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Moonshine has been used since the late eighteenth century—the great days of smuggling—for spirits illegally distilled or imported: ‘The white brandy smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex is called moonshine’ (Francis Grose, Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785). The name comes from the secretive nocturnal circumstances of its production or acquisition (it was also called moonlight in the nineteenth century). The term has largely died out in Britain, but in American English it continues in use with reference to illegally distilled whiskey (as opposed to smuggled whiskey, which is bootleg).

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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