About prohibition, bootlegging and moonshine

The United State prohibition from 1920 to 1933 was the legal prevention of the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages and this is how the 18th Amendment. The temperance movement that was widely supported helped in making the prohibition possible. 

But will all this stop the people from drinking? 

Well as they soon found out, no it didn’t. This led to illegal production of alcohol (bootlegging ) and speakeasies (illegal, secretive drinking establishments). All of this leads to more trouble, people fighting over “turf” crime rising, unemployment rising and so on. Not happy times. 

The first “temperance through law” was set by a Massachusetts law, passed in 1838 ( was repealed two years later), prohibited sales of spirits in less than 55-litre quantities. 

The Eighteenth Amendment passed in both chambers of the U.S. Congress in December 1917 and was ratified by the requisite three-fourths of the states in January 1919. This amendment was the creation of Wayne Wheeler, the leader of the Anti-Saloon League.

The Twenty-first Amendment, ratified in December 1933, repealed Prohibition also the promise of getting rid of the alcohol ban helped Franklin Delano Roosevelt become president. The same argument used to make the ban happen now was used to repeal the prohibition law. They were arguing that the effects of prohibition (the rise of a criminal class, the corruption of public officials, and a widespread disrespect for the rule of law) represented a serious threat to American homes and families.

Alcohol prohibition was a failure. 


Is the illegal traffic of liquor. The bootleggers were resourceful, they were using their own boats, have tunnels built, smuggling alcohol from outside The States and so on. They were “washing” the denatured alcohol(full with chemicals- so it will not fit drinking) and sell it to speakeasies or individual customers. The distribution of liquor was necessarily more complex, it included an understanding of logistics. From concealed distilleries and breweries through storage and transport channels to speakeasies, restaurants, nightclubs, and other retail outlets. In the end they start making their own alcohol out of corn, but not having the knowledge or equipment the mix they were making was way more dangerous and caused a lot of damage. 

Putting something out of the law and out of peoples easy reach is not always a good answer and this move made a lot of people rich. Unfortunately organized crime was on a rise and with this gang wars started as well. Like now, when drug gangs fight over territory the bootleggers and the crime lords of that time were fighting over “turf”. This leads to crime, violence, raising danger and murders. Another sad point of this bad decision was the fact that the gangs expended their “services”. From dealing with alcohol they started dealing narcotics. gambling rackets, prostitution, labour racketeering, loan-sharking, and extortion.


This is one of the names that the illegal high-proof distilled spirits got during the prohibition. 

Now, I am from Romania, we have a whole tradition around making plum brandy or palinka or what we call it: “Țuică” and we are still doing this. 

Distilling such spirits outside a registered distillery remains illegal in the United States and most countries around the world.

Other names that you can find moonshine under are: rotgut, white lightning, bathtub gin, popskull, panther’s breath, corn liquor or just shine. 

There is a difference between moonshiners and bootleggers. The first are the ones that make the alcohol and the bootleggers are the ones that transport the illegal substance. 

Making alcohol revolves around two processes: fermentation and distillation. During fermentation they obtain the alcohol and during the distillation they capture the alcohol steams(alcohol boils and evaporates faster than water, this is the separation method). The alcohol is then cooled and captured. And there you have it. 

There are a lot of downsides of making your own booze at home, especially for your health, so do not do it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: