Nothing says the American south quite like a glass of bourbon after supper. Did you know you can distill your own bourbon from the comforts of home? This easy recipe is perfect for any moonshiner from beginner to seasoned expert.
Origins of Bourbon
Bourbon has long been associated with the American south, particularly Kentucky, where it is believed the name originated from.
Bourbon has been distilled in the U.S. since the 18th century, although the term bourbon was not believed to be coined until about the 1850’s. While there is no solid proof, many think the spirit is named for Bourbon County in Kentucky or even Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Either way this refined spirit is enjoyed by many in the United States and around the world. In fact, only bourbon distilled in the U.S. can be sold there. There is also a law that states bourbon must include at least 51% corn in its ingredients, although most recipes call for far more.
Corn Whiskey vs. Bourbon
Bourbon starts out as a corn-based whisky which can be consumed soon after the distillation process is complete. However, it must go through an important final step in order to become bourbon.
To be considered a true ‘bourbon’ the spirit must be matured for two years in an oak barrel. While this means delayed gratification; good things truly come to those who wait.
While a good bourbon can set you back a pretty penny, many savvy people are taking up a new and creative hobby that yields fun results-making their own.
While moonshining is quickly growing in popularity, many are unaware that they can make other spirits-including bourbon.
Making bourbon only requires one extra step further than traditional corn whisky. In fact, all you really need to get started is a quality still kit.
We love this all-in-one kit. The Appalachian stove top still kit includes everything you need to make quality spirits at home. It has a built in thermometer, fermentor pot with an airtight lid, air lock and even a connected copper cooling pot! It has everything you need to get started making quality moonshine at home!
Important Steps Before you Start Cooking your Mash
While most mash recipes call for the use of cooking thermometers, this is especially true in this recipe. In addition, if you are not using an all-in-one kit like the Appalachian, we recommend using a double boiler method for cooking your mash to help better control the temperature.
A simple double boiler can be made using two different pots-one larger than the other. The larger pot will be filled to ⅔ to capacity with water. The smaller pot will be placed inside and will be the pot that will be used to cook the mash.
By keeping the mash off of the direct heat there is less chance the mash will burn and you will have better control of the temperature.
Bourbon Mash Recipe Equipment List
- All-in-on stovetop still kit OR
- Cooking thermometer
- Double Boiler/water bath: This can be as simple as two pots-one larger and one smaller. The smaller one needs to fit in the larger one and have enough volume to cook your mash. The smaller pot should also have a lid.
- Mixing spoon
- Grinder (if using green malt)
- Old blanket
- Fermentation container with an airtight lid
- Air lock
- Siphon tube
- Oak Barrel or oak chips
Bourbon Mash Ingredients
- Corn flour or corn grits 3.3 lbs or 1.5 kg: The choice between corn malt or corn flour is up to you. It will not have an impact on the yield of your mash.
- Malt 10.5 oz/300 grams
- Water 2 gallons/7 liters
- Distillers yeasts
Bourbon Mash Recipe Steps
Follow these simple steps to make your very own bourbon at home. Be sure to read the recipe thoroughly before you begin so you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment on hand.
Make your mash
Gather all of your equipment to prepare your mash (all in one kit or items 2 to 6).
Fill the larger pot with water about ⅔ full. Place the smaller pot inside and fill it with 1.7 gallons or 6 liters of water. Put the remaining ⅓ gallon or 1 litre aside.
Heat the water to 122°F/50°C.
Slowly add the flour or grits to the water while constantly stirring until the flour or grits are fully incorporated. Maintain the temperature at 122°F/50°C. for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stirring will prevent lumps or thickening.
Increase the temperature to 149°F/65°C for 15 minutes stirring constantly to prevent the mash from burning.
Add the remaining water (⅓ gallon or 1 litre) to the mash and increase the temperature to
167-176°F/75-80°C and maintain this temperature for 20 minutes with the lid on the pot.
Prepare the Malt
While this is cooking it is time to prepare the malt. Smash the malt into coarse grain. If you have green malt, you can use your grinder to get the right consistency.
Remove the mash from heat to cool to 149°F/65°C. Once it has reached this ideal temperature, you can add the malt. Stir to combine until the mixture is uniform.
The Saccharification Process
Once you have a consistent and uniform texture replace the lid on the pot and cover the pot with an old blanket. Place in a warm area for approximately 7 hours.
This 7 hour period is an important step as it breaks down the carbohydrates in the mash and turns them into simple sugars. Both the corn and malt ingredients are necessary for this process to take place.
After 7 hours you will notice your mash has become darker and may appear to have a more liquid texture. It is time to prepare the distillers yeast according to the package instructions.
Check the temperature of your mash. You need to have a temperature between 77-84.2°F/25-29°C before you can add your yeast.
Once your mash has reached its ideal temperature (it likely needs to cool) it is time to add your yeast. Stir to combine your ingredients well.
Time to Ferment
If you have an all-in-one kit your pot is also your fermentation pot so you do not have to pour the mash out.
If you do not have an all-in-one kit, you will need to pour your mash into a fermentation container with an airtight lid. Place an airlock to ensure the mash does not become sour.
Place the fermentation container in a cool dark room. for about 5-7 days. You should notice the airlock will stop emitting gas. There should be a noticeable alcohol smell and the mash will have a bitter taste.
Once your mash has hit these milestones, it is time for distillation.
The Distillation Process
Open your fermentation container and remove the liquid from the mash using a siphon tube or gauze as a filter. This is important as the coarse grains can burn during the distillation process.
The next steps will depend on your individual still. With the first distillation, you should get about 0.4 gl/1.5 liters of raw alcohol with 30-34% ABV.
Dilute your mix with about 20% of water. Distill a second time at a low temperature. Discard the first 100-150 ml of the yield. Failure to remove this can spoil the quality.
Remove the rest of the moonshine while the ABV drops below 45%. The yield should be about 700-800 ml of distillate with 56% ABV.
Dilute your moonshine with about 40 to 45% water. Let your moonshine stand about two days before consuming. This should yield a moonshine with a sweet aftertaste and the aroma of corn grits.
Now to Make Bourbon!
For the corn whiskey to become bourbon the moonshine needs to be aged. Many people say you need to age the corn whiskey in an oak barrel for two years. You can always cheat this a little by letting it mature for about 9 months in an oak barrel or stored with oak chips.
Looking for a sweeter treat? Try our Applejack Moonshine recipe!