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Distilling moonshine is a crucial process of mixing your ingredients all together in a still and playing with the heat in order to produce a magnificent alcoholic beverage that you can enjoy in the comforts of your home. In essence, you need to have a liquid with alcohol content so that you can begin with the distillation process. Distillation concentrates and purifies the alcohol that is in the liquid. So, if the liquid has no alcohol content at all, the process will not actually go through.
Initially, you have to come up with a liquid that has the alcohol content. The reason behind it is that this liquid will be subjected to fermentation. This is an essential process when it comes to distilling moonshine. Fermentation is described as the natural process of converting sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. In this process, the yeasts eat sugar and transform these into cellular energy and end up with ethanol and CO2 as the main metabolic waste products. Hence, the more sugar content you have on your liquid, the more alcohol can be produced which can reach up to 20% proof depending in the type of yeasts that you use because various yeasts have its own alcohol tolerance.
Moving forward, you have to take note that the liquid produced by the process of fermentation is called the wash. This is the liquid that will be used to come up with a distilled beverage. The process of distillation purifies and separates the alcohol content from the wash, and eradicates all the unnecessary ingredients. In actuality, there are two types of wash being used in the process namely: sugar wash and grain wash. Out of these two, Sugar Washes are easier to use because it only involve the mixture of water and sugar that is ready to use for the fermentation process. Thus, the yeast can be added without any additional preparation required. On the other hand, Grain Washes are the type of mixture that requires additional process before the sugar that is contained in the grains can be transformed into a form that is consumable by the yeasts. If these additional processes were not performed, adding the yeast to initiate fermentation will be pointless at all because no alcohol will be produced.
Now, if you are wondering how a sugar wash is made. It is simply a mixture of water and white or raw sugar. This type of wash is the ideal wash to use if you are planning to add essences to create your spirits. Using this type of mixture is the best method to come up with your base spirit. When it comes to measurements, the ideal ratio of water to sugar is 25 liters of water or 6 US gallons mixed with 8 kilograms which is equivalent to 17.5 lbs. of white or raw sugar. This will result to a sugar wash mixture so yeasts can be added right away to start the fermentation process. After adding the yeast, all you have to do is to seal the container and wait for at least 7 days while the process is taking place. In this regard, using turbo yeast of good quality would be ideal because this variety is capable of producing up to 18-20% alcohol content. Using commercially available yeast is not appropriate because it has the risk to die reaching this alcohol strength.
The process can be a little more complicated if you will be using a grain wash. Extra steps and preparations are needed to come up with the distilled beverage. One example of distilled beverage made from grain mixture is your favorite whiskey. It is distilled from a grain wash using barley. Barley is the most common type of grain that is used in the process of making alcoholic beverages. As mentioned, using a grain wash requires more steps because the grain must be converted into a form that can be consumed by the yeasts. In essence, grains are seeds that contain sugars that take the form of starch. The start content of the grain is not fermentable so the yeast cannot convert these to alcohol. In turn, seed germination must be initiated so that enzymes will be released to convert the starches into sugars that can be used to start the fermentation process. The germinated grains undergo a process called malting which hinder its growth. These grains are heated in water at specific temperatures in order to speed up the process of starch conversion to sugar. The grains are then separated from the liquid that is rich in sugar from the malted grains. This is the final wash where yeast will be added to begin with the fermentation process.
Hence, if you want to become skilled in distilling moonshine, you have to try using sugar wash first before you proceed with the more complex grain wash. A well prepared wash is the key to producing a quality distilled beverage so you have to master the use of each type of wash for better results. The yeast also plays a big role in the outcome of the process so you have to use suitable yeast product such as turbo yeast or distillers yeast that can be purchased over the counter or online.