‘Moonshiners’ Show – More Real Than You Think?

Picture Courtesy of Discovery ChannelMany people believe the show ‘Moonshiners’ which airs on the Discovery Channel, is fake. They argue how can it possibly be real and be allowed to be shown on TV. They wonder why the people on the show aren’t being arrested. First of all, this IS America… have you seen the other shows that air? (Kardashians, anyone?) In that aspect alone, in a country that is enamored with the entertainment industry and celebrities, is it really that far fetched? Either way, this single quote has been all but enough to stop everyone in their tracks. It was made in 2011 when the show first started by Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw. You can find the rest of her comments here.

“If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action.”

Virginia State ABC Special Agent Jesse Tate, who in Season 1 was part of the show and shown hunting the moonshiners, added the following during a separate interview.

“Nobody in the whole series was actually making any liquor, we wouldn’t allow that. If we knew somebody was making liquor they would have been in the next episode in handcuffs.”

That was enough for people to stop asking questions. Where most people decide to believe anything a person in supposed “power” tells them (like corruption doesn’t exist among police or government, eh?) and moves on, I, do not. As per the nature of this blog and who I am, I’m one of the few who presses further and continues asking questions.

The premier star of the shows comments sure suggest otherwise. To understand why it would be real is to understand the law. ‘Moonshiners’ star Tim Smith explains the exact reason best. He was asked the very questions everyone else was asking about the show during an interview via phone by bourbonblog.com.

“With the laws in Virginia, and I’m pretty sure around anywhere else, you must be witnessed and physical samples of the product you’re producing has to be taken and analyzed – and all of this has to go to a court of law, and then that arresting officer has to testify in a court of law that he did that.”

For all the cops know, they ARE just distilling water. Video is not enough evidence to convict someone of a crime such as this. Although I can’t remember who said it, I believe it was in Season 2 where the officer explained this very thing in an episode. In another interview when Tim Smith was asked about the subject again, he said officers show up at his home at all hours of the day all the time hoping to find evidence either inside his house or on his property. But again, no evidence equals no arrest. It was also expressed that the show itself is taped a year or more in advance therefor leaving plenty of time and no trace of their actions by the time anyone after them would see the show. To that aspect, Tim responds with this.

“So how are you going to arrest me for moonshinin’ that I did five years ago?”

Virginia, and any other state, obviously doesn’t want to be made to look bad or that they are not doing their job. Thus gives a reason for the ABC to make those comments publicly. The show gives them a chance to show they indeed do care and are always actively looking for illegal activity. Regardless of what the ABC says, doing this show and lying about the authenticity, if real, would allow them to become more familiar with the practices illegal moonshiners employ when trying to stay hidden from the law. The stars will surely never use the same methods twice and they are among the best in their respected areas. This exchange of being in the public eye makes it much more difficult for all others not on the show doing the same. Many use similar methods of hiding their distilleries and product and now the law will be looking out for it. In a way the stars sold out a bit but at the same time their sacrifices are able to keep the love and art of moonshining alive through the show which is what it’s all about.

It’s worth noting that Special Agent Jesse Tate departed after the first season. Currently in season three, Tim Smith has moved off from Virginia to partner with a man named Steve at the Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky to help him make his dream of going legal a reality. You can read all about his moonshine ‘Climax’ (including where to buy) here. Deputy Sheriff Chuck of NC has taken over the law enforcement side of the show since season two. Virginia has all but been abandoned in the show. Ironically, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement also issued a statement saying if they knew how the show was being portrayed, they would have not participated. In other words, how it made them look bad. If you have been keeping up with season 3 you also saw that Virginia denied Tim the allowance to sell his ‘Climax’ moonshine in his very own home state. Considering he is chief of his local fire department and being well known in his community with much potential of making profits off of his name through his moonshine, the state of Virginia rather deny extra money in taxes than allow to sell his product. Is this personal? Sure as hell sounds like it to me. Take that how you want.

So real or fake? Would it really be so far fetched for it to be real? Both sides of the law benefit from this show, that much you can’t argue against. It’s clear that Tim Smith and the Discovery Channel producers worked closely with lawyers to make this show happen. In my opinion, you can’t disprove it’s authenticity as much as people and the internet want to. If your search for the answer leads you to the show’s wikipedia page (a site to remind you all, anyone can edit) and is enough for you to be satisfied, then you’re not keeping an open mind, folks.

Catch the show currently on Tuesdays, 9/8c on the Discovery Channel.

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About Jon R.

Silly, serious & everything in between – that’s me in a nutshell. (Salty too… since I’m in a nutshell I might as well be suitably seasoned!) It’s apparent that I have a different way of thinking and seemingly have a talent for viewing things with a more independent perspective as well as an ability to perceive the objective nature of things more than most. Much like anyone else, I wish for the world to be more civilized and enjoyable for all. I’m full of ideas and love to improve things, and (un)fortunately the world has plenty wrong to offer. I’ve always been a problem solver and I love doing it. My endless ambition plus the urge to defend what’s right and bring reason has lead me to writing. With this I aspire to contribute some good to the world in order to help make it a better place. Regardless, all views are my opinion and not meant to offend anyone. While I seem to have the less popular point of view on things, I don’t represent any one side. I respect all sides and do my best to reflect on all fairly and within reason. I hope readers will find the content on this site interesting, and just maybe, will leave with a little more of an open mind.
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70 Responses to ‘Moonshiners’ Show – More Real Than You Think?

  1. Frank Gall says:

    I believe the show started off somewhat real, as there was no heat from law enforcement before anybody really knew about the show. The more recent episodes are without a doubt fake. I’m not saying that they don’t tell the guys to go make some liquor just like they normally would and get drunk and record it, however I don’t think that they are just following true underground moonshiners anymore. I think that since the show is a pretty big hit they decided to continue on but get a little more ‘reality show-ish’ A lot of the dialogue seems scripted and another tell tale sign is the fact the police officers faces aren’t blurred out in the many of the newer scenes that they are in such as the traffic stops and other arrests. The show also seems to use the same officers in many of the scenes. Remember the show can’t put anybody’s face on the final product without their consent and I doubt any police department would give their consent to videotape their officers faces while making routine traffic stops and arrests. As long as the show makes money these so-called underground moonshiners will be on television with ‘law enforcement’ chasing them.

  2. Keith Mark says:

    I felt bad for that chair Lance was sitting on last night.

    • Man, you aint kidding! Everyone else looked like a dwarf compared to that boy! Whew!

      I am going to guess that he must be close to 500 pounds. My father-in-law was over 400 lbs at one point in his life and Lance is bigger than he ever was.

      And that beard- I mean really? That don’t help a thing either!

  3. Johnc says:

    The show is entertaining but no moonshine is being made. The possession of a still can land someone in jail in certain states. The troublesome aspect of the show is that it glamourizes moonshine production and could lead people to attempt to make it. If shine is not made or packaged correctly, it can harm or kill people. The production does not show the correct way of producing it. I’ve seen too many episodes where they drink the head of the run. The head will kill you with methanol poisoning, as will the tail of the run. Both are discarded and the heart of the run is bottled. If you want the taste of good shine, buy Tim Smith’s Climax or Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee whiskey at the liquor store.

    • dobby says:

      It does not show them drinkin heads. It doesn’t specify what particular part they’re drinking. Just because a scene shows a run start and drinking in the next scene doesn’t mean anything. Can you say editing?

      • Johnc says:

        What I wrote stands. I stayed that the show portrays the drinking of the head which was shown in one episode when the still started running. You people are why Vince McMahon is a billionaire.

    • Sean says:

      You can’t assert that no moonshine is being made if you yourself weren’t at each and every location where purported moonshine was being made during the show and if you did not examine all of the product that was purported to be moonshine in the show. So were you at each and every still site featured in the show and did you sample every liquid produced by the purported stills shown on the show? If not, then you have no business asserting that none was made.

      • Johnc says:

        The guys are making 30,000 dollars an episode which is far more money than they would make running shine. Real shiners are a secretive bunch and are usually poor enough to risk prison to make shine. Tickle has earned over a million dollars for his part on the show. Face it, the show is entertainment and just that.

        • Sean says:

          That is a specious argument. All you have is your own speculation and rationalization to support your contention that no moonshine is being made. You have absolutely no idea whether alcohol is being produced or not and more importantly, no proof.

          • Mark says:

            They are NOT making moonshine or anything else that’s illegal. Anyone with half a brain would know that.

          • William Miller says:

            If you have ever been a moonshiner you would be able to tell it is fake. You can tell by the bead when it runs into the jar if it is shine. They normally do make the mash the correct way. When you make mash, it is not a clear liquid, It will look milkey.

    • Enda O'Rourke says:

      Only in certain states is it illegal to won a still. if you have a still sitting there for decoration you aren’t breaking the law. And for all you know they could be boiling and condensing water (distilling). Unless they are caught red handed and a positive test made to prove that moonshine is being made you are not breaking the law.

    • Mike says:

      Heads won’t kill you. Stop spreading these myths.

    • Anonymous says:

      Owning a still isn’t illegal in any state its only illegal if you use it to make liquor. You can just be using it to purify water

    • Aaron says:

      The heads are drinkable and contain no methanol. The foreshots contain methanol but not enough to kill you. In fact you can drink an entire batch of shine and not die from methanol poisoning because not enough is produced to be harmful. You have no idea what you speak of and so you shouldn’t speak. You’re just another government propagandist moron.

    • Tom Hager says:

      Tim Smith’s Climax shine tastes like horse piss! It’s no where near real shine.. maybe at one time.. not anymore.. dont waste your money.. Anyone who has drank real shine will be very disappointed.. if you want real shine i might be able to help you out! =)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thia show is scripted like all reality TV is. They probably do know how to make moonshine and have done so in the past., They are just showing how it is done and are not making real moonshine that they are selling. I like to know how much they are being paid by the producers. If these guys are doing what they say they will eventually be in jail. Even if it is for some other infractions because criminals cannot change there nature and will eventually get caught doing something. Yeah the show is filmed months ago, and I bet if you getting in a court if law they will say that it was all fake.

    • Enda O'Rourke says:

      No they will not eventually be in jail if they are cought by video making moonshine as in the TV series there is still no acual proof. For all you know they could just be distilling water and calling it moonshine even if it is moonshine. There is no substancial proof that they are making moonshine even if they are. And if you do go to court, youre obviousely not going to admit to making moonshine when you can get away scotch free

  5. Johnny Reno says:

    I think somebody’s having a wee hard time facing the boring concept of reality. Oh what a dull world it would be without our moonshiners, kardashians and duck call makers… they just gotta be real, otherwise we’ve wasted a whole bunch of time.

  6. Fiction Writer says:

    Last season when Josh and Bill’s truck was shot… that was filmed in Saluda, NC right off the exit of I-26. They were parked in front of the restaurant, and there is a BP gas station right there. There are always plenty of people around (particularly during the day time, when that was filmed)… and yet NO ONE in the town of Saluda ever knew about a gunshot being fired there… until the show aired. On top of that, get off the exit there sometime and look at the surroundings, or go to googlemaps… there is a freaking strip mall office building where the gunshot would have had to come from. I believe there is a doctors off in that building. A viewer who doesn’t know that area would never know that, but EVERYONE who lives there knows it. Fake? Uhh… yea! Jeff ‘n Mark are local the western NC as well, and they are enjoying their celebrity too. Going to local events and carnivals, car shows and BBQ’s… with their big trailer in tow with their merchandise to see… t-shirts, hats, etc. Josh and Bill complain in every episode how broke they are… yet who has not noticed their $40,000 trucks this season? If you watch the show and understand that its pure fiction it can be entertaining. If ANYONE thinks this show is real… all I can say is DUH.

    • Anonymous says:

      My thoughts exactly about the $40,000 pickups. And if you are worried about getting your stuff confiscated why would you haul it in a brand new rig? Haul it in some disposable kind of car.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a dumbass snipers make a living by pulling off those shots. That is why they are so effective. And if you knew anything about the south you would know that nobody ever knows anything about anything illegal or anything about anybody’s business. You keep that to yourself or else you wake up to your house on fire while you are in it. And if they get caught making shine or having product they will be arrested. The only thing I can tell you is these guys and there family have been doing this for generations. They know how to avoid the law. Its not that hard. Most to those towns have 1 or 2 official law enforcement officers. And they can’t keep up with these guys. Another thing, the people in these towns are all buying and drinking this shine do you think they would bite the hand that feeds them. I know a bit about running liquor I have run thousands of gallons on the show they may not be producing liquor but those are real stills and real mash and real sugar. Being caught with any of those will put you in prison. The sugar can get you busted because they know how much liquor can be produced per pound and they will use that against you. So even if they are just running water on the show you can bet the three to five other sites you haven’t seen. Are producing alcohol. Popcorn Sutton never his the fact that he was a moonshiner if you saw him in town and asked him what he did he would tell you he was a moonshiner. That’s because he knew that you had to be caught with it or it was all hearsay. And when he did get caught with over 800 gallons of shine in his possession he got nailed and that’s what caused him to take his life. You must be caught with physical evidence.

      • Mark says:

        Oh shut up, idiot. It’s all scripted and fake. Get over yourself.

        • Sean says:

          Just because you say so, huh? Those were just water vapors leaking out of fake copper stills that caught fire on some of the shows, huh? If you weren’t at each and every still site featured on the show and if you didn’t test every drop that came out of those stills, you have no business claiming that no shine was being made.

        • Anonymous says:

          He’s right, you know? You have to be caught physically and it has to be tested and analyzed to confirm it’s indeed moonshine being produced. You seem like such a sad little man. Bet you’re “fun” at parties. Probably more likely you never got invited because I don’t see an asshole like yourself having many friends. In any case, take your know-it-all ass on somewhere.

  7. anonymous says:

    I’m curious as to why “sheriff” chuck when tracking down a VIN for the blown up car, went to the dealer where it was sold. that seems a bit odd, since cars are registered, and he would only have needed to call in the number to find its owner. also, he’s always in an unmarked car with no electronics in it. sure it’s a crown vic, but that’s about it. seems strange to me. i’ve seen his fb page. says he’s a “law enforcement veteran”. sounds retired to me. paid to act. i saw where he took a firearms instructor course, but that doesn’t mean he’s a sheriff’s dep. my uncle was a firearms instructor for the sheriff’s department. as well, you see other deps in uniform, and chuck is always in a t-shirt with “sheriff” on it. sure looks like an actor to me.

    • Enda O'Rourke says:

      there is two ways to buy a car, 1. from a car dealership in wich you would be documented as the owner.. 2. buy it off some random bloke. The exchange of money for the car. Have you ever seen a car parked on a road with a for sign sale on it. in that case you arent the documented owner of the car.

  8. Zoe Mcfadden says:

    Lance is so fat i cant see his eyes is he Asian? Or just an Orangutan with a gun? The reason why he has so many guns is because he cant run, the law is going to get him, the law of nature sugar, food, and stupidity are his enemies which a gun wont help.

    Lance is so Fat
    When he cry tears come out mountain dew
    He is the stay puff man from Ghostbusters
    Masturabation is done with a gun
    The only thing he is securing is his own heart attack

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can assure you it is not real. The show is scripted. I live in the town in nc where alot of the filming has took place. I know these people and the area they are in. They can all make moonshine and do make it. But the story that the show is following is fake and scripted. Its a good show, i just wish it was more real and believable

  10. James says:

    Please get Rid of “Chico”!!! He makes everbody in KY look Lazy and like a pure criminal! I don’t feel that making a little shine is wrong. It’s no more wrong as going and buying a fifth of your favorite adult drink at the store! The Big blonde headed guy from KY and Tickle will work just fine! “Chico” thinks he’s mean because he’s big, but he is a nut less sack o crap!

  11. Jauy says:

    I guess no one knows for sure but I never for one second thought it was real, I still watch it regardless. For anyone that has ever seen what it takes to shoot these shows knows there are many camera’s and people around. As this show when you see the same scene from 4 or 5 different camera angles, there are many trail/crew vehicles following. Just way to much of a red flag for law enforcement. But as one said already, the same cast year after year, they would definitely put them under surveillance.

  12. It never fails to amaze me just how gulible some people can be. How many millions blieved Obama was muslem or that he didn’t have a birth certificate. How many millions still believe that pro wrestling is real despite all of the evidence to the contrary . They really are to be considered next best thing to STUPID unable to think their way out of a thin wet paper bag.

  13. Chad says:

    It is really simple. If it were real, the ABC and other agencies would simply start surveillance on each and every person on the show, and the very first year after the initial season, they all would have been in jail after being followed to their still sites. Pretty obvious, can’t believe a deep thinker like yourself didn’t figure this out.

  14. Brian says:

    You’re an idiot if you think that this show is real….

    • Jon R. says:

      Not much for an open mind or intellectual discussion… are ya?

    • Tinker bell says:

      Haha you sir, are a gullible idiot. I bet you think wwf wrestling (or whatever it’s called these days) is real too. Distilling water! Hahahaha that made me laugh the most!

      • Jon R. says:

        If you read anything properly, you would know I never once said it’s definitely real. Unless you know the people personally, how would anyone know for sure? The entire thing was arguing the possibility and why it would be, it’s entirely objective. BTW, obviously wrestling is scripted. They don’t even hide the fact well if you dig on the internet a bit. This is different.

        • Anonymous says:

          Fake scripted bs show is canceled, so stop asking…you morons…law enforcement threatened to sue discovery channel as has many other of its fake shows..!!
          Fuk u discovery channel..!!

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