Moonshine Over 573

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Moonshining began very early in American history. Shortly after the American Revolution, a federal tax was placed on liquor. The American people, who had just fought a war to get out from under oppressive British taxes, were not particularly pleased. In rebellion, they decided to just keep on making their own hooch, completely ignoring the federal tax.

In 1920, Congress passed the law of prohibition, the ban of any distribution of alcohol that angered Americans even more. Suddenly, there was no legal alcohol available and the demand for moonshine shot up like a rocket. At this time, moonshining became one of the most popular illegal activities.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the market for moonshine grew thin. Today, the significance of moonshine is remembered and revived in several brands on the market. Even though the people at the Crown Distillery, in Ste. Genevieve County, don’t sport long hillbilly beards and corn pipes, they are producing some good old fashioned hooch.

Recently we met up with the real deal, a modern-day moonshiner. Meet Scott Eckl, the mad moonshiner at Crown Distillery who is kinda like a mad scientist only more fun.

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573: Tell us about yourself.

My name is Scott Eckl. I grew up on a farm outside of Bonne Terre and graduated from North County in 1982. After I graduated I moved to Norman, OK for 8 years where I learned the printing trade. I spent 20 years doing that for a living but I finally had enough of being laid off and having to start over so I got out of that and I went into business for myself as a landscaper. I did that for a few years and then I saw an ad for a cellarman at Crown Valley winery. I started working here in July of 2005 and worked my way up to head distiller.

Today I live in Bonne Terre with my girlfriend, her son and our Blue Healer, Jango. I have 2 grown children of my own who also went to North County. I spend off time fishing and hunting and learning about distilling of course.

573: It’s obvious that you love your job -what’s the best part?

I think the best part of this job is getting to experiment and making new products. It allows me a creative outlet based on science that I really enjoy. When you can take nothing but a few ingredients and come up with something completely new to the market it’s extremely satisfying.

573: Tell us how you first became interested in hand crafted distilling.

I grew up on a farm and we lived on a ridge that had a spring coming out below our house. As a child I would hear stories from some of the elderly neighbors about the moonshiners that had made whiskey there during Prohibition. There were still pieces of pipe and rusty old metal lying around, left over from their operations. You can only imagine how intriguing the idea of moonshiners was for a young kid and I never lost that interest.

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