NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia alcohol regulators say the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” television show is misleading viewers into thinking the state is tolerating illegal booze manufacturing and that it wouldn’t have participated if it had known how the episodes would turn out.
The television series is about people who brew their own moonshine and local authorities’ efforts to track them down. The show includes actual western Virginia residents and state agents.
Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw told The Associated Press in an email Thursday that viewers have asked why the state is allowing a crime to take place. Shaw said the show is a dramatization, and no illegal liquor is actually being produced.
“If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action,” Shaw wrote.
Earlier Thursday, the department issued a statement saying it would not have participated in the filming had it known how the show would’ve turned out.
“Virginia ABC agreed to participate in an informative piece that documents the history of moonshine and moonshine investigations in Virginia. Virginia ABC did not participate nor was aware of the false depiction of moonshine manufacturing, distribution and/or transportation in the filming, and would not have participated in the ‘documentary’ had it known of this portrayal,” the statement said.
Shaw said the Discovery Channel had been asked to add a disclaimer “but the request was overlooked.”
Messages left with a show publicist Thursday were not immediately returned.
Among other things, a Nov. 30 news release announcing the show’s premiere says that “Viewers will witness practices rarely, if ever, seen on television, including the sacred rite of passage for a moonshiner — firing up the still for the first time.”
The release does not specify whether parts of the show are dramatized.