How to Make Scotch
Make fine quality spirits at home! Let us teach you how to make scotch!
There are many reasons that are drawing more and more people to learn how to make moonshine. For some, it is a cool hobby that allows them to create a signature spirit or cocktail from the comforts of home. A great way to add to the perfect celebration or a personalized DIY gift for friends and family.
For others, moonshining means enjoying quality spirits without paying the bloated prices found at the local bar, pub, or even at the local liquor store. That is because making your own spirits doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice taste or quality.
In fact, there are countless recipes to help newer moonshiners learn the simple steps to age spirits to create the distinct quality and flavors they are looking for from top-shelf spirits in their own homes.
Making Scotch vs. Making Whiskey
The process for making scotch is similar to the process for making whiskey, with the exception of a few extra steps to the distillation process and the additional aging process.
There are also different options for ingredients used to make Scotch whiskey depending on whether you want to make a single malt scotch whiskey or scotch whiskey made with a mix of grain and malt.
Historically, all Scotch was made from single malt barley. Staying true to tradition, this is what we will be making in this recipe. Of course, all Scotch is also supposed to be aged for at least three years.
We are going to let you be the judge of whether you want to adhere to that one. We know not all of us are patient enough to wait that length of time before enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Single Malt vs. Blended
For this recipe, we are going to be making a single grain scotch whiskey. We have many grain whiskey recipes in our recipes blog that you can simply change the distillation process and age if you would prefer making that type of Scotch whiskey.
Of course, while single malt whiskeys (like this recipe) are becoming more and more popular, most of the whiskeys available on the market today are actually a blended whiskey.
Are you ready to really take the next step as a spirit connoisseur? Consider making your own special blend with this recipe and by aging another grain whiskey recipe, like this cornmeal one.
How to Make Moonshine
Although we are making Scotch in this recipe, we are actually following most of the same steps to create a white whiskey, which is commonly known as moonshine. White whiskey is a whiskey that is not aged in barrels so it does not get the characteristic dark amber color and distinct flavor of aged liquors.
While making moonshine is a three-step process, making Scotch will be a four-step process as we are going to take the final step to age our spirit to make it a true Scotch whiskey.
Making specialty spirits at home requires specialty tools. In the world of making moonshine, it is important to follow the recipe exactly. Think about the process less of ‘cooking a recipe’ and more like a science experiment. If you do not follow the directions carefully you will not get your desired result.
This is why having the right tools for the job is so important. Making moonshine requires a lot of familiar kitchen tools but just on a larger scale. This is because moonshine recipes call for a large volume of ingredients so regular kitchen pots and spoons just aren’t able to cut it.
Instead, we encourage you to make sure you have the right ingredients and equipment well before attempting to make this or any other moonshine recipe. It will cut down on any frustration you will experience with recipes that do not convert properly.
Equipment Needed for Making your Mash
- A large stainless steel or copper pot
- A Long spoon
- A strainer or Cheesecloth
- A Cooking thermometer
Are you curious to know why we have chosen these items as your must-haves? Check out our ultimate equipment list for making moonshine!
Equipment Needed for Fermentation/Distillation
The equipment required for fermenting and distilling your mash will vary depending on the amount of your budget and the control you want to have over the final process. A simple distillation bucket can cost close to $100 and not even come with everything you need to actually ferment your mash.
At How to Moonshine, we strive to make moonshining easy and affordable for everyone. That is why we offer all in one kits to make the process easier, more economical, and more practical for storage.
Our Appalachian All in One Stovetop Kit combines a fermentor with a stovetop still. This means that instead of purchasing a separate still, fermentor kit, and heat source you can do it all with one simple kit. This lets you get started faster and with much less expense.
With the Appalachian All in One Stovetop Kit the only thing you need to ferment and distill your mash is 12 mason jars. Otherwise, you will require:
- Large Fermentor Bucket like this one from Home Brew Ohio
- Airlock- we like the one from Rilla Mart.
- And a distiller
Ingredients for Making Scotch
- Barley malt – 17.6 lbs (8 kg’s)
- Spring or Flitered Water – 8.45 gallons (32 litres)
- Yeast Starter
- If you have purchased ground malt, please skip this step. Otherwise, you need to crush the malt into a coarse-ground state, keeping the husk particles. You want to aim to break the grains into small pieces.
- Pour the water into your large pot and heat it to 70°C or 158°F.
- Once you have reached 70°C or 158°F, slowly add your malt into the pot. Use your wooden spoon to stir it constantly.
- Reduce the temperature to 65°C or 149°F and place a lid onto the pot. It is important to maintain this temperature within 2-3 degrees for 90 minutes. You should be able to maintain this temperature by simmering your mash. Make sure to stir your mash every 10 minutes.
- By the end of this process, the top part of the wash will become lighter and the grains will sink to the bottom.
- After 90 minutes, you need to cool down your mash to 25°C or 77°F. There are a few ways you can do this: put your pot in a sink of ice water, use an immersion chiller, or simply wait a few hours. While waiting seems to be the easiest way, it can run the risk of microorganisms spreading to the nutritional medium which can cause soar fermentation.
- Once the mash is cooled, strain the solids from the liquids using a strainer or cheesecloth. If using cheesecloth, you can squeeze the cloth using sanitized hands to make sure all the liquid is removed.
Now it is time to make a yeast starter. This is a great way to give your yeast a ‘head start’ and help to ensure fermentation is a success.
Yeast Starter Recipe
- Heat water to 43°C or 110°F
- Pour water into a sterilized jar
- Add your sugar to the water and mix thoroughly
- Add both packets of yeast
- Stir to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
- Place plastic wrap over the top of the jar
- Let the jar sit for 20 minutes (or until your yeast has doubled in size.)
- Pour the wash into a fermentation container, add yeast, and stir.
- Install an airlock and place the container in a dark room with a temperature of 18-25°C or 64-77°F.
- Look for activity to cease in the airlock. This will vary depending on the quality of ingredients used, but generally takes a week or two. Once the activity has ceased for two days you can check your mash to see if fermentation is complete.
If you are unsure how to check if fermentation is complete using a hydrometer or the iodine test, check out our how to moonshine guide for step by step instructions.
The distillation process of Scotch is a little different than moonshine. Of course, as you become more familiar with the process of moonshining, you will begin to develop your own style and signature tastes. For beginners, we usually stick to the basics.
When distilling you want to first start with a clean and sanitized still. Even if you cleaned your still after your last run, you still want to clean it before your next run. The reason for this is because dust and particles can still settle in your still between runs (especially if it has been sitting for awhile) and you want to start with a still that is as clean as possible.
Once your still is clean, you need to assemble it. If it is your first time, you can refer to your still manual for instructions to make sure it is assembled correctly.
Once assembled, follow the directions for using your still. Temperature plays an important role in moonshining, especially during distillation. While we would normally play close attention to temperature to fraction your run, for Scotch we will be running the still at least twice. Do not bother to fractionate your first run.
If you are unsure on how to fractionate your runs, please refer to the second on how to fractionate your run in our how to moonshine guide.
Once you have separated your run, it is time to age your Scotch. This process is an important part of what gives Scotch its signature color and flavor.
Equipment Needed to Age your Scotch
Unlike white whiskey (usually known as moonshine) Scotch needs to be aged. This can be done in a number of different ways.
Oak Barrel: The traditional way to age your scotch is to put it in an oak barrel. The appropriate time frame for Scotch to age is 3 years, although some find it is aged to their taste in as little as 6 months. We love this barrel by American Oak Gear which can be personalized!
Oak Pegs: Using oak pegs is an alternative to purchasing an oak barrel for those who want a cheaper option. The first thing you need is an oak log about 30-35 cm in diameter. The oak needs to be at least 50 years old. It is important not to use oak chips as it contains too much tannins which will taint the taste of your Scotch.
Cut your long into pieces that are 5-8 mm wide and the length of your fermentation container. Pour boiling water over the pegs and then soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. Let the pegs dry in the sun. Aim to put about 10 to 15 pieces of peg in each fermentation container. Dilute your Scotch about 40 to 50 % and add to your fermentation containers. Seal your containers and leave them in a cool, dry place to age for at least six months.
Again, once you have made your run, you can always blend your whiskey to try new combinations for the ultimate signature spirit!