The Beginning Moonshiner

The Beginning Moonshiner


Moonshine making is more of an art, not a science.

You soon discover this after your first couple runs, not only does it get easier and better with more experience but the confidence in your own abilities begins to show.

For example, I remember searching endlessly for the ‘perfect’ recipes on the internet and being worried I was gonna mess something up and it would taste bad, make people sick, or be too difficult to finish.

The good news is that most every recipe will work quite well as long as it has the basic ingredients like sugar, grain, yeast, and water. This all converts into ethanol and even if there was an issue of too much yeast or too little sugar, it isn’t the end of the world, your final run will be just fine.

Worst case scenario if you don’t like the final product you can distill your run a second or a third time and end up with something very close to 200 proof (100 percent alcohol). This stuff is fun because you can burn it and it does a very good job of obliterating your alcohol tolerance.

Best way to measure alcohol percentage is to use a copper proofing parrot with a floating hydrometer. (Make sure you get one that goes all the way up to 200 proof or 100 percent - some brewing ones do not) The proofing parrot and hydro is an extra expense you don’t have to get unless you’re gonna turn into a more serious operation but they can be very useful.

The copper parrot holds the hydrometer as you run your shine through it and makes it easier to tell what your run is doing as far as the heads, hearts, and tails.

Heads is the first part of your run that includes methanol and other nasty chemicals that distill out first, generally you should throw out the first ounce and a half of moonshine per gallon of mash you had ( if you have a 10 gallon run you would get rid of the first 15 ounces)

Hearts is the good stuff, the ethanol that is the best to drink and is the highest proof, the gold of the run. Give this stuff to people you like.

Tails is the end of the run, the lowest proof and can taste kinda off, I generally will just save it and add it to the next run I do to maximize my output (or give it to people you don’t like as much).

An easy cheap way to test proof is to take your mason jar of moonshine and shake it and watch the size of the bubbles that form. Large bubbles that pop quickly indicate higher proof while smaller bubbles that take a while to dissipate indicate a lower proof. Also being able to burn your run is another way to test how high of a proof you have. Technically 80 proof is about the minimum that burns but lower proofs like that are typically harder to light and don’t burn as well.

Find a couple recipes you like and stick to what works best and easiest, I’ll be posting more on that and more recipes in the future so stay tuned.

Making your own booze is one of the most satisfying feelings, the sky's the limit on what you can do, it shouldn’t be stressful, keep it fun!

That’s all for now folks, let me know in the comments what info you want to hear next and don’t forget to subscribe! - Spencer


  • Wayne, for the 5 gallon recipes the 6 gallon still is designed to have that extra bit of space at the top and is the best still for 5 gallon recipes.

  • What type of still do you recomend for about 5 gallon run?

    Wayne adams
  • As far as recipe’s go I’d suggest looking here:

    A good one to start with is UJSSM.

  • Can you provide what you feel is a good recipe? I’ve ran 2 batches and used 2 different recipes. Not happy with either.

  • Can you send me pictures I have no idea what I’m doing to get started

    Robbie Parker

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