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Moonshiners go legit
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One of the stills at Short mountain - photo by Photo by: Reed Vanderpool
Moonshine is not new to the hills of Cannon County, but legal moonshine is new to Short Mountain Distillery’s three newest employees.Ronald Lawson, Ricky Estes and Jimmy Simpson are all life-long Cannon county residents and long-time moonshiners.Legal production may take a little getting used to for some of the new employees.“I’m going to have a hard time not jumping up and running when I see the law,” said Estes.“It's kind of a dream come true. I don't think that any of us ever realized we would be making moonshine legally,” Simpson shared.The distillery is set to begin production in the next few weeks.Distillery founder Billy Kaufman decided that if he were going to make Tennessee moonshine, he needed Tennessee moonshiners.Luckily, they were not that hard to find.Estes said that he has been bootlegging in Cannon County since he was nine years old.Lawson said he had been involved in the trade “off and on” his whole life, as both sides of his family were moonshiners.“I helped my Grandaddy fill up some barrels when I was eight or nine years old.” Simpson said.All three men signed a contract Monday pledging to give up illegal production for good and commit to distilling only at the legal facility.They will be using the same locally grown ingredients and the same methods as always.“We will make it the same way we always have,” said Lawson.Kaufman said he built the distillery to save the remnants of a nearly lost piece of the county’s heritage.“It is in danger of becoming a dying art," said Kaufman.