The Tipsy Tennessean: A Visit to Short Mountain Distillery for a Sip of Moonshine!

Hooch? White Lightning? Tennessee White Whiskey? Corn Squeezin’s?  Mountain Dew? Yep, there’s Moonshine in the hills of Tennessee!

DSC_0470photo by Olivia Garvin

We’ve all heard stories about the tradition of moonshining deep in the backwoods of the Appalachian Hills since the 1800’s.  You may remember when the Morrison sisters were caught brewing up shine in their hot-house on the Andy Griffith show and other colorful characters making moonshine in the backwoods in attempt to avoid the revenuers. So, Olivia and I took a leisurely drive to the picturesque Short Mountain Distillery in Woodbury, TN so that we could see for ourselves just what moonshining was all about.

I met Billy Kauffman at a Christmas Bazaar as he was pouring samples of the shine. Intrigued by his enthusiasm for his product, his story and after one sip, I wanted to learn more. Olivia and I are always looking for an adventure and this one was just right for a winter afternoon.

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Traditionally, moonshiners made the distilled liquor in their homemade stills out of sight from the revenuers. It was an illegally brewed distilled liquor with a very high alcohol content. It may have contained impurities and odd flavors caused by not following the right procedures for making liquor.

Ronald Lawson, retired from the days of illegal moonshining, has over 50 years of experience of making some of the finest moonshine around. Billy and his brothers knew that he and the other local legends of moonshine had the perfect recipe for a quality product. Why change a perfect recipe that has satisfied many for years?

The best way to enjoy this “taste of history”  is to sip.  The clear moonshine is smooth, clean,crisp and full-bodied with complex flavors and aromatics similar to white rum and tasting notes of a smooth tequila.

If you enjoy the sweeter side, The Apple Pie Shine is the original moonshine that flavored naturally with apple juice concentrate and a hint of spices like vanilla and a touch of smoke, like a bite of homemade apple pie baked in an open flame oven…just better.

PicMonkey CollageIt was a real pleasure to meet one of Cannon County’s local legends of moonshine, Ronald Lawson.

All three of the Cannon County moonshiners came together to provide what they felt was best original recipe and all three to this day, make the moonshine as it had been made for the last 100 years. The shine is refined by modern distilling methods and practices, but the recipe remains. the same. Corn, water and yeast.

DSC_0482photo by Olivia Garvin

IMG_4941This is right out of the old still at 180 proof . The final product is 105 proof of the clear shine and the Apple Pie is 40 proof.

During the spring and summer months, you will be able to enjoy music and shine under the trees. I can’t wait!


We took a short hike with Billie down the Cooper Cave Spring Trail. The spring water in the cave is the water that is used to make the moonshine. The name pays homage to Cooper Melton, one of the most famous moonshiners known. During the 1920’s Prohibition, it is said that Al Capone supplied his speakeasies with Melton’s moonshine made from the same spring that is used today.

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Billie is dedicated to the farm to table method of shine making. Short Mountain Distillery is locally owned and a family funded business that is a productive part of the community generating needed revenue that will stay in the county. He uses local corn, either what they grow or Cannon County grown corn. The left over mash is fed to their cattle, eliminating as much waste as possible.




Master Distiller, Josh Smotherman took a few moments out of his busy day to show us the process of making moonshine. We were also treated to a sample of they not-yet-released bourbon.

DSC_0498photo by Olivia Garvin


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Our visit to Short Mountain Distillery carried us back for a taste of the Prohibition era and what it must have been like to experience a time of days gone by with a rich history that was made by wildcatters. This distillery remains dedicated to providing the purest, locally made, authentic moonshine and retains the integrity of making moonshine for all of us to enjoy today!

 Visit Short Mountain Distillery’s website for tastings & tours or upcoming events. It is gorgeous!



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