That ‘hooch’ can make you blind, SC cops say after breaking up a moonshine operation

An illegal liquor still used to make moonshine was discovered by South Carolina law enforcement.
An illegal liquor still used to make moonshine was discovered by South Carolina law enforcement.

In what seems like a crime from the 1920s, the Florence County Sheriff’s Office reported it shut down a moonshine operation on Wednesday.

After receiving a number of complaints, sheriff’s deputies arrested William Allen Kimmy after discovering “an illegal liquor still” in Effingham, according to a news release. The still was in a fairly rural area about 12 miles south of Florence.

It was used to make an illegal liquor the Sheriff’s Office called “hooch, homebrew or moonshine,” in the news release.

Two 55-gallon drums of peach mash were found, according to the news release. Moonshine is “typically made with corn mash as its main ingredient,” Dawson News reported.

Deputies also discovered “specially designed copper cooling apparatuses” and other supplies used to distill the liquor, according to the news release.

It is illegal in South Carolina “for a person to manufacture, sell, give or have in his possession a distillery, or any integral part thereof if used for the purpose of manufacturing alcoholic liquors,” the news release said.

David DeGroot hosts a tasting of Palmetto Whiskey and Moonshine in the Myrtle Beach Store.

There are several legal moonshine breweries across the South, including Palmetto Moonshine, which was South Carolina’s first legal distillery when it opened in 2011, CNN reported.

One of its co-owners, Trey Boggs, said the only difference between his legitimate business and the distilleries like the one found in Florence County is that he and his brother “pay taxes,” according to CNN.

Another difference is the regulation.

The Sheriff’s Office warned that drinking moonshine from an illegal operator could cause “blindness and death,” according to the news release.

“The consumption of liquor from illegal stills has been associated with serious illness including lead-salts poisoning,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the release.

First-time offenders found guilty of operating an illegal still could face at least six months behind bars and a minimum $600 fine, according to the news release.

A Wednesday night traffic stop has led to the Russell County Sheriff's Office locating a moonshine operation, 500 gallons of moonshine worth about $30,000, several weapons, and the seizure of $200,000 in vehicles , equipment and $4,378 in cash.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.