Popcorn Sutton's Moonshine Recipe

Popcorn Sutton's Moonshine Recipe

Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners" broke new ground in the long tales of moonshining in the U.S. The tv series surged in popularity with its portrayal of individuals who produce illicit alcohol, what's known to us as moonshine.  

Among the guys featured in the show, a great Appalachian bootlegger named Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton had the limelight. In 1999 (prior to his life being featured in the show), Mr. Sutton published “Me and My Likker,” an anecdote of his life and moonshining practices. In his book, a couple of times he mentioned a basic moonshine recipe, with a few different variations that he used when he was "putting up a barrel of beer". Here's Popcorn's recipe from his book:


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 them to cool to the touch. Add sugar and malt and stir in well. Leave it for a day. The following day the mix should be bubbling on top, stir it one last time and then leave it.
  • You see here that we did not mention any addition of yeast, Popcorn said that the malt (any kind or combination of corn, barley, rye) is what makes it work — so he's using it here as alternative to distiller's yeast. Also, he's after the idea that wild yeast will start the fermentation within the mash.  
  • After a couple of days, when all activities in the mash has stopped, it should be ready to be distilled. Use a siphon or a bucket to transfer the wash to the still.

For instructions on how to distill, click here. Here is another moonshine recipe.


  • I made some mash from sweet feed one bucket stopped bubbling after two days the other bucket is going strong should I add a little more yeast

    Posted by Doug on February 21, 2014
  • How do you se the pot up like popcorn sutton

    Posted by frankie on January 11, 2014
  • does it matter what kind of sugar you use.

    Posted by John on January 09, 2014
  • Malt is not a substitute for wild yeast. Malt is just malt to convert the starch t sugar. However there is wild yeast in the all the time the collects in whatever grain you malt. So its still the wild yeast that does the work.

    Posted by Steven on November 24, 2013
  • Yes Andrew u can clean feed corn as matter of fact
    I have used deer corn malt it let the sprouts
    Grow to 2 inches and then run it through a

    Posted by Zachary Taylor on August 03, 2013
  • i would personally malt half the grains he has added to the people asking do u need the malt yes you do it would convert starches to sugar i would mash it to save money on the sugar

    amount of added liquid is 50 gallons if u read properly it says that

    Posted by chris on May 27, 2013
  • popcorn was wit out a dout the best the best shine i ever drank

    Posted by tyler on January 17, 2013
  • Just wanted to know if you can use malt syrup in place of the 1 gal of malt and if so do I use the same amount of the syrup.

    Posted by Steve on January 06, 2013
  • Does the corn need to be ground after the malt process?

    Posted by Andrew on January 03, 2013
  • Andrew, I used clean whole corn from our local feed store. But you have to malt it, my batch of corn has started to sprout but i am going to give it a couple more days because you are suppose to have 2 inch sprouts. What i did was fill my amount of corn in a pillow case and tie it at the top. Then I filled a 5 gallon bucket and placed the pillow case in their for 2 days (changing the water every 8 hours.) Then i placed a towel on a table and then placed the corn about an inch thick over the towel. Place another towel over the top and leave until the sprouts are 2 inches long. Once the corn has sprouted, the idea is that it creates a wild yeast.

    Posted by Brody on December 13, 2012
  • Also if you were going to cut this down to a 5 gal recipe what would the measurements be?

    Posted by Andrew on December 11, 2012
  • Could you use clean feed corn?

    Posted by Andrew on December 11, 2012
  • Hey Brody,

    I’ve never been able to bring myself to ferment without mash. I consider it a bit too much of a risk of losing a mash. I’d love to hear how it works for you! (or maybe others can chime in with their experiences)

    Posted by Vinny on December 07, 2012
  • does this recipe work well? I have read similar recpies to this that use the malt as a wild yeast, and most of the people that tried it said that the mash sort of petered out and they used distillers yeast to get it going again. I would love to use this recipe because I am a huge Popcorn fan. Please tell me how it worked out for you.

    Posted by Brody on December 06, 2012
  • popcorn moonshi
    Posted by Billy on November 25, 2012
  • John, this old recipe is actually for a barrel size, 50 gallon wash. After you put the corn in, the amount of water should make the barrel slightly full (there should be enough room at the top so the 50lbs of sugar won’t over fill it).

    Posted by Josh on November 09, 2012
  • How much water is needed to the 25 lbs of corn

    Posted by John on November 01, 2012

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