Rising Spirits

Appalachia's moonshines are booming, and Big Whiskey wants in

Carolyn Griffin for TIME

Ole Smoky's original moonshine, of the distillery's 12 flavors.

Correction appended: July 26, 2013

Moonshine has been distilled in backwoods Appalachia for centuries, but it's only recently moved aboveboard. Loosened liquor laws and consumers' love for all things artisanal have turned moonshine into one of the spirits industry's fastest-growing categories--and with entrepreneurs profiting, Big Whiskey wants a taste.

By its original definition, moonshine means illegal spirit, and it was made at home without aging in oak barrels, the process that gives other whiskeys their golden color. Moonshine has evolved into a catchall term for unaged white whiskeys, many of which are made in Tennessee and the Carolinas.

When the...

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