Moonshiners, also known as bootleggers, were quick to take advantage of the demand Prohibition created for their product. They shifted their priorities from the quality to the quantity of their liquor, thereby making much more money. Paint thinner, antifreeze, manure, and embalming fluid were just a few of the hazardous ingredients used to make this moonshine. The first run of each batch of moonshine was often poisonous. Many drinkers were blinded, paralyzed, or even killed. In 1927 New York officials confiscated over 480,000 gallons of liquor, and they found that most of it contained poisons. For the 13 years of Prohibition, however, thirsty and determined drinkers had little choice but to buy the cheaply-made liquor.
The Moonshining tradition has carried on in Tennessee. Federal laws today allow individuals to make beer and wine for their own use, but not distilled liquor. There are state and local laws forbidding the manufacture of liquor and a range of taxes on liquor production. Under state laws, moonshining is often only punished as a misdemeanor, but federal laws typically impose much stricter penalties.
The state's first licensed moonshine distillery, the Ole Smoky Distillery in Gatlinburg, opened in 2010. There are other states that sell legal moonshine as well. Some popular brands include Catdaddy Caroline Moonshine and Tory and Sons 80 Proof, both from North Carolina.
Moonshine has also made an impact culturally in popular films and television shows such as 1973's "White Lightning," starring Burt Reynolds, and the "Dukes of Hazard." One cannot talk about the cultural impact of moonshine without mentioning one of the south's most famous moonshiners, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton. Popcorn was an Appalachian moonshiner who gained notoriety after self-publishing an autobiographical guide to making moonshine and self-producing a home video documenting his moonshining. He was also involved in several documentaries. In 2009, he was raided by the ATF and sentenced to eighteen months in federal prison for illegally distilling spirits and possession of a firearm as a felon. Rather than serve his jail time, he committed suicide. He was laid to rest in Parrottsville, Tennessee.