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Uncommon Knowledge: Why are moonshine jugs marked XXX?

Most of us have only seen them in cartoons or caricatures, but we all know what it means: an old-fashioned jug marked with XXX is full of moonshine. It turns out that the marks refer specifically to moonshine’s distilling process. The moonshiners would start by distilling a mash of fermented sugar cane pulp. The resulting liquid, known as the “singlings,” is foul-tasting and a mere 30-40% alcohol by volume. To get the kick that moonshine is known for, it has to go through two more distillations—rendering it almost 100% pure alcohol. The three X’s on the jug were meant to signify that its contents had completed that triple-step process, and also that it might just be strong enough to knock your shoes off, curl your hair and take your breath away for the next thirty-six hours.

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Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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