If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel through the great southern states of America, you will learn two things. First, southern hospitality is real — no, the nice man asking “how is your day, miss?” is not going to ask for money or steal your purse. And second, people really do make moonshine in their backyards. If you had any doubt about that, then you haven’t seen Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners, a can’t-make-this-stuff-up series in its second season that “tells the story of those who brew their shine — often in the woods near their homes using camouflaged equipment — and the local authorities who try to keep them honest.” There’s a ton more to learn about the South, but as I learned as a first-year law student in Nashville, Tennessee, nothing is as romantic as the tradition of moonshining (except, perhaps, the barbecue — maybe another post).
While an old classmate and I were reconnecting recently — reminiscing about the potency of the good ol’ Tennessee and whisky and wondering exactly what “keeping a moonshiner honest” actually entails — it hit us: why not sell legal moonshine from Tennessee over the internet? Just imagine the market boom, as trendy Angelino hipster homebrewers would throw mixology parties showcasing the wonder brew. But how easy would it be to legally sell moonshine to Yankees and Angelinos? Well, as I soon discovered, aside from the fact that making unauthorized moonshine in your backyard is highly illegal and dangerous (and in no way endorsed by the author), there is a serious patchwork of state and federal laws that any moonshiner who wants to go straight must contend with.