Our Story

Almost a hundred years ago, prohibition (1919-1933) ruled in the USA: the production and sale of alcohol was prohibited. An epoch of secrecy began. Moonshine was the name the farmers gave to their black distilled liquor, which they filled into preserving jars ("Mason Jars") and then sold on to smugglers, the so-called "bootleggers". The bottling jars were a precautionary measure because buying bottles quickly made people suspicious of being bootleggers.

Prohibition

The nationwide alcohol ban had serious consequences for the USA - many people lost their jobs and instead of finding a new one, they continued to work illegally in their old jobs, which meant enormous tax losses for the state. Corruption flourished, even police officers were secretly involved in the alcohol business. The procurement, transport and sale of high-proof alcohol was now in the hands of criminal gangs, against whom the state was virtually powerless.

Farmers quickly began to produce Moonshine in their back yards to meet the  demand of the smugglers and bootleggers who took great risk in moving the moonshine by night. They bottled in Mason jars so at not to raise suspicion from the authorities who were quickly hot on their trail. O’Donnell Moonshine aims to bring the spirit and taste of those times back to the 21st century.


                   


                                                                   

 

South Side O'Donnell Gang

The namesake for our Moonshine, Edward “Spike” O’Donnell, was the leader of the South Side O’Donnell gang, who fought the bloody “beers wars” of Chicago during the 1920s.

He had little scruple when it came to fighting with others gangster, but he paid attention to quality and was a defining character in the golden era moonshine.

The loss-making battles lasted two years, then the notorious Al Capone took over the Torrios' business and with it the rule of the alcohol business. Edward "Spike" O'Donnell had few scruples when it came to fighting with other gangsters in Chicago for the supremacy in the alcohol black market, but he at least paid attention to quality and stuck to producers of German origin. When he was seriously injured during a drive by in 1925, he retired from the smuggling business and left Chicago.

 

 

 

O'Donnell Moonshine – today

We have brought back to life the disreputable drink. Our O'Donnell Moonshine is based in Manchester, and handcrafted to the old rules of the art of distillation. Here at O'Donnell Moonshine we bottle our drinks in authentic Mason Jars, just like traditional bootleggers did in an attempt to avoid being caught by the authorities! 

 

O'Donnell Moonshine is available in five varieties: There are the liqueurs "Roasted Apple" (20% ABV) with natural apple juice, cinnamon and vanilla, "Bitter Rose" (25% ABV), a mixture of grapefruit, rose hip and black elderberry, the "Tough Nut" (25% ABV), with hearty hazelnut and a sweet caramel note. Our purest variety so far, "High Proof" (50% ABV), is a triple distilled and filtered wheat-based moonshine with 50% ABV, which is based on the roots of the moonshine. In terms of taste, the "High Proof" combines American moonshine tradition with German distilling art and is characterised by a crystal clear taste and continuous sharpness.