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What are the Different Types of Illegal Alcohol?

By Kristin Wood
Updated May 16, 2024
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Types of illegal alcohol differ between countries. In the United States, illegal alcohol includes absinthe and different types of moonshine. Other countries with alcohol restrictions include Germany, Haiti and Burma. Some countries, especially those located in the Middle East, have made all alcoholic beverages illegal. Almost all countries have some sort of alcohol restriction.

In addition to the US, absinthe is also illegal to sell within France, Vanuatu and some parts of New Zealand. Other countries, such as Switzerland, Germany and Brazil, have outlawed it in the past, but these laws have been repealed. Absinthe is a distilled spirit that is usually green in color, or occasionally clear; it is highly alcoholic and made with herbs. Although first produced in Switzerland, it was the early 20th century Parisians who gave it widespread popularity. Its health risks are similar to any other spirit, and it does not cause hallucinations as many used to believe.

Moonshine gets its name from the illegal manufacturers who created their product secretly during night hours. Moonshine can refer to any distilled spirit made in unlicensed or illegal conditions. It usually is not given much time to age, and it is typically very alcoholic. The loose definition of moonshine results in a variety of flavors and sometimes health risks such as exposure to toxins or lead.

Countries include Russia, Norway and the United States have made all alcohol illegal at some point in history. Many believe that Prohibition, the period between 1919 and 1933 when alcohol was made illegal in America, led to an increase in organized crime. Many people disregarded the new laws and began drinking and selling homemade illegal alcohol. Since these homemade drinks did not need to meet any requirements or regulations, they were sometimes improperly made or even poisoned, and they caused several deaths around the country.

Many Islamic countries have made all alcohol illegal. These laws are based on religious beliefs and the laws given in the holy text, the Qur'an. Repercussions for producing, selling or drinking illegal alcohol in these countries can be very severe. In Saudi Arabia, offenders are typically imprisoned for several weeks or sometimes months. Some law breakers have also been punished with lashes across the back.

Regulations on alcohol exist in most countries, even if their laws contain no illegal alcohol. Countries might have restrictions on who can drink, who can produce alcohol and who can sell alcohol. Drinking ages can range from 14 to 25, although some countries, such as Albania, give no drinking age. Most alcohol laws deal with protecting minors, the health and safety of the country or religious practices.

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Discussion Comments
By Reminiscence — On Feb 04, 2014

That was the thing about living in a dry county, @pollick. It was illegal to make or sell alcohol, but not to possess it. On the weekends, we'd all pile up in a friend's truck and drive to the nearest wet county to stock up on beverages. Several of these places were located just a few yards from the county line.

By pollick — On Feb 03, 2014

Any alcohol is illegal if you're trying to sell it in a "dry" county. We used to have a bad problem with people selling beer and liquor in little shacks called "shotgun houses". The county finally started allowing legal alcohol sales and most of those shotgun houses shut down.

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