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Moonshine vs Vodka: What’s The Difference? (2024)

Moonshine vs Vodka

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Moonshine vs vodka: what’s the difference? When looking for strong booze, vodka vs moonshine always top the list. Both offer the strength of firewater that can topple you over after a couple of shots. Moonshine offers sweetness and variety, while vodka’s strength is smoothness. But which of the two is better? 

Our team of experts dug deeper and found out the interesting answer.

Moonshine vs Vodka Compared

Midnight Moon Moonshine

While vodka is legal in most countries, moonshine is a term that describes distilled spirits with extremely high proof that aren’t legally accepted in most states.

Based on their alcohol content, moonshine is stronger than vodka because it has higher alcohol-proof. Moonshine’s alcohol level can be as high as 190 proof. On the contrary, vodka only has an average of 80 proof.   

A Closer Look At Their Differences

A Closer Look At Their Differences

History & Origin

Some people claim that vodka originated in either Poland or Russia as early as the 8th or 9th century. In the later years, the production of this alcoholic liquor used grain neutral, rye, wheat, and potatoes. They imported alcohol from Genoa in the beginning. 

On the other hand, traditional moonshine already existed in the 15th Century in England. On the other hand, traditional moonshine can be traced to Pennsylvania despite being deeply rooted in Southern culture and heritage.

Moonshine was born right after the Whiskey Rebellion. It was initially made from rye, wheat, or other grain before shifting to corn-base.

Alcohol Content

Vodka Brands

These bottled spirits are both strong, unaged drinks. Moonshine contains the highest alcohol content that reaches over 95% ABV. They mostly bottle moonshine at 125 proof. 

Meanwhile, the standard ABV range of vodka is from 40% to 60%. Manufacturers distill this rectified spirit at least three times before filtering it. After distillation [1], it is bottled and ready to drink or sell. 


Vodka is a distilled neutral grain spirit from potatoes, grains, grapes, and other fruits. Similar to other spirits, it passes germination. And then, manufacturers ferment the components before they proceed to distillation. 

The difference with moonshine is it’s from a mash of corn and grains. These distilled spirits are practically unaged whiskey. It makes these drinks flavorful yet strong. 

Taste & Flavor Profile

Vodka in a glass

Another difference between moonshine and vodka is their flavor profile. Moonshine is more flavorful than vodka because it is sweeter, coming from corn mash. It’s a more potent whiskey in a mason jar. But, what does the label XXX on a moonshine jug mean?

On the other hand, vodka is made from grapes, potatoes, rye, wheat, and sugar beets. It is distilled and filtered a lot of times to increase alcohol. Drinking this alcohol, you’ll notice that some of its real savors have disappeared. However, some varieties are infused with additives to optimize their taste and viscosity.

Also Read: What Moonshine Really Tastes Like

Price & Value

The difference between vodka and moonshine prices from other liquors sold in the market is somehow far. A bottle of vodka at 750 ml is roughly $11.99 to $35. 

On the other hand, moonshine is priced at around $40 per gallon. If we do the math, each gallon contains over 4 liters. It means that the difference between the price of moonshine and vodka is over $10, on average. 

Also Read: Does Moonshine Ever Go Bad?

Can Vodka Be Mixed With Moonshine? 

Moonshine in a bottle jar

Moonshine can be mixed with vodka because both are clear spirits. The difference between moonshine vs vodka is not so much with savor. Though moonshine and vodka have different ingredients, both underwent an almost similar distillation process. 

Once mixed with other ingredients, moonshine and vodka will produce an even more potent beverage/drink. Drinking alcohol this strong could pose a danger, so be wary. 

Also Read: Moonshine vs Whiskey


Can you distill vodka into moonshine at home?

Yes, you can distill vodka into moonshine at home. You simply have to choose what mash you will be making the drink from. However, an important thing to remember is that it is not legal to concoct moonshine and vodka in most states. 

Does moonshine taste like vodka?

No, moonshine does not taste like vodka. Moonshine uses a corn base mixed with other grains to enhance savor. These clear spirits will remind you more of whiskey than any other spirit. On the other hand, vodka is colorless, odorless, and tasteless unless flavored. Try your hand at our peach moonshine mash recipe here


Is moonshine and vodka the same thing?

Moonshine and vodka are not the same thing, although they share some similarities. Vodka is a commercially produced, distilled spirit that undergoes a regulated manufacturing process, resulting in a neutral and clear alcoholic beverage. In contrast, moonshine traditionally refers to illegally distilled spirits, often produced in small quantities with a lack of regulation. Moonshine can vary widely in terms of flavor and strength, and it may not adhere to the standards set for commercial spirits like vodka.

Is moonshine the strongest type of alcohol?

Moonshine is not inherently the strongest type of alcohol. The strength of moonshine can vary depending on the distillation process and the ingredients used. While some moonshines can be high-proof, there are commercially available spirits, such as absinthe or certain overproof rums, that can have higher alcohol content.

Why is moonshine illegal?

Moonshine is often illegal because it is produced without the proper licenses and regulatory oversight. Illegally produced spirits may not meet safety standards, posing health risks to consumers. The production of moonshine can also be associated with tax evasion, as it typically avoids the taxes imposed on commercially produced alcoholic beverages.

Why is illegal alcohol called moonshine?

The term “moonshine” originated during the Prohibition era in the United States when illegal distillers would work at night by the light of the moon to avoid detection. The clandestine nature of the production, often in rural areas, led to the name “moonshine” being associated with illegally distilled spirits.

How strong is moonshine compared to vodka?

Moonshine and vodka can have similar alcohol content, typically ranging from 40% to 60% alcohol by volume (ABV). The strength of both depends on factors such as the distillation process and ingredients used.

Why is it called moonshine?

Moonshine is called so because of its historical association with illegal nighttime distillation, conducted by the light of the moon to evade law enforcement during Prohibition.

Is moonshine closer to vodka or whiskey?

Moonshine can be closer in characteristics to whiskey than vodka, especially when it is made from grains and has flavor elements retained during production. However, the term “moonshine” is broad and can encompass a variety of homemade spirits with diverse profiles.

Can moonshine be 100% alcohol?

Moonshine can potentially reach high alcohol percentages, but it is challenging to achieve 100% alcohol content through traditional distillation methods. The highest achievable proof is typically around 95-96%, as this corresponds to the azeotropic point of the water-alcohol mixture.

What’s moonshine taste like?

The taste of moonshine varies widely depending on the ingredients used and the distillation process. It can range from a harsh and raw character to a smoother, more nuanced flavor, especially when produced using quality ingredients and techniques.

What is so bad about moonshine?

Illegally produced moonshine can pose health risks due to potential contamination and the lack of quality control. The unregulated nature of its production raises concerns about safety and adherence to proper standards.

What is the purpose of moonshine?

The purpose of moonshine historically stems from the desire to produce alcoholic beverages in regions or times where it was prohibited or heavily taxed. Today, some individuals may still produce moonshine for personal consumption, experimentation, or cultural reasons.

Is moonshine a vodka or whiskey?

Moonshine can encompass a range of homemade spirits and may share characteristics with both vodka and whiskey. Its classification depends on the ingredients used, the distillation process, and the final product’s flavor profile.

What alcohol is moonshine similar to?

Moonshine can be similar to various types of spirits depending on its production. It may share similarities with unaged whiskey, white lightning, or even certain types of unaged rum. The broad term “moonshine” doesn’t specify a single type of alcohol.

Final Verdict 

In the battle between moonshine vs vodka, vodka emerges as the winner. It’s easier to find in a liquor store and is more affordable. These drinks are legal not just in the US but around the world. 

On the other hand, moonshine has gained popularity, mainly because of its alcohol strength. That is why establishing vodka as a strong winner is not that definitive. 

Many choose to pick this whiskey-like beverage because it provides taste and kicks. But regardless of price and strength, the person who orders the bottle will still decide in the end.


  1. What Is Distillation? Chemistry Definition


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