Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 30, 2013

W.Va. State Police discover moonshine still in McDowell

By SAMANTHA PERRY
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRADSHAW — West Virginia State Police troopers have taken out an illegal moonshine still discovered at a residence on Bradshaw Mountain.

Welch Detachment Commander Sgt. W.C. Tupper said troopers were alerted to the still Monday by an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen. “When we arrived on scene, you could smell the mash and you could see the still through the garage door,” he said.

Mash is the corn and sugar mix from which the alcohol is distilled.

Tupper said the individual who had been operating the still died several months ago, however “he had some there that was in the process of being made when he died.”

Although other family members currently live at the residence on State Line Ridge No. 1, Tupper said no arrests were made. “You could tell it hadn’t been in operation for a little while.”

“Some of the mash was rotten,” Tupper said. “The cooling water that the ‘worm’ was in was frozen.” The “worm” is a coiled piece of pipe that condenses the alcohol into steam.

“This still was run by electric hot water heater elements,” Tupper said. “He had those inserted into an old diesel fuel tank from a tractor-trailer rig, that’s what he was cooking his mash in. It was a pretty ideal setup. You didn’t have a lot of smoke and fire from cooking it. It was a more modern-day technique.”

Tupper described conditions at the still as “pretty nasty.”

“There were rats running around going after the corn,” he said. Containers were found at the site, but none contained moonshine.

Tupper said a family member was made to dismantle the still. “We had his stepson tear it apart while we watched him.”

Through the years, there have been several illegal stills discovered in McDowell County. But, Tupper noted, “There’s not a lot of information forthcoming on moonshine stills.”

Sgt. C.F. Kane assisted in the investigation.

— Contact Samantha Perry at sperry@bdtonline.com´┐Ż