Make enough moonshine to share with friends with our Moonshine Recipes for an 8-Gallon Still.
What is Moonshine?
Many people associate moonshine with the homemade spirits that ran rampant during prohibition, however, it began centuries before.
In fact, the term moonshine has been around as early as the 15th century in Europe. This tradition made its way over to North America with the early settlers, predominantly in the grain-producing states.
Excess grain produced on homesteads was often fermented and distilled into spirits. These spirits were enjoyed, shared and even used as currency at one point.
However, this fun was soon to come to an end thanks to none other than Alexander Hamilton.
It was the founding father who decided to put a tax on spirits to help raise money for the debt ridden American Revolution. This decision caused an uproar, rebellion, violence and death.
What is a Moonshine Recipe?
Moonshine, a traditional American spirit, can be made using a simple recipe with all-grain, corn-based ingredients. To begin, mix ground corn and water in a large container, then add sugar and yeast to kickstart fermentation. Once the mixture has fermented for about a week, it's time for distillation.
While this process sounds relatively simple, making a moonshine recipe is closer to making a science project than cooking a basic recipe in the kitchen.
Distillation involves heating the fermented mash to release alcohol vapor, which is then collected and condensed into a high-proof liquid.
Making the right "cuts" during this process is crucial for achieving the desired flavor and smoothness.
The "cuts" refer to the separation of the initial, middle, and end portions of the distillate. The initial portion, known as the "heads," contains harmful compounds and should be discarded. The middle portion, or the "hearts," is the desired product, while the end portion, or the "tails," should also be discarded as it contains off-flavors.
The skill required to make the right cuts is essential for creating a high-quality moonshine.
The impact of cuts on the final product is significant, as they determine the flavor, aroma, and overall character of the moonshine.
With the right technique and attention to detail, a traditional moonshine recipe using all-grain, corn-based ingredients can produce a rich, full-bodied flavor with a smooth finish.
Learning how to make moonshine is much easier when you have the right equipment.
While the equipment for making moonshine may look familiar, it is usually not something you can pick up at the local store. Getting everything you need to get started in one place makes getting started making moonshine simple and fun.
8 Gallon Still
Choosing the right still is a important first step on any moonshine journey. Size is also a big consideration when choosing the right moonshine still for your needs.
Moonshine distillers range in size from our Moonshine Cherry, a one-gallon air still that sits on your counter to the large commercial stills that take up the better part of a room.
Determining the right size of still for you will depend on a few factors. The first thing to consider is the amount of storage space you have for your moonshine hobby. In addition to a moonshine still, there is also additional equipment needed such as a fermentor, which can take up a good amount of space.
One way to overcome limited storage is to look for an all-in-one moonshine still which can act as both a still and a fermentor. This saves money but also valuable storage space.
Another consideration is the amount of shine you want to make. Many shiners like to make big batches of moonshine mash to get the most bang for your buck. Making moonshine is a big and often messy endeavor. It often makes sense to make a larger batch less often.
Price also plays a role in choosing the right moonshine still. While many moonshine stills were traditionally made of copper, this is a more expensive option that could put making moonshine out of reach for many budgets.
A great compromise for many moonshiners is to combine a stainless steel still with copper mesh. This allows for copper to remove any sulfur in your moonshine mash at a more affordable price point.
Distillers yeast is an essential ingredient in moonshine production, as it plays a crucial role in fermenting the sugars present in the raw materials and producing the desired alcohol content and flavor profiles.
There are several types of distillers yeast available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Turbo yeast, for example, is known for its high alcohol tolerance and ability to produce large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. However, it may not always provide the best flavor profile.
Champagne yeast, on the other hand, is favored for its ability to produce a clean and neutral flavor, making it popular for fruit-based moonshines.
Ale yeast is known for adding unique flavors and aromas to the final product but may not be as efficient in producing high alcohol content.
Selecting the right yeast is crucial for achieving specific flavor profiles and alcohol content in moonshine production. The choice of yeast can greatly impact the final product, so it's important to consider the desired flavor profile and alcohol content when selecting a distillers yeast.
To calculate the amount of fermentable sugar needed for your mash, first, review the recipe to determine the quantity of grains and adjuncts being used.
Typically, most grains and adjuncts used in brewing contain fermentable sugars. Calculate the total weight of these grains and adjuncts being used.
Next, consider the type of yeast needed for the recipe. Different strains of yeast have different fermentation abilities, so it's important to choose the right type of yeast for the recipe to ensure proper fermentation.
Once the grain and adjunct quantities are determined, you can estimate the amount of fermentable sugar they will yield.
By following these steps and considerations, you can ensure that you have the right amount of fermentable sugar for your mash, and that you select the appropriate yeast for proper fermentation.
Gallon Mash Buckets and Containers
To properly use gallon mash buckets and containers for small batch distilling, start by selecting a food-safe vessel such as a gallon-sized plastic bucket or glass container. Clean and sanitize the container before adding the mash to prevent contamination.
Once the mash is added, it's important to maintain the target temperature for the fermentation process. Use a thermometer to monitor and adjust the temperature as needed. This typically ranges from 75-85°F for most yeast strains used in distilling.
To prevent oxygen and other contaminants from entering the container during fermentation, use an airlock. Insert the airlock into the lid of the container to allow gases to escape without letting anything in.
Throughout the fermentation process, monitor the progress of the mash and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a successful batch. Properly using gallon mash buckets and containers for small batch distilling will result in a high-quality final product for your distilling needs.
Distilled or Spring Water
Distilled water is created through a distillation process, where impurities are removed, leaving behind a clean and pure water.
This makes it ideal for diluting high proof spirits, as it ensures that the final product is clear and free from any unwanted flavors or impurities. Distilled water is essentially "blank" water, making it perfect for use in the distillation process.
On the other hand, spring water comes from natural sources and may contain minerals that can affect the flavor of the final product. While this can be desirable in some cases, it may not be suitable for certain high proof spirits where a clean and neutral flavor is preferred.
However, spring water can be used in other processes where the added minerals can enhance the overall flavor profile.
Types of Sugars to Use in Moonshine Recipes
When it comes to making moonshine, choosing the right type of sugar is essential for creating the perfect flavor profile. There are various types of sugars you can use in moonshine recipes, each contributing its own unique taste and characteristics to the final product.
From traditional granulated sugar to alternative options like honey, molasses, and agave nectar, the type of sugar you choose can significantly impact the overall taste and quality of your moonshine.
Granulated sugar can be easily identified as the common white sugar found in most households. It is a popular choice for fermentation due to its high sugar content, which is essential for the conversion of sugar into alcohol.
When using granulated sugar for fermentation, it is important to ensure that the correct type of sugar is used for the recipe. This typically means using plain white granulated sugar, as other types of sugar can have different compositions that may not ferment in the same way.
To measure and add granulated sugar to the fermentation process, simply follow the recipe instructions. Typically, the amount of sugar needed will be specified in the recipe, and it should be added to the mash according to those measurements. It is important to measure accurately to ensure the correct sugar-to-water ratio for successful fermentation.
In the conversion to alcohol, granulated sugar plays a crucial role as the source of fermentable sugars for the yeast.
During fermentation, the yeast consumes the sugar and converts it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Using the correct type of sugar and accurately measuring and adding it to the mash ensures that the fermentation process proceeds as expected, resulting in the desired alcohol content in the final product.
To make brown sugar using the sugar mash method, start by mixing white granulated sugar with a small amount of molasses. The amount of molasses added will depend on the desired darkness and flavor of the brown sugar. Mix the molasses and sugar together thoroughly until the molasses is evenly distributed throughout the sugar. After mixing, the brown sugar can be stored in an airtight container for later use.
Using brown sugar instead of white table sugar can impact the final product in several ways. Brown sugar has a richer, more complex flavor compared to white sugar, and it also adds a subtle molasses taste to dishes. It can also add a slightly deeper color to baked goods, giving them a more caramel-like appearance. In terms of aroma, brown sugar has a warm, earthy scent that can enhance the overall flavor of dishes.
When using brown sugar in the sugar mash process, the key differences in flavor, color, and aroma are notable. The brown sugar will impart a more robust, caramel-like flavor compared to white sugar, and it will have a deeper, darker color. Additionally, the aroma of brown sugar is slightly more complex and aromatic, adding an extra dimension to the final product.
To make high proof alcohol using cane sugar in the sugar mash process, start by dissolving cane sugar into water in a large pot or container. Use about 4 pounds of cane sugar for every gallon of water. Heat the mixture to around 160°F to pasteurize it, although this step is optional.
Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, add yeast nutrient to provide essential nutrients for the yeast to thrive. Then, add the yeast to the mixture and cover the container with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar to allow gases to escape.
Throughout the fermentation process, which typically takes about 7-10 days, it is important to monitor the temperature and ensure it stays between 70-85°F. Additionally, avoid exposing the mixture to direct sunlight and keep it in a dark, cool place.
After the fermentation process is complete, you can proceed with distillation to obtain high proof alcohol.
It's important to note that using cane sugar in place of granulated sugar in the sugar mash process requires careful measurement and monitoring of temperatures to ensure the yeast can perform its function effectively.
Failure to do so may result in an unsuccessful fermentation process and a less efficient production of high proof alcohol.
For the whiskey recipe, different types of honey can be used, such as clover honey, orange blossom honey, or eucalyptus honey.
Each type of honey will impart its own unique flavor profile to the whiskey. When purchasing these types of honey, consider visiting specialty gourmet food stores or ordering from online retailers who specialize in honey products.
Steps for Making an 8-Gallon Batch of Moonshine Mash