Learn how to make your own moonshine the CLASSIC way

Learn how to make your own moonshine the CLASSIC way

Greetings fellow moonshiners!

Today we’re gonna dive into more science behind the making of alcohol, and even dish out a few recipes. The moonshine season is upon us! Let’s get started.

Making moonshine is an art, no doubt about it. Ever since the dawn of time when our ancestors discovered if they left certain fruits to lay around in the sun, they would begin to ferment and the after effects of consumption involved a pretty kick-ass time. I think we can all agree we have come a long way since then, with some of the highest tech out there available in the distilling industry.

Modern times are upon us, however some things are consistently tried and true, the making of moonshine. Many of the best recipes available have been around for decades, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it my father always said.

Unlike the good old days we do have a few modern advances that can make things far easier. The first is simply running water. Many old timers had to operate out in the woods (granted so the cops wouldn’t find them) but also to have a constant supply of cold water running throughout the worm, helping condense that precious ethanol steam into liquid white lightnin’.

Second is a heat supply. In order to heat up the mash to a magic number of 173.1 (the boiling point of ethanol) quite a lot of heat is required to do so. I don’t know about you, but the idea of tending a fire for sometimes hours underneath my still sounds like a pain. Now just about every household has some form of gas stove, propane camp stove, or can get access to electric heat without much ado.

All this being said, some of the best recipes emerged out of these seemingly simple times. Don’t let their hillbilly appearance fool you. These guys knew how to make shine.

Generally speaking, most mash recipes have some combination of the following,



Starchy grain or vegetable

Malted grain

The easiest recipes are just sugar and yeast, a lot of simple alcohol can be made from the combination of these into a five gallon bucket of water. Sugar is eaten by the yeast which produces 3 primary things, CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH3OH (methanol), and C2H5OH (ethanol, or drinking alcohol).

Now, for many folks, malted grain is harder to come by. This is fine, although it can be made without too much fuss. Basically it involves germinating the grain over a period of 2 to 5 days. Those interested in attempting it should check this out. The basic principle is malted grain contains an enzyme called amylase which is very effective at breaking down the starch that resides in above mentioned starchy grains like corn or barley and turning it into sugar. This sugar is then utilized by the yeast into making ethanol.

So for those interested in experimenting remember the basics, water, sugar, yeast, some form of extra sugar in the form of a fruit or grain that adds a specific flavor.

Everyone has heard the song talking about rain making corn and corn making whiskey right? There’s an example right there of a specific grain used to make a certain alcohol, for reference:

Tequila is made from Agave

Gin is made from Juniper berries

Vodka can be made from most cereal grains and potatoes

Rum is made from sugar products, typically molasses or brown sugar

In addition to the most popular examples, many cultures throughout the world have used just about whatever they could get their hands on to make alcohol, for example the Hawaiians used to bake a plant called Ti until the sugary sap came out which they would store in a vat of water and let ferment.

So use your imagination! Throw those extra pounds of strawberries you bought last week into your mash, try out watermelon or blueberries, when you are at the head of the operation, see just how creative you can be. The results might surprise you!

Alright, geeky science aside, here are some of the more basic recipes that can be used to get started on.

Standard recipe size is for a 6 gallon copper moonshine still. The extra gallon of space helps the 5 gallon bucket recipes not overflow and spill, that being said all of these will produce 5 gallons of mash, multiply as needed for still size.

Blackbeard's Rum

5 gallons water

10 lbs brown sugar

½ cup honey per 5 gallon batch

1 to 1.5 oz of yeast per 5 gallon ( about 4 to 6 packets of the ¼ oz packets)

1 to 2 weeks to ferment, the longer you let ferment and the more yeast the more alcohol you will get, once the mash quits bubbling is generally a good way to tell once the yeast has eaten up as much sugar as it can, or if all the yeast is dead.

The colder it is where you live, the more yeast should be used. Yeast loves heat, ever tried to rise bread in a cold room? Doesn’t work nearly as well.


4 gallons water

3 qt corn syrup

½ cup honey

1 to 1.5 oz yeast

1 to 2 weeks fermenting, make sure you heat up enough water to effectively dissolve the corn syrup into the water.

Classic Moonshine

5 gallons water

7 lbs crushed grain ( cornmeal is risky because it is very fine powder that has a tendency to clump to the bottom of the pot and burn, focus on larger cracked pieces)

10 lb sugar

1 to 2 weeks of fermenting, emphasis towards 2 weeks...

Honey Shine

5 gallons water

1 gallon honey (more or less honey depending on how sweet you want it) Also extra sugar can be used if you don’t have quite this much honey.

Approximately 2 oz yeast

1 to 2 weeks fermenting, also making sure to heat water up at the beginning to dissolve honey, don’t forget to let it cool before adding yeast, water temp should be under 100 degrees.

Hope all this helps, everyone has their own way of doing things but let this serve as a basic guideline as to how to get started, stay tuned for more tips and tricks and as always,

Happy Shining!

distilling usa

1 comment

  • Would you have more respice you send me.


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