Moonshine, the original American clear corn whiskey

The first steps to your first moonshine

Moonshine, that is what you call the American classic. Originally produced (illegal) in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. So intriguing to many people that even Discovery Channel made a docudrama about it. The basis of moonhsine is corn as it is cheap, easily available and prodiuces a relative soft alcohol.

Corn whiskey or " white lightning" is very easy to make and only requires basic ingredients:

Wash Volume: 5.3 Gallon (20 liter)
Alcohol % by full fermentation: 8 % ABV
Alcohol production: 0.66 gallon (2.5 liter) @ 95%
Ingredients: 13 lb (6 kg) of Corn meal (uncooked)
  1.3 lb (0.6 kg) malted corn
  (Distillers) yeast or any other yeast

1. Prepare the wash
The basic corn based moonshine recipe is as follows:

  • Dissolve 13 LB (6 kg) of corn meal in 5.2 gallons (20 liters) boiling tap water
  • Let it cool down to approx 150 F (65oC)
  • Add 1.3 lb (0.6 kg) of malted corn (you obviously need to crack the malted corn first)
  • This is called mash...
  • Let it sit for 1-3 hours to convert the starch into fermentable sugars
2. Cool the wash down
  • You need to cool down the temperature to 77-86 F (25oC- 30oC), otherwise the yeast will not survive.
  • Add the yeast to the wash.

3. Let the mash ferment

  • Put the wash, which has yeast mixed with it, into a fermenting vessel. This can be a glass carboy, or a bucket with a lid. Do not forget to put an airlock onto the vessel. Carbon dioxide will have to be able to evade.
  • If possible, let the fermentation take place at a constant temperature of 77F (25oC) until the airlock stops bubbling. This is the sign that the available corn sugars have been transformed into alcohol....
  • Let the the yeast sediment and grain particles settle for a day. We would like to avoid to get it into the still as it will give a unpleasant flavour to the "moonshine".

4. Siphon the fermented wash into your potstill & fire up the stilll

  • Siphon the fermented wash carefully into the still. We are about to fire-up the still...
  • Again: make sure that you are about to operate the still in accordance with the Operational Safety Guidelines.
Bring up the wash to boiling temperature, but......
  • Start the cooling water through the condensors once you get to about 50oC - 60oC.
  • Once the first drops of distillate leave the condensor:-
    • Discard the first 50 mL's as it may contain some methanol and/or other impurities
    • Segregate the distillate into 500 mL containers as you collect it.
    • Collect the next 2-3L of distillate.
    • Stop distilling once the temperature gets to 96oC to avoid nasty flavours in your moonshine.
    • Set aside any distillate which smells harsh (tails/fusels). This can be added to the next batch for re-distillation.
  • Turn off the power, the cooling water and open the lid to avoid a vacuum inside the still which could crush it.

Corn Whiskey

Clear Corn Whiskey

Moonshine is a clear corn whiskey that is distilled from fermented corn mash. The fresh corn whiskey is Moonshine and is consumed without aging. Moonshine has a reputation far and wide as a clean, clear and potent liquor.  When aged for two years it becomes Bourbon Whiskey.

Making your own
Before your start, make sure you:
a) verify whether it is legal to do so in your state
b) read the operational safety guidlines

Both very important, it should not become your last attempt making your own whiskey either way!

Malted Corn
In case you can not buy malted corn but only fresh corn, no problem! Malting Corn is easy!