Though US law allows you to make beer and wine at home for personal consumption, home distillation is illegal. Some states may grant liquor licenses to make hard alcohol and in other states, it is perfectly legal to buy, own and use a still so long as you’re not making moonshine. It is best to understand federal and state laws on owning and using distillation equipment. Make sure you have the necessary permit before attempting to make your own whiskey.
1Recipe for corn whiskey
What you need for a five gallon mash
Cornmeal (10 pounds)
Cane sugar (7 pounds)
Making the mash
Mashing the grain converts grain starch into sugar and extracts more flavors from the grain. Boil the grain in a large pot of water at 145 °F for 45 minutes, making sure that the temperature doesn’t go beyond 150°F or below 140°F. Keep stirring the grain to avoid it from getting burned.
Ferment the mash
Once you have mashed the grain, transfer it to a 5-6 gallon fermentation vessel and add cold water to cool it down to about 75°F. If you plan to use a plastic container, verify that it is food grade plastic. If you will be employing a metal vessel, avoid aluminum.
When the mash has cooled, stir in the cane sugar and keep stirring the mixture continuously. After stirring the mash thoroughly and maintaining it to a temperature of 75°F, add the yeast and cover the vessel with a lid. Temperature control is essential as too much heat or cold can kill the yeast. The air lock should ensure a tight seal and prevent air from trickling into the fermentation vessel.
Fermentation will take 5-8 days. Initially, you will be able to see bubbles coming up through the airlock and once the yeast has fermented, the bubbles stop and the yeast sinks to the bottom of the vessel.
Beer stripping run
Whiskey distillation calls for two runs, the first one is called a beer stripping run. After this run, you will have what is known is low wine, which is 30%-40% alcohol, something you can check with a hydrometer.
Do a number of beer stripping runs till you have enough low wine for your final run/spirit run. This is when you make your ‘cuts’, which is the process of deciding what to keep and what to redistill with your next batch of low wine.
About 4-5 beer stripping runs will be needed for a 5 gallon still. When making the cuts, keep three parts in mind: head, hearts and tails. The heart, which comprises 60%-80% alcohol, is the part you should keep, while the head and tail can be redistilled.
Whisky is aged in oak barrels, which are easily available online. The longer the whiskey ages, the better its color and age. An alternative is to age the whiskey in mason jars with toasted oak chips that you can first lightly burn on your oven.
Author: Josh Hayett
Josh is a retired comic book artist who never made it to the big leagues (to be fair- he never really tried) so now he’s here writing stuff about what other people are doing with their talents.
Always with an opinion about TV shows, Movies and especially why Marvel is the best ever,