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A lot has changed about moonshine since it left Thunder Road for Gatlinburg’s Parkway. What haven’t changed are the basic ingredients used to make it.
USA Today Network – Tennessee

GATLINBURG — A lot has changed about moonshine since it left Thunder Road for Gatlinburg’s Parkway. What hasn’t changed are its basic ingredients.

“Traditional Prohibition moonshine is sugar, corn and yeast and the liquid that comes off that — the wash or distiller’s beer,” Greg Eidam, Sugarlands Distilling Co. head distiller, explained in a 2015 interview.

Fermentation is yeast-eating sugar, Eidam said, and the byproduct is alcohol and carbon dioxide. It typically ferments for three to five days, depending on temperature.

Those basics are just the base, even for the old-time moonshiners.

“Every moonshiner has his own twist. It might be rye, wheat or some fruit. There are other grains and spices you can throw in to give it a little unique taste and make it your own,” Eidam said. “The stuff in the backwoods and the garages is really no different. The ingredients are identical to what we’re using.”

Eidam said flavors are usually added after the fact.

“Sometimes you’ll put something in the pot to add flavor, but the apple pie, lemon drop or blackberry moonshine flavors are added after the fact,” he said.

“With rye moonshine, you don’t add any sugar. We cook corn, rye and barley. That is a four- or five-hour process that is then cooled … ,” he said. “Rye moonshine is not the same as Prohibition-era moonshine.”

Eidam said a lot of people have brewing knowledge, which is the first part of making moonshine before the distilling process.

“They know how to convert carbohydrates from grains into sugar and then you ferment that,” he said.

The flavors that are available since distilling the spirits became legal in Tennessee are like nothing grandpa would have ever considered.

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