In 40-Year First, Moonshine Fest Will Pour ... Moonshine

Straitsville, Ohio, operation serves legal white lightning
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2014 3:05 PM CDT
In 40-Year First, Moonshine Fest Will Pour ... Moonshine
Moonshine will actually be available at this year's Moonshine Festival.   (Shutterstock)

The tiny town of New Straitsville, Ohio—population about 700—made a name for itself with moonshine in the 1880s. And for 40 years, it has celebrated that history with a Moonshine Festival, the Los Angeles Times reports. But those festivals didn't actually involve any drinking of the illegal stuff. This Memorial Day weekend, however, a legal moonshine operation is opening its doors for the first time in New Straitsville, coinciding with the festival. That means this year's festival will feature a healthy dose of "high-quality corn whiskey, known as white lightning," according to a statement.

An 1884 mining fire offered cover for the smoke of moonshiners' stills, helping to launch an operation whose products reached Chicago. Visitors to speakeasies during Prohibition could order the "Straitsville Special." Two years ago, Ohio got rid of a restriction on the number of craft distilleries; afterward, Doug Nutter and Ami St. Clair set up their new plant, the Straitsville Special Distillery. Nutter's great-great-grandfather was a moonshiner, and Nutter is continuing the tradition, the Zanesville Times Recorder reports. "I’ve already had locals thank me for putting this town back on the map," says St. Clair. Of course, as the Times points out, "if the moonshine is legal, is it still moonshine?" (Click for more on moonshine's modern comeback.)

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