Jim Tom Hedrick, Star of Discovery’s ‘Moonshiners,’ Dies at 82

Jim Tom Hedrick, star of Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners,” died Sept. 6 of kidney cancer. He was 82.

“Jim Tom Hedrick was a treasured member of the Moonshiners family and we share our condolences with his family and all those who loved him,” a Discovery Channel spokesperson said in a statement to Variety.

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“Jim Tom dedicated much of his life to the art of moonshining, becoming a legend in Appalachia along the way,” Sugarlands Shine Distillery, the moonshine distillery company featured on “Moonshiners,” said in a statement. “Jim Tom’s well-earned reputation as one of the most skilled moonshiners in the South earned him a role on the hit television program ‘Moonshiners,’ where his colorful personality endeared Jim Tom to the hearts of millions.”

“Jim Tom touched the lives of countless individuals and was especially eager to pass along his lifetime of moonshining knowledge to a new generation of distillers, ensuring the craft would endure,” the statement continued.

“Moonshiners” gained widespread attention for spotlighting the marketplace of moonshine, a high-proof liquor. Discovery’s docuseries pulled the curtain back on the practice and its history while following the stories of moonshiners in the Appalachian mountains. “Moonshiners” has spawned three spinoffs since its 2011 debut.

Hedrick first appeared in Season 2 of “Moonshiners” in 2012, continuing with the series through 2017. He was regarded for his unique storytelling methods and was known as “one of the most skilled moonshiners in Appalachia” as “his original hand-craft spirits were in high demand throughout the South,” per the Sugarlands website.

“Jim Tom was one of the first veteran moonshiners to truly embrace Sugarlands when we opened our doors,” said Ned Vickers, president and founder of Sugarlands. “Gaining the stamp of approval from Jim Tom was instrumental in shaping the authenticity of Sugarlands, and we’re forever indebted to his support and friendship.”

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