The South and the state of South Carolina have a long and storied history with corn-based spirits. The tradition of homemade “shine” created in cobbled together stills hidden in the dense marsh and woods of the low country or in the hills and hollers of the high country is a long-lasting point of pride to local residents.
After Prohibition was enacted, Hell Hole Swamp in Berkely County South Carolina became the biggest supplier of corn-based liquor in the country. The moonshiners there supplied the bigger Southern cities of Charleston, Savannah, Columbia and Atlanta, and beyond. Hell Hole Swamp was also supplying the speakeasies in New York City and Al Capone’s Chicago. Capone was known to come to Berkely County to check on his business interests from time to time, according to local lore.
During World War II it was estimated that 90% of all illegal corn liquor produced came from the Southern states.
One resident of Daufuskie Island, SC likes to tell the story of his grandfather and the revenuers. He says that one morning the revenuers showed up early in the morning and were able to follow a trail through the dew to his granddaddy’s still. The revenuers seized all the liquor and arrested the moonshiner. When he returned to the island, friends and relatives asked how come he came back so quickly after being taken into custody.
His reply: “By the time we got over there, all the evidence was gone!”
In 2009 the laws changed and made it legal for micro-distilleries to produce spirits in South Carolina. Small distilleries have dotted the state since, and now you can find local moonshine, whiskey, bourbon, and more!