A GUIDE TO MAKING MOONSHINE – Moonshine is one of the most famous spirits in the U.S. and it has a very long history. Moonshine is especially popular with home and craft distillers and, when made properly, it can be one of the smoothest and most potent liquors available.
Americans have been making moonshine for centuries, and moonshine purists continue to perfect this exceptional drink. Moonshine is a variant of whiskey, which is distilled from corn mash. When made properly, it is completely clear and very potent. Distillation is the only way to make moonshine, and distillation in pot stills is the most popular method.
Distillation occurs when the corn mash—with appropriate amounts of sugar and yeast to cause fermentation—is heated in a large tank or pot. Vapors rise from the heated mixture into the condenser, where they are then cooled into a purified liquid. This liquid is the ethanol, which gives moonshine its powerful trademark zing.
- The corn mash consistency will affect the production of ethanol, so adjusting the yeast, corn and sugar in the mixture will make a difference in the moonshine produced.
- Different times and temperature also make a difference; the first liquid distilled can be toxic and should be discarded.
- To learn more about how to make moonshine and moonshine recipes, see our books, how-tos, videos and other resources online.
See our for our latest videos and featured products.
- 1 How does a distillery work?
- 2 Is moonshine technically whiskey?
- 3 Can you drink distilled water?
How does a distillery work?
How Distilling Works We use high-tech equipment to make our whiskey but still rely on the same laws of fractional distillation—a difference in boiling points that allows us to separate ethanol from water—the same technique that has been used for centuries. 1. Mashing & Fermenting the Grain We cook 500 lbs of grain in 200 gallons of water in our mash tank to create a sugar and nutrient rich environment ideally suited for yeast to grow. We transfer the cooled mash into one of our blue fermentation tanks and after 3-7 days, the yeast has consumed most of the sugar, turning the mash into a 10-12% ABV “distiller’s beer” or “wash.” A pump moves the wash into the pot of the still. 2. Boiling the Wash The still is heated gradually (1-2 hours) until the wash just starts to boil. Since alcohol boils at 173 F and water at 212 F, the alcohol starts to boil out of the wash first. For the next 2-3 hours, a mix of alcohol, water and other flavor enhancing components boil out of the wash. 3. Distillation and Reflux As alcohol and water vapors rise from the pot, they enter the copper column where they “reflux” – the lighter alcohol vapors continue to rise and the water falls back to the pot. The temperature of the column, and degree of reflux, control the quality and flavor of the distillate. 4 & 5. Condensing the Vapors Vapors that are light enough to pass through the column, travel across the lyne arm and turn back into liquid in the water-cooled condenser. 6. The Distillate The distillate comes out of the still in phases, starting with the powerfully flavored “heads,” followed by a long phase of “hearts” and finishing with lower proof “tails.” The heart of the run is collected for bottling or aging while the heads and tails are added back to the next distillation run for rework. 7. Barrel Aging Only once the new make spirit ages in oak barrels, does it takes on an amber color and an additional layer of flavor from the charred wood. Whether you use new or used, toasted or charred, American or French oak barrels depends on the style of whiskey you are making.
Is moonshine technically whiskey?
Patrick: I spent so much time researching “moonshine” after our call last night that I figured I’d share what I discovered on this blog. So here’s my attempt at answering a few basic questions as we prepare to devise a new line of spirits:
- How is vodka distinct from “white” whiskey? They’re both clear and unaged, so what’s the actual difference?
- How are vodka and white whiskey different from “moonshine”? And what is “moonshine” really ? Is it a vodka, a whiskey, or something else entirely?
As pertains to the first question, it seems the difference between vodka and white whiskey boils down to three things: ingredients, oak, and proof, Categorization is basically a function of slight deviations in the production process. Put simply, vodka—unlike whiskey—can be made from a wider range of ingredients, and it doesn’t need to be aged (in oak barrels or otherwise), and it’s distilled at a higher proof.
Simple enough. But why keep it simple? Let’s needlessly delve WAY into this. * * * * * * * * * * * INGREDIENTS The vast majority of well-known vodkas are made from grain. But vodka is also popularly distilled from potatoes and fruits, Unlike whiskey—the production process and ingredients of which are tightly regulated by law—there are no similar rules dictating or limiting what ingredients vodka distillers have to use.
( In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations merely defines vodka as “neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color”. Sounds um tasty.) By contrast, whiskey distillers’ choices are limited, as whiskey must be distilled from a grain.
Sure, you can find off-the-beaten path grains with which to craft your spirits—like quinoa, spelt, oats, etc.—but by legal definition, you can’t distill whiskey from such vodka staples as watermelons, cookies, potatoes, grapes, running shoes, etc. OAK There’s another critical restriction on whiskies.
In addition to being distilled only from grains, a grain spirit MUST “kiss” the inside of an oak barrel if it’s to be qualified as a whiskey. If it doesn’t, the spirit cannot legally be considered whiskey. Instead, it would likely just be classified as a grain-based vodka!
- A quick aside, Patrick it’s worth noting that the “oak barrel” requirement is a phenomenon unique to American and Scottish law. Other countries use the term whiskey to reference spirits aged in barrels made of other types of wood, such as maple or hickory. According to this website, “Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, and Japanese whiskey only require that wood barrels are used but don’t specify that oak is the only permissible type.”
- But I digress.
Notably, there’s no requirement for how long whiskey must age in an oak barrel to be considered a whiskey. White (clear) whiskies are merely the result of pouring the distilled alcohol from the still into a barrel taking a deep breath and then immediately pouring it right the fuck back out, to be bottled and sent out into the world.
PROOF There’s one final attribute that distinguishes a spirit as a vodka vs. a whiskey: proof. As long as the spirit coming off the still is at or above 95% alcohol by volume (ABV), and as long as it is then cut with water to no less than 40% ABV when bottled, you’ve got a vodka. That two-part determination is what classifies a spirit as a vodka.
How does a Moonshine Still Work? Explained by Andrew from North Georgia Still Company.
With whiskey, on the other hand, the spirit must be distilled at less than 95% ABV. But just as with vodka, as long as the spirit is then cut with water during the bottling process such that it’s still above 40% ABV when bottled, it’s a whiskey. (From my research, it seems that if you cut a spirit to anything less than 40%, then pursuant to the legal classification, you’re just a lil’ bitch.) TO RECAP : when it comes to proof, the spirit must exceed the 95% ABV threshold during distillation to be a vodka, whereas it cannot exceed the 95% ABV threshold during distillation to be a whiskey.
(In fact, the same exact corn “vodka” could be called whiskey if it came out at the 95% ABV and was then placed in oak barrels,) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Bet. If we know the difference between vodka and white whiskey, then what the fuck is “moonshine”? This was the question that first drove our initial discussion, and it turns out that the confusion stems from the fact that lots of distillers and liquor companies nowadays have elected to use the term “moonshine” incorrectly as a commercial gimmick.
Here’s the bottom line: “Moonshine” is liquor (usually whiskey or rum) made in secret ( a ) without getting the proper state and federal licenses to do so, ( b ) without paying the requisite taxes, and ( c ) without adhering to any of the legal (and safety!) standards governing the production of spirits.
- Another aside here’s an article that conflates the actual definition of moonshine with the more gimmicky modern commercial interpretation of a clear and unaged whiskey.
- “There are lots of products sold today that call themselves moonshine for the sake of nostalgia, tradition, and mystique. But the same product could just as easily be called white whiskey. ” Preach to these liars.
Moonshine purists define the spirit as a homemade, unaged whiskey, marked by its clear color, corn base, and high alcohol content—sometimes peaking as high as 190 proof. Traditionally, it was produced in a homemade still and bottled in a mason jar. And there isn’t much of a difference at all between unaged whiskey and moonshine; they largely have the same production process.
But “moonshine” is distinguished from whiskey by virtue of its illegal nature, rather than being a different type of alcohol. Under this conception, “moonshine” is just a whiskey that hasn’t been taxed and the saga of colonial America’s refusal to pay taxes on its distilling operations is a critical part of our nation’s history that we’ll detail in future posts.
But does moonshine have to be a whiskey ? Nope! Actual moonshine—the stuff you’d buy on the black market if you didn’t want to pay a tax—can be made from any fermentable substrate, from sugar to grain to stone fruit. Whatever clandestine distillers can get their hands on and want to work with (under cover of darkness, by the light of the moon—thus the term) is fair game.
- Recall: Neutral spirits must be at least 95% alcohol coming off the still, whereas whiskey must be distilled to less than 95% ABV.
- By the way, note that the lower the proof at distillation, the more flavorful congeners carry over from the grain to the final spirit.
When it comes to commercial sellers, examine whether the “moonshine” label is proclaiming a whiskey or a vodka. If the label says “neutral spirits,” it’s not whiskey, Is the dead horse sufficiently beaten? Let’s decapitate it for good measure. How does one make moonshine? Answer: illegally.
The recipe is simple— · Corn meal · Sugar · Yeast · Water Sometimes, other ingredients are included to add flavor or kick. (And technically, as I’ve said, though alcohol can be distilled from almost any kind of grain, virtually all moonshine made in the United States for the last 150 years has been made with corn.) The primary aesthetic difference between “moonshine” and the whiskey you buy at the liquor store boils down to aging.
When whiskey comes out of the still, it’s so clear it looks like water—and moonshiners bottle it just like that, There’s no aging process, and that’s what gives whiskey its color and mellows the harsh taste. Moonshine undergoes no such mellowing, which is why it has such a “kick”.
So why is distilling alcohol at home illegal in the first place ? “The government cites several reasons for keeping distilling illegal. First, it can be dangerous, Distilleries bring two materials into close proximity – alcohol vapor and heat sources – that can cause disastrous explosions when not managed correctly.
There are also lots of impurities that can lead to all sorts of health problems even death! And cynically, there’s another reason: Federal excise taxes, Distilled spirits are taxed at the highest rate of any alcohol, far more than beer or wine. (A tax on spirits is the very first tax ever levied in the United States!) Naturally, the government is none too keen on surrendering its share of the revenue raised by a Nation filled with alcoholics.
- And so it criminalizes any liquor production into the revenue of which it can’t sink its grubby little fingernails.
- Please admire the grammatically impeccable placement of prepositions in that last sentence.) * * * * * * * * * * * * In summation, New Scotch Spirits will never legally sell any brand of spirit under the “moonshine” moniker.
But catch us back in the woods under cover of a new moon and we might have some New Scotch “Select” to offer you. Shhhhh. I hope this post answers any and all questions we could ever again possibly have on such a stupid subject. I need a drink, and I don’t care whether it’s a vodka, a whiskey, or a moonshine masquerading as both.
What are the 3 steps of distillation?
The process of distillation begins with heating a liquid to boiling point. The liquid evaporates, forming a vapor. The vapor is then cooled, usually by passing it through pipes or tubes at a lower temperature. The cooled vapor then condenses, forming a distillate.
Can you drink distilled water?
You’ve probably faced this choice while dining out: Tap, bottled, or sparkling water ? But what about distilled water? It’s not that different from what flows out of your kitchen faucet. But distilled water goes through a process that sets it apart from other types of H2O.
- Distilled water is steam from boiling water that’s been cooled and returned to its liquid state.
- Some people claim distilled water is the purest water you can drink.
- All water – no matter if it comes from a natural spring, artesian well, or regular tap – may have trace but safe amounts of minerals, bacteria, pesticides, and other contaminants.
Distilling rids water of all those impurities. It also removes more than 99.9% of the minerals dissolved in water. As the name says, tap water is the one that comes out a faucet. It has likely been disinfected with chlorine, plus filtered to remove sediments and treated with chemicals to neutralize dirt.
- Fluoride has also been added to prevent tooth decay.
- Filtered water is tap water that has been run through filters to remove chlorine (this improves the taste) and other things such as bacteria and some chemicals.
- Different types of filters remove different things.
- Most bottled water is filtered in some way.
Purified water is water that is essentially free of microbes and chemicals. This is achieved by reverse osmosis (forcing the water through a membrane to get rid of chemicals, minerals and microbes), ozonization (disinfecting water using ozone rather than a chemical), or distillation.
The EPA requires purified water to not contain more than 10 parts per million of total dissolved solids in order to be labeled purified water. Distilled water is a type of purified water. Salts, minerals, and other organic materials are removed by collecting the steam from boiling water. Distilled water is safe to drink.
But you’ll probably find it flat or bland. That’s because it’s stripped of important minerals like calcium, sodium, and magnesium that give tap water its familiar flavor. What’s left is just hydrogen and oxygen and nothing else. Distilled water is ideal for when purity is important.
Medical tools and procedures. Hospitals clean equipment with it to help avoid contamination and infections. Kidney dialysis machines use ultra-pure water to filter waste from blood, Lab tests, Nothing in distilled water reacts with or affects the accuracy of lab experiments. Cosmetics, If water is an ingredient in your moisturizer, deodorant, or shampoo, it’s almost always distilled. Automobiles, Since it lacks minerals, distilled water won’t corrode metal engine parts or interfere with batteries.
At home, you may want to reach for distilled water for cooking and several other reasons, including:
Infant formula, Mix it with infant formula if your baby has weak immunity, Otherwise, tap water is fine. CPAP machine. Fill the water chamber for a CPAP humidifier if you use it for sleep apnea, Many manufacturers recommend distilled water to make the humidifier last longer. Neti pot, Use it with a neti pot to clear your sinuses, Iron, Use it in your clothes iron to prevent scale buildup. Shampoo your hair, Fluoride, chlorine, and other additives in the water from your shower may dull your hair.
Distilled water lacks even electrolytes like potassium and other minerals your body needs. So you may miss out on a bit of these micronutrients if you drink only the distilled stuff. Some studies have found a link between drinking water low in calcium and magnesium and tiredness, muscle cramps, weakness, and heart disease,
Also, distilled water may not help you stay hydrated as well as other kinds of water. If you use distilled water for your fish tank, be sure to add a sea minerals supplement to the aquarium. Some coffee fans think that distilled water makes for a purer-tasting cup. But the Specialty Coffee Association of America says that a certain level of minerals is ideal in order to extract the best brew.
Unopened bottled distilled water from a store lasts basically forever. But stash it away from direct sunlight. And once it’s opened, be sure to close it up well after use. Certain germs can grow even in nutrient-poor distilled water.
Fill a large pot of water halfway.Tie a cup to the pot’s lid so the cup will hang rightside up inside the pot when the lid is shut. The cup should be high enough inside the pot that it does not touch the water. Boil the water for 20 minutes. Boiling creates vapor that rises and then condenses back into water. The water that drops from the lid into the cup is distilled.
Does Jack Daniels make moonshine?
From Moonshine To Whiskey: The History Of Jack Daniel’s TGR Staff – 09/20/2021 Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was the man behind, The story of how he created his first batch of moonshine is shrouded in myth and legend, but what we do know is that by 1866 Jack had built a whiskey distillery on Lynchburg’s main street.
- He named it after himself so people would remember him as the legendary figure who put Tennessee Whiskey on the map.
- Jack left home in 1864 and had was taken in by Reverend Dan Call, on top of being a pastor, Dan, and his slave were known for making whiskey.
- It was here at the Call family farm that he learned the art of distilling.
A few years later Jack would hire Nearest to be the Head Distiller at Jack Daniel’s. Jack even opened two bars in Lynchburg’s town square, the White Rabbit and Red Dog saloons. As a successful businessman, Jack had a taste for the finer things in life and was known to be a dapper dresser, he also carried a pocket watch.
- In 2000, his 1892 Patek Philippe pocket was sold at auction to the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, Switzerland where it is on display.
- In 1904, Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 takes the gold medal at the World’s Fair in St.
- Louis, Missouri.
- Jack wouldn’t see many of the awards, in 1906 after being unable to open his safe, Jack kicks it out of frustration.
The kick broke his toe and the resulting injury and infection was something he would never fully recover from. Some claim that this is just a tall tale, but it is the official story according to the distillery. Since Jack had never married or had children, he would pass control of the company over to his nephews in 1907.
Jack would pass away in 1911 at the age of 62. Jack’s nephew Lem Motlow bought out his brother and would go on to run the company for the next 40 years. Just a few years after inheriting the distillery, Motlow would face the unexpected, a state law in Tennesee baring the production and sale of alcoholic beverages.
They happened to be in one of the first states to enact prohibition. The ban on drinking would go nationwide in 1920. When Federal prohibition ended in 1933, Tennessee kept it in place statewide, it would take Lem Motlow running for the state senate to push through legislation to lift the statewide ban in 1937.
- This allowed Motlow to reopen his family’s distillery and resume production of Jack Daniel’s No.7.
- But just two short years later a new law would pass, called “local option” allowing each county to decide whether or not to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages.
- Moore County, home of Jack Daniel’s decided to become a dry county, leaving America’s oldest registered distillery in a dry county.
The history of Jack Daniel’s and Tennessee whiskey is long, but it’s one that deserves to be told. We hope you found this article interesting; if so, please share it with your friends! To learn more about the world of bourbon and American whiskeys in general, make sure to check out some other articles under “.” : From Moonshine To Whiskey: The History Of Jack Daniel’s
How long does moonshine take to distill?
How Quickly Can You Make Moonshine? – The quickest you can properly make moonshine is about two weeks. However, you really should let mash ferment for at least a week itself, so the best moonshine will usually take closer to a month to complete. Moonshine recipes all have their own timelines, so this may vary depending on what you want to make.