The Moonshine's A Harsh Mistress, East Texas (Of Course) Man Learns

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Uncle Slaton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's got an Airstream trailer and a Holstein cow
Still makes whiskey 'cause he still knows how

-- James McMurtry, "Chocktaw Bingo"

Thanks to an informant's tip, a real-life Uncle Slaton was busted earlier this month in Smith County, near Longview and Tyler. Agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Smith County Sheriffs raided a residence out in the country and seized a 55-gallon still, copper tubing, burners, two propane bottles and as the Tyler Morning Telegraph delicately put it, "about nine gallons of a product commonly referred to as moonshine whisky."

Sedrick Lucille Johnson Jr., 58, was arrested on the scene and faces misdemeanor charges of possession of illicit alcoholic beverages and possession of equipment to manufacture illicit alcoholic beverages.

In a statement, a TABC official had this to say:

Making and selling moonshine is a public safety risk. The obvious lack of sanitary conditions makes this product a health hazard for anyone who drinks it. Also, the moonshiners are working off an open flame, fires are a big concern.

While making small limited amounts of beer and wine are legal, it is against the law to manufacture distilled spirits without a TABC Distiller's Permit or to sell alcoholic beverages without a permit.

Nevertheless, our sympathy lies with Mr. Johnson. If we were a dude named Lucille, we'd want to know how to make our own whiskey too.

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