Making Moonshine 4 Dummies

Perfect Booze Every Time

Sections Covered
  1. Making a Fermenter
  2. Picking a Wash Recipe & Making The Wash
  3. Distilling The Wash in a Still

#1: Making a Fermenter

Things you will need:

Setting up your bubbler and ferment container
First you will have to put a hole in the top of your container that is just smaller than the diameter of the clear plastic hose you have chosen to use for you bubbler.

Next you will have to make your bubbler out of a 2 liter pop bottle.  You will need to make 2 holes in the lid or the pop bottle.  Make one hole the same size as the one you made in the container lid.  The second hole can be smaller since it is used to let out escaping gasses during the fermenting process.

To set up your bubbler put 2" of water in the bottom of your bottle.  Place cap on the bottle and slide the clear plastic hose though the cap until it is about 1" from the bottom of the bottle. The end of the hose should be about 1" below the water level.  Now you have one of the best air lock bubblers there is.

#2: Picking a Wash Recipe
& Making The wash

Important: Use distilled water for making your wash or expose your water to sunlight for at least 24 hours before using.

Tip: Never make a batch larger than 40 gallons unless you have a chiller for your mash.  The fermenting will produce too much heat and kill your yeast before fermentation is complete.

These recipes are the ones we like the best.  Please keep in mind that your yields may very from ours depending on ther percentage you ferment and the rate you distill them.  They type of yeast you use will affect the percentages and yields you achieve.

Corn Whiskey and Moonshine

This is for a 15 gallon batch
Divide by 3 to make a 5 gallon batch

Ingredients needed:
  • 20 Pounds of cracked corn
  • 20 Pounds of cane sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons of Amylase Enzyme
  • 2 Packs Turbo Yeast
  • ½ lbs to ¾ lbs toasted white oak chips
  • Distilled Water

Note: Make sure your container is clean!!

Tip: Always leave 4" of open space in your fermenter.  Do not fill all the way to the top of your container.

(In your container)
  • Cover your cracked corn with hot (165º) water and let soak for about 90 minutes.
  • Discard the kernals that float to the top.
  • Mix in the Amylase Enzyme.
  • Completely dissolve the sugar into the mixture.
  • Add warm water to your container until  it reaches 4" from the top.
  • Make sure the temperature of the mixture is not above 94º (92º is recommended)
  • Check your mixture with your hydrometer, it should show close to 18% to 20% fermentable ABV.
  • Add the Turbo Yeast
  • Mix gently so there are no large clumps of yeast
  • Cover and attach the bubbler that you made
  • Allow to ferment until the bubbler slows to 2 or 3 bubbles per minute or when you have reached a fermentable level with your hydrometer that is 18% less than your original reading or hydrometer reads 2-3% ABV
  • Strain out the corn and squish all the extra liquid 
  • Put in your still and distill for full flavor

When using bakers yeast use less sugar.  Add sugar and check with your hydrometer until you have a fermentable alcohol level of no more than 14% ABV.  Bakers yeast will only ferment to 12% ABV.  The other 2% of sugar will add a nice sweetness to your corn whiskey.

Using whiskey yeast will give you the finest taste.  Do not have a hydrometer reading of over 10% ABV. Very little sugar will be needed to do this.  You should not ferment this above 8.5% ABV for the finest Whiskey.

After distilling your whiskey check with your hydrometer.  Your readings should be between 92% to 97%.  Cut with distilled water to 65% ABV.

Note: By not using toasted white oak chips you will have what they call White Lighting or Moonshine

Add your toasted white oak chips to your distilled corn whiskey and let set for at least 7 days.  The longer the better.  You can let it set for years if you want to.  When ready, strain through cheese cloth and add more distilled water until you corn whiskey reaches 50% ABV and bottle and enjoy some of the finest corn whiskey!

Making Your Own Toasted White Oak Chips

Obtain white oak fire wood.  One piece will give you a lot of chips.  Use a hatchet to chop ¼" to ½" wide splinters that are 6" to 10" long.  Put them on your grill and slowly burn them on all sides until completely black with carbon.  Do not let them catch fire .  This can also be done in your oven by placing them on an a foil covered cookie sheet.  Pay attention not to let them catch fire and damage your oven.  The are ready to use now and can be stored until ready to use.

Turbo Burbon:
When you first add your corn and soak it
Add 20% by volume malted barley
Add 10% by volume rye

Other Ingredients Alternates

Kentucky Sweet Mash
  • 20 L water (5 gal)
  • 2 kg (4½ lbs) corn meal
  • 50 g malted grain

Ian Smile's Corn Whiskey
  • 20 L Water
  • 3.5 kg (8lbs) flaked maize
  • 750 g (1½ lbs) crushed malted grain

Moonshine 'Old John Barley'
  • 20 L water (5 gal)
  • 2 kg (4½ lbs) crushed corn
  • 700 g (1½ lbs) crushed barley
  • 300 g (¾ lb) malt syrup
  • 1 kg (2½ lbs) molasses

  • 20 L water (5 gal)
  • 3 kg (7 lbs) crushed grain
  • 10 lbs sugar

  • 20 L water (5 gal)
  • 6 kg uncooked corn meal
  • .6 L malted corn

Turbo Stomper's World Famous Rum

Use a clean 15 gallon barrel.  Make sure you wash it first!!

Turbo Rum
This rum is better than any and every name-brand rum!  You can have some of the most exotic flavored rums in the world all from the same wash when you use a still with structured packing in a thumper.

  • 2 Gallons of Black Strap Molasses (black strap is feed grade note store bought)
  • 15 Pounds Cane Sugar
  • 2 packs Turbo Yeast
  • Distilled Water

You will need a 20 quart pot to start mixing the mash in.  We have found for this recipe the initial mixing is easier to pour into out 15 gallon barrel by mixing in smaller amounts.  We pour about ¾ of a gallon of theblack strap molasses into the 20 quart pot and then about 5 lbs of cane sugar and fill with 95º water to about 4" from the top of the stock pot and stir until all is disolved. Repeat until you have mixed all the ingredients except the yeast.

Next add water an bring the water temperature to 92º.  Add your 2 packets of Turbo Yeast, mix gently until the yeast has no large clumps.  Cover with your lid and attach the bubbler.  It should start bubbling in a few hours.

You should ferment until you have 2 to 3 bubbles in your bubbler per minute or until your hydrometer reads 2-4% ABV.

Load your still with your wash and start distilling.

Making Exotic Flavored Rum
This can ONLY BE DONE with a still with a thumper and structured packing.
Our favorite type of flavored rum is orange flavored. You can add virtually any flavor you like during the distilling.  You can make make sever flavors per run. No one else offers this distilling unit.

We will use an orange in this example. Grate the orange zest (orange part) from your orange.  The white pith will cause a foul flavor.  Place Zest in a dish.  Cut orange in half and squeeze juice into dish.

When you start distilling place the juice and zest into your structured packing.  You should start collecting within 2-5 minutes.  You will not believe the flavor.

To add other natural flavors can be made by crushing them with the juices.  Add the crushed substance to the top of the structured packing and pour in the juice.  Please make sure you empty the old flaver from the Turbo Thumper before adding new flavors.

Vodka From Sugar

This is the easiest wash to make by far.  It is very simple and you will get vodka that will rival the most respected vodkas sold today.

This will make 15 gallons of wash.

Ingredients needed:
  • 30-40 pounds of cane sugar
  • 2 packs of Turbo Yeast High Alcohol
  • Distilled Water

Use a 20 quart stock pot to dissolve about 10 lbs of cane sugar in 95º water. Pour into a 15 gallon barrel. Repeat until all the cane sugar has been disolved.  Fill the remainder of the space in the barrel with warm water, adjusting water temperture to 92º in the barrel.

Check the mixture with your hydrometer.  You should be just about 20% AVB.  Add the yeast and gently stir until all the big clumps of yeast are dissolved.  Cover, attach bubbler and ferment for about 3 days or until it bubble bubbles 2-3 times per minute or your hydrometer reaches 0-3% ABV.  Place it in your still and distill.

Gin Alterates:
Once your vodka run is started and established, we add ¼ to 1/3 cup of crushed Juniper Berries to the top of the structured packing in the thumper of the still. The Juniper Berries should not be finely crushed This will allow you to collect about 1 quart of Gin at about 92% ABV.  If you would like to collect more than this, empty your thumper, add some of your already distilled spirits to cover the down spout tube and put another ¼ to 1/3 cup of crushed Juniper Berries on the packing.

Working with Enzymes

We have found that Amylase Enzyme will convert starch to sugar.  This will work with corn, rice and potatoes.

For Corn We use about 4 tablespoons of Amylase with about 20 lbs of cracked corn.  Soak your corn in warm (100º+) for 3-4 hours, spoon off the bad floating white kernels.  Mix in the Amylase. Remix every 20 minutes for an hour.  Add your yeast and mix until there are no clumps of yeast.  The starch will convert to sugar as you ferment.

For Rice We par boil the rice until it is about ¾ cooked, make sure youhave water, the rice will continue to absorb water.  Put about 6 tablespoons of Amylase per 10 lbs of rice and mix every 20 minutes for an hour.  Add your yeast and mix until there are no clumps of yeast.  The starch will convert to sugar as you ferment.

For Potatoes Take 10 lbs of clean potatoes with the peel on and cut them into 1' pieces. Par boil them.  You want them to still be a little hard in the middle, not completely cooked.  Lightly mash them til the resemble a baked potato that you have mashed a few times with your fork.  Cove them with 100º+ water.  Add 6-8 tablespoons of Amylase and mix every 20 minutes for 1 hour.  Add your yeast and mix until there are no clumps of yeast.  The starch will convert to sugar as you ferment.

Active Carbon

We use only active carbon. There are 2 types of active carbon, regular and coconut, either will work. Do not use active carbon from the fish store.  You can get active carbon at or at a water softener store.

When to use carbon We use it when our alcohol is cloudy or tastes funny or when when we run a batch of end runs that we have saved.

You should rinse your carbon extremely well with boiling water.  You can reuse carbon 10-12 times by boiling it in a clean pot.  You should be able to filter 5-6 gallons per use before cleaning it.  You should clean it when ever you switch between alcohol to another.

Making A Carbon Filter
  • 36 inch PVC pipe 1½" diameter
  • 1½ PVC cap
  • Small piece of window screen
  • funnel
  • 4" c-clamp
  • 6" c-clamp
  • Clean Bucket

Drill a ¼" hole in the center of the PVC cap.
Cut screen so that it will fit securely in the inside of the cap.
Place the cap (with screen) on one end of the PVC pipe.
Fill the tube with washed carbon till it is 4" from the top.
Attach the 4"c-clamp to the side of the tube, keeping the tube to the back inside of the clamp, tighten the clamp so the screw part hits the outside of the tube approx 12-16" from the top.
Set the edge of the 4" clamp on counter top and use the 6" clamp to hold it in place.  Use funnel to to put your spirits through carbon and a clean bucket to catch that you pour in.

Steps: Tips and Tricks on Operating a Still

First I would like to put in a nutshell what distilling is.  Distilling is seperating different substances by boiling them at different temperatures.  Everything has a different boiling point or temperature.  Water boils and makes steam at 212º.  Alcohol/ethanol boils and makes steam at 172º.  There are several other compounds and substance in a moonshine and all other washes.  When these coumpounds are mixed, (water & alcohol)their boiling point will increase.  So we could say, because there is water mixed with the alcohol, the boiling point will increase to 182º.  You will find that humidity and altitude will effect this also.

There is also a very small amount of methanol and a very small amount of acetone.  The methanol and acetone boil at a lower temperature than water or alcohol.  This is why we reccomend not using the first 100 ml of you distilling.  You can use this discard as cleaning fluid.

Loading the Boiler and Starting the Still

If you have a new still, make sure to run a few batches of water though it before you begin distilling.  This will clean any building materials left behind during constuction.

If you have a still with an internal heat source (electric) you should always strain the grain and solids before putting them in your still.  The grains will burn and stick to the element and give you a nasty flavor.  Try pouring them through an old pillow case to strain them, then squeeze out the remaining liquid.

You should bring up the still to operating temperature slowly.  We have a trick we use.  We put pieces of a broken clay flower pot in the bottom of the boiler first, this helps to keep the wash from scorching.

Alway keep 4-6" of free space in the top your boiler when adding your wash.  The wash will expand as it heats and will fill your column ther might be some foaming action also as the wash heats that will fill your column.  This is not good.

Ok, your boiler is loaded.  This is a big trick.  Add 2 tablespoons of kosher or NON-Iodized salt to the wash when it is in the boiler.  The salt will raise the boiling point of the water and not effect the boiling temperature of the alcohol.  This will allow you to collect more and for longer.

Seal you still and connect the hoses.  Run a test on your cooling system to make sure there are no leaks.  Now you are ready to turn on the heat.

Turn your water on to a slow trickle.  You can turn the cooling water on and off during the whole procees or leave it on a slow trickle.  Feel the condenser during the run, if its cool, your all set.  When it gets warm or hot to the touch turn on the water to cool or increase the amount of the trickle of cooling water.  This will give you maximum condensing with your still.

If you have any solids in your boiler, bring the temperature up slowly. NO HIGH HEAT

Once you have reached 172º, turn down your heat some and the temperature will slowly rise until you start collecting.  This should be around 182-185º.  Then then turn down the temperature a bit more.  Your still will stabilize and start producing.  You should adjust the temperature so you get steady drips out of your still, just under a steady stream.

Operation Heads, Middle Run, Tails

Now your run is started and you have discarded the first 100 ml.

The heads:  They have lots of flavor, If you let a few drips on the back of your fingernail you will see they feel a bit slippery.  Collect about 200 ml of these, Then empty your thumper.  Pour this 200 ml into the thumper and ad the packing.  re-attach the thumper.  In about 2-4 minutes you should start collecting again.  This is good, pure alcohol.   You can collect about a pint or so and keep it seperate.  You will use this later to mix for your flavor of your distilling.

The Middle Run: Now that you are collecting, your temperature has stabilized and you should be around 184º.  As the alcohol comes off and you collect it, the temperature will slowly rise.  You can collect all the way to 192º or so, until you have to start to worry about the Tails.  Feel the alcohol with a few drops on your fingernail.  It will not be slippery at all.  If you want to ad natural flavor, this is the time to do it.  Please see the Adding Natural Flavor section for this.  If you put a few drops on a plate and light it, it will burn blue and you will not be able to see it in the light.

The Tails:  Your temperature is  about 192º or so now.  This is the tails.  There is good flavor in the tails.  You should get a new collection jar at this point.  Feel a few drops on your fingernail again and you will see that they are starting to get slippery again.  Use your hydrometer to test the ABV of your product.  As the end of the run comes closer the ABV will start to drop.  For consumption, we collect it at about 60% ABV.  The rest we collect and save to add to our next batch until the ABV is less than what we have fermented to.  Example, we fermented this batch to 18% ABV so we collect to 18% ABV and save it to put in our next boiler load when we distill again.  This will help raise the ABV in the boiler for the next run.  DO NOT add this to your fermenter.

If you put a few drops of this on a plate and light it it will burn reddish orange and you will be able to see it in the light.

It is always very important to take the top off your boiler when you stop distilling, otherwise as the still cools will create a vacuum and implode.  This will damage the still and create a big mess.

Cutting Your Alcohol

We like to cut our alcohol to 50% ABV or 100 proof.  We use distilled water for this.  You can either distill the water yourself in your still or buy it at the grocery store.  If you would like to add artificial flavors, this is the time to do it.  Now we bottle our alcohol.

Still got a question? contact or give us a call.