Having grown up outside the USA, I'd heard occasional stories about the moonshiners of the Appalachians, but only in the context of 'folk legend'. We had similar stories in South Africa, of course, where what Americans call 'moonshine' was known as witblits ('white lightning') if made from grapes, or mampoer if made from fruit (usually peaches or marula berries). Indeed, there was a law on the books in the old Cape Colony to the effect that any merchant selling a case of witblits was obliged to include a white cane in the price, because of the likely effects of drinking twelve bottles of the stuff!
(I used to have access to unlicensed witblits made by a farmer I knew near Oudtshoorn. He triple-distilled the stuff in an old swimming pool filter! It certainly packed a kick - it tested out at something like 170 proof! Unfortunately, I couldn't bring any of his product with me when I immigrated to the USA. I was advised that for some strange reason, US customs officers looked askance on things like that. Pity . . . )
I've been learning more about American moonshine from Miss D. She tells of driving down the road with her parents as a child. She says she was able to look up at the hilltops and tell instantly which haze was morning mist, and which was produced by the fire beneath a moonshine still. She also informs me that the only proper way to buy (or drink) moonshine is in a Mason jar. I've also heard from other friends in Tennessee that the old days aren't necessarily past and gone. Apparently there are still parts of the Appalachians where one treads carefully; and, if one smells the distinctive odor of old mash, one turns around and walks (rapidly) the other way, for fear of a bullet from a suspicious 'shiner who thinks you might be a 'revenuer' snooping around.
Anyway, in honor of my education in the field of American moonshine, I thought I'd put up Steve Earle's classic hit, 'Copperhead Road'.
I think I've seen a few characters like that around Knoxville . . .