The Early Days of Moonshine in Georgia
Scotch-Irish immigrants began to settle in Georgia in the 1780s, bringing with them the knowledge of how to distill fruits into alcoholic beverages. With that settlement, moonshine production began. Whether it was apples, corn or peaches, Georgians made the most of their crops, including the production of whiskey or brandy.
During the Civil War, the United States government formed the Internal Revenue Service to collect taxes on “luxuries,” including alcohol and tobacco. Many moonshiners refused to pay the tax and continued operating their stills. In the 1870s, federal agencies started going after the moonshiners in North Georgia, and in 1920 Prohibition was enacted, which meant consuming alcohol was illegal.
The infamous cat-and-mouse moonshiner versus revenuer car chases through the North Georgia mountains reached is peak in the 1930s and ’40s, giving birth to a new type of industry, stock car racing, which would lead to the formation of NASCAR.
Modern ‘Shine in Georgia
Illicit still production of moonshine has died off in the last half-century, and in the last decade, liquor companies have been producing the spirit legally throughout Georgia, with the beverage enjoying a renewed popularity.
Georgia is now home to 16 distilleries, including:
- Dawsonville Distillery, Dawsonville
- Thirteenth Colony Distillery, Americus
- Moonrise Distillery, Clayton
- Lazy Guy Distillery, Kennesaw
- Granddaddy Mimm’s Moonshine Distillery, Blairsville
- Dalton Moonshine Distillery, Dalton
- Still Pond Vineyard, Winery & Distillery, Arlington
Moonshine Festivals in Georgia
Remaining popular are festivals that celebrate the moonshine heritage of Georgia. Check out these upcoming events in the Northeast Georgia mountains to learn more about the spirit and Appalachian culture:
Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In, Hiawassee (July 29-30, 2016) – This event includes the usual festival-type fun plus live mountain music, parade, classic cars, a pioneer village, and crafts representing the region’s heritage.
49th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival, Dawsonville (October 21 – 23, 2016) – Festivities kick off on Saturday morning with a parade of cars. There will be live entertainment, numerous vendors and festival fare. Also, festival-goers can enjoy a car show, cruise-in, and swap meet at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.