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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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  • 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)

    Vinny on

  • 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.

    Brody on

  • popcorn moonshi
    Billy on

  • 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).

    Josh on

  • How much water is needed to the 25 lbs of corn

    John on

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