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Once fermentation has been accomplished, the next action that you should step in order to completely learn how to moonshine is to subject the fermented wash to the process of distillation. Basically, fermented washes must undergo this vital process in order to get rid of impurities and concentrate the alcohol contained in the wash. It does not matter whether you use a grain or sugar wash because all kinds of wash must undergo distillation. Distillation is considered to be the most satisfying part in creating moonshine for most brewers. This is due to the fact that you will always have a little amount to taste and take pleasure from if you wish depending on the type of spirit that you wish to come up with.
The purpose of your finished moonshine is a very important aspect to consider before going through the distillation process. You must ask yourself whether you are making brandy, schnapps, rum or other kinds of spirits that are made from sugar based wash. You may consider ending up with a neutral spirit so you can have something good to mix with your personally made malt whiskey or you may try to blend it with essences. This lets you have every little bit of something special on your shelf. The taste and odor quality greatly depends on the number of times you run your spirit into the pot still or how you create your cuts.
Furthermore, you have to take note of the vapour temperature so that you can have the best guidance on what is presently emerging of your still. It will be beneficial to know that once your wash has undergone fermentation; there will be the presence of other substances aside from just alcohol or ethanol and water. These traced substances are also called congeners which may consist of acetone, methanol, propanol and many more. Few of these substances may be used to enhance the flavors of your spirit so you have the option to keep all or certain portions in order to enhance the taste of your beverage. You can accurately measure the vapour temperature by placing a thermometer above your still columns. This will give you the right indication of the vapour temperature because various substances contained in your wash also have varying boiling points. Being able to monitor the temperature accurately will let you know what is actually coming out of your still at specific points. The rule is the substance with the lowest boiling point is the first thing that will come out of your still post condensation. Yet, it must be taken into consideration that the placement of the thermometer can have an effect of the temperature readings. So, it is important to make yourself familiar with your still and the readings it present.
But before you can make cuts, it is recommended to conduct a basic run in order to make yourself more accustomed with the process. You may begin by pouring the sugar wash directly into the boiler of your still and then subject it to heat. It must be noted that as the temperature of your wash shoots up, the contained substances with the lowest boiling points will immediately transform into vapour ahead of other components. Typically, your wash may contain certain amounts of acetone which has a boiling point of 56 degrees Celsius as well as specific quantities of methanol which has a boiling point of 64 degrees Celsius. Hence, when your wash is heated, chances are acetone and methanol will be the first substances that will come of out of your still. Basically, acetone will come out first because it has a lower boiling point. This works as the acetone vapour reaches the condenser and turn into liquid until it completely emerges from your still. As your wash heats up even further, there will be a pause until the temperature reaches the boiling point of methanol. At this point, the output is still a blend of methanol and acetone until the temperature varies in some degrees and the outputs will be pure methanol. You must remember that both of these substances can cause harm to your body so it is essential to remove these components from your wash. In general, acetone is present in your wash in tiny amounts whereas methanol can be found in amounts of 50 to 100 ml. But to be safe, it is suggested to throw the initial 200 ml of still output.
In essence, the vapour temperature will shift rapidly from boiling point to another boiling point of each of the substances present in the wash. For instance, you will notice a quick transition from 66 to around 78 to 82 degrees Celsius as the output shifts from methanol to ethanol. Basically, ethanol is the main element of your moonshine so you have to start gathering the still output once the 200 ml of methanol has been thrown away. From the formula of 8 kilograms of sugar and 25 liters of plain water, you can actually extract about 5-7 liters of ethanol with 65% alcohol strength. But then, you must also remember that the output gathered earlier will have a higher concentration as compared to the output collected at a later time. This is because of the degree of overlap among the various substances contained in the pot. Until you get the last portions of the ethanol in your wash, you will see that the temperature display will remain as constant.
As you continue with the process, the temperature will rise as well and at this point, ethanol is still coming out of the pot. But then, as the temperature gets higher, you will also be collecting congeners, which are harmless elements that can enhance the flavor of your spirit most especially if you are creating a rum or similar beverage. Yet, if you are making neutral spirits, these compounds are not necessary.
And once you reach the point of 93 to 97 degrees Celsius, the still output will transform into a milk like substance called fusel oils. This substance taste horrible and can affect the quality of your moonshine in a negative way. So, you have to be very particular with this temperature so that you will know when the fusel oil will start to come out. In order to be safe, you must halt the collection once the temperature reaches 92 degrees Celsius and turn the heat off completely.
At this stage, the distillation is almost finished and all you have to do is to taste your finished product. Yet, you must measure the strength with an alcometer first prior to tasting in order to avoid the fatal effects of pure spirit. You can further dilute your spirit with varying amounts of water in order to reduce the concentration. Blending it with essences and other substances that intensifies its flavor is also a great idea.