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WV Culinary Team: Moonshine is proof Appalachia is trendy

There are few things more Appalachian than moonshine.

The outlaw liquor, often portrayed in the media as a jug with “XXX” on it to signify how many times it’s been run through the still, was simply homemade whiskey, often made at night.

Crafted in the mountains, moonshine — like many other Appalachian delicacies — was created from what was available in the area and derived from generational recipes over many years.

The problem, though, was that it was produced without government authorization. So, it was this bootleg booze for Mountaineers throughout history — for a number of reasons.

Not only was moonshine developed with available ingredients to consume but, by the 20th century, moonshining became an occupation for many Appalachians. With limited road networks, transportation was often expensive and difficult.

According to “Moonshine, Mountaineers, and Modernity: Distilling Cultural History in the Southern Appalachian Mountains” in the Journal of Appalachian Studies (2012), “One could transport much more value in corn if it was first converted to whiskey. One horse could haul 10 times more value on its back in whiskey than in corn.”

But like many Appalachian delicacies, e.g. ramps and morels, moonshine has caught the eye of folks who finally recognize the ingenuity in these mountains.

In recent years, the term “moonshine” has been applied to legal booze in order to market an elusive, mischievous drinking experience.

Merriam-Webster reflects this change, defining “moonshine”:

moon·shine (noun): intoxicating liquor, especially: illegally distilled corn whiskey; Synonyms: bootleg, mountain dew, white lightning

This switch to a more mainstream product tends to follow a routine. Moonshine was developed from what was available. Difficult terrain and roads limited accessibility to products, so the need was more utilitarian. But now, it’s trendy.

You can purchase moonshine at a local distillery or grocery store. And, there are more flavors than ever before: paw paw, strawberry lemonade and more.

And, I personally love seeing when Appalachian products are appreciated by a larger pool of people — granted, Appalachians receive the credit they deserve for their creativity.

Nonetheless, navigating how moonshine has transcended from mountain drink to city cocktail seems much in line with other Appalachian specialties. But, because of its very nature, it has stirred a debate on whether or not it’s the same product. When you take the hooch from its home, is it still hooch?

If it’s “legal,” is it still “moonshine”?

Candace Nelson is a marketing professional living in Charleston. She is the author of the book “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll” from WVU Press. In her free time, Candace blogs about Appalachian food culture at Find her on Twitter at @Candace07 or email

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Funerals for Saturday, September 21, 2019

Abodeely, Malakee - 11 a.m., St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Charleston. 

Ayers, Helen - 11 a.m., Belcher Family Cemetery, Pinch Ridge.

Backus, Ernest - 2 p.m., First Baptist Church of Rainelle.

Bailey, Jerry - 5 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Carney Jr., Chester - 2 p.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Carter, Blanche - 11 a.m., Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, North Elkview.

Copen, Louise - Noon, McRoss Baptist Church, McRoss.

Fizer, Donna - 3 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Fowler, Jeannette - 1 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Goard II, Mitchell - 5 p.m., Central Community Tabernacle, Charleston.

Hammack, Barbara - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Kessinger, Wilma - 4 p.m., Canaan Baptist Church, Charleston.

Knight II, James - 6 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Lymon, Daniel - 1 p.m., Grace Bible Church, Charleston.

McKown, Travis - Noon, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Wallback.

Miller, Alexander - 4 p.m., Roane County High School, Spencer.

Mitchell, Emma - 2 p.m., Calvary Baptist Church, Hurricane.

Montgomery, Betty - 11 a.m., Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Charleston.

Pfeil, Ruth - 2 p.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

Roush III, George - 12:30 p.m., Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Samuels, Hazel - 1:30 p.m., Dunbar Kingdom Hall, Dunbar.

Slonaker II, Harvey - Noon, Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Starks, Henry - 11 a.m., Lantz Funeral Home, Buckeye.

Stooke, David - Noon, Henson & Kitchen Mortuary, Huntington.

Thompson, Thomas - 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Mount Hope.

White, Duane - 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

White, James - 1 p.m., Cedar Grove Middle School, Cedar Grove.

Woodson Jr., Lewis - 1 p.m., Abundant Life Ministries, Charleston.