The days of prohibition are long behind us, yet moonshine is still illegal. Hit Discovery series “Moonshiners” documents the lives of modern bootleggers, Tim and Tickle, who run moonshine businesses in spite of the law. They joined us in the FOX411 studio to discuss what it’s like to run an unlawful distillery on national TV.
FOX411: How do you evade the law on a national television show?
Tickle: They’ve got to actually catch you doing something wrong. By the time that hits the TV…
Tim: And that’s physically catch you.
Tickle: We’re not sitting where we [were] at the time. You know, they watch me on TV Tuesday nights at 9, I’m still not sitting in the same spot at 10 o’clock when that show goes off. It’s non-taxed; that’s pretty much the only reason it’s illegal.
Tim: There’s not really a big fear here. It’s just that the government can’t get their money accounted for. That’s all it is. They don’t have a taste regulation today. I mean right now the legal brand of whiskey on the shelf, there’s no taste regulator on it. You can go buy anything and say ‘I don’t like it. It doesn’t taste good.’ There’s no regulations on it.
Tickle: The federal government does not make you have to make a good product. They just care that you’re paying the taxes.
Tim: They just care about the alcohol level in it and how much you make. I want my money.
Tickle: And that’s why moonshine’s illegal, because there’s no taxes being paid on it. It’s not that it’s unregulated or that the government thinks it could possibly be an inferior product, which if you know what you're doing making moonshine, that’s absolutely what you don’t want to put out there. Your product, you can’t put a label on it if you’re making it out in the woods. Your product has to sell itself. If you've got a bad product, nobody will ever buy shine from you again.
FOX411: But what exactly is the real stuff?
Tim: It’s not a commercial grade alcohol. It’s not run by a machine.
Tickle: Also, a lot of these places that’s making something that they’re calling moonshine, they’re running it through a tower, which pretty much strips everything out of it and creates a vodka, in essence. So you end up with a vodka with a label that says moonshine. But that’s vodka, not moonshine.
FOX411: Tim, you’ve gone legit and now have a legal distillery. What does that mean for the future of moonshine?
Tim: You’re getting the real deal moonshine here. It’s no joke. It’s no fake. You know we’re the real deal from the illegal side that went legal. So it’s not like somebody just popped up and started making something and put a label on it. We took the exact same product and put it in a bottle, and now we can sell it to everybody.
Tickle: Same thing with you would have been doing out in the woods, you just have a more controlled environment now.
Tim: That’s what makes our product so much different. It’s the real stuff. It’s not just something generated by a corporation.
FOX411: Will moonshine eventually become legal?
Tim: Well, it’s not about being legal or illegal. It’s just about accountability and taxation on what you’re making, that’s all there is to it. The federal government, they don’t care if it’s legal or illegal, they just want accountability on the manufacturer side. On the retail side, that falls under the state. Each state does retail sales. Again, it’s just the taxation on it.
The majority of the public love to drink anyway. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making scotch, vodka or moonshine. They like to drink because we’re stressed out.OK, we got to eat and drink and sleep; that’s normal. But it’s just timing for moonshine.
"Moonshiners" airs Tuesdays on Discovery Channel