Moonshine – Why Is It Expensive (Cost & Alternatives)

When I think of moonshine, I think of the Smoky Mountains or Appalachia, the deep south where people used to illegally distill a potent clear liquor in the light of the moon.

Moonshine has become more mainstream and grown in popularity over the last decade, so the idea of brewing it in secret is a rather outdated viewpoint.  

Recently I wanted to look into buying some moonshine for a camping trip with friends and I was shocked to see how much more expensive it was than other alcohol on the shelves at my local liquor store.

I had to find out for myself why it had such a high price.  Keep reading to find out why moonshine is so much more expensive and some unique ways to enjoy it!  

Moonshine has an average price of $19 – $40 and this is because it usually has a higher alcohol content, or alcohol by volume (ABV), than other hard liquors. Traditionally the higher price comes from the taxes based on the proof of alcohol, and moonshine has a much higher proof.  

Since moonshine has a much higher alcohol content than other alcohol, the price is much higher. Because of the increased popularity of moonshine in the last decade, distilleries work very hard to ensure their moonshine appeals to a wide audience. The variety of flavors and ABV available ultimately leads to a higher price. 

How Much Does Moonshine Cost?

On average, the proof of moonshine ranges somewhere between 80-150 proof. To put that into simple terms, a 150 proof is equivalent to 75% ABV – hence the higher cost for the consumer.

Distilleries go through a lot of work to ensure their moonshine is not only safe to consume, but also that they are paying for all of the proper taxes and permits to brew it legally.

Higher proof alcohol will have a higher cost due to taxes paid to the government by the distilleries.

Most moonshine on the market ranges in price from $19 – $40. Going for a higher priced moonshine means you’re getting a better quality product. 

Kings County Moonshine: $39.99

80 proof / 40% ABV

Kings County Moonshine is made of 100% organic cracked corn that is locally sourced in upstate New York.

It has notes of sweet corn, warm vanilla, and a hint of cracked pepper. If you’re looking for a good moonshine to sip on, this may be the perfect choice.

Popcorn Sutton: $29.99

88 proof / 44% ABV

Popcorn Sutton was a famous moonshiner in the Appalachian Mountains, so it’s no surprise that this brand of moonshine pops up on many lists.

Sutton was famous for continuing to illegally brew moonshine up until his death in 2009, now you can find Popcorn Sutton brand moonshine across the US. 

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine: $19.99 – $24.99

70-100 proof / 40% ABV

Shining: Ole Smoky Moonshine Family Cookbook

Ole Smoky is one of the more common moonshines on the market. Their plain moonshine starts at $19.99, but they have a wide selection of flavors (including my personal favorite, apple pie) that can cost up to $24.99.

Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine: $24.99

90 proof / 40% ABV

This original recipe moonshine has been distilled in Virginia for generations. This smooth moonshine has a clean and natural taste with a subtle sweetness.

It is made from a mix Corn, rye, and barley malt mash. If you can’t find it in your local store, you can actually have it shipped right to your home. 

Midnight Moon Moonshine: $23.99

80 proof / 40% ABV

Midnight Moon Moonshine is another common brand of moonshine that you will find at your local liquor store.

They specialize in a variety of moonshines, along with some specialty flavors like apple pie, blueberry, and even a dill pickle moonshine – wouldn’t that be delicious in a Bloody Mary?

Where To Find Moonshine

It is actually very easy to find legally distilled moonshine around the US. If you live close to a moonshine distillery, you can easily purchase moonshine directly from the source – and maybe tour their facility too! 

Moonshine is available at most liquor stores across the US, although some brands still refer to moonshine as white whiskey.

If you’re unsure of where to find moonshine, any of the brands mentioned above have a search feature on their websites to see where you can find it near you!

How To Enjoy Moonshine

Unlike brown whiskey or bourbon, which are aged for more time, moonshine isn’t aged at all which adds to its potency.

Most distilleries offer various flavors of moonshine including apple pie, blueberry, and cherry.

These flavored moonshines are delicious for cocktails, cider, or even adding some to sweet tea – what’s more southern than that? 

There are many recipes out there to try your basic white moonshine into any unique flavor you can think of by infusing various ingredients. It just takes a little patience and recipe development to get it right.


Overall, moonshine is a rather versatile spirit that you can customize to your tastes.

Is It Technically Moonshine?

Historically, moonshine was distilled in the light of the moon without the government’s knowledge. Technically speaking, if you’re buying something labeled “moonshine” at your local liquor store, it’s not actually moonshine.

This is because distilleries that are selling moonshine to the general public have to pay taxes on their products, which goes against the actual definition of moonshine. 

Moonshine is just a common name for an unaged white corn whiskey, which is why so many clear whiskies are labelled as such.

Moonshine is a fun name that evokes thoughts of men and women distilling this potent alcohol in secret, but that isn’t the case for the moonshine you see on your store shelves. 

Can You Make Your Own Moonshine?

Technically speaking, yes, you can gather all of the tools and ingredients needed to make your own moonshine at home.

There are many resources on the internet to walk you through the process, but if you are planning to make your own moonshine you should be sure to procure the correct permits. 

A lot of chemistry goes into brewing any alcohol on your own, and moonshine is no different.

In order to brew your own moonshine you will need to create your own corn mash with malted barley and yeast, a fermentation bucket, and an actual moonshine still.

The still is where the  moonshine gets its kick, this is after your mixture has had a chance to ferment for 1-2 weeks. 

Making your own moonshine isn’t an overnight process, there are many steps to consider and ingredients to collect.

It’s important to do your research before starting on the journey of making your own moonshine, or any alcohol, at home. 

While moonshine itself isn’t outlawed, distilling any liquor at home without the proper permits could land you in legal trouble.

It’s always important to take all of the right steps to ensure you’re doing everything legally and safely. 

Is Moonshine Safe?

Most people have heard rumors that moonshine will cause you to go blind, and while this isn’t necessarily untrue, the process is much more regulated now.

Methanol gas is a byproduct of the distilling process and can be harmful to consumers if the levels of methanol are too high. 

Illegally distilled moonshine is more dangerous to consume than legally distilled moonshine.

You should still be careful when consuming legally distilled moonshine because it has such a high ABV and proof, it should always be consumed responsibly and only on occasion. 

When consuming moonshine, it is always important to ensure it comes from a reputable distillery. Doing a little extra research on where your moonshine comes from will calm any fears you may have about consuming moonshine.

Moonshine Alternatives

If the idea of drinking moonshine still makes you feel a little uneasy, there are many alternatives on the market that won’t break the bank.

Most connoisseurs will say that moonshine is most closely related to vodka, while others will tell you to try white whiskey.

Whatever your taste, there are so many options that you could find something that appeals to you more than moonshine.  

  • Emerald Springs White Whiskey and Buffalo Trace White Dog are two different versions of white whiskey, and they have a significant price difference. These two options will get you a very similar taste to moonshine for a better price. 
  • Everclear is a pure grain alcohol considered to be an unfinished ingredient. It isn’t meant to be consumed straight, as it can make a person very sick, it’s intended to be mixed in with other ingredients to dilute its strength. 
  • Reyka Vodka is unique in the world of vodkas because it has a slightly floral flavor with a crisp taste and notes of black pepper – much like some moonshines on the market. If you’re looking for something similar to moonshine without the strength or hefty price tag, Reyka Vodka may be exactly what you’re looking for. 
Emerald Springs White Whiskey$14.99/750ml
Reyka Vodka$17.99/750ml
Buffalo Trace White Dog$22.99/375ml

Is Moonshine Worth The High Price?

Moonshine has a rich history in the US and distilleries continue to produce quality moonshine for people to enjoy.

While moonshine may not be for everyone, the history and passion that goes into creating it justifies the price. 

Everyone has different wants when they’re looking for an alcohol to enjoy, and in my opinion moonshine is worth it if you’re looking for a potent and unique flavor.

Once you understand the work each distillery puts in to ensure their product is the best, the high price makes sense.

If moonshine isn’t something you treat yourself to often, then the price is completely justified to enjoy on occasion. 

Leave a Comment