Director: Anthony Slone
Release Year: 1973
Running Time: 19:26
Original Format: 16mm Film
Color / B&W: color

Whiskey-making, one of the oldest traditions in the mountains, has been illegal since the end of the 18th century. Tradition is a portrait of Appalachian moonshiner Logan Adams, who began practicing his trade as a boy because “back then there wasn’t any jobs…about like now.” Adams discusses his vocation and why he continues to make whiskey despite having served a string of jail sentences for the practice. Adams’s story and family interviews are intercut with a federal revenue agent who describes the methods used by law enforcement agents to apprehend moonshiners. The film concludes with a tour by Adams of his still as he describes the whisky-making process.

This film will be of interest to anyone interested in the history of moonshining, the economic and traditional forces that motivate illegal whiskey making, methods agents use to get information, and the law and its penalties.

This film was preserved by Appalshop Archive with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation. To support the work of preserving and safeguarding Appalshop’s collections, please consider making a donation to Appalshop Archive.

Screenings & Festivals

Film Forum, New York

Ozark Folk Center

Pacific Film Archive

Sinking Creek Film Celebration–Honorable Mention


“The moonshiner and the agent receive evenhanded treatment, and the film is more convincing and takes strength from its moral ambiguity.” –Carl Fleischhauer, Journal of American Folklore

“Interesting for a discussion of the role of poverty in crime and for what happens when the law opposes folkways. Underscores the effect on an individual of a life outside the law.” –Nadine Covert, Moral Choices in Contemporary Society Filmography

“Very well done.” –F.R. Gerlach, Instructional Media Center, San Diego Schools