Moonshiners of Dawson County

Once a year in the cool fall weather, Dawsonville, Georgia, hosts the Mountain Moonshine Festival.  Since moonshine is illegal, however, the main feature is a car show -- especially restored old classic moonshiner rods that they used to use to run the shine down into Atlanta, and elsewhere.

However!  Lo and behold, somebody actually got a permit out of the state of Georgia to make moonshine for lawful sale.  The old times are here again, except for the illegal hotrodding.
Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery joins Milledgeville –based Georgia Distilling Co. as two of only a handful of “legal” moonshine producers in the country.

“We are testing equipment now that we have the green light from the state,” Dawsonville Moonshine owner Cheryl Wood told The Gainesville Times. “We will be in production in August.”

The distillery will rely on a 250-gallon copper still, two 415-gallon stainless steel mash tanks, a 1,050-gallon stainless steel mash tank and an ample supply of grains and sugar. It will sell its bottled corn liquor to a wholesaler, which will then supply it to a distributor, who will sell the product to retailers.

The company wants the liquor ready for the 45th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival on Oct. 26-28, according to the Times.
Sounds like a good time. In spite of the 90-proof high test, it'll be a family-friendly event. The high school marching band will come play, and there will be a lot of old cars and folks who are really proud of all the work they've put into making them shiny again.

You may remember this old movie, starring Robert Mitchum. See 11:11 and following.


Eric Blair said...

oooh. I saw that movie recently, and was surprised by the script. Better than I thought it was going to be.

One wonders how 'true-to-life' it was.

I'm always curious about these popular culture reflections of society. (Or parts of it, as the case may be).

E Hines said...

One thing jumped out at me from the opening, since it bears on one of my peeves: Each year, the millions of gallons of illegal whiskey manufactured in the southeastern United States represents millions of dollars in taxes lost to the American people.

This strikes me as backwards. Leaving aside the question of the illegality of the trade, it seems to me that the business actually represented millions of dollars retained by the American people. What the narrator meant to say was taxes lost to the government.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I think there was a lot less gunplay in real life (at least, outside Chicago -- but that's still true today).

Not that it was entirely nonviolent. We have a certain amount of family history (at least according to what is called 'family lore' these days -- I'm told the research was done by my late great uncle R.C., but I'm not sure how careful he was). My great-great grandfather was supposed to have made whiskey for the Union army after they captured him during his brief Confederate service, and paroled him for the task (as well as hunting game meat for them). I gather he continued after the war, when it wasn't so legal.

According to the story, once a fellow turned in his still to the revenue agents and they busted it up. He brought that fellow's head into town in a canvas sack, put it up on a stake outside of the courthouse, and then went back to his farm. He was later found not guilty of any crime by the local jury.

My grandfather, I know for certain fact, used to make copper stills during the Great Depression. For a while, it was the only work even a skilled welder like him could get in Tennessee such that people had money to pay him for the work. I gather there was always money in that for him to keep his family afloat, until things got better and he could return to other things.

He went on to work on the nuclear program at the Oak Ridge facility. He was a welder there. He used to tell the story of how they would always ask them if they knew what they were making. One day, one of his fellow workers said he did know, and they immediately pulled him off the line and put him in a locked office until they could get FBI agents up from the nearest field office.

They finally arrived after hours of him being locked up, and identified themselves as Federal agents. Then they asked him what he thought he was making.

"Forty-five cents an hour," he replied.

Grim said...

Let me walk that comment back about the absence of gunplay. I was just talking to my father about this story, and I've spent the last half hour listening to his stories of what Forsyth and Dawson County were like in the late 1950s-1960s. Apparently it was no place to be a stranger.

He said that everybody at the telephone company or the fire department knew where the moonshine was being made, because they could advise new guys not to go out to certain farms or areas alone. "Once you got introduced around and people knew who you were they wouldn't bother you," he said, "but if you went out there alone and they didn't know you, you were liable to disappear."

Anonymous said...

When I was flying out of Dekalb-Peachtree airport, a Cessna came back with a rifle bullet in the outer wing. Seems someone wanted to look and see what made that little bit of smoke, despite having been told never, ever fly low over the mountains. It was outboard of the fuel tank, thank heavens. No one ever reported it, the owner just patched the wing.

Out here, moonshine manufacturers took advantage of the springs and the broken terrain in the Canadian River valley. Some sheriffs reached working compromises with the bootleggers, others had moments of mild excitement. And then there was Borger, the wettest dry town in Texas. (Although a lot of places probably claimed the title).


bthun said...

I'd love to find a solid 1949 Ford Coupe... One of my bro's had the comparable Mercury. I love the old 50's fat-fendered iron outta Detroit.

As far as independent distilling entrepreneurs, I think I've mentioned my father's brother before.

He, not his real name but to spare any living relatives the embarrassment, I'll call him he, lived hard and fast, but alas, he did not die young or with a well preserved carcass.

Nope, he spent his life mostly straddling the law with nothing to show for it in the end, save a broken, diseased, and decrepit carcass with little to no respect from anyone who mattered.

Anywho, a black and chrome 1949 Ford coupe with a modern chassis and brakes, a 2012 Coyote 5.0 liter, quad cam mill and a six-speed automatic... Oh yeah, fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror. Yee haw baby!

raven said...

Hmmm- seems the spirit lives on -
One of those Yankees in Vermont got a bit miffed over being busted for a bag of weed , took his tractor and ran over half a dozen cop cars parked outside the Sheriffs office.

Grim said...

I saw that. It's one of those stories you can't help but laugh at: the guy got away on a tractor, because they didn't have a car left to chase him.

On the other hand, the people who will really pay for that are the taxpayers. And as for that guy, great way to turn a misdemeanor into seven felony counts.

bthun said...

And $300K in damages...

raven said...

yeah, no question, the penalty increases by an order of magnitude. On the other hand, without those willing to take inordinate risk, we would still be bowing to Kings.
The sub text here is people are just getting weary of being told what to do, when to do, what not to do, add infinitude, by the nanny state.
For every person with the stones to do what this guy did, there are a hundred thousand who dream of it. Remember the poll- 22% thought government had the consent of the governed.