Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought with them their preference and talent for making whiskey. Indian corn proved an acceptable grain substitute for Old World barley. And carrying whiskey to market on horseback over rough mountain roads was easier and more cost-effective than hauling bulky grain in wagons. The federal government imposed taxes on whiskey between 1791 and 1802, and again after the Civil War. Mountain farmers responded by moonshining, making whiskey deep in the woods by moonlight. Moonshine achieved new popularity during Prohibition, and many early stock car racers got their start racing law enforcement officers to market. Some in Appalachia still prefer the taste of high-proof shine, or simply wish to avoid paying high alcohol taxes.


Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio: