• The popular American reality TV show “Moonshiners” follows the lives of distillers who produce moonshine.
• The name moonshine stems from the historical process of making the liquor at night to avoid law enforcement, especially popular in the Appalachian regions during the Prohibition period.
• This gave birth to the NASCAR sport after the Prohibition period ended, when moonshine runners kept their driving skills sharp by competing against each other.
• Richard Landry from Louisiana, inspired by the show, eventually earned the title of Master Distiller with his award-winning concoctions.
• During his time on the show, Landry and his brother Craig have produced a wide range of exotic flavours, earning them the title of ‘The Spice King’.

“Moonshiners” is an American reality television drama series that many people might be familiar with, as the documentary-style show recently aired its twelfth season, and seems to be very popular among reality TV audiences. The show follows the lives of several distillers who produce, often illegally, the famous American alcoholic beverage known by many names, most predominantly though, it’s called moonshine, but also earned nicknames such as mountain dew, hooch, fire water, white spirits, and a bunch of other slang terms.

The name Moonshine comes from the historical process of making the liquor, which is most often performed during the night to avoid attracting the attention of law enforcement, and is especially popular in the Appalachian regions of the US where the beverage grew in popularity during the historical Prohibition period. During those early years, alcohol became banned in most states, giving rise in popularity for the illegal brewing of moonshine.

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The Moonshine distilling industry also gave birth to the inception of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) sport, which came about after the prohibition period ended, and most moonshine ‘runners’ were out of a job. Keeping their driving skills sharp, many runners began competing against each other on racing circuits, which led to the creation of the now-famous American automotive sport.

With so much interest and mystery shrouding the moonshine distilling industry, it is no wonder that the once-illegal trade would eventually spawn a dedicated documentary. However, with many people entertained by the stories of the distillers, one famous documentary eventually became the popular series many have come to love.

As can be expected, the success of the original “Moonshiners” series would lead producers to create spin-offs, which include the most recent “Moonshiners: Master Distillers” series, after the creation of “Moonshiners: Whiskey Business”. Of course, the series also led to the inception of ‘Tickle’, which more specifically followed the intriguing life of one of the show’s most popular distillers, Steven Ray Tickle.

While the show featured numerous brewers, most of whom hail from the Appalachian regions of South and North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, and other surrounding states, one distiller stands out from the rest, namely Richard Landry.

Many of the distillers featured on the show proudly proclaim to have had a lifelong interest in the moonshine distilling industry, but for Louisiana native Landry, moonshine the activity is something he only recently gained an interest in, surprisingly, inspired by the first season of “Moonshiners”.

Despite being considered somewhat of a rookie, Richard nonetheless left his mark on the reality TV series, and for good reason, as Landry earned the respect of many associates with his award-winning concoctions.

Who Is Richard Landry?

You may recognize Landry known for being a pro truck driver from Louisiana, and as a long-time fan of the “Moonshiners” show, he quickly learned that his talents aren’t limited to his original profession but also extend to the fine craft of moonshining.

After watching the first season of “Moonshiners” when it first aired in 2011, Richard fell in love with the process and art of distilling, eventually trying his hand at it with a self-made still in his backyard.

As Landry would put it, moonshining wasn’t something he just dived into, as the distilling trade requires careful research and study to perfect. At first, Landry would struggle with his newfound hobby, but after successfully producing his first couple of tasty batches, Richard simply became engrossed in the craft.

Approaching the art of moonshining as one would the fine culinary arts, Richard, with nothing but a makeshift still, a lust for blending exotic flavours, and a thirst for challenging himself, would spend the next decade feeding his curiosity. As he honed his skills and mastered his newfound interest, Richard began brewing a wide range of richly flavoured concoctions, some inspired by his native Louisiana, and others simply spiced by a love for odd but out-of-the-ordinary flavours.

As the years went by, and Landry perfected his craft, his chance to show off his skills to the rest of the world eventually come, and Landry jumped at the opportunity. Although he never thought that something as unbelievable would ever happen, Richard made the best of it. In 2019, Landry received an invitation to appear in the ‘Moonshiners: Master Distiller’ spin-off series as a competitor, which Landry didn’t turn down.

At first, Landry believed he may have bitten off more than he can chew, as he faced a couple of tough competitors, who included a third-generation distiller boasting of a life-long passion for brewing, and a biochemist who worked at a professional distillery.

However, Landry pulled himself together, aiming to focus on nothing other than producing the perfect shine, and thanks to his trademark appreciation for traditional southern flavours, and his sharp sense for understanding the science behind flavour blending, Landry walked away the winner.

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Richard created a strong, flavoured Cherry Bounce with a vivid taste that absolutely blew the judges away, subsequently earning him the title of Master Distiller. In doing so, word quickly spread about Landry’s skills, not only among fans of the show but also among the cast of and producers of “Moonshiners”. In 2020, Landry earned an invitation to become a member of the cast, and made his debut later that year.

As part of his appearance, Landry had to select a still hand to join him on the show, prompting him to choose his younger brother Craig, who became an enthusiastic distiller thanks to Richard, who introduced him to the trade.

Together the Landry brothers exhibited their passion for exotic flavours, combined with their exceptional skills at breaking down backwoods moonshine, they became an instant hit with the audience. Inspired by the flavours they grew up with, the Landry brothers created numerous fun flavours that seemed a little outlandish at first, and most certainly unexpected, though nonetheless succeeded at brewing spectacular Moonshine.

During their debut appearance in “Moonshiners”, Richard opted to distil a true Louisiana-inspired concoction made from Manglier tea leaves of a tree that grows indigenously in his hometown.

Landry stated that he grew up with this tea, which is noted for having numerous health benefits, but also boasts a strong, bitter taste. In the next episodes, the Landry brothers experimented with a nostalgic Cotton Candy flavoured batch, and would also use the odd combination of sweet potatoes and cranberries.

With their wild flavours accentuated with bold tones, Landry’s concoctions would eventually earn him the title of ‘The Spice King’, and as he continued to create new vibrant flavours, Richard’s outlandish ideas and stills earned him numerous awards.

Despite being extremely popular on “Moonshiners”, both Richard and Craig remain modest and humble, saying that their time on the show is both a true blessing and a dream come true.

As the first and still only African-American cast members to appear in the show, the Landry brothers have enriched the hearts of many, inspiring a number of fans and followers to chase their dreams and passions.

To this, an ever-grateful Richard stated that he quickly realised that the work he does goes beyond just producing liquor, believing that his influence has grown to a bigger purpose that shows people that no matter who you are, or where you are from, anyone can shine.

Since his first appearance in the eleventh season of “Moonshiners”, Landry’s concocted one of his most popular brews, a deep red liquor aptly dubbed ‘the Bloody Mary’, and Richard even went on to compete in the ‘Moonshiners: Master Distiller Tournament of Champions’ spin-off, and made several appearances in the twelfth season of the show.

You can catch Landry, and all your other favourite distillers, on Discovery Channel, and who knows, maybe you too could develop a taste for distilling some mulekick.

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