R Street's Kevin Kosar Interviewed About Moonshine


R Street’s Kevin Kosar was interviewed by Live Science about mooshine and whether it is safe to drink. As Kosar noted, Moonshine can be made from a variety of products and it’s most likely to exist in places that put up high bariers to legalized alcohol:

What is moonshine? Broadly, moonshine is any type of distilled liquor that's manufactured without government oversight, though some argue that moonshine can be labeled as such only when it is made with certain ingredients or comes from specific geographic regions, experts told Live Science.

People all over the world make and drink moonshine, particularly in places where alcohol is illegal or where legal alcohol is prohibitively expensive or hard to get…

ngredients for moonshine vary widely depending on what's available. In the early 20th century, American moonshiners typically made their brews from corn mash. But moonshine is also made from grapes, plums or apricots (Armenia), barley (Egypt), palm tree sap (Myanmar), bananas (Uganda) and cashew fruit (India), said Kevin Kosar, author of "Moonshine: A Global History" (Reaktion Books, 2017).

"It's just basic chemistry. If you can tease sugar out of something, you're on your way to making a drink," Kosar told Live Science…

Even when moonshine doesn't contain toxic levels of methanol, it's impossible to tell how strong it is — an uncertainty that could lead to accidental alcohol poisoning The best way for drinkers to stay safe is to give illicit alcohol a wide berth, Kosar said..

"Unless you're a close friend of the person producing the moonshine and have absolute trust in their competence to produce it, don't drink it," he warned.

Read the whole article here.

How Government Policies Help Fuel the Illicit Alcohol Trade


The CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Carlos Brito, took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to highlight the problems with the illicit alcohol trade around the globe. Brito points out that it's often government policies that help fuel the illicit booze market:

"According to the World Health Organization, about a quarter of all alcoholic-beverage consumption globally is unrecorded. Unrecorded alcohol is a wide category that comprises everything from the beer brewed by aficionados at home to illegal and sometimes destructive bootlegging practices.

Recent studies by Euromonitor International demonstrate that in many countries, particularly emerging markets, the percentage of unrecorded alcohol can sometimes be more than half of the total alcohol market. What’s more, often it is dominated by organizations that control large counterfeiting and contraband operations. In those countries, the illicit alcohol market creates serious safety risks for consumers, erodes the rule of law, denies the government much needed fiscal income and makes growth for legal businesses much harder.

What is the root cause of this illicit market? Poor enforcement is an obvious contributing factor, and indeed improved enforcement is critical. But we would argue that the main drivers, while often well-intentioned, are badly designed public policies that seek to reduce harmful drinking.

To be clear, we are active supporters of policies that reduce harmful drinking. However, as Euromonitor and recent research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development demonstrate, when taxes increase to the point that prices exceed consumers’ purchasing power, then illicit beverages become cheaper alternatives, illegal production blossoms, dangerous products enter the market and fiscal income dwindles..."

Read the whole thing here.

R Street's Kevin Kosar addressed this very issue--including the role of high booze taxes--at length in his recent book Moonshine: A Global History.