Keeping traditional Appalachian moonshine alive

West Virginia

Courtesy: Audra Laskey, Appalachian Distillery

RIPLEY, W.Va. (WOWK) — It’s a strong alcoholic drink that played an important role in American History. It’s called moonshine and it all started right here in the hills of Appalachia.

“it is part of our history and it’s a legacy for me. It’s just a West Virginia thing. Moonshine, when everybody thinks of moonshine, they think of West Virginia,” said Dwyane Freeman, owner of the Appalachian Distillery.

The homemade liquor got its name moonshine during the prohibition era because it was often secretly made at night by the light of the moon. West Virginia’s hills and hollers provided a space for these businesses to thrive, which is something the Freeman family is no stranger too.

“We got some family history. My great grandfather went to prison for moonshine and I knew it was in the family,” said Freeman.

So Dwyane and his family opened the Appalachian Distillery in 2014 located in Ripley, West Virginia.

“People come in and say we want the real stuff. Well, this is as real as it gets. Most backyard moonshines make it out of sugar. We do it like they did 150 years ago. We cook the corn, it’s a real sour mash. You are getting real moonshine here it’s the real deal,” said Freeman.

Which takes a labor of love.

“It takes pretty much all day long, about eight to nine hours somewhere around there, for one batch,” said one worker.

But orders for traditional Appalachian moonshine keep coming in.

“If we were bottling bigger bottles we could do about a hundred cases a day, that machine will do a hundred an hour,” said another worker.

They sell not only in all different states but now globally. From customers off the interstate to global partnerships, Appalachian Distillery is proud to keep true to West Virginia’s roots

“It makes you proud. You are doing something for the community, in the community, and you’re helping it grow. It brings a lot of people in,” said Sandra Freema, owner of Appalachian Distillery.

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