HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi Whiskey is being made at Crittendon Distillery on Highway 43 in the Kiln. This is one of only four distilleries in the state. The Kiln is a perfect place for this operation because this part of Hancock Country has been a hotbed for Moonshine production for hundreds of years.
Distillery owner, Matt Crittendon, works with author Al Saucier who has written several books on the Moonshine culture in this neck of the woods. Saucier gives tours of the distillery and Crittendon embraces the history.
"Everybody who is 60 plus had their hands in moonshine somehow in the Kiln. It's a history I grew up with, and I enjoy it. It's one of the reasons we're here in the Kiln. It's the traditional place you make Moonshine," said Crittendon.
Standing on the banks of the Jourdan River, Saucier begins his tour of old Kiln Moonshine stills.
"The oldest still in Kiln, Mississippi was out on a peninsula," said Saucier who calls himself the Moonshine Ambassador. His eleventh book on the subject is titled Legends of Farm Families Makin' and Runnin' White Lightening. Saucier gives guided tours, showcasing some of the old moonshine sites in the area.
"People come from Canada and all around America to find out about these treasures. There's no way they can even fathom what happened here," Saucier said.
Over the years plenty of Moonshine and a lot of money was made around here. Even organized crime was involved. Saucier talks about names like Al Capone and Joseph Kennedy running Cuban rum up into the Jourdan River and then sending it by boats, trains and trucks around the country.
Local farmers, families and maybe even public officials were getting a piece of the action by cooking and transporting the Moonshine. Saucier's books and tours reveal how locals profited from the illegal liquor trade.
"We find out who these invisible Moonshine families were. Why were the so wealthy? How did they make wealth in the wilderness with nothing? Moonshine. That's right," Saucier said.