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Marvin Sutton

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Title: Marvin Sutton  
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Subject: March 16, Cocke County, Tennessee, Maggie Valley, North Carolina, Parrottsville, Tennessee, Popcorn (disambiguation), The Last One, Deaths in March 2009
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Marvin Sutton

Marvin Sutton
Born (1946-10-05)October 5, 1946
Died March 16, 2009(2009-03-16) (aged 62)
Occupation moonshiner, bootlegger
Criminal charge Repeat offender of liquor laws, possession of an unregistered still, having distilling apparatus and untaxed liquor, felony drug offense, and weapons charge.
Criminal penalty 18 Months in federal penitentiary
Criminal status Deceased
Spouse(s) Pam Sutton

Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton (October 5, 1946 – March 16, 2009) was an American Appalachian moonshiner originally from Maggie Valley, North Carolina.[1][2][3] He wrote a self-published autobiographical guide to moonshine production, and self-produced a home video depicting his moonshining activities, and he was later the subject of a documentary that won a Regional Emmy Award. He committed suicide in 2009 rather than report to Federal prison after being convicted of offenses related to moonshine production.

Bootlegging and moonshining career

Sutton had a long career making moonshine and bootlegging. Most of the time he was able to avoid law enforcement, although he was placed on probation in the 1970s and the 1990s.[4] In 1999, Sutton published Me and My Likker, an autobiography and guide to moonshine production.[5] Around the same time he produced a home video of the same title and released it on VHS tape. His first broadcast appearance was in Neal Hutcheson's documentary, Mountain Talk, in 2002.[6] Sutton next appeared in the film that would become the cornerstone of his notoriety, This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I'll Ever Make. Filmed and released in 2002, the film quickly became a cult classic and over time drew the attention of television producers in Boston and New York. The source footage from this project was re-worked into the documentary The Last One that was released in 2008, which received a Southeast Emmy Award.[7][8][9] Some of the documentary footage was later used in the 2011–2012 season of the Moonshiners television series produced by Discovery Channel. Sutton was also featured in the 2007 documentary, Hillbilly: The Real Story, on The History Channel.[1]

Sutton considered moonshine production a legitimate part of his heritage, as he was Scots-Irish and descended from a long line of moonshiners.[2] In January 2009, after an ATF raid led by Jim Cavanaugh of Waco fame,[10] Sutton was sentenced to eighteen months in a federal prison for illegally distilling spirits and possession of a firearm as a felon.[11] Sutton, 62 and recently diagnosed with cancer, pleaded with the U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer to let him serve his sentence under house arrest. Several petitions were made in attempts to reduce or commute Sutton's sentence, to no avail.


Sutton committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning on March 16, 2009, apparently to avoid a federal prison term due to begin a few days later. On October 24, 2009, Sutton's body was relocated from his original grave site in Mt. Sterling, North Carolina, to his home in Parrottsville, Tennessee, providing an opportunity for the first public memorial service to be held. His body was carried to its new resting spot by horse and carriage. Sutton's memorial grew in spectacle as country music singer Hank Williams, Jr. flew in to pay his respects. It was a small memorial only for close friends and family.[12]


In the 1960s or 70s, Sutton was given the nickname of "Popcorn" Sutton after damaging a bar's faulty popcorn vending machine with a pool cue.[1]

Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey

On Nov. 9, 2010, Hank Williams, Jr. announced his partnership with J&M Concepts LLC and widow Pam Sutton to distill and distribute a brand of whiskey named after Sutton that was asserted to follow his legacy.[13] Dubbed "Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey," it was marketed as having been produced on stills designed by Sutton using his secret family recipe and techniques Sutton entrusted to former Supercross professional Jamey Grosser of J&M Concepts.[14] Country music stars attending the launch event included Martina McBride, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Zac Brown, Josh Thompson, Kentucky Headhunters, Little Big Town, Colt Ford, Montgomery Gentry, Jaron and the Long Road to Love and Lee Brice.[15] According to press reports, Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey would be initially distributed in Tennessee and throughout the southeast. The copper stills for its production were made by Vendome Copper and Brass in Louisville, Kentucky.[16] On October 25, 2013, Jack Daniel's Properties, Inc. filed suit against the distiller of Popcorn Sutton's whiskey, claiming that the newly redesigned bottle and label too closely resembled their own.[17] The lawsuit states that the new design " likely to cause purchasers and prospective purchasers of the product to believe mistakenly that it is a new Tennessee white whiskey product in the Jack Daniel's line." The suit also asks that all current existing bottles be taken off the market and that all profits from the sales of those bottles be handed over to Jack Daniel's.


External links

  • : Don Dudenbostel's gallery of Popcorn Sutton images
  • CAFFEINATED POLITICS: Obituary Of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, A Tennessee Moonshiner
  • Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey
  • Popcorn Sutton Whiskey, Once Moonshine, Now Legal
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