Why is Moonshine Still Illegal?

Nice post from Slate today about Moonshine.

Because the liquor is worth more to the government than beer or wine. Uncle Sam takes an excise tax of $2.14 for each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared with 21 cents for a bottle of wine (of 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer. No one knows exactly how much money changes hands in the moonshine trade, but it’s certainly enough for the missing taxes to make a difference: In 2000, an ATF investigation busted one Virginia store that sold enough raw materials to moonshiners to make 1.4 million gallons of liquor, worth an estimated $19.6 million in lost government revenue. In 2005, almost $5 billion of federal excise taxes on alcohol came from legally produced spirits.

Here’s my Moonshine-related factoid that may interest only me:

There’s this belief that whiskey didn’t play a large part of the illegal spirits culture, as those who made alcohol tended to make “gin”. The reasoning is that whiskey was an aged spirit, and it was more profitable to put the more immediate spirits onto the black market.

But the reality is that whisky doesn’t have to be aged to be whiskey. It just needs to be made from grain and be distilled to where the percentage of Alcohol made it not quite a neutral grain spirit. Many moonshiners were making corn whiskey, they just weren’t aging it. And as anyone in the South can tell you, there was (and still is) plenty of moonshine available to those who looked for it.

Additionally, there was little to no problem in smuggling alcohol from Canada. The spirit of choice from the Great White North? That’d be whiskey.

Just thought I’d share.