Since the 1800s, moonshine and Beavers Bend, 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 Origins of Moonshine in Beavers Bend
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 Beavers Bend.
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.
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.
Beavers Bend’s Modern Drinking Scene
My family and other distillers in the area have kind of made it our mission to keep the legacy alive.
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.
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 Beavers Bend app to plan your bar crawl and your post-libation hike. And as always, be sure to drink responsibly in Beavers Bend. 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.