For over eight years, Discovery Channel viewers have been mesmerized by the docudrama Moonshiners, which follows the production of high-proof distilled spirits in the Appalachian Mountains.
One of the series’ most memorable stars is JB Rader, who recently released a special edition Honeycrisp Apple Moonshine. Here’s why the locals call him a "legend."
JB Rader from 'Moonshiners' is teaching his techniques to distillers in North Carolina.
In late 2018, JB partnered with South Mountain Distilling Co. in Connelly Springs, N.C. to produce a line of moonshines. "We showed JB our facility here at [SMDC] and let him try all of our spirits," owner Don Smith told the Hickory Daily Record in March of last year.
"He was impressed with the quality of products that we produced, especially our Jasper's Shine. After sampling, we proceeded to talk some business, and after a couple of weeks working out the details, we came to an agreement."
The duo settled on a flavor almost immediately. "I asked JB what he would like for his first product to be and taste like and he replied, 'How about an apple moonshine?'" Don recalled.
"So, after several test runs of some sour mash moonshine, we finally got what he liked," the distiller shared. The resulting creation, which is made with pure cane sugar and sweetened with real Honeycrisp apple slices and honey, is 60 proof.
To ensure that the production is high quality, JB shared some of his tips and tricks with the SMDC team. The Tennessee native plans to visit the distillery a few times a year to check that every aspect is up to snuff.
The moonshiner has a song about him called "The Legend JB Rader."
The tune is written and performed by country artist Chad Triplett, and lauds JB’s unique skillset, including his ability to evade the law.
"This here’s a true story of a moonshiners glory Deep in the smoky [mountain] pines/He learned it from the master how to run it faster and stand, stand the test of time," the lyrics go.
"He ain’t ever been caught he ain’t ever been bought he’s the last of his kind/You can smell in the night when fog rolls just right That apple crisp moonshine the shiners say." Naturally, JB makes an appearance in the song’s music video.
Fans were thrilled by the return of Steven Ray Tickle on Season 9 of 'Moonshiners'.
The longtime cast member is back alongside JB and the crew after spending a year in jail for violating his probation a second time. Tickle had previously been arrested in 2015 for possession of a sawed-off shotgun.
"After being locked up for a while, you get the feeling that you're all on your own," he said in 2019. "There's nobody else out there rooting for you and stuff. It plays on you mentally, it plays on you physically. In jail, you either laughing or you're crying... there is no in between."
New episodes of Moonshiners air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.