Hoochtown: The Spirit of Moonshine in McCurtain County

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McCurtain County, Oklahoma has been described as he Moonshine Capital of Oklahoma

Since the 1800s, moonshine and McCurtain County, Oklahoma have gone as hand-in-hand as biscuits and gravy. In fact, depending on who you ask, local white lightning just might’ve paved the way for all the Broken Bow cabins and Beavers Bend road trips we know and love.

Corn liquor’s legacy is still alive and well in cabin country too, thanks to a handful of master distillers. One of these whiskey artisans is Tommy “Blue” McDaniel, owner of Hochatown Distilling Company. In this blog, Blue tells the infamous tale of Hoochtown and how he and his family are keeping the legend alive one whiskey barrel at a time.

Take it away, Blue.

The Lower Mountain Fork River and fertile farmlands give moonshiners a golden opportunity in Southeastern Oklahoma

The Origins of Moonshine in McCurtain County

Hi, I’m Blue McDaniel. Today, we’re going to talk about moonshining in southeastern Oklahoma.

When the United States government set aside the area now known as Oklahoma in the 1820s, prohibition was in place, so there was no alcohol in McCurtain County.

Being where we are down here in southeast Oklahoma, we were a long way from Oklahoma City — and the reach of the law. But we had fertile fields and a great climate. The clean, pure water of the Mountain Fork River was one of the best in the region and excellent for making moonshine.

So what do you do when you have all of that? Start making liquor and moonshine.

The Moonshine Capital of Oklahoma

When prohibition went in place, the rest of the United States shut down all distilleries. In the meantime, all of these hillbillies down here in southeast Oklahoma started making moonshine. The whole nation wanted the liquor they were making out of these hills, so this area really boomed during the moonshine era of prohibition.

So much moonshine was flowing out of this area that a federal agent out of Muskogee deemed Hochatown “the moonshine capital of Oklahoma.” That nickname has really stuck for this area.

A mason jar full of white liquor distilled in Hochatown, Oklahoma from the waters of the Lower Mountain Fork River

When Oklahoma’s prohibition laws were lifted in 1959, you could buy 3.2% beer and open liquor stores. But down here in these hills, everybody liked drinking their moonshine. They weren’t just drinking white liquor though. They were aging it out in barrels and really turning moonshining into a fine craft.

McCurtain County’s Modern Drinking Scene

My family and other distillers in the area have kind of made it our mission to keep the legacy alive.

Hochatown Distilling Co is keeping the moonshiner's spirit alive. But instead of white lightning, these distillers are barrel aging their booze into Oklahoma-crafted bourbon whiskey.

We figured every good tourist town needs a local distillery, so we set out to make our own moonshine, but we aged it in barrels and made bourbon. That’s what we do at Hochatown Distilling Company.  We make bourbon the way the old timers made it. We actually barreled the first legal barrel of whiskey in Oklahoma.

Next time you’re in town, stop by for a pour and join us in toasting Hochatown, the Moonshine Capital of Oklahoma.

These days the folks at Hochatown Distilling have traded secret labs in the forest for professional-grade copper stills and barrel-aging.

Get Here Already!

Thanks to distillers like Blue, Hochatown’s local spirits scene continues to boom. You’ve got your local wineries and craft breweries like Mountain Fork Brewery and Beavers Bend Brewery, as well as Hochatown Distilling Company.

Want a taste for yourself? Book that Broken Bow cabin and download the Visit McCurtain County app to plan your bar crawl and your post-libation hike. And as always, be sure to drink responsibly in McCurtain County. A designated driver is always a good idea, or you can plan ahead with a cabin-side ride from Hochatown Shuttle Services.

 

We’ll cheers to that.

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