How To Moonshine

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

Moonshine Making Equipment

There is no doubt that when you learn how to moonshine you will save a lot of money over buying commercially made spirits regardless of whether you choose to make your own fine whiskey or some good old fashioned rotgut. The initial outlay for the required equipment is higher than for other forms of home brewing however we can consider it a bonus that the fermentation equipment can be used for making cider and home brew beer as well and even all grain beer brewing, making it a more of a universal home brewing kit than one specifically for home distillation of spirits.

All of the equipment that you need to make moonshine can be made at home if you have access to the right materials but some items such as the still itself require some skills such as welding or soldering that might be a steep learning curve for those who are not well practiced at these things. Shop around for a still and compare the cost of buying one to the raw materials required to make one and you might find that the economics fall to buying rather than building, particularly more complex types of stills such as reflux or fractionating stills. Things like fermenters are definetely cheaper to buy than to cobble together and you can be assured that they are made out of materials suitable for use with alcohol, which can degrade some plastics quite quickly and possibly make your home brew quite toxic.

There is some moonshine making equipment that you will require as an absolute necessity and other things that might make the process of making moonshine easier. What is necessary depends on what you intend to make, there is a growing trend towards making neutral spirits and using spirit essences to flavour it. This allows the moonshiner to make one easy to produce spirit, usually from a sugar wash, and flavour it to produce alcoholic beverages that taste like bourbon, rum, whiskey, scotch, vodka, schnapps, brandy and many more. Notice that I said that these essences make the spirit taste like a particular spirit rather than stating that it makes a particular spirit. Essences are made to flavour a neutral and otherwise tasteless spirit so that the neutral spirit mimics the taste of your chosen poison. Most of them do this particularly well but a bourbon made from neutral spirit and a flavouring is not a bourbon, it is something that tastes like bourbon. I hope I have conveyed the difference effectively there. I dont have a problem with essences I must add, I use and drink them all the time.

If all you intend to do is make a neutral spirit and flavour it then the barest minimum you will need is a fermenter and a still. Either a fractionating, reflux or pot still will do the job. A plastic mixing spoon, some buckets to transfer water and a few glass demijohns (say three) to catch your moonshine and an alcometer and you can jump right in and start making moonshine. This equipment is all that is required to make a neutral spirit and perhaps a few other things besides that are made using ingredients that contain fermentable sugars.

If you are going to make real whiskey, bourbon or anything else that has grains such as malted barley, rye, wheat etc as a key ingredient then there is additional step required to make these called mashing. Grain based spirits require a mashing step to unlock the starches contained in the grain by converting them into fermentable sugars and this may require just a little extra equipment. A picnic cooler or esky makes a fantastic mash tun or you may prefer to use a beer boiler. Some may be lucky and be able to use the boiler on the still for mashing. There are a few different ways you can mash your grains and all I can suggest is that you have a read of this site particularly the fermenting and distilling basics section and decide for yourself which method you want to try and which equipment you will elect to use.

Some other things such as hydrometers are not really an absolute necessity but can be very useful, though I must point out that an alcometer, even though it is a type of hydrometer, is a must have so that you can determine the strength of your finished spirit. Not everyone works in the same way either and you may find for example that a syphon would be a handy thing to have or perhaps some extra clean buckets. As you learn how to moonshine you will develop your own techniques and methodology. Go with what works and most importantly what works best for you.