Moonshine vs Vodka: What’s The Difference? (2023)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

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.

Vodka & Moonshine 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

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.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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