Moonshining "still" around and still illegal

A moonshine still on display at a local museum

Moonshining is something that's been done in South Carolina for generations.

Local law enforcement recently discovered a 40 to 55 gallon barrel of moonshine or moonshine mash in a Garden City hotel room.

Horry County solicitor Jimmy Richardson says the practice is illegal for two reasons.

One is because the government wants to tax alcohol, and the other is that it needs to be regulated to make sure it's safe.

But some people in the Grand Strand still want to make their own homemade liquor, legal or not.

At the Homebrewer's Pantry in Conway, owner Thomas Lucas can sell the corn, rye or barley needed to distill homemade alcohol.

He can also sell the yeast and even order a copper still for customers.

And all of that is perfectly legal.

"But as soon as you turn on the actual distiller, the still itself, the distilling process is actually what is illegal," said Lucas.

Lucas mostly sells beer and wine-making ingredients in his store, but says he has about 10 to 15 regular customers who do liquor distilling.

He says just about all of them have some kind of ancestral connection moonshining.

"Down here, it's definitely something that they've been doing for generations. They saw their dad do it, their dad saw their grandpa do it," Lucas said.

He said his distilling customers make small amounts of moonshine for their own use, not to sell it, and thinks thinks it's only a matter of time before making a few gallons of alcohol at home will be made legal, just like making a little beer or wine is now.

"It's really the hobby of creating something, just like cooking. 'Hey, guys, let me have you taste something that I made. It's my recipe, or this is my grandfather's recipe,' " explained Lucas.

Lucas says doing everything at home in an all-natural way is catching on, including distilling whiskey or vodka at home.

He says moonshine can be made in a wide variety of flavors, with one of the most popular being pumpkin pie.