Red Dead Redemption 2 - How to Level Moonshiner (Fast and Easy) (2023)

Red Dead Redemption 2 - How to Level Moonshiner (Fast and Easy) (1)

This guides aim to explain how to level Moonshiner role in the easiest way possible without losing too much money and possibly gaining too.


  • Guide to Leveling Moonshiner
    • Foreword (What You Might Need)
    • General Tips
    • Best Most Efficient Shine
    • Dealing With Troublemakers (Players)
    • Dealing with Troublemakers (Revenue Agents) and How to Do Deliveries
    • Alternative Path of Delivery
    • My Own Results Using This Method

Guide to Leveling Moonshiner

Foreword (What You Might Need)

25 gold bars, obviously – my preferred (best) spot for the shack is Heartlands, seems to be the easiest access wise, it is the closest shack to a fence, which can be useful for purchasing fire bottles to blow up stills. Besides the fence it is also a closest shack to station delivery and fast travel point which is very useful for you to re-stock on ammo and other things you order through a catalog or if you need to fast travel from the shack (Yes, it is even better place than Tall Trees near Blackwater, if you’ve chosen wrong you can pay $250 to change shack location)

Starting Capital – I would suggest $1000 just in case. You can earn them doing trader or collector.

Why do you need starter capital? To buy mash and flowers for flavor from Madam Nazar.

You need money to fast travel back from delivery locations to level up faster too.

You also need the capital in case your batch will disappear, which can happen to you sometimes (I’ve been lucky and it happened to me only once during leveling). If it does disappear you will have to buy a new one.

Occasionally, you will also fail to deliver all moonshine (if you go off track even a little) and or if npcs destroy it. So if the shine you sell should be sold for $90 and you lose even 1 bottle the price will go to $68. But this is just based on luck.

General Tips

Once you have starter capital and buy flowers for flavors (or collect them, be on a lookout for flowers always but it is faster to buy a full batch 30 flowers 1 dollar each from Madam Nazar) you can start doing 30 minutes (lowest quantity of bottles missions) because they are the fastest to make.

in between those 2 missions you can do 2 sometimes 3 bootlegger missions. Each will net you 300 moonshine xp. You might think the missions do not give you money but it is not true. First of all they are one of the most fun missions, and then you get to kill a lot of NPCs Kill and loot them always and if you loot them you will get moonshiner recipes, jewelry, collectibles (most of the time Ancient Alcohol) and even treasure maps (rarely). It is a good idea to equip some ability cards that you want to level as well, because you will kill a lot of them. You can even use them for gold dailies.

Never forget to check Revenue Agents’ Wagons. They most often contain a lockbox with 1 Moonshine, 1 Gold Watch (7 dollars a piece), 1 Chewing Gum to refill Deadeye and some useless ammo. If you have 30 moonshine in your inventory drink 1 to fortify health for easier access to other items in the lockbox. Image of Wagon and Lockbox below:

Once you complete a mission fast travel back to shack for efficiency it should cost you 1 dollar most of the time and rarely and at most $4.

If you free roam you will also get random moonshine events/missions that you can do, they are just like those you get from Maggy and give you 300xp. Don’t miss those too.

The Easy Fast Part (sequence or what you came here for)

  1. You start production of smallest amount (30 minutes), but try make the shine 2 star it nets best results and is better than making 3 star shine as it requires ancient alcohol collectible but only adds 10 dollars on top of star 2. Save the alcohol for dailies.
  2. You do 2 bootlegger missions.
  3. You do a delivery.
  4. You use fast travel to go back to the shack and start another production before doing anything else.


That is enough to level up once, so all in all you will have to repeat this sequence 20 times. That would mean it takes 10 hours to level up if you play without breaks, do not waste time and do not break the sequence.

XP gains are: 300 per bootlegger mission, 300 when you being cooking and 1100 for small star 2 batch. (the actual xp gains are slightly higher, but only slightly). So as you can see it is enough to get 2000xp for each level.

Tip: It would make sense to position your camp half way to Valentine or another place that you end up being sent to often in case a mission ends in the middle of nowhere and riding to any fast travel point in a town can take a while.

Tip 2: Fast Travel to Camp/Shack always tops price at $5. So if you travel from Tumbleweed (New Austin) to Heartlands Shack which is located by Emerald Station it will cost you 5 dollars as opposed to fast traveling to the station which can go upwards to $15 depending on how far the travel is.

Same applies to camp, so in some cases re-positioning a camp and traveling to it can be cheaper.

Best Most Efficient Shine

Most efficient shine rating is 2 star (rating depends on ingredients, it influences xp and price), Making 3 star costs too much because you will be giving up collectible items and gaining the same if you sell it to Nazar.

Most efficient quantity is small. It takes 30 minutes to make and if you lose it, you will lose less money. It also affects xp and price. But it also affects time so if you make large quantity you will (besides having 2 still upgrades each costing around $800) have to wait an hour and that is not efficient.

At higher levels you will get time reduction and it will take 24 minutes to make the small batch, where is it will take 48 minutes to make a big one. Still better.

You can also knock the price of mash down if you complete all story missions and then do 2 bootlegger missions every time before you start another production (which is how you should do it using the sequence for xp gains and time wise). So the cost of mash can go down to just $10!

All in all, moonshine is not worth investing money into unless just for fun. So if you want wardrobe unlocks, horses and satchel upgrades you do not need to invest in purchasing role upgrades (stills and what not) and you can earn upwards of $1000 while leveling. Otherwise, you lose money. Therefore, medium and large delivery quantities result only in a loss.

In my opinion best way is to unlock everything and earn a little money and then use collector to earn money just for the sake of spending it

Dealing With Troublemakers (Players)

I suggest switching between offensive and defensive modes here.

When you go out to do bootlegger missions you should stay in offensive mode because whenever you will be killing agents people will flock to you for loot from their corpses, and as you know their loot is quite nice (collectibles and jewelry) for your additional income.

What I do is I kill them if I see them looting my stuff and defend against them. Sometimes I even kill them so they do not take away my killing XP. But this depends on if you are good in pvp and want to get all the stuff and these missions to net money.

if you don’t want to fight, be in defensive mode. Most players do not know that there is a lockbox in a cart so they never check it, so most likely they will miss it and only loot the bodies.

When doing moonshine deliveries you should always be in defense mode for extra damage reduction and less presence on the map (you are less visible on a radar and map shows you only when you are very close to players). In defense mode you cannot use paint it black on players but they cannot use it on you also, so you will have to aim well.

To enter defense mode press “L” scrolls down to Online Options and changed playstyle from offensive to defensive by pressing the keyboard arrow key left or right

Note: You cannot attack anyone unprovoked in defense mode as it will immediately end it and add a lot of hostility. At maximum hostility you cannot enter defense mode, people know where you are and try to kill you

But people who kill defense mode players also receive a lot of hostility so they might not want to attack you for that reason, even if they can kill you

Dealing with Troublemakers (Revenue Agents) and How to Do Deliveries

So shine is very fragile, if you go off the beaten path it will immediately start breaking. Sometimes it makes no sense but this is how it is.

So once you are in defense mode, you want to enter into cinematic mode by moving in the direction of the track’s yellow path and holding V on your keyboard until you enter it.

This will allow you to take it easy as the driving will be done for you, all you have to do is just keep watch. While in this mode you can do anything you normally can like calm a horse, or reload a gun but you cannot aim and use inventory and you have no control over camera.

I do encourage you to sometimes peak out of this mode when on a straight road so you can check your radar and surroundings. To exit the mode simply press V.

Sometimes you will encounter Agent Roadblock. Don’t open fire. There are 3 scenarios here:

  1. They let you go without stopping you by just telling you to ride through.
  2. They tell you to roll into yellow field in the middle of checkpoint, check your cargo and tell you to continue moving.
  3. And they check cargo and open fire.

So never open fire 1st as they will only attack you 1 out of 3 times (33% attack chance).

If they open fire, immediately get out of the wagon and dispatch them, make sure you are not using wagon as a shield. Most of the time, I have enough time left to loot their corpses and check their carts for lootboxes.

Then you get back on your wagon and here you can either use cinematic mode but peak out of it from time to time as you will be chased by revenue agents on horses or drive manually. Make sure you do not go off yellow path. So sometimes it can be better to peak out of it from time to time. That way shine can be safer.

When Agents are upon you, stop the wagon, shoot them and continue going (You no longer need to get off the wagon as you cannot really protect shine from shots, just make sure you kill them quick).

Alternative Path of Delivery

If your Shack is in Heartlands or any other area with many roads (doesn’t really work for Bayou because there are few roads) you can instead of going the yellow path create your own path using waypoints on the map. Just make sure you do not go off road. If you never cross original yellow path you will never encounter a checkpoint but will likely spend more time driving. This method will also take more time and if you plan a bad route you will fail the timer.

Regarding the waypoints, if you place red waypoint in an opposite direction of the yellow path you can enter cinematic mode and follow the waypoint, however after a certain time the game will create a new yellow path for you. Because it will stop following the red path and continue following the yelow path. So you will need to look out for that moment by exiting the cinematic mode. The new yellow path can sometimes lead into the old one, where there are Revenue Agent Roadblocks but if you change the road too drastically then the new yellow path will never have roadblocks. Or you can just put waypoint and map markers and drive manually.

Be careful, the path you create yourself may include really bad road and have your bottles break even if you stay on road.

Overall, unless you are really afraid of roadblocks this is not really worth it but this is doable. Also, this is good if you need to do a daily distance traveled.

My Own Results Using This Method

I started with $1000 just in case. I lost my shine to a glitch only once. I delivered 19/20 bottles many times resulting in payment of 68 instead of 90 dollars.

I also beat all the story missions for fun and used outlaw pass xp boosts and event boosts and sometimes I free roamed and did random bootlegger missions. All in all I earned $1200 while leveling. I can say that Moonshiner is much faster to level in comparison to trader for example. And in certain ways more profitable.

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