While producing liquor might not be what everyone has in mind when it comes to entertainment, if there’s something “Moonshiners” has taught so far it’s that this craft is an endless source of tradition, danger, and funny moments. Since the show’s premiere in 2011, “Moonshiners” has introduced its audience to the industry of spirits distillation in the US, also revealing an outlook into the dangers which such a supposedly illegal occupation implies.
What makes “Moonshiners” so interesting are the people in the business who fearlessly keep this tradition alive, regardless of what it takes. The road isn’t easy, and many have abandoned it at some point, leaving us to wonder who will be the next one to leave.
So where is Mark Ramsey right now, and will he be leaving “Moonshiners”? What happened to his team with Eric “Digger” Manes, and have they had any legal problems lately? Stay here to know all about his whereabouts and current status in the show!
Will He Be Leaving The Show?
Issues with law enforcement are very common for “Moonshiners” stars, but it’s not every day that the situation becomes so dangerous that they have to leave their occupation altogether, to avoid further problems.
That was unfortunately what happened to Mark Ramsey during an episode from the 12th “Moonshiners” season, in which a local policeman warned him that a case against him was in the works, for Mark’s continued involvement with alleged illegal spirits distillation. While this isn’t the first time Mark has had issues with the law, this situation didn’t look promising in the least, pushing Mark to consider other options that would keep him from potentially being put behind bars.
Finding no other option than to leave the business for the time being, Mark and his longtime business partner Eric “Digger” Manes called their friend Killer Beaz to take care of their Tennessee-based moonshine distillery, also taking their due time to teach the newcomer about the secrets of their whisky production and to not get caught while doing so.
While the question of when exactly Mark and Digger would return to the show in the future was left in the air, both of them assured that their leave wasn’t permanent. In the meantime, we can only wait and see.
Was Mark Arrested?
As far as it’s known, Mark Ramsey hasn’t been arrested for his moonshining escapades, but he’s certainly had close encounters with law enforcement for it. As seen in “Moonshiners” 11th season episode “Was He Arrested?”, Mark and Digger Manes were busted by police while preparing to distill in a rented basement.
While the police didn’t check if Mark and Digger were doing anything outside of the law, the chief warned both of them to stay away from trouble, and further hinted that complaints about an illegal whisky distillery were going around in the area. The warning was a wake-up call for the moonshine duo, making their future in the business quite uncertain: ‘we’re not in handcuffs at this second, but honestly, we don’t know at this point what our future holds’, Mark said during the episode “Peak Season Summit”.
Given the constant worry about their business future and the constant warnings from the police, it isn’t surprising that Mark and Digger chose to stay away from moonshining for a while, for the following season at least.
Was Mark Robbed?
Moonshining surely brings Mark Ramsey and Digger Manes a means to live, but they have to take care of a couple of things to make it a profitable business, even if that means finding inconspicuous and ingenious ways to do so.
One of the most important parts of Mark and Digger’s job has to do with their copper pots, used in the moonshine distilling process. While we only see the pair using one of these artifacts at once on screen, Mark and Digger own several and keep them hidden in places only they know well.
However, the rising prices of copper prompted their fear of having their tools stolen, hence why in the 12th season, the pair went around looking for their long-hidden but not forgotten copper artifacts, which were worth thousands of dollars by then.
Though it seems that no one attempted to rob Mark and Digger of their copper, their search led them to find that one of their sites by the mountain was disrupted by someone, effectively cutting their best source of limestone water, a detrimental element of their whisky-making process. While Mark and Digger eventually found another place for distilling, it was a hard hit to discover such an important part of their business ruined.
What’s Mark’s Business About?
While “Moonshiners” lets its audience get a first-hand look into the spirits distillation process, Mark Ramsey is far more involved with the business than the show lets us see. When off-cameras, Mark and his business partner Digger Manes work closely with local registered distilleries, lgiving everyone a taste of some of the amazing liquor recipes which have taken them so long to develop.
One of those businesses is Sugarlands Distilling Company, which partnered with Mark, Diggers, and other “Moonshiners” stars to launch the Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners Legends collection, which looks to preserve traditional liquor recipes while preserving every producer’s style. In Mark and Digger’s case, their products for the distillery have greatly showcased their talents and love for the craft, passed down to them by their mentor Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who inspired them to create their Hazelnut Recipe, launched by Sugarlands in 2017, as Mark told Globe News Wire back in the day.
The moonshining pair are also involved with the Tennessee-based Adventure Distilling Company, which not only produces its liquor, but hosts touristic tours and activities directly related to the spirits-making culture, becoming one special attraction of which Mark and Digger are often part.
It seems that the love and passion for spirits is something that runs in the family, hence why Mark Ramsey’s relatives are also involved with the industry. In fact, his wife Sally Jane Clark has her moonshine named Sin A Shine, a cinnamon-flavored liquor produced with the South Mountain Distilling Company. Sally is also a manager of Adventure Distilling Company, which produces some of Mark and Digger’s products.
Besides partnering with the distilling industry, Mark and his long-time moonshine partner Digger have some non-liquor-related businesses to take care of. One of those is Mowing With A Breeze, a helmet-like mask especially created to protect users from allergies and potentially harmful chemical smells while performing work or home duties, such as cutting grass and crafting.
While this product was created by a Texas native, Mark and Digger were very involved in it’s promotion, and appear as its main endorsers on the brand’s website. The mask is right up Mark and Digger’s alley, who besides their involvement with the moonshining industry, are also avid outdoors-oriented men.
Although there’s no information about other businesses Mark might be involved with, it’s for sure that he’s quite busy even when he’s not moonshining.
Mark Ramsey brings decades of ‘shining experience to the #MasterDistiller judge’s table 🧠🧠🧠More on Mark (+ other #Moonshiners): discovery.com/asktheshiners
Sorting The Unexpected
It’s not a secret that the contingency caused by COVID-19 put many industries at risk. Nonetheless, for Mark and Digger and other people in the moonshine industry, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise money-wise.
As the pair affirmed during an interview with Fox News in late 2020, moonshine reached an historic high demand during the pandemic – though the reasons for that aren’t necessarily clear, it was attributed to the increasing stress produced by the quarantine: ‘Moonshine, it’s an all-around cure-all. If you’re sad, you drink it to drown your sorrows. If you’re happy, you drink it to celebrate. So, it’s a win-win deal for us’, as Mark suggested.
Producing moonshine during the COVID-19 spread wasn’t an easy task, as other businesses and industries were unfortunately shut down as the contingency progressed. The pair found a way around it by using the ingredients they gathered at the start of the pandemic, keeping the business alive that way: ‘It seems like the harder the times were, the better liquor sales were. So, it was good for us, but it was horrible for most people’, Mark affirmed.
Though sorting out the unexpectedness of these unfortunate events might not have been easy, it’s a fact that Mark and Digger’s commitment to their craft is stronger than that.
It’s not every day that something so niche as moonshining collaborates with a big non-alcohol-related industry, yet it happened when the Sugarlands Distilling Company partnered with NASCAR – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing – to become its Official Moonshine in 2018.
The moonshine industry and NASCAR share lots of their early history, on top of being a convenient partnership due to the distillery’s closeness to the Tennessee-based Bristol Motor Speedway, and other famous tracks. That being said, it wouldn’t be a good partnership if expert moonshiners such as Mark Ramsey weren’t at it, doing an excellent job at showcasing his craft, both as a representative of Sugalands and as a car fan.
Ever since the partnership began, Mark has embraced the car culture which ties to NASCAR and specific track fields, such as the Alabama-based Talladega Superspeedway: ‘It’s tremendous. Digger and I have gone in the direction of making Talladega our home track. We have been treated so kind down here’, he told Speedway Digest in 2019, referring to the warm welcome that “Moonshiners” fans have given him and Digger.
Other TV Shows
Following his debut in “Moonshiners” third season, Mark has been showcased in a variety of liquor-related TV shows. The first was “Smoky Mountains Rise”, a 2016 fund-collecting special in benefit of the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund, started by the country superstar Dolly Parton.
Later in 2017, Mark was featured in the eight-episode long “Moonshiners” spin-off “Shiners on Shine”, accompanied by fellow liquor makers such as Tim Smith, Steve Tickle, and his side-kick Diggers. Mark has also been a long-time judge in “Master Distiller”, a spirit-making competition premiered in 2019 which features liquor makers and moonshiners from all around the US, who are looking to become the country’s best distiller.
While the show tries to put unknown liquor makers under the spotlight, it’s also an exciting experience for Mark: ‘There ha ‘ot been one episode of “Master Distiller” in which we didn’t walk away learning something, which is good. You’re never too old to keep learning’, he told Pop Culture in 2021. The following year, Mark also appeared in the special “Master Distiller Tournament of Champions”.
Mark also appeared in “Expedition X”s 2021 episode “Terror in Appalachia”, which took hosts Jessica Chobot and Phil Torres to investigate the mysterious disappearances of hikers in the Smoky Mountains, located in Tennessee and South Carolina.
Keeping Moonshining Alive
The moonshining occupation has been alive for several decades thanks to the efforts of generations of people who consider it a detrimental part of their culture.
While producing liquor isn’t for everybody, modern moonshiners do their best to not only innovate in the industry and offer customers a wide variety of products, but also to pay tribute to those who practiced this craft in the beginning. Going down that route, Mark affirms that there were lots of misconceptions regarding the first moonshiners: ‘The old-timers, they weren’t criminals. There is a difference, and they were doing what they had to do to survive’, he told Fox News in 2020.
Mark and Digger pride themselves on their excellent liquor-making skills and recipes, while still respecting the old moonshining ways. However, they surprisingly don’t encourage newcomers to join the industry due to the enduring conditions it entails, especially when it comes to money: ‘I promise you, if they’re making liquor, they are not sitting on their high end. But if you want to do it, go for it’, he said in the same interview.
Overall, moonshining is a craft which entails lots of hard work, a sharp sense, and toughness, but it’s also a good occupation for those who are truly passionate about it.
To his fans, he’s a funny moonshiner.
To his Newport community, he’ll always be their assistant fire chief.
Congrats on your retirement, Mr. Mark Ramsey!
— Gwendolyn Ducre (@GwendolynGabs) February 7, 2020
Is “Moonshiners” Real?
Most TV shows nowadays are believed not to be entirely real, and it’s no different for “Moonshiners”. Nonetheless, while those other series are usually dismissed as factual due to their high amounts of drama, for “Moonshiners” the debate is more about the legality of liquor making.
When asked about it in 2017, Mark Ramsey told WHSV: ‘It’s authentic, What we do, we can’t permit ourselves to be found by the law because it’s very much against the law’, he said.
That being so, in 2011 authorities had already stated that nothing out-of-law was actually taking place in the show: ‘If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action’, they affirmed. This may be partly explained in that moonshiners have to be apprehended in the actual act of distilling, while the series episodes are aired long after being filmed.
Whether “Moonshiners” depict real liquor-making situations, or some are set up for entertainment purposes, no one can deny that the show and its stars are unforgettable, and have left an overall good impression on its audience.