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June 5: National Moonshine Day

It’s National Moonshine Day. There is a cabal of scoundrels trying to move this holiday to a different date, but we’re not having any of that nonsense. Though the word moonshine is now thoroughly attached to the illicitly distilled corn liquor indigent to the southern United States, the term originated in England. The 1785 edition of the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defines it as “white brandy smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex.” Smugglers tended to do their best work by the light of the moon, thus their product came to be known as moonshine liquor. The word crossed the Atlantic in the mid-1800s and became popular in the South as increasingly heavy liquor taxes encouraged distillers to operate without the dubious benefit of government supervision. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure, usually, of drinking moonshines from all over the world. Some have a distinct chemical taste, others hint at the organic from which they were distilled. But my favorites always taste like you’ve just taken a big bite out of the sun. Just pure, raw light.

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