Quality Moonshine

Madsen Pirie at the Adam Smith Blog reports on another example of market provided quality in the absence of government law:

A new study from the International Centre for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) estimates that at least half of the alcohol consumed in the world is non-branded, locally produced. The generic term ‘moonshine’ covers everything from Irish poteen to Russian samogon to Mexican pulque, plus a local equivalent just about everywhere.

Moonshine has a ‘buyer beware’ reputation, and is often associated with toxins ranging from methanol to paint thinner, not to mention rat faeces and battery acid for extra flavour. Cases of blindness, paralysis and death are sometimes reported.

According to the new study, these are very rare exceptions. Chemical testing of samples world-wide reveals that “most of the moonshine produced is of reasonably high quality.” Marcus Grant, President of ICAP, suggests that reputable moonshine producers take care to do nothing to harm repeat customers. In contrast to moonshine’s ‘raw’ image, a taste testing saw some Russian Samogen actually beat Cutty Sark.


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