On the cover of our local semi-communist weekly rag "The Hook" is the headline: "Make Mine VA Shine," a parody of the popular "Make Mine Virginia Wine" bumper sticker. The feature is the story about the producer of a legal moonhine-type alcoholic beverage, his partnership with NASCAR legend Junior Johnson (who served 11 years for moonshining, later to be pardoned by Ronald Reagan), and the new popularity of "corn likker," both legal and illegal. Click here for the article.
Joe Michaelek, founder of Piedmont Distillers, based his operation just south of the Virginia line in North Carolina. I am assuming he did this because of the draconian laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia where alcohol distillation, distribution, and sales are concerned. However, there is some new Virginia ABC legislation that was passed recently and signed into law by Governor Timmy Kaine by which Belmont Farms can sell their "Virginia Lightning" on their own Culpepper premises.
I wish that someone in the VA legislature could get some legislation passed allowing for the home distillation of alcohol. For a whole host of reasons, it only makes sense. Many new cars use "E85," corn (or other grain) alcohol which has been denatured with gasoline. With the rising cost of oil, and therefore gasoline, and considering the impossibility of pumping ethanol through a pipeline system, many dollars (and pounds of evil carbon) could be saved by allowing people to produce their own alcohol fuel. Virtually any carbeurated gasoline burning engine can be modified by the home mechanic to burn ethanol.
And if one makes a little extra and must drink it, so what?
However, as I learned from calling (and being transferred through the various voicemails and bureaucracies) Virginia ABC, it is illegal for an individual to even own or have on their property an alcohol still without a distiller's permit (read: very expensive piece of paper).
While on the subject of silly alcohol laws...
Our family was dining out recently, when we noticed a group of soldiers in uniform seated nearby. I asked our waitress to send them a round of drinks, as people had done this for me many years ago when I wore the uniform. They came over to thank us, and we learned that they were all Iraq vets who would be returning for another tour sometime in the future. We also learned that two of the four were under 21, and therefore could not drink legally.
By the way, the two who could legally drink ordered this.