What is Moonshine Made of?

What is Moonshine Made of?

What is Moonshine made of and can you make it at home? Check out all the options available to make spirits at home! 

Moonshine may be a popular hobby for those who want to DIY or live off the grid, but it is not a new pastime. In fact, distilling spirits is rooted in history. Of course, distilling spirits began thousands of years ago. It was believed that early man evolved to be able to metabolize ethanol. This led to eating fermented fruit (out of necessity) but soon discovering that its effects were enjoyable. 


Distilling evolved differently around the world depending on the natural resources available in the area. For example, in the United States, farmers began distilling excess grain whereas in New Guinea sugarcane was the raw ingredient of choice. 


Distilling vs. Moonshining


What is moonshine made of?

Of course, there is a distinction between moonshining and distilling. Moonshining actually refers to the illicit production of spirits whereas distilling is simply the distillation of mash into spirit. 

With this fact in mind, it makes sense that any spirit that can be distilled can be made into moonshine. 

Check out Is Moonshine Illegal? 

Moonshining in the United States began after Treasury Secretary  Alexander Hamilton decided to impose a ‘whiskey tax’ on spirits to help pay for the American Revolutionary War. 

Making Moonshine with Grain


making moonshine with grain

Making a grain-based spirit is often what people think of when they hear the term moonshine. This is because the early American pioneers made spirits with what they had available to them and many of them were farmers in grain-producing states. 

Many moonshiners want to recreate these classic moonshine recipes. To make a simple white whiskey the recipe will center around corn (usually about 70%) as well as a malted barley. 

Grain based recipes have an unique challenge in that when making your mash you need to convert the starches into fermentable sugars by heating them. 

Try these fun corn whiskey recipes! 

Cracked Corn Moonshine

Delicious Corn Whiskey

Popcorn Sutton Moonshine Recipe

Making Moonshine with Fruit


Making moonshine with Fruit

While many consider grain-based whiskey as ‘old-school’ moonshine, fruit is actually where it likely all began. 

Using fruit as a base for moonshine can yield a great tasting shine, but requires a lot of fruit. We often encourage shiners to make friends with local farmers or to get a deal on overripe fruit at the end of the growing season. 

In addition to making moonshine with fruit, you can also create moonshine with juice. A great example of this is AppleJack Moonshine. This recipe is done with freeze distillation where the mash is chilled rather than heated. 

Try These Fun Fruit Mash Recipes! 

Peach Moonshine Recipe

Top 5 Fruit Mash Recipes

Making Moonshine with Sugar 


Sugar shine recipe


Those new to moonshining often prefer to start with a sugar shine recipe. The reason for this is simple: sugar is cheap and available. This means that those first few runs will cost less to produce and the ingredients are easy to source. 


Making a sugar mash is as simple as dissolving sugar in water. Just add molasses and you have rum! 

Making sugar shine is a popular base for flavoring moonshine. This simple low cost spirit is a great base for flavored moonshine. 


Check out These Great Sugar Shine Recipes! 

The Sweetest Honey Moonshine

Brown Sugar Moonshine

Simple Sugar Shine



The Best Equipment for the Job

Whiskey moonshine copper still

There are several factors that need to come together for a great batch of moonshine. Arguably, one of the most important is a great still. 

At How to Moonshine, we believe in supporting our customers through every step of the journey. From our detailed manuals, videos, how-to tutorials and step-by-step recipes, we support you every step of the way. 

Our Copperhead still is a great option for those who want a simple to use still that provides quality results. 

The Copperhead is both a fermentor and a still, which saves both money and space. The Copperhead also combines a stainless steel body with copper pipes. This combination offers both an economical still that has the ability to neutralize the sulfur in your mash. 



Copper whiskey moonshine still