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Popcorn Sutton Recipe

Popcorn Sutton 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.


Posted by Jason Stone on

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  • 123

    Edison.Verne on

  • Too Fred, it ain’t fake and you do not have to have an exact temperature to get the amylase to do it’s job. It works at all temperatures, it is just most active up to 158 degrees before it is destroyed. As an alternative, you can just spit in it a lot, our saliva has amylase in it also and that isn’t at 140 degrees now is it….

    Likker Lover on

  • This the recipe from his book me and my likker so yes this is a real recipe but the instructions are wrong but the recipe and the no yeast are 100 percent correct

    Eddie on

  • This recipe is fake. It would be a waste of time and money. None of the corn meal would supply any sugars to ferment. Neither would the malt. put boiling water on the corn meal and let it cool to touch? corn meal cant convert itself to sugar. That’s why you need the malt. The malt has Amylase in it. The amylase is needed to convert the starches to sugars which can ferment. That only happens between 140-155F so adding the malt when its cool to tough does nothing. The only part that would ferment is the sugar that you added. everything else would not ferment if done like the instructions.

    fred on

  • I’ve done this recipe it gives you a wash of about 3.5 to 5.0 percent return, the natural, or wild yeasts are not strong enough to fully ferment the sugars. one 50 pound bag of malted corn is only going to produce about a gallon of good shine. no sugar or yeast added
    add 100 pounds of sugar and a jar of fleishmans bread yeast. you’ll get a 10 – 12 percent return with good flavor, if ran slow and cold

    Jesse on

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