Close this search box.

How Moonshining Influenced The Cornbread Mafia with James Higdon (Bourbon Pursuit #342)

Bourbon and whiskey runs deep in Central Kentucky, but so did one of the largest marijuana manufacturing and trade rings in history. Cornbread Mafia tells the story of how of how Johnny Boone, Bobby Joe Shoemaker, and many others created one of the most highly sophisticated marijuana trades that ran right through Bardstown, KY, the heart of bourbon country. Jim Higdon is the author of the book and he joins the show talk about how this cultural phenomenon really had a very big tie back to the whiskey industry during prohibition. Many got into the illegal distilling business because that’s what they knew how to do and was the only means of providing for their families. We talk more about the bourbon connection and how that eventually turned into marijuana territory which opened the door to elaborate plans to evade law enforcement and even had the DEA swarming with helicopters around Bardstown. This story has also put Jim on the path for being an advocate of legalization and he’s even started his own CBD gummy business called Cornbread Hemp. If you enjoy stories like these, I would highly recommend reading or listening on Audible to The Cornbread Mafia.

Show Notes:

  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about infinity bottles.
  • Moonshining was really how this all got started
  • George Remus was a real gangster and had a big role into bootlegging as well.
  • Talk about the history of Basil Hayden.
  • Why was Central KY known as the “Ft. Lauderdale of KY”?
  • Talk about the outlaw side of your family.
  • How important was L&N Railroad to bourbon at the time?
  • Was Lebanon affected by The Temperance Movement?
  • I read during prohibition people were using stills that can produce 1000 gallons a day.
  • Give a background of Johnny Boone and Bobby Joe Shoemaker.
  • Why were they smuggling marijuana from Belize?
  • Talk about one of the biggest marijuana busts.
  • In your research, did you find any fighting between government agencies?
  • Was there any violence involved with The Cornbread Mafia?
  • There was a common thread of “no one talks”.
  • How did you feel about how the media portrayed The Cornbread Mafia?
  • What was it like being indicted to find Johnny Boone and almost go to jail?
  • Today, would someone be sentenced to 20 years in prison for marijuana?
  • Talk about your new venture of Cornbred Hemp.
  • Why isn’t Cornbread Mafia a movie?
  • @jimhigdon
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

This post first appeared on Bourbon Pursuit at

Never miss an episode from Bourbon Pursuit on:

Bourbon Pursuit

Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil host the Bourbon Pursuit podcast from Louisville, KY. Together, they share a passion for the stories that made an industry flourish with a focus on history, personality, and of course, great bourbon. Their guests include master distillers, bloggers, historians, local events and more.

All Posts
  • Latest News
  • Latest Reviews