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 its 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.
Festivals that celebrate the moonshine heritage of Georgia remain popular.
Check out the Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville in October to learn more about the spirit and Appalachian culture. Festivities kick off with a parade of cars, followed by 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.