How To Moonshine

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

Mixing a Sugar Wash

Our example sugar wash that we will use to make moonshine will be mixed directly in the fermenter so the very first step is to sterilize everything, fermenter, fermenters lid, airlock, mixing spoon, water buckets and anything else that may come into contact with your wash or your equipment. Soak your moonshine making equipment in unscented regular bleach diluted at a rate of around one cup per sixty litres of water for at least half an hour. If you are using a sterilizing agent bought from a home brew supplier follow the dilution rates that should be on its packaging. It wouldnt hurt to give yourself a wash too as if you havent showered for a few days you may be surprised what you are carrying around with you. Or perhaps not.

The need for hygiene is important during all aspects of making moonshine but particularly critical in the steps leading up to fermentation as this is the point where your wash is particularly apealing to wild yeasts and bacteria. All that free food lying around is an opportunity that most of these undesirables simply could not ignore and infection may result in an off tasting finished product or a low alcohol yield and most likely both.

Most sugar washes can be prepared directly in the fermenter which is a plus as far as convenience is concerned. Once your fermenter and other equipment has soaked in the sterilizing agent for a suitable length of time rinse it thoroughly in drinking water and allow it to drain for a few minutes. Be careful where you put it down as it can easily become infected from dirty surfaces. I sterilize an extra bucket just so that I can put small things like fermenter taps, airlocks, mixing spoons and the like inside it so that none of these things come into contact with surfaces that are not sterile.

Its time to get started so while your equipment is draining boil at least two litres of water, whatever your kettle holds will probably be enough as this water is only going to be used to make mixing the sugar into the water easier and unless its the dead of winter or your water supply is particularly cold we dont want to run the risk of raising the temperature of the finished wash above 25°C or so as we will have to wait for it to cool before pitching the yeast. If you are in a location where the water is particularly cold you will need to factor this in as it is equally important not to pitch the yeast into a cold mixture. If it is going to be colder than 18°C you should definetely adjust the temperature of the mixture with hot water to get it as close to 25°C as possible.

Our example sugar wash is a very cheap and simple recipe, 8kg of sugar (either white or raw sugar), 25 litres of water and of course a good turbo yeast such as Samuel Willards or Still Spirits brands offer. If a turbo yeast is not available then you may need to reduce the amount of sugar you use in the wash as when mixed in this quantity you will end up with a wash that is about 20% alcohol if all of the sugar is fermented out.

Add the two litres of boiling water to the fermenter and then add another two litres of tap water. Open your bags of sugar and pour them directly into the fermenter, stirring the mixture after each bag. In my instance I used four 2kg bags of raw sugar. By the last bag the mixture will be quite thick but you should still be able to stir it, if only just. Top the fermenter up to the 25 litre mark (so it is holding 25 litres of sugar water) with water and stir for about 15 seconds just to make sure the wash is fairly well mixed.

Other fermentable sugars such as brown sugar or even molasses can be mixed in the same fashion. I have read some literature that suggests that molasses should be boiled first to kill any resident wild yeasts that may be residing in it but not active. I have not found this to be necessary in practice partly perhaps because the nature of molasses is such that wild yeasts have a difficult time colonising it if it is undiluted and partly because turbo yeasts tend to be competition killers that ferment the sugars out of the wash in the time it takes many wild yeasts to take hold. Depending on how thick the molasses is you might need to use a little extra hot water to get it mixed in well.

Once you have the wash well mixed and have topped the fermenter up to the 25 litre mark with fresh water you are ready to move to the next step and pitch the yeast so that fermentation may commence.