Alcohol Percent in Moonshine: How Much Is It?

A beverage that is mainly consumed in the southern part of the US, moonshine is an illegally manufactured alcoholic beverage. The alcohol percent in moonshine is known for being very high, but just how high is it?

The alcohol percentage in moonshine can be anywhere from 40% to 80% depending on who it is manufactured by. Legal manufacturers typically won’t produce anything above 40%, but illegal distilleries often go much higher than that.

This article will cover exactly what moonshine is, how high the alcohol content is, how much it takes to get you drunk, as well as several other commonly asked questions.

What is Moonshine?

Moonshine is an alcoholic beverage that originated in the southern states of the United States partly in protest of a liquor tax that was imposed in 1791.

Technically, moonshine can be considered any beverage that is brewed and sold illegally. People first began to brew moonshine in the United States as a way of avoiding the 1791 liquor tax. 

For many, moonshine is considered one of the symbols of American freedom and culture, especially in the south. Although nowadays many companies make and sell moonshine legally, there are still plenty of “moonshiners” that are brewing and selling their products under the nose of the government.


Unlike many other alcoholic beverages, moonshine has no set ingredient list. It can be made out of any fermented product however, some of the most common ingredients are different fruits and corn. 

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The ingredients used to make the moonshine impact the way the moonshine tastes. Although moonshine is most well known as a clear, flavorless beverage, moonshine can also come in more enjoyable flavors. To learn about the different flavors that moonshine comes in, read this article on the different types of moonshine.

How Much is the Alcohol Content in Moonshine?

Since moonshine was traditionally distilled illegally, there was no set limit on how high the alcohol content in moonshine could be. This led to a lot of moonshine having an extremely high alcohol content.

Now, the majority of commercially and legally produced moonshine has an alcohol percentage of around 40%, very similar to vodka. However, illegal moonshines can have far higher alcohol content.

Illegal moonshines can have an alcohol content of up to 80%, although they usually won’t say this on the jar. Instead, the jar will say the alcohol’s “proof.” The proof of the alcohol is calculated by multiplying the percentage by two.

If you go to purchase moonshine and it says 80 proof then you know it’s 40% alcohol. If it says 120 proof then you know it’s 60% alcohol. The highest alcohol percent in moonshine that you can usually find is 160 proof, but a percentage that high is uncommon, even among illegal distilleries.

Can Moonshine Get You Drunk?

In short, yes, moonshine can get you drunk. Moonshine is an alcohol that has a very high percentage of alcohol and like any alcohol, it can get you drunk if you drink enough of it. 

The weakest moonshine has about the same alcohol percentage as vodka. So in order to figure out whether or not moonshine can get you drunk, consider how much vodka it takes to get you drunk and the amount will likely be similar.

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How Much Moonshine Can Get You Drunk?

The amount of moonshine that it takes to get you drunk will depend on many things including your body weight and what you’ve eaten before you begin to drink.

The weakest moonshine is about the same percentage of alcohol as vodka at about 40%. Normally, it takes people around four to five drinks to feel the effects of the alcohol. The same applies to moonshine and you will measure each drink in shots.

One thing to keep in mind is that moonshine can have a far higher alcohol percentage than vodka, so if you are drinking a high percentage of moonshine you may get drunk in as few as two shots worth of moonshine. 

How Long Does It Take for Moonshine to Kick In?

Moonshine, like any alcohol, will begin to enter your bloodstream only minutes after consuming it. How quickly you consume the alcohol and whether you’ve eaten anything before will affect how quickly you feel the effects of the moonshine.

For the most part, the moonshine will begin to enter your bloodstream ten minutes after consumption and will reach its peak levels at 30 to 90 minutes after consumption depending on how it’s absorbed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is moonshine stronger than vodka?

At its base percentage no, moonshine is not stronger than vodka at approximately 40% alcohol. However, when it is illegally produced moonshine can be much stronger than vodka at 60-80% alcohol.

Does moonshine give you a hangover?

Like any alcohol, moonshine can give you a hangover if consumed in excess. The best way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation and stay hydrated.

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Is moonshine a shot or drink?

Although moonshine is a very strong alcohol and should be measured in shots, moonshine is consumed as a drink. Typically, moonshine is sipped on throughout an evening straight out of the jar, not taken in shots like other strong liquors. It is also not typically used to make mixed drinks like other strong alcohols.

Are You Strong Enough for Moonshine?

Since its initial introduction to the United States in the 1700s, moonshine has been an extremely popular beverage in the southern states. However, it should be consumed with caution. 

Moonshine is a very strong alcoholic beverage that can range from 40% alcohol all the way up to 80% alcohol. Along with this, it is frequently produced illegally. This means that there are no regulations that manufacturers have to follow to produce the beverage therefore, the alcohol percentages aren’t always accurate.

If you do choose to consume moonshine, make sure you do so responsibly. Consume the beverage slowly and make sure to monitor how it is affecting you. If you begin to feel extremely drunk, you should stop drinking the moonshine and begin to drink water.

Make sure to purchase your moonshine, legal or illegal, from a reputable source so you don’t have to worry about any questionable ingredients that may have made their way into your beverage.