A week ago, I donned my hiking boots and made my way to the Hobbs State Park Conservation Area near Rogers, Arkansas. I went for the moonshine. Well, actually, a program about moonshine in the Ozarks. The speaker focused on the history and craft of making moonshine. Information came via the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and before that, straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak).
Moonshine, also known as white dog, mountain dew, white lightning, shine, and various other appellatives, is a highly distilled liquor with corn mash as a main ingredient. The Appalachian and Ozarks hillfolk came by their penchant for making moonshine honestly when early Scots-Irish settlers carried their craft to the mountains. There, in the hills and hollows, hardscrabble farms could grow corn, but had no means to transport their crop to market. Cooking shine into an easily transportable form grew out of bad roads and economic necessity. During prohibition, it was also a way to avoid taxes.
“Stills in the Hills: A History of Moonshining in the Ozarks” got everyone trading recipes, ideas on equipment, and tales slightly tainted with truth. My only criticism of the entire event was the lack of any samples.