It's the Great Depression; most families were living in extreme poverty. Farmers were having a hard time buying what they needed to plant, tend their crops, and get it to those who could afford to purchase it. They struggled to find a way to feed their families and survive... the answer to their predicament turned out to be distilling and running moonshine.
Farmers were already growing many of the ingredients to make moonshine. They started boiling their crops down and creating moonshine to sell in order to take care of their families. The Bondurant Brothers (Howard, Forrest, and Jack aka the Bondurant Boys) were no different. However, soon the government wanted to start taxing it. When taxing it didn't go over well with the farmers, the government instituted the famous 18th Amendment making the production, sales, and transporting of alcohol illegal in the U.S. That didn't stop the Bondurant Brothers! They continued producing moonshine and eventually "running moonshine" to the "speakeasies" across the country during the Prohibition period.
In many communities, Moonshiners were looked upon as a kind of hero. They were able to bring revenue into an area that had been virtually desolate. The Bondurant Brothers were no different.
Howard, Jack, and Forrest Bondurant
Who better to start a moonshine distillery than Robert Bondurant, a grandson of Jack Bondurant, one of the famous Franklin County moonshine running Bondurant Brothers (aka Bondurant Boys) from the Prohibition period. You may ask what sets Robert apart from his moonshining grandfather since he will also be distilling and selling moonshine like his grandfather... Robert pays taxes on it and is licensed by the Federal Government and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, he is considered a distiller not a moonshiner in the eyes of the government.
Robert knew when he saw the distillery's current location, the Old Roller Mill in Chase City Virginia, that it was the perfect location... it had a history that dated back to the Prohibition period too. He chose Chase City not only for the Old Roller Mill location but because Chase City is known across Virginia for it's outstanding tasting water. Combined with his other top quality ingredients, recipe, and family history, Bondurant Brothers Distillery Moonshine "shines" moons above the rest.
Robert hopes that when visitors step into the distillery, they will feel like they have stepped back in time. A time when moonshine flowed freely and good times were had by all. Robert's goal is to revive the core of what started the family legacy... to make a moonshine that will "shine" above others that consumers will seek out. The original Bondurant Brother's moonshine was enjoyed in speakeasies across the county. Robert has his eyes on the world and it all begins at his distillery in Chase City Virginia.
Shia LaBeouf as Jack Bondurant
It wasn't long before the local law got wind of the Brothers' entrepreneurial business. The Brothers were given two options by the local law; pay the officers between $25 - $30 a month to keep the Feds off them or lose everything they had by being turned over to the Feds. The Brothers paid the local law in order to continue feeding their families and to keep their home places.
The extortion went on for a while. But, eventually the Brothers had enough and stood up to the officers. At one point, Jack and Forrest were driving separate vehicles filled with moonshine to deliver to their customers. On this particular day they were stopped by the local officers. Who demanded that the Brothers hand over half of their load which equaled one whole vehicle full of moonshine. The Brothers refused. A fight inside which resulted in both of the brothers being shot.
While both Jack and Forrest healed from their wounds. The Feds got wind of what was happening and filed charges against the all the Brothers. They went to trial and served jail time for distilling, distribution of moonshine, and tax evasion.
Matt Bondurant, also a grandson of Jack, wrote a book about his grandfather and uncles' moonshining history. Since the Brothers didn't keep records of their endeavors nor diaries, Matt pulled together family stories, tales told about town, newspaper articles, historical facts, court documents, and added some creative license to write the book titled; The Wettest County in the World. It was published in 2008 and quickly became a best seller.
Matt's book had everything needed (illegal activities, hardworking men, gangsters, love, police, and drama) to capture not only the reading public's attention but the attention of Hollywood as well. Soon a producer came knocking at his door.
Getting the book from paper to the big screen was no quick endeavor. Matt sold the rights in 2008. The movie, Lawless, didn't hit the big screen until 2012.
It was directed by John Hillcoat and the screen play was by Nick Cave. Lawless stars include:
The term "Moonshine" came from the British. It's was used to describe jobs and/or activities that were done under the light of the moon.
Other names for moonshine includes: white lightning, mountain dew, hooch, homebrew, and white whiskey.