Step 2: Wrap the Thermometer with Teflon Tape – Originally, we were just going to wrap the thermometer with Teflon tape to create an airtight seal but decided we wanted to secure this thing in place even more with some hot glue (rated for high temps). You could probably get away with just using hot glue at the end of the day and ditching the Teflon.
What materials are used to make a still?
Application – Since ethanol boils at a much lower temperature than water, simple distillation can separate ethanol from water by applying heat to the mixture. Historically, a copper vessel was used for this purpose, since copper removes undesirable sulfur -based compounds from the alcohol.
However, many modern stills are made of stainless steel pipes with copper linings to prevent erosion of the entire vessel and lower copper levels in the waste product (which in large distilleries is processed to become animal feed). Copper is the preferred material for stills because it yields an overall better-tasting spirit.
The taste is improved by the chemical reaction between the copper in the still and the sulfur compounds created by the yeast during fermentation. These unwanted and flavor-changing sulfur compounds are chemically removed from the final product resulting in a smoother, better-tasting drink. Old Ukrainian vodka still Zambian artisanal Kachasu still and cooler There is also an increasing usage of the distillation of gin under glass and PTFE, and even at reduced pressures, to facilitate a fresher product. This is irrelevant to alcohol quality because the process starts with triple distilled grain alcohol, and the distillation is used solely to harvest botanical flavors such as limonene and other terpene like compounds.
- The ethyl alcohol is relatively unchanged.
- The simplest standard distillation apparatus is commonly known as a pot still, consisting of a single heated chamber and a vessel to collect purified alcohol.
- A pot still incorporates only one condensation, whereas other types of distillation equipment have multiple stages which result in higher purification of the more volatile component (alcohol).
Pot still distillation gives an incomplete separation, but this can be desirable for the flavor of some distilled beverages, If a purer distillate is desired, a reflux still is the most common solution. Reflux stills incorporate a fractionating column, commonly created by filling copper vessels with glass beads to maximize available surface area,
- As alcohol boils, condenses, and reboils through the column, the effective number of distillations greatly increases.
- Vodka and gin and other neutral grain spirits are distilled by this method, then diluted to concentrations appropriate for human consumption.
- Alcoholic products from home distilleries are common throughout the world but are sometimes in violation of local statutes.
The product of illegal stills in the United States is commonly referred to as moonshine and in Ireland, poitín, However, poitín, although made illegal in 1661, has been legal for export in Ireland since 1997. Note that the term moonshine itself is often misused as many believe it to be a specific kind of high- proof alcohol that was distilled from corn, but the term can refer to any illicitly distilled alcohol.
Can you make a moonshine still out of steel?
How To Make Your Own Moonshine Still With a little soldering skill you can easily build your own moonshine pot still. There are five vital parts to your pot still:
Boiler Vapor Column Thermometer Condenser Collection Container
Boiler The boiler is used for heating up the wash / mash. A copper or stainless steel pot is all that is required for a boiler. Be sure to pick a pot that is large enough to hold your wash / smash. You also want to be able to create a tight seal around the lid of your pot to prevent the escape of alcohol vapors.
- At MoonshineStillPro we have boilers with copper domes that can serve as a starting point for your own homemade moonshine still.
- Vapor Column Any still must contain an adequate air space inside to allow alcohol vapors time to separate from water vapors.
- A tubular still column is commonly used to provide this space as the height assists the separation of vapors.
Copper should be the primary metal used for creating your vapor column because copper reacts with the steam vapors making your spirits taste better. We provide a wide range of copper tube sold by the foot, ideal for creating a vapor column. Thermometer It is important to monitor the temperature in your still.
- Alcohol vapors separate from the water vapors at 173 F.
- A thermometer is key to maintaining the proper temperature for distillation to occur.
- Condenser After the mash is heated in the boiler, the alcohol vapors pass up through the copper tube vapor column as steam and must be then cooled back into a liquid before exiting the still.
Most homemade stills use a tube within a tube water jacket type condenser for this purpose. These can be plumbed to any cool water source. A pump placed in a large container of water is commonly used. Alternately some distillers choose to employ a copper tube spiral known as a “worm” to function as the condenser.
The “worm” typically passes through a container of water which then cools the alcohol steam causing it to condense back into liquid form. Container for Moonshine Now that your alcohol is back in liquid form, have a receptacle to collect your homemade moonshine. Glass containers are the most common. Make sure you choose one large enough or have several available and switch out as each consecutive one is filled.
Mason jars have been the container of choice for many years. Now that you’ve learned the basics of how to make a pot still, you can get started with the fun hobby of moonshine distilling! If our “How to Make a Pot Still” guide seems like more labor than your up for check out our already made copper dome pot stills or browse our heritage copper moonshine stills,
How much alcohol is in homemade moonshine?
Typically, moonshine has an ABV of 40%. However, the ABV of moonshine can be even higher, reaching levels of anywhere from 60%-80%! When it comes to alcohol levels in a spirit, the distilling process is the defining factor.
How much does it cost to make a still?
Distilling equipment – Obviously, the distilling equipment you need will be one of the major investments you take in building your distillery. At the most basic level, you’re going to need a cooker (or mash tun), a fermenter, and a still. A cooker can cost roughly $11,000, a fermenter $6,500, and a still anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000,
What is the best still material?
Distilled Spirits (Whiskey, Vodka, Moonshine, Etc.) – Overall, copper is better for distilling spirits because the material removes sulfides from distillate, which produces a better tasting and smelling final product. Copper is definitely the better choice for products like Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Scotch, and traditional Rum, because of the sulfur reduction, as mentioned above.
These spirits are also most commonly distilled in pot stills (no reflux), which allows for lots of flavor to come through from the wash. Copper stills are great for high proof spirits like vodka too. Tito’s Vodka, for example, is distilled in a copper pot. However, vodka is best distilled in vessels with a reflux column, as it can be done quicker that way.
This isn’t to say that stainless stills can’t be used to distill spirits. In fact, a stainless pot with a copper column, or a 100% stainless still packed with copper mesh, are both excellent options for producing spirits. Remember, it is illegal to distill alcohol without the proper permits.
Does moonshine turn into whiskey?
What’s the Difference Between Whiskey and Moonshine? – Those who know a little bit about alcohol eventually ask the question “What’s the difference between whiskey and moonshine?” The short answer? Absolutely nothing. Both whiskey and moonshine have the same production process – give or take a few variables.
- Moonshine” came to be distinguished from whiskey for its illegal nature rather than it being a different type of alcohol – moonshine is just whiskey that hasn’t been taxed.
- The practice of making moonshine began early on in American history when the newly-established US government established a tax on liquor and spirits to help pay for the costs of the Revolution.
Feisty colonial whiskey fans, many of whom were farmers who supported their families in bad harvest years with their alcoholic product, refused to pay for the tax, leading to an underground whiskey trade. Moonshine making continued from then on up until Prohibition went into effect in 1920, when its popularity exploded.
Suddenly, because there was no legal whiskey available anywhere, moonshine was in high demand, and the distillers who were used to evading the law already began to make a fortune. The practice of using sugar as a base for moonshine became more common as distillers tried to stretch their profits further.
After Prohibition, moonshine’s popularity naturally fell until it became more or less known as a backwoods country phenomenon. Historically, the taste of moonshine was closer to vodka than it is to a dark-colored whiskey. That’s because moonshine was rarely if ever aged – the process of acquiring and storing oak barrels for aging would have been very difficult undercover.
The taste could vary, though, since there were no legal standards. That’s part of what made moonshine somewhat dangerous – not only for the distiller, who could get caught and thrown in jail, but also for the drinker, who could go blind if the distiller was careless or greedy and did not remove the methanol naturally generated by the distillation process.
Of course, Grand River Spirits is a legal distillery – so our “moonshine” labeling is simply a fun homage to American history and our roots in Southern Illinois. It also means we follow all industry best practices and our spirits are perfectly safe to drink (in moderation, of course).
Can whiskey be moonshine?
Throughout its storied past, moonshine has been called many things: shine, white lightning, hooch, fire water, white dog, or bathtub gin. Without regulation, there was no standardization to the methods or monikers of “moonshine”. Currently, to be called “moonshine”, there are some loose qualifications the spirit must meet.
Ultimately, moonshine is grain alcohol at its purest form. Moonshine was originally made in secret during the prohibition era and, to contemporary purists, it’s not considered “moonshine” unless it’s clandestine. However, most distilleries now legally produce moonshine, regardless of whether they bottle and sell a product labeled as “moonshine.” Whiskey, prior to aging, is moonshine! So, What is Moonshine? Moonshine is defined as a homemade, un-aged 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. For most of its history, moonshine was distilled in secret to avoid taxes and alcohol bans (specifically during the Prohibition Era). The term “moonshiner” was popularized in the 18 th century, where individuals deep in the woods of the Appalachia attempting to avoid being caught by police distilled under the light of the moon.
Corn Barley Wheat or Rye (optional) Yeast Water
While distillate or moonshine can be made from pretty much any type of grain, it originally was made from barley or rye. Moonshine at its purest form, is whiskey, or bourbon distillate. It is un-aged, high in proof, and clear in color. During the Prohibition Era, if grains were unavailable or too expensive, moonshiners would use white sugar which still gave them that alcohol “kick” they were looking for, but with a sweeter taste to it.
- Making moonshine has two main steps: fermentation and distillation.
- Fermentation is the process of yeast breaking down the sugars in the grains to produce alcohol.
- Once the fermentation process is complete, the “moonshine mash” (fermented grains and yeast) is sent to the still.
- As the temperature rises in the still, the steam is forced through the top of the still into the worm box.
The worm box is typically a barrel with cold water flowing through it and a metal coil pipe down the center. Alcohol vapors flow through the coil pipe where they cool and condense back into a liquid. The last part of distillation is the spout or valve that leads from the worm box to a bucket or steel drum.
Typically this would be sent through at least one filter, but potentially more. The “XXX” label, that has been popularized in moonshine imagery, was originally an indication of quality; each “X” represented a time that it had been distilled. Moonshine Today Moonshine has changed quite a bit since the backyard bottlers of Prohibition.
In 1933, U.S. alcohol production became legal, as long as you paid the appropriate taxes and had the correct permits. While this makes moonshine legal, you are still prohibited from distilling some at home. Why is this? Mainly for safety reasons. Distilling is a very precise chemical process that, when done incorrectly, can create a dangerous environment or produce a toxic libation.
- Governmental regulations are not just for tax purposes, but to protect the consumer from drinking something that could cause serious health issues.
- Unlike other spirits, legally produced moonshine can be made with any source material, at any proof, can have coloring and flavoring added – the works.
- There are no rules for its classification,” said Colin Blake, director of spirits education at the Moonshine University website,
With such a loose classification of this grain alcohol, many different flavored products can still be considered moonshine! At Jeptha Creed, we offer a high-proof original moonshine highlighting the traditional flavor profile, but made with modern distillation processes.
- All of our moonshines start with the same four grains as our flagship bourbon, featuring our heirloom Bloody Butcher Corn.
- If you’re less interested in this pure un-aged whiskey flavor, we have expanded into the modern spectrum of moonshine with a naturally-flavored lineup.
- Delicious moonshine flavors like apple pie, blackberry, cinnamon, and lemonade represent our ode to the history with a focus on the future.
Our moonshine is even sold in mason jars as a “hats off” to the non-regulated history it came from. Our line of moonshines are a far cry from the potentially deadly spirits that used to flow from homemade stills. Representing its full integration into the contemporary alcohol industry, moonshine now even has its own holiday! National Moonshine Day is on the first Thursday in June (June 2 nd of 2022).