Whiskey Mash Recipe: Real “Popcorn” Moonshine


Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton was one of the last real moonshine runners in the US. Marvin committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning on March 16, 2009 before having to report to federal prison.  He was a fascinating character.  In Sutton’s book “Me and My Likker” published in 1999 he describes his moonshine recipe.  All the ingredients are available at your local feed store and grocery store.


  • 25 pounds coarse ground white corn meal, enough to fill half of your barrel/container
  • 50 pounds of sugar – 1 pound of sugar per gallon of water of total volume
  • 1 gallon of malt – can be corn, barley, rye or a combination.


Boil the water and pour over the cornmeal to cook.  Allow the mixture to cool to the touch. Add sugar and malt and stir in well. Let it set for a day.  When you return the mix should be bubbling on top (yeast doing its thing), stir one last time and then leave it.

In 4-5 days it should be ready to run through your still.  Most of the solids should sink to the bottom of the tank.  You can use a siphon or a bucket to transfer the wash to the still.

NOTE: Notice that we never called for the addition of any yeast.  The idea is that wild yeast will start the fermentation.  This is a common practice in wine making also.  However, if you would like more control you can add your choice of yeast after you have added the sugar and the mixture has cooled to somewhere between 65-75 F.