Moonshining as a Fine Art: The Foxfire Americana Library - Foxfire Students (2011)
A GLOSSARY OF SOME OF THE EXPRESSIONS AND TERMS USED IN STILLING
Backings—also singlings and low-wines—what results after beer is run through a thumperless operation once. They have a good percentage of alcohol, but they won’t hold a bead.
Beer—the fermented liquid made from corn meal bases which, when cooked in the still, produces the moonshine.
Blockaders—men who made moonshine. The name is a holdover from the days in our history when blockades were common, as were blockade runners. Also gave rise to the expression “blockade whiskey.”
Blubber—the bubbles which result when moonshine in the proof vial is shaken violently.
Breaks at the worm—an expression used at the moment when the whiskey coming out of the flake stand turns less than 100 proof, and thus will no longer hold a bead.
Dead devils—tiny beads in the proof vial which indicate that the whiskey has been proofed sufficiently. Stop adding water or backings at the moment shaking the proof vial produces dead devils.
Dog heads—when the beer is almost ready to run, it will boil up of its own accord in huge, convulsive bubbles which follow each other one at a time.
Doubled and twisted—in the old stills, all the singlings were saved and then run through at the same time thus doubling their strength. Whiskey made in this fashion was called doubled and twisted.
Faints—dead beer; or backings that steam has been run through in a thumper to strengthen a run. These are drained and replaced before each new run.
Goose Eye—a good bead that holds a long time in the vial.
High Shots—untempered, unproofed whiskey. At times it is nearly as strong as 200 proof.
Malt—corn meal made from grinding sprouted corn kernels. It is added to the barrels of mash to make the beer.
Mash—corn meal made from grinding unsprouted corn kernels. It is put in the barrels, mixed with water, allowed to work until it is a suitable base for the addition of the malt.
A Run—an expression meaning to run the contents of the still through the whole operation once. It gave rise to expressions like, “There’s gonna be a runnin’ tomorrow,” “He’ll make us a run,” etc.
Slop—that which is left in the still after the whiskey will no longer hold a bead at the end of the worm. It is too weak to produce and so it is dumped at once. Left in the still, it will burn. Some people use it for hog feed, others in mash.
Sour Mash—mash made with pot-tail.
Sweet Mash—mash that has been made with pure water. The first run through the still is made with sweet mash.
Split Brandy—a mixture that is half whiskey, half brandy. It is made by mixing mash that is one-quarter fruit content. Then proceed as usual with the beer-making, and running.
Temper—the process of adding water or backings to the whiskey to reduce its strength to about 100 proof.
Various names given moonshine include ruckus juice (pronounced “rookus”), conversation fluid, corn squeezin’s, corn, white, white lightenin’, cove juice, thump whiskey, headache whiskey, blockade whiskey, etc.
“Busthead” and “popskull” are names applied to whiskey which produces violent headaches due to various elements which have not been removed during the stilling process.
ILLUSTRATION 3 Buck Carver kneels behind a one-gallon still he made for the Foxfire museum. The still is authentic in every detail from the flue of the furnace to the tin-locked copper joints in the cooker and condenser to the chestnut barrels Bill Lamb made for the model.