The Most Famous Moonshiner, Ranked

Choose the moonshiner you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 07:49
The shadowy art of moonshining has always carried with it a sense of intrigue and rebellion. From hidden stills deep in mountain folds to the secretive passing down of distilling techniques, these crafters of illicit spirits have often been as elusive as they are legendary. This list captures the stories and legacies of those who excelled in this risky venture, helping to understand their impact on culture and spirits. By ranking these fascinating figures, you participate in acknowledging their craft and audacity. Your votes help to highlight the most impactful personalities in the moonshining history, giving newcomers and enthusiasts alike a structured insight into this clandestine world. Each vote casts a spotlight, drawing connections from past innovations to present interests in the art of distilling.

Who Is the Most Famous Moonshiner?

  1. 1

    Popcorn Sutton

    An iconic American moonshiner and bootlegger from Tennessee, known for his high-quality moonshine and rebellious spirit.
    • Full Name: Marvin Sutton
    • Notable Work: His autobiography 'Me and My Likker'
  2. 2

    Bill McCoy

    A notorious figure during the Prohibition era, known for smuggling high-quality moonshine into the United States, giving rise to the term 'The Real McCoy'.
    • Prohibition Era: 1920-1933
    • Quality: Never watered down his alcohol
  3. 3

    Junior Johnson

    A legendary NASCAR driver whose early career was funded by his moonshining activities in North Carolina.
    • Full Name: Robert Glenn Johnson Jr.
    • NASCAR Wins: 50
  4. 4

    Jack 'Mimm' McClure

    A legendary moonshiner from Georgia, known for his high-quality moonshine and contributions to the local economy during the Great Depression.
    • Nickname: Mimm
    • Economic Impact: Supported local economy during the Great Depression
  5. 5

    Marvin 'Popcorn' Sutton

    A renowned figure in the moonshine world, known for his craftsmanship and dedication to the traditional methods of moonshining.
    • Notable Quote: 'Jesus turned water into wine, I turned it into likker'
    • Year of Death: 2009
  6. 6

    Lewis Redmond

    An infamous moonshiner and outlaw of the 19th century, dubbed the 'King of the Moonshiners', who operated in the Appalachian region.
    • Region: Appalachian Mountains
    • Notoriety: Outlaw
  7. 7

    Percy Flowers

    One of North Carolina's most famous moonshiners, known for his successful bootlegging operations and philanthropy in his community.
    • Era: Early to mid-20th century
    • Philanthropy: Supported local churches and schools
  8. 8

    Amos Owens

    Famous for his cherry bounce moonshine, a popular drink during the 19th century, and his defiance against tax collectors.
    • Location: Cherry Mountain, North Carolina
    • Specialty: Cherry Bounce Moonshine
  9. 9

    Wilburn Waters

    An early American moonshiner and folk hero, known for his adventures and moonshining in the Wild West.
    • Era: 19th century
    • Region: Wild West
  10. 10

    Maggie Bailey

    A well-respected moonshiner from Kentucky, known for her charitable acts and evading law enforcement for decades.
    • Nickname: The Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers
    • Lifespan: 1904–2005

Missing your favorite moonshiner?

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous moonshiner. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Moonshiner is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 79 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Moonshiner once every 24 hours. The rank of each Moonshiner is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


Additional Information

More about the Most Famous Moonshiner

Popcorn Sutton
Rank #1 for the most famous moonshiner: Popcorn Sutton (Source)
During the early 20th century, Prohibition laws swept across the United States. These laws banned the production, sale, and transport of alcohol. Many people still wanted to drink, though. This demand gave rise to a new kind of entrepreneur: the moonshiner.

Moonshiners made and sold illegal alcohol, often called moonshine. They worked in secret, usually at night, to avoid detection. They set up stills deep in the woods or hidden in barns. The process of making moonshine was risky. Explosions and fires were common. The finished product was often of poor quality and could be dangerous to drink.

Despite the risks, moonshiners thrived. They found clever ways to hide their operations. Some used false walls and secret rooms. Others disguised their stills as farm equipment. They also developed methods to evade law enforcement. They used fast cars, often modified for speed and handling. These cars could outrun the police, who were less prepared for high-speed chases.

Moonshiners became folk heroes in many communities. They were seen as rebels standing up to unjust laws. They provided a service that people wanted. Many also employed family and friends, creating jobs in hard times. Their stories spread through word of mouth and the media. Tales of daring escapes and clever tricks captured the public's imagination.

Law enforcement worked hard to catch moonshiners. They formed special units and used informants. They also used new technology, like wiretaps and surveillance planes. Despite these efforts, many moonshiners remained elusive. Some even became local legends, known for their skill and cunning.

The end of Prohibition in 1933 did not end moonshining. The practice continued, especially in rural areas. The demand for untaxed alcohol remained high. Moonshiners adapted to changing times. They improved their methods and expanded their markets. Some even moved into the production of legal alcohol, using their skills and knowledge to start legitimate businesses.

The legacy of moonshiners is still felt today. They are remembered in books, movies, and TV shows. Their stories are part of American folklore. They represent a time when people took great risks to meet a demand. They also highlight the impact of laws on everyday life.

Moonshining has a complex history. It involves crime and danger, but also ingenuity and resilience. It shows how people can adapt to changing circumstances. The most famous moonshiners became symbols of this spirit. They remain a fascinating part of American history.

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