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How Moonshine Became a Globally Well-Known Beverage

If you talk to just about anyone around the world about moonshine, he or she will know exactly what you’re referring to—illegally distilled alcohol. In America, moonshine is known as an un-aged white whiskey. The stuff that’s been distilled in the country for hundreds of years, long before Prohibition. The drink we’ve come to know and love. In America, we know it as the illegal alcohol that many regular citizens, particularly farmers, had to sell in order to put food on their tables. We know it as the cause of the Whiskey Rebellion. We know it as the alcohol that made way for the birth of NASCAR. We know it, particularly, as a Southern drink.

Any Illegally Distilled Spirit

Though ‘shine is a well-known beverage around the globe, the way it’s described in America is not how people in other countries understand the term. In fact, moonshine is a generic term for any small-scale illegally distilled spirits. In other countries as well as our own, alcohol is distilled from local ingredients, which reflect the raw materials, tastes, and customs that are available per region. That doesn’t necessarily mean it solely refers to alcohol made from corn mash.

The Need to Drink Is Universal

Americans aren’t the only ones who crave alcohol. And the United States isn’t the only country where it’s been illegal to produce and sell alcohol at one time or another. In fact, alcohol is still illegal in many countries, often due to religious views, high taxes, or public health concerns. But as we know, no laws can stop determined and focused citizens from getting their hands on some hooch, especially during hard times, because alcohol is an easy escape. Hooch is so globally well known because the need and want for alcohol is present in all countries. It’s universal.

Moonshine around the Globe

So we’ve already mentioned that the term moonshine means something different to different people in varying countries. Now, let’s look at some hooch from around the globe.


In Armenia, the hooch is called oghee. It’s made of fruits like grape, cornelian cherry, mulberry, or apricot.


After the Second World War, many Italians immigrated to Australia. They started legally producing wine, but some also distilled homemade grappa, which was made of grape skins, stems, and seeds. The practice isn’t as widespread today, but it still exists.


Bulgaria has the same issues with alcohol taxes as in America on its homemade drink, rakia. Rakia is most often made by villagers with grapes, but plums and other fruits are also used.


Cuba’s moonshine is called gualfara and is illegally homemade with yeast and sugar.


Ecuadorians distill alcohol from sugarcane, which they call puro.


The Greeks drink tsipouro, which is typically made of pomace grapes. Though there are legal distilleries in Greece, similar to in the US, homemade tsipouro is still prevalent.


The local ‘shine in India is called tharra, which is made from the mash of sugarcane pulp. Unfortunately, deaths from the consumption of unsafe alcohol are frequent in this country, like the 2011 Hooch Tragedy in West Bengal.


Kenya’s hooch, known as changaa, is widely made. It’s created from maize in old oil drums.


With such high taxation on alcohol in Norway, illegal home operations are common. Its hooch, called hjemmebrent, is made of sugar and potatoes.

…the list goes on. Regardless of the names or nicknames it’s given around the world, or the ingredients with which it’s made, there’s no doubt that moonshine is globally well known.

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