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Popcorn Sutton was a real moonshiner who called both Tennessee and North Carolina home. He had a special recipe for his concoction, which sippers at the party defined as "smooth."
Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town had a little different description, however: "When my tongue wasn't numb, I guess you could call it smooth," the singer laughingly told The Boot. Members of Little Big Town joined a host of other entertainers at the distillery for Hank's big announcement, including Martina McBride, Kid Rock, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Josh Thompson, Kentucky Headhunters, Colt Ford, Jaron and the Long Road to Love and Lee Brice.
Hank Jr. and the Grascals performed for the crowd, many of whom indulged in several concoctions made with the moonshine, along with some down-home dishes including mini-hamburgers, fried chicken, homemade blackberry, chess and chocolate pies, and an assortment of cheeses and fruit. There were tents set up outside the distillery decorated with photos of Popcorn and posters featuring his famous X-rated saying on them.
Unfortunately for Popcorn, the revenuers caught up with him and he was sentenced to prison for 18 months for making moonshine, which really meant that the government wasn't collecting taxes on the whiskey he was manufacturing and selling. Instead of going to jail, Popcorn, who was 62 and had recently been diagnosed with cancer, pleaded to be allowed to serve out his sentence under house arrest, but his request was denied. On March 16, 2009, the moonshiner opted to take his own life. Hank Jr. attended his memorial in Parrottsville, Tenn. Hank Jr.'s son, Hank III, mentions Popcorn in his song 'Moonshiner's Life,' which can be found on his 'Rebel Within' CD.
Before he died, Popcorn penned his autobiography, 'Me and My Likker: The True Story of a Mountain Moonshiner.' He also passed his secret recipe to a friend, who in turn has allowed the recipe to be manufactured by Hank Jr. Hank has become the first person to be given permission to manufacture 'white' whiskey. There are two distilleries, or stills, set up at the undisclosed site.