White lightning. Hooch. Mountain Dew. White whiskey. Moonshine goes by many names. The high-proof, often illicitly distilled spirit has a mysterious and storied history. Before the first federally-mandated tax on liquor in the late 1700s, farmers used to produce ’shine as a way to stay afloat during hard years—that doesn’t mean they stopped after the tax was established though. In parts of the U.S. today (particularly in Appalachia), the tradition lives on—you’ve seen Moonshiners, right?
But it’s not only the little guys—or the commonly associated backwoods folk—producing white lightning. Companies like Ole Smoky, Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam have started marketing the powerful corn liquor to the masses. Believe it or not, people definitely don’t hate it. The next time you run across a bottle of hooch in your local liquor store, pick it up and try it for yourself. If you’re not willing to try the stuff straight, mix it into a cocktail. It’ll put a little hair on your chest.
This piece originally appeared on Liquor.com.