Moonshiners (TV series)

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Narrated byJeremy Schwartz
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons3
Running time42 minutes
Original channelDiscovery Channel
Original runDecember 6, 2011 (2011-12-06)  – present
External links
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Narrated byJeremy Schwartz
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons3
Running time42 minutes
Original channelDiscovery Channel
Original runDecember 6, 2011 (2011-12-06)  – present
External links

Moonshiners is an American docudrama television series on the Discovery Channel that dramatizes the life of people who produce (illegal) moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. The series dramatizes their liquor production efforts, law-evading techniques and life.[1] There have been claims by local officials that the show is not what it portrays to be. Virginia authorities have stated that no illegal liquor is actually being produced by the people depicted in the show. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) said in March 2012 that, "If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action."[2] They also said that they had requested for the producers to add a disclaimer to clarify that the show was only a dramatization, "but the request was overlooked."[2]

Portions of the show that feature Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton were taken from a documentary film by Neal Hutcheson. Hutcheson's documentary was filmed in 2002 and released the same year with the title This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I'll Ever Make.[3] In 2008, a version of the documentary that was edited for television was broadcast on PBS[citation needed] and the Documentary Channel[4] with the title The Last One, and it received a Southeast Emmy Award in 2009.[5] Sutton was arrested in 2007 by ATF agents in Cocke County, Tennessee (led by Jim Cavanaugh of Waco siege fame) for illegally distilling liquor and felony possession of a firearm, and was sentenced to eighteen months in jail in 2009. He subsequently committed suicide, apparently to avoid serving the federal prison term.[6]

The show's first season premiered on December 6, 2011, and its second season premiered on November 7, 2012. Season 3 premiered on November 3, 2013.[7]

Series overview[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedAverage rating
Season premiereSeason finale
17December 6, 2011 (2011-12-06)January 4, 2012 (2012-01-04)2.76
215November 7, 2012 (2012-11-07)January 30, 2013 (2013-01-30)3.03
313November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05)February 4, 2014 (2014-02-04)2.53


Season 1 (2011–12)[edit]

No. in
No. in
Episode titleOriginal airdateU.S. viewers
11"Moonshine Season Starts"December 6, 20112.832
Two partners (Tim and Tickle) scout for a site for their operation, and an ABC agent discovers counter-surveillance measures.
22"Point of No Return"December 7, 20112.856
Tim and Tickle begin operating their still for the first time, which goes smoothly until an emergency strikes; a law enforcement agent pursues a hot tip.
33"The Law Comes Knockin'"December 14, 20112.578
Equipment failure and an intruder threaten moonshiner Tim and his partner Tickle's first run of moonshine. Law enforcement agent Jesse Tate shuts down an illegal drinking establishment. Veteran moonshiner Popcorn Sutton shows his old-fashioned way of producing moonshine.
44"Outlaw Brotherhood"December 21, 20112.791
Moonshiner Tim and his partner Tickle fix up Tim's car and use it to transport some moonshine. A hurricane threatens their still site.
55"A Price to Pay"December 28, 20112.618
In the late fall, moonshiner Tim adds a second pot to the still site to double his profits. Tickle falls while working and breaks three ribs. Agent Jesse tries to arrest people.
66"A Moonshiner's Farewell"January 4, 20122.899
Popcorn Sutton dies. Tim and Tickle produce moonshine day and night, making more money than Tim has ever made before. Agent Jesse conducts reconnaissance of an active still site.

Season 1 special[edit]

No. in
No. in
Episode titleOriginal airdateU.S. viewers
77"Cannonball Run"April 18, 20121.343
Tim and Tickle plan a risky midday transfer.

Season 2 (2012–13)[edit]

No. in
No. in
Episode titleOriginal airdateU.S. viewers
81"Rise 'n Shine!"November 7, 20123.06
Moonshine season in Appalachia has begun. Tim and Tickle are starting to try to produce some moonshine. A new law enforcement officer, Deputy Sheriff Chuck, is introduced.
92"Moonshine Goldmine"November 14, 20122.23
Josh and Bill make progress building their underground still. Mark and Jeff build a new copper still and go into the mountains to establish a new site. Tickle lures Tim back to their illegal site.
103"Moonshiner Vs. Hogzilla"November 21, 20122.48
Mark and Jeff call in moonshiner Jim Tom to help fix their broken still. Mark hunts and kills a wild hog. Meanwhile, Deputy Sheriff Chuck gets a tip from a hunter that leads him to an abandoned site.
114"Storm's a Brewing"November 28, 20122.36
A storm hits the Carolinas, and Jeff, Mark and Jim Tom produce moonshine during the storm. Nearby, Josh and Bill experience the same storm and a flood threatens their underground still site. Then, Tickle does something. The episode includes news stories about some moonshining arrests, an ongoing tropical storm and Barney Barnwell's documentary.
125"A Shiner's Last Stand"December 5, 20122.19
Tickle splits from Tim, recruits Howard as a new still hand, and heads into the woods to find a new site. Mark, Jeff and Jim Tom begin work on a second still to make barley-based liquor, but needs his wife and son to run the second site. Deputy Sheriff Chuck meets a confidential informant to get information about the drop off location for an active moonshine operation. Josh and Bill make repairs to their underground still site.
136"Prophecy Fulfilled"December 12, 20123.43[8]
Tickle builds a new still and does something around midnight. Josh gets angry when he damages the nearly completed underground still site. Mark and Jeff make a risky move when they sell some of their product in town. Jim Tom teaches Jeff's son Lance how to measure the alcohol content of moonshine.
147"Tickle Goes Rogue"December 19, 20123.65[9]
Tickle goes it alone after his still hand Howard gets spooked by an intruder and disappears. Josh and Bill discover toxic black mold in their underground still site. Jeff's wife and son set up a second still to run barley scotch. Deputy Sheriff Chuck tries to catch moonshiners.
158"Troubled Waters"January 2, 20133.46[10]
Tickle gets discovered by an angry landowner, while Tim devises a new hiding spot for his back-up stash of moonshine. Josh and Bill get into a bone-breaking fight at their new still site. Mark carries moonshine by canoe at night.
169"Adios, Mr. Still"January 9, 20133.30[11]
Gunfire erupts in the bamboo patch just as Josh and Bill fire up their still for the first time in the season. Meanwhile, Jeff, Mark and Jim Tom make a batch of rye whiskey in the style of President George Washington. Tickle's still is sabotaged.
1710"Moonshine Treasure Hunt"January 16, 20133.18[12]
Tim hunts for 200 gallons of high-value 60-year-old moonshine at the bottom of a lake. Mark and Jeff encounter a thief stealing their moonshine. Mike and Tweedy hide moonshine under a pile of cattle manure. Tickle has some interaction with his old still hand Howard.
1811"Hat in Hand"January 23, 20133.17[13]
In debt to dangerous people, Tickle goes to Tim for help. Jeff, Mark and Jim Tom struggle with a nest of yellow jackets at their still site. Josh comes to Cutie Pie's rescue when she gets hurt at the underground still.
1912"Last Shiner Standing"January 30, 20133.87[14]
As Tim gets ready to go legal, Tickle loads the last batch of illegal moonshine into an RV's water tank to sell to waiting customers. Josh and Bill's above-ground still malfunctions, ending their season, but they find that their underground site is now mold-free and ready to use during the winter. Jeff, Mark, and Jim Tom run three stills at once, and Deputy Sheriff Chuck makes his move, arresting the suspect he pursued all season.
This episode was dedicated in memory of Darrin Lewis, Mike's brother.

Season 2 specials[edit]

No. in
No. in
Episode titleOriginal airdateU.S. viewers
2013"Secret Summit Part 1"February 6, 2013
In Part 1 of this special, the moonshiners meet in a secluded cabin for an interview with executive producer Matthew Ostrom. They talk about run-ins with the law, why they let the cameras in, making dynamite, and old proofing methods.
2114"Secret Summit Part 2"February 13, 2013
In Part 2 of this special, the moonshiners meet in a secluded cabin for an interview with executive producer Matthew Ostrom. They talk about the moonshiners code, leading double lives, obsessive fans, and the perils of life at the still site.
2215"Tickle's Guide to Love"February 14, 2013

Season 3 (2013–14)[edit]

No. in
No. in
Episode titleOriginal airdateU.S. viewers
231"Time to 'Shine"November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05)2.52[15]
It's the start of moonshine season! Moonshiners Jeff and Mark, and partners Josh and Bill hit the ground running. Meanwhile, veteran shiner Tim Smith will make a life-changing move, and Tickle is forced to realize that his time to shine has just begun.
242"A Shiner in Kentucky"November 12, 2013 (2013-11-12)2.02[16]
Mark and Jeff clear their remote North Carolina still site, while an argument between Josh and Bill threatens to destroy their partnership. Tim has a tough time adjusting to moonshining in a legal Kentucky distillery, and Tickle takes a road trip.
253"Swamp Shiners"November 19, 2013 (2013-11-19)2.12[17]
Mark and Jeff struggle to set up their remote still site, while Josh and Bill are desperate for cash to build a new copper still. Tensions run high in the Kentucky distillery with Tim and his partner Steve, and a new moonshiner appears in Mississippi.
264"More Shiners More Problems"November 26, 2013 (2013-11-26)2.72[18]
Tim Smith hires a person with a checkered past to help at the distillery in Kentucky. Tickle learns how to make moonshine in a copper pot still from one of the best. In North Carolina, Jeff and Mark are surprised by an unexpected visitor.
275"Hush Money"December 3, 2013 (2013-12-03)2.78[19]
In North Carolina, Jeff and Mark must pay hush money to the property owner of their still site, while veteran shiner Jim Tom helps Wayne perfect his moonshine recipe. In Virginia, Tickle encounters bad luck when he starts bootlegging his own shine.
286"First Run"December 10, 2013 (2013-12-10)2.47[20]
Tickle bootlegs at night, while Wayne comes up with an ingenious drop-off plan for his own bootleggers. Equipment failure threatens the production of Tim Smith's legal moonshine, and Josh and Bill finally begin their first run of strawberry brandy.
297"Blue Moonshine"December 17, 2013 (2013-12-17)2.22[21]
Josh and Bill are forced back to their day jobs after their shine runs blue. Chico, under financial stress, makes a hard decision that could risk it all. Tickle struggles to keep Tim's old territory supplied. Mark and Jeff move their liquor.
308"Rival Shiners"December 24, 2013 (2013-12-24)2.16[22]
Tim reaches a milestone with his first bottled batch of shine. Jeff and Mark suspect a rival in their territory. Chico takes a risk that could cost him everything. Josh and Bill's only hope at financing their shine operation is to consider bootlegging.
319"Bootlegging Blowups"December 31, 2013 (2013-12-31)2.45[23]
Tim enlists Tickle's help to investigate his new still hand, Chico. Josh and Bill take on new risks as they try to stay alive in the moonshine game, as bootleggers. Jeff, Mark and Lance look to take out the competition.
3210"Moonshine War"January 7, 2014 (2014-01-07)3.02[24]
Tickle goes undercover in Kentucky, to find out what Chico has been up to. Josh and Bill hit the open road, to bootleg shine at a music festival. But they soon hit a violent roadblock. Jeff, Mark and Lance look to take out the competition with one shot.
3311"Firewater"January 14, 2014 (2014-01-14)2.65[25]
Josh and Bill suffer the consequences of bootlegging. Darlene goes against her best instinct and lights up her still indoors. Jeff, Mark, and Lance find their competition is still out there. Tim takes final measures to protect his legal shine business.
3412"Aftershock"January 28, 2014 (2014-01-28)2.77[26]
Jeff and Mark look to cash in on one final run of the season. Tickle and Chico's still site is compromised. Mike is desperate to complete his New Orleans order, and turns to Darlene. Josh and Bill might get to sell some of their own liquor after all.
3513"Liquid Courage"February 4, 2014 (2014-02-04)3.03[27]
Jeff and Mark reach the ultimate roadblock. Deputy Chuck is hot on a trail. Josh and Bill might finally be back in the game. Mike takes a trip to finish off his biggest sale of the season. Tickle and crew attract unwanted attention.

Season 3 special[edit]

No. in
No. in
Episode titleOriginal airdateU.S. viewers
"Road to the Shine"November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05)1.25[15]
The off season from moonshining provides the shiners some relief from the long hours of work and constant fear of getting caught. The moonshiners set aside their craft and carry on the other parts of their lives.
"Kick-off Summit"November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05)1.91[15]
The 'shiners gather in a secluded cabin to kick off the new season. The episode features new-season highlights and clues to what lies ahead. Josh and Bill go on an adventure to Kentucky, and fans get answers to their questions.
"Christmas Special"December 10, 2013 (2013-12-10)2.08[20]
"The Ballad of Jim Tom"January 7, 2014 (2014-01-07)2.26[28]
Jim Tom tells his story in song as he begins attempting to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a country music star.


Key:      indicates a season in which a person appeared

CastRoleSeason 1Season 2Season 3
Marvin "Popcorn" SuttonMoonshiner
JesseLaw Enforcement Agent
Jim TomMoonshiner
Barney BarnwellMoonshiner
Moonshiner XMoonshiner
ChuckDeputy Sheriff
Chris ThompsonMoonshiner

Cast descriptions[edit]

Descriptions of cast member characters are listed in this section, based on their depiction in the show – which includes some amount of fiction mixed with fact:


Main article: Tickle (TV series)

In May 2013, it was announced that, in addition to renewing Moonshiners for a third season, Discovery Channel would be purchasing a spinoff about Tickle, to be called Tickle.[29] The series premiered on August 13, 2013.[30]


  1. ^ "About Show : Moonshiners : Discovery Channel". Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Virginia Authorities Claim Show 'Moonshiners' Doesn't Show Illegal Moonshining". Fox News. December 30, 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Last One – Popcorn Sutton Documentary – Special Edition (2012)". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  4. ^ The Last One – Popcorn and moonshine in North Carolina, The News & Observer, Dec. 11, 2008.
  5. ^ Popcorn Sutton Documentary Wins Emmy Award, The News & Observer, June 30, 2009.
  6. ^ Tom Landess (1 June 2009). "Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, R.I.P.". 
  7. ^ "Moonshines: Discovery Channel". Retrieved Oct 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ Bibel, Sara (Dec 13, 2012). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' & 'Amish Mafia' Win Night, 'American Horror Story', 'South Beach Tow', 'Shipping Wars' & More". TV by the Numbers. 
  9. ^ Bibel, Sara (Dec 20, 2012). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' Wins Night + 'Amish Mafia', 'Duck Dynasty', 'Shipping Wars', NBA Basketball & More". TV by the Numbers. 
  10. ^ Bibel, Sara (Jan 4, 2013). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Sugar Bowl' Wins Night, 'Moonshiners', 'American Horror Story', 'Amish Mafia', 'Full Throttle Saloon' & More". 
  11. ^ "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' & 'Amish Mafia' Win Night + 'American Horror Story', 'Duck Dynasty' & More". Jan 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' Wins Night, + 'Amish Mafia', 'American Horror Story', 'Workaholics', & More". Jan 17, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' Wins Night, 'American Horror Story','Necessary Roughness','Workaholics', 'Top Chef' & More". Jan 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' Wins Night + 'The Americans', NBA Basketball, 'Workaholics', 'Shipping Wars' & More". Jan 31, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "Tuesday Cable Ratings". November 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". November 13, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". November 20, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". November 27, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". December 4, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Tuesday Cable Ratings". December 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". December 18, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". December 27, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". January 2, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". January 8, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". January 15, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". January 29, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". February 5, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Tuesday Cable Ratings". January 8, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Discovery Renews 'Moonshiners', Adds Spinoff 'Tickle' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  30. ^ "New series Tickle premiers on Discovery Channel August 13 at 10pm". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 

External links[edit]