How To Moonshine

Fermenting &
Distilling Basics
Making Equipment
How to Make Moonshine Using Sugar How to Make Moonshine Using Grain Moonshine Recipes

Preparing a Sugar Wash

Sugar based washes are by far the easiest to prepare for distilling moonshine and produce reliable results with minimal effort. When we refer to a wash as a sugar based wash on this web site we are really referring to any wash that has freely fermentable sugars available without any malting or mashing required. That might be considered by many experienced home brewers (and moonshiners) to be perhaps a little too broad as far as definitions are concerned, however we feel that it makes things easier for the reader to understand as the last thing we want to do is weigh everyone down with too much technical jargon.

The main fermentable sugars used in home brew and distilling moonshine are maltose, glucose, fructose and sucrose amongst others and these can be found in quite a few different sources that can be fermented readily. Table sugar in its many forms, white sugar, raw sugar, castor sugar and brown sugar would be without any doubt the most commonly used fermentable sugar in a sugar wash. White sugar and raw sugar are particular favourites for home distillation as they ferment well and are cheap and widely available. When fermented, distilled and passed through a carbon filter the resulting spirit is quite pure, tasteless and odorless making it ideal for use with spirit essences.

Molasses, a byproduct of processing sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into table sugar rates a mention at this point and it should be recognised as a key ingredient in rum along with raw sugar although it can be fermented by itself to make a raw spirit suitable for use with essences, bearing in mind that molasses has a very strong flavour and will need to be distilled to pure alcohol to remove most of its flavour. I personally keep molasses for rum making only and generally purchase it from rural suppliers in 20kg buckets when I need it. Molasses is commonly used as a stock feed.

Dextrose is another fermentable sugar that has gained popularity and it is readily found at your local home brew supplier however price wise it is significantly more expensive to use than white sugar. When fermented, distilled and carbon filtered it is also ideal for use with spirit essences and many home distillers claim it is superior to sugar as far as taste and odour is concerned. I personally feel the difference is not worth the additional expense.

Fruits and vegetables also can contain fermentable sugars that are readily available and affordable if they are in season, apples, pears, juniper berries, mulberries, plums potatoes, blue agava and others are routinely used in commercially produced alcoholic beverages as well as in moonshine. The limit is your imagination and what is available around you at the time.

There are two ways you might prepare a sugar wash depending on its nature. For a true sugar wash, for example a wash containing 25 litres of water and 8kg of white or raw sugar simply combine the two ingredients together in a fermenter, pitch the yeast and let it ferment. White sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, castor sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin and molasses should be mixed with plain drinking water at a rate of about 1kg of sugar to 3 litres of water. Be aware that mixing your sugars and water together at this rate will require a good quality turbo yeast or distillers yeast with a high alcohol tolerance to ferment right out and if all of the sugars are utilized the resulting wash will be about 20% alcohol. If you cant get your hands on a yeast strain that can handle this level of alcohol then reduce the rate to 1kg of sugar to 4 litres of water. A winemaking yeast such as Lalvin EC-1118 is your next best bet for alcohol tolerance and is a better choice than a beer making yeast. Dont even think about using a bakers yeast unless you have absolutely no choice.

If you are using a fruit or vegetable as a source of fermentable sugar for your wash you will need to use a cider press, juice extractor, juicer or blender to convert the raw plant into a juice that the yeast will be able to populate. It is quite possible to use packaged juices as a source of fermentable sugar providing it has no preservatives as they may kill your yeast. If you use package juices make sure that the label says fruit juice not fruit drink, there is a difference. Quantities and resulting alcohol strengths vary depending on what you use as a source of fermentable sugar. If you juice apples using a cider press (or use a packaged juice) and ferment it you will get a dry apple cider thats about 5-7% alcohol. If you then distill it (apple schnapps anyone?) the quantity of alcohol you yield will not be as high as the sugar wash we spoke of above. You might consider fortifying it with additional sugars before fermentation, such as dextrose or white sugar.