Moonshine sales dramatically increase in Virginia

Photo by Rebecca McDevitt

Chuck Miller is fulfilling a family tradition. In his words, he makes “good old super clean original moonshine”. It’s something he learned from his grandfather. But unlike his grandpa's moonshine, Miller's is legal. He operates the Stillhouse Distillery in Culpeper and has been producing legal moonshine for 25 years.

Miller and his wife say sales are soaring thanks to Discovery Channel's show "Moonshiners," and its millions of viewers. “Moonshiners” is a docu-series depicting people, mostly from Southwest Virginia and the Carolinas, who brew moonshine.

“It’s really brought the demand back,” notes Miller. “We're getting higher sales now than ever had.”

Since 2011 when the show premiered, sales of legal moonshine, like Miller's, have jumped 150-percent in Virginia stores.

Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says illegal moonshine manufacturing is an ongoing concern as well. In the last couple of years, the department says its investigated illegal distilleries from Tidewater to northern Virginia. In 2011, officers investigated 12 illegal stills. In 2012, the number doubled.

Chris Goodman, the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Law Enforcement Operations Division with the Alcoholic Beverage Control, says he has no way of knowing if there was a correlation to the show “Moonshiners” and increased production of moonshine. But Miller says he's had an influx of visitors since the show started, including many Virginians asking how to make moonshine. Miller suspects some are more likely to follow in his grandpa's footsteps, than his own.

In Virginia, illegally manufacturing moonshine is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.