WALNUT SHADE, Mo. (AP) - Moonshine is making a comeback in the Missouri Ozarks.
Jim Blansit has opened Copper Run Distillery on family land in Taney County in southwest Missouri, where he sells homemade moonshine, a word that once described illegally produced spirits. Moonshine now refers simply to corn whiskey that hasn't been aged.
"I just felt that here in the Ozarks it would be wildly popular," Blansit told The Springfield News-Leader. He also sells handcrafted whiskey, vodka and rum from black-strap molasses at the distillery. But moonshine is his best seller.
People hear a lot of stories about moonshine, and they come to the distillery curious to learn more, he said. Many people are initially hesitant to sample his moonshine, but when they taste it they're often pleasantly surprised.
"When they take that second sip, that the only compliment I need," he said.
Blansit said his first taste of moonshine came during the energy crisis in the 1970s when his father tried to make ethanol by cooking a 10-gallon-batch of corn whiskey.
"He gave us a drop and I remember it was such a unique taste," Blansit said. "I laugh now because I have a feeling Dad said it was fuel for the car, but I doubt it went to the car."
He also had two great uncles who made moonshine during the Depression to support their families.
"Back in those days they didn't sell it, they traded it. It was currency that took money out of the equation and the taxes of course," he said. Blansit said he pays taxes on every drop of alcohol he makes.
Blansit moved to California in the 1990s to work in microbreweries and moved back to Missouri to be a real estate agent. But the love of brewing took hold one night as he sipped a glass of homemade wine and looked down on the family horse pasture and thought the location would make a perfect spot for a distillery.
He's been in operation for three years.
"That was some wine," he said.