Since the prohibition era, moonshine stills have been producing a clear and biting alcohol illicitly consumed and sold across the U.S. But, how exactly are these stills making moonshine?
Whether you have a passion for distilling and want to sell your drinks in different types of marketplaces, or are just looking to create a drink for your own consumption, there's a lot that goes into distilling moonshine.
Keep reading to learn how moonshine is made, what moonshine mash is, and some popular cocktails that use the drink.
How Do You Make Moonshine?
The moonshine distilling process is fairly straightforward, even if it is a bit time-consuming.
Before we start, remember, distilling your own alcohol whether for sale or personal consumption is illegal in the U.S. without the proper permits. This information is for educational purposes only.
With that in mind, here is how you make moonshine:
- Create moonshine mash. We'll go over a full recipe below, but you'll need to create a mash consisting of yeast, your sugary grain, and any flavorings. This step is the quickest and easiest, but also has the greatest impact on the end result. Do your research and pick the right ingredients to end up with the flavor you want.
- Ferment the mash. Like other types of alcohol, moonshine requires a long fermentation process to maximize the flavor and alcohol production. Your mash needs to be stored at room temperature for at least one or two weeks to ensure the final product comes out properly. We strongly recommend buying a hydrometer for this step, so you can start distilling at the best time.
- Distill. Possibly the simplest step in the process, you now take your fermented mash and heat it up. The distillation process will separate the alcohol and the solid mash into two separate containers through steam and tubing. The key is to get the drip rate to around 2-5 drips per second.
- Collect the distillate. You now need to separate the liquids that came out of the distillation. The first 5% is called the foreshots and must be disposed of because they may contain methanol. The next 30%, called heads, is also likely too alcoholic and not consumable. Now you come to the hearts, which is what you're looking for as it's the good stuff worth drinking.
- Store your moonshine. Moonshine needs to be stored properly to avoid running into issues with leakage or going bad. Buy different liquor bottle sizes to suit your needs and store them in a cool, dry place. Now you've got delicious and usable moonshine!
How to Make a Moonshine Still
Moonshine cannot be made without a still, so it's important you build or buy one that can get the job done. There are multiple types available, but the simplest is a "pot" still. To create a pot still, you need three basic components.
First, you need a large pot to heat the moonshine mash in. Next, you need a condenser. This is a container of water and ice that collects and cools alcohol steam, extracting it from the mash. Finally, you'll need a jar or other glass container to receive the distilled alcohol. These items can all generally be found at any cooking or hardware store.
How to Make Moonshine Mash
How you craft your moonshine mash recipe will have a major impact on the final result in both flavor and quality.
Here's how to make moonshine mash:
- Measure and weigh all ingredients.
- Place the mash pot on the burner and heat.
- Pour 5 gallons of water into the pot and boil it to 165°F.
- Turn off heat and stir in flaked corn maize or chosen sugary grain.
- Stir for about 7 minutes.
- Stir for 30 seconds every 5 minutes until mash cools to 152°F.
- Stir in crushed malted barley.
- Stir for 30 seconds every 20 minutes until mash cools to 70°F.
- Add yeast.
- Aerate mash by transferring between containers for 5 minutes.
- Pour into a fermentation bucket.
Moonshine Recipes and Cocktails
Moonshine is noted for having a high alcohol by volume, or ABV. This is the percentage of a drink’s volume that is pure alcohol. This number indicates the alcohol strength of a drink and is used in part for making popular cocktails and comparing different types of alcohol.
As such, the best moonshine recipes take this into account and try to balance the alcoholic bite with some sweeter flavors.
Moonshine Mash Recipe
While there is no standardized recipe for moonshine mash, you can generally approach it in the same way. The most important thing is to get a grain of fruit that has a high sugar content and yeast.
These are the ingredients you need to make moonshine mash:
- 5 gallons of water
- 8 1/2 lbs of flaked corn maize
- 2 2/5 lbs of crushed malted barley
- Fruits or spices for flavor
Peach Moonshine Recipe
Peach moonshine isn't actually a flavored moonshine, it's a delicious cocktail that uses moonshine as an ingredient. The key is to boil peach slices, grape juice, cinnamon sticks, and sugar together. Then strain and add to a container with moonshine and Schnapps.
With that in mind, these are the ingredients you need to make peach moonshine:
- 2 bottles of white grape juice
- 8 peeled and sliced peaches
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1 bottle of moonshine
- 1 bottle of Peach Schnapps
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Make Moonshine
People have been distilling their own moonshine in America since at least the Prohibition era. However, this also means there are many misconceptions about how to distill moonshine that leads many people to have questions.
If you have questions about the distilling process or are learning about it for the first time, you’re in the right place. We researched frequently asked questions about how to make moonshine, so you don’t need to. Take a look at our answers below:
Why Is Homemade Moonshine Illegal?
Homemade moonshine is illegal due to its high alcohol content. Generally, federal tax income from spirits is much higher than on other beverages, so they have a vested interest in preventing home distilling. That's why it's legal to brew your own wine and beer at home with little government intervention.
How Quickly Can You Make Moonshine?
The quickest you can properly make moonshine is about two weeks. However, you really should let mash ferment for at least a week itself, so the best moonshine will usually take closer to a month to complete. Moonshine recipes all have their own timelines, so this may vary depending on what you want to make.
Is Moonshine a Felony?
Yes, getting caught making moonshine is a felony punishable by both jail time and a fine. However, the severity of the punishment varies by state and you may also be able to get a permit to legally produce the drink. You can even make online liquor sales with the proper licensing.
Moonshine On Me
Distilling moonshine can be a time-consuming and arduous process, but the end result will make it all worth it. Just make sure to follow the laws and permitting procedures required and pay attention to your inventory levels. That's why we recommend having an inventory management system in place, like BinWise Pro.
BinWise Pro is an all-in-one inventory management system that helps you manage your wine program more effectively and successfully. It keeps track of every bottle’s expiration dates and shelf time. The system will alert you when a bottle is about to pass its drink-by date, so you never waste your inventory again. Contact us today to learn more about BinWise Pro and how it can help your bar.
The content of this article is for educational purposes only and BinWise does not advocate for the illegal distilling of moonshine or any other alcoholic beverages.