

According to Tickle, in order to face any legal consequences for distilling moonshine “They’ve got to actually catch you doing something wrong.” Tim clarified that by “catch” Tickle meant “physically catch you”.

And since episodes of Moonshiners (like most other television shows on television) are filmed months before they eventually air – the moonshiners featured on the show really have nothing to worry about (except for being caught in real life, that is).

In fact, Tim has shared that the authorities have stopped by his house looking for evidence of his moonshining-activities in the past, but since they could never find evidence that the officer could testify to, he has never actually been arrested for making moonshine.

The other option: it is all staged

Tim and Tickle’s explanation for why they feel safe sharing their moonshining schemes on television certainly makes sense, but there is also an alternative theory.

What if the clear liquid that we see being “distilled” on Moonshiners is not actually moonshine and what if most of what we see on the show is actually just staged for the cameras.

This alternative theory seems to be supported by the former Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Virginia ABC) spokesperson, Kathleen Shaw.

In 2013, Shaw shared that “If illegal activity was actually taking place [on Moonshiners], the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action”.

Many of the Moonshiners stars have now gone legitimate with their businesses

Whichever of the above-mentioned theories you choose to believe – the reality is that distilling moonshine is not entirely as “illegal” as Moonshiners makes it out to be.

The fact is, though moonshiners have to comply with several federal, state and local regulations, you can legally distill moonshine (or any other type of distilled spirits) in many areas in the country.

You can even distill moonshine in the Commonwealth of Virginia if you have a valid Beverage Distilled Spirits Plant permit and a distillery license.

You can also sell your distilled spirits legally in a store, as long as you have at least one of your products listed and sold through Virginia ABC retail stores.

With the more relaxed regulations that have come into effect for home distillers, they are getting into the practice of brewing their moonshine (and other spirits) legally all around the country.

This includes many of the Moonshiners stars, like Tim Smith, Chuck Miller, Patti Bryan, Donnie Benton, Teresa Coomer Mays and many more.