Johnson City, TN

Johnson City Man Charged in Moonshine Operation Discovery

John M. Dabbs
Photo bycourtesy of Washington County Sheriff's Office

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. — In a revelation that harks back to the historical roots of moonshining in Northeast Tennessee, a Johnson City man faces charges after a tip-off led authorities to uncover an illicit moonshine operation. The Washington County Sheriff's Office has cited 36-year-old Jeremy Stines with multiple offenses, including the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, possession of a still, and unlawful storage of liquor for sale.

The discovery was made after investigators received a tip and conducted a premise check on the 200 block of Highridge Road. According to the sheriff’s office, Stines admitted to having a still in a yard barn at the east end of his property and consented to a search. The search resulted in the seizure of liquor manufacturing equipment and 81 quarts of moonshine, now in the custody of law enforcement officials.
One type of "moonshine still" once typical of the area.Photo byImage by inkflo from Pixabay

Sheriff Keith Sexton detailed the charges against Stines, underscoring the seriousness of the allegations. While possession of a still constitutes a Class B misdemeanor under state law, the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and the unlawful storage of liquor for sale are deemed Class A misdemeanors. Stines is slated to appear in court in early March.

This incident has reignited discussions around the local history of moonshining, a practice deeply entrenched in the cultural fabric of Northeast Tennessee. Historically, moonshining served as a means of survival and resistance against taxation during periods of economic hardship. The region's secluded landscapes provided ideal conditions for the clandestine production of homemade liquor, making it a hotbed for moonshine production that dates back to the early 19th century.

The illegal operation uncovered in Johnson City reflects the enduring legacy of moonshining in the area and highlights law enforcement's ongoing challenges in curtailing such practices. The incident underscores a fascinating juxtaposition of tradition versus law as authorities work to uphold modern regulations against a backdrop of historical defiance.

As the case against Jeremy Stines unfolds, it serves as a contemporary touchpoint to Northeast Tennessee's storied past with moonshine, reminding locals and observers alike of the region's unique heritage and the complexities of preserving law and order.

Can an Illicit Delight Turn Legal?

Moonshine—the word itself conjures images of clandestine stills in the Appalachian backwoods and a rebel spirit of American distilling. Traditionally seen through the lens of illegality, moonshine has danced on the edge of American culture, both feared and romanticized. But what is moonshine, exactly, and has its legal status evolved over time?

The Essence of Moonshine

At its core, moonshine is distilled liquor. Traditional moonshine is clear, unaged, and potent, unlike the aged spirits that grace the shelves of bars and liquor stores. It's the product of necessity and ingenuity, born in the rural parts of America where distilling was not just a means of producing alcohol but a way to ensure the fruits of agricultural labor did not go to waste. Moonshine's origins can be traced back to the early settlers and has since been a staple of American folklore and an emblem of resistance against taxation and regulation.

The term "moonshine" typically refers to spirits distilled illicitly, bypassing the legal production and distribution channels. Historically, this meant anything from corn whiskey to sugar shine, each with its own unique flavor profile, depending on the base ingredients used—corn, barley, rye, wheat, or even sugar.

The Legal Landscape

Despite its roots in illegality, moonshine has undergone a transformation in recent years. Legal forms of moonshine now exist, challenging the traditional definition of the spirit as something produced outside the law. These legal variants adhere to regulations regarding production and taxation, making them legitimate products in the eyes of the government and accessible to consumers in a way traditional moonshine never could be.

The Cultural Impact

Moonshine's cultural significance cannot be understated. It's a symbol of rebellion, a testament to the resourcefulness of rural Americans, and a relic of a bygone era when the law was as much a guideline as a rule. Shows like Discovery's "Moonshiners" have brought the spirit and its creators into the living rooms of millions, highlighting the craft, tradition, and continuing allure of moonshine making.

Moonshine, in its essence, is more than just illegally produced alcohol. It's a distilled spirit with deep roots in American history and culture. Its transition from an illicit pleasure to a legally recognized product marks a significant shift in how moonshine is perceived and consumed. While its past is steeped in secrecy and defiance, its future appears bright, bridging the gap between tradition and legality.

For those intrigued by the intricate history and evolving legal status of moonshine, further exploration is encouraged through resources like TastingTable's comprehensive article on the subject (read more here: TastingTable), offering a deeper dive into the world of this fascinating spirit.

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John is a writer and journalist with a passion for travel, adventure, and the outdoors. You can find him at HTTP://

Bristol, TN

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