Distilling your own moonshine is a funny mix of pure science, magic and luck!
By getting the science part right you can make your own magic and luck and enjoy a rewarding hobby for the rest of your life.
In my humble opinion, most people who gave up home distilling were too hard on themselves. The fast majority of first time moonshiners expected too much of themselves and their equipment. They did not have the patience to go through the whole learning process and expected perfect results the first time. To add to their misery, their first attempt to distil moonshine were too ambitious and they attempted a full grain mash right out of the gate! A good collection of bad factors that will certainly set you up for failure.
My advice is ” GO EASY ON YOURSELF“!
To learn the principles of fermentation start with a simple sugar wash (water, sugar & yeast) and you are almost guaranteed success. The whole fermentation process will take less than a week and you will learn to do sterilization, temperature control, hygiene control and gravity measurements. From the outset get yourself into the habit of working clean and hygienic.
Know your still and what you can expect from it. Do not expect a pot still to give you 95% ABV and likewise do not expect a reflux still to give you a lot of flavour. It is horses for courses.
Do not let do-good wise-asses discourage you with advice that only serves do demonstrate their superiority/knowledge and does not satisfy your needs. Choose your tutors wisely!
To get your head around the science part of making moonshine please read the following publications (you will NEVER regret it):
- THE COMPLEAT DISTILLER (Nixon & McCaw)
- Home Distillation Handbook (Ola Norrman)
- Craft of Whiskey Distilling (Bill Owens)
- The Alaskan Bootlegger’s Bible (Leon W. Kania).
A last word of advice is to KEEP RECORDS! I know it is a pain in the bum, but it is the only way to make sure you do not repeat your mistakes and to know what you did to make the magic happen!!
Enjoy the journey to 78°s.
Lawrence (Kiwi Moonshiner)