America’s fascination with moonshine is as old as our history.

The British Empire began taxing alcohol in the early 1760s, and it ultimately led to the Boston Tea Party. But most Americans associate “moonshine” with the illegal homemade hooch that gave rise to a thriving underground market during the Prohibition years early in the last century. Sometimes it packed a debilitating – or even deadly – punch. “You hear about people going blind from moonshine. That’s because some were making spirits and not really knowing what they were doing,” says Kevin Hall, operations manager for the Distilled Spirits Epicenter and Moonshine University in Louisville, Ky., the whiskey heart of America.

Instead of using grain or fruit, he says, “Some people would use wood or some other source material that has a high level of methanol, and then not taking a heads cut, which is the first stuff that comes off the still. And that will make you go blind.”   

Moonshine is as old as civilized society itself and almost every country has its own history when it comes with illegal alcohol. More to the point, it’s as old as taxes and, in some instances, ancient religious law.

Each country makes it with varying ingredients and types of distilling methods, but the result is the same: a notorious spirit that’s part of the cultural fabric.

Here are just a few kinds made around the world: