Everclear Vs. Moonshine: A Showdown Between Two Strong Alcohols
Different alcohols are known for different things. For instance, whiskey, wine, and beer are recognized as among the most popular types of alcohol. On the other hand, there are also exotic alcohols that are not so well-known but could be worth trying, like snake wine.
Other alcoholic drinks are known for their high alcohol content and reputation for being dangerous. These include Everclear and Moonshine. The former is a grain alcohol with almost 100% alcohol by volume, while the former is an illegally made unaged whiskey.
Just by these descriptions, one can realize that both are not conventional drinks, which is probably why so many people are intrigued. If you are one of these folks, here is Everclear Vs. Moonshine!
Type of Alcohol
Corn (and other undisclosed grains)
Any grain or fruit but usually corn
Clear, tasteless, scentless
Clear, floral, sweet
60%, 75.5%, 94.5%, and 95% ABV
40% - 80% ABV
Multiple commercial distilleries and home distilleries (usually illegally made)
Closeup of a bottle of Everclear - Image by Oak & Barrel
Everclear is the leading brand of grain alcohol in the United States of America, created by the Luxco company, and the second strongest alcohol in the world.
It’s a rectified spirit made from fermenting grain and distilled multiple times. It has varying alcohol content, and the highest is 95% ABV or 190 proof.
The multiple distillation procedures assist in removing any flavor or other residues of the original grain used in the fermentation. This makes Everclear a neutral, pure grain alcohol, with no aroma, color, or flavor.
Jug of Moonshine on a barrel - Image by Ontario Culinary
Moonshine goes by many names - white lightning, bathtub gin, corn liquor, popskull, and rotgut. No matter which term you choose, they all mean illegal, bad, or cheap alcohol. Simply put, moonshine is a high-proof liquor produced without the government's authority.
It is named “moonshine” because it was originally created at night in various handcrafted, haphazard stills located in forests, mountains, farms, and homesteads to avoid paying alcohol taxes or to circumvent alcohol prohibitions.
During the Prohibition era, moonshine became immensely popular, with organized and disorganized criminals engaged. Drinking illegally produced corn whiskey gives an exciting feeling to people. That's why this distilled alcohol is still being produced and consumed today.
At first glance, Everclear and moonshine seem like the exact same thing, but they do have differences that make them unique. Let’s take a closer look and discuss them in the following categories:
Regarding Everclear, the Luxco company is not very open to the public about its specific ingredients. Their website says that Everclear is made out of 100% selected grains. At one point, they disclosed that the high proof grain alcohol is made from corn and that it’s gluten-free.
Interestingly enough, moonshine in today’s time is commonly made from corn or barley mash. But there are also moonshine varieties made from other grains such as rye, fruits, and potatoes.
Back then, moonshiners made moonshine out of anything available as long as it possessed fermentable sugars. Moonshiners sometimes add sugar or malted barley to the corn mash before they add in the yeast.
Both Everclear and moonshine are largely made from a common ingredient which is corn. Although moonshine offers flexibility in terms of ingredients that can be used, there is a possibility that Everclear is also the same with their selected grains. With this, we declare a tie for this round.
Everclear grain alcohol is produced in the United States by Luxco, previously known as David Sherman Corporation.
Compared to whiskey or wine, grain alcohol is less complicated to make. In fact, Luxco considers Everclear as an unfinished product, meaning it is pretty plain and pure ethanol with no aging involved.
It starts with fermentation, then proceeds to distillation, and finally, rectification to achieve the required alcohol content.
Making moonshine is quite similar to Everclear since the mash of corn, sugar, and water is fermented, then distilled to reach a certain alcohol percentage. But unlike Everclear, the mash of moonshine still imparts a flavor to the final product since it’s not distilled as many times.
It can also be made using several ways in homes or places other than a commercial distillery. Backwoods black pot stills may still be found all across the South, which has long been the epicenter of illegal whiskey manufacture.
However, there are state and federal rules that limit the production and sale of alcohol for public use. While it is allowed to own a still of any size without authorization under federal law, a permit is necessary to make alcohol with the still.
Stills pose serious risks that may lead to hazardous situations, which is why they are strictly controlled. You'll need a federal distilled liquor permit to create alcohol for sale and distribution legally. Large manufacturers are eligible for these licenses.
Since both alcohols are similar in the production process, we’ll base the deciding factor on the legality of production. Everclear production is legal since it has been operated by a legitimate company for many years. What’s illegal is to sell Everclear in states where they’re prohibited.
On the other hand, moonshine is a broad category. Those that are commercially produced are just as legal as Everclear, but many moonshines are still illegally made. And if an illegal moonshine is not distilled properly, it may turn out to be toxic and harmful to consumers. So Everclear wins this round.
3 jars of Moonshine flavors - Image by Ole Smoky
If you ever try to drink Everclear, you'll realize that it has no flavor or odor at all. If it wasn’t so high in alcohol, it would essentially be like vodka. But due to its insanely high ABV, the potent grain alcohol is more akin to rubbing alcohol.
If you feel a spicy bite or a peppery feeling when tasting Everclear, this is particularly attributable to the alcohol's purity. This also causes a bland, dry, and burning sensation in the throat, which is harsher and hotter when served undiluted.
But then again, no person should ever try drinking Everclear straight or undiluted. Even if you pair it with food, it still wouldn’t be tolerable because of its rough character. Besides, Everclear grain alcohol has no flavor, so it wouldn’t complement dishes.
The only way for Everclear to have a discernable flavor is if you add cocktail mixers to it, such as fruit juices, soda, and drinks with chocolate, caramel, and vanilla flavors.
In contrast, moonshine has a wide range of flavors depending on how it is prepared. But during its early days, its taste was more on the bad side.
It had a notoriety for being filthy and unpalatable, especially during the Prohibition era. Some folks even say it has the same taste as turpentine oil. People who drank it were just desperate to have alcohol in their system.
Thankfully, today’s legal moonshine sold by commercial distilleries is properly brewed, making it a pleasant and extremely drinkable liquor. But because moonshine is quite alcoholic, one still anticipates a strong alcohol flavor.
Most moonshines have a predominant corn flavor unless a different grain is used to make them. Many people compare modern moonshine to grappa, a pomace brandy, and cider. On the other hand, traditional moonshine mostly leans towards earthy notes.
Other types of moonshine offer different flavor profiles that can span from sugary to fruity to peppery and beyond! And because moonshine has distinguishable flavors on its own, it has the advantage for this round.
While the Luxco company is legitimately operating within the law, it is hardly breaking news that certain states do not recognize Everclear as a legal alcohol due to its dangerously high ABV.
15 US states have outright outlawed the sale and possession of Everclear, namely Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Maryland, and Washington.
Meanwhile, obtaining traditional moonshine before was challenging, despite being available, because it was prohibited. But ever since big distilleries started producing legal versions of moonshine in recent years, some of them quickly became popular.
In 2010, legal moonshine stills opened in South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama, among other states, and made moonshine that could be sold and distributed legally.
Despite the widespread availability of commercial moonshine, some still insist on making their own and yearn for the allure of the illicit and risky spirit associated with the original moonshine.
No matter how popular Everclear and moonshine are, they are hindered by the law in some areas. However, they are still available in other states and can be easily bought in stores or online. Both are also generally affordable; that’s why they keep circulating.
Everclear is available in four alcohol content percentages, namely 60%, 75.5%, 94.5%, and 95%, or 120, 151, 189, and 190 proof, respectively.
Compared to the standard alcohol level for most liquors (40%), even the minimum ABV for Everclear is higher. This is why Everclear is referred to as "jet fuel" by many bartenders.
Therefore, it's safe to say this isn't the typical bottle of booze for drinking straight. Everclear is very dangerous, even in small amounts, and this is true regardless of age. Honestly, we can see why this is banned in multiple states!
However, several people still drink Everclear neat, even though this is strongly discouraged.
In contrast, the alcohol level of moonshine is typically 40% ABV, but some bottles can go as high as 60% to 80% ABV or possibly even higher than that.
Although the effects of moonshine may not be immediately apparent, drinking it will definitely leave you smashed. Whether or not someone can easily take moonshine depends on their tolerance level.
Everclear and moonshines at their maximum ABV range aren’t too far off. However, we’re choosing moonshine for this round as it has a wider range of ABV, which caters to more drinkers with different alcohol tolerances.
Everclear is commonly blended with other liquids, like water, sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, and other flavorings to soften their harshness. It is best used as a base alcohol for making whiskey, liqueurs, bitters, and other alcoholic products.
Some people also use it in cocktails, but the amount should be lower than what’s normally poured for regular liquor.
Aside from the bar, Everclear is also a useful thing to have in your home. A high-strength alcoholic product can be used for a variety of disinfecting purposes, and what makes it better is it does not leave behind any lingering odors or discoloration.
In addition, sterilizing wounds with a high-proof liquor is an efficient first aid technique to eliminate bacteria. Grain alcohol's antibacterial properties also make it effective against insects and other pests.
You can even use this drink when making deodorant or air freshener! You just have to add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the mixture to incorporate a pleasant aroma.
For moonshine, the vast majority of producers make their product with one goal in mind: to consume it. And one can drink it on its own or as a cocktail.
Since moonshine can also have a high proof, it also makes a safe and effective cleaning agent, whether for your bathroom, kitchen, flooring, or furniture. You just spritz moonshine on a surface and scrub it normally.
Although both are useful in many situations, we decided to go with Everclear because of its relatively higher alcohol concentration, making it more versatile in the alcohol industry and more effective in cleaning.
Even though it is properly manufactured, people should be cautious when buying Everclear grain alcohol.
The high proof and low price of Everclear appeal to many drinkers, particularly teenagers and college-aged students. But it’s worth noting that the prohibitions surrounding it are justified. Drinking Everclear, regardless of age, is extremely harmful, even in small doses.
It can cause high blood pressure, alcohol poisoning, brain damage, car accidents, a higher chance of cancer, and death. In a short period, only one shot of Everclear can make a person sick and jeopardize their health.
Since moonshine is also high-proof alcohol, drinking it can also be dangerous to a person’s health because it has similar effects. Its high alcohol content can also make a person sick and cause blindness and death, among other things.
Whether it’s Everclear or moonshine, a person is not safe from the consequences of overconsumption or irresponsible drinking. So in terms of effects on health, there is no lesser of two evils since both alcohols pose the same threat to a person.
So, we remind you always to drink responsibly, whether it’s Everclear or moonshine
Considering everything, it shows that Everclear and moonshine are tied! Although they are similar, they also have an edge in different aspects. And at the end of the day, it is up to the drinker on which strong alcohol they want to try.
Which distilled alcohol would you like to try first? We’d love to hear from you!