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2.5 Gallon Whiskey Still From Whiskeystill.net
I would like to start by giving a huge shout out to whiskeystill.net for hooking me up with a 2.5 gallon still. I really have had fun with it. Actually, I still am 🙂
Any still you buy from whiskeystill.net comes with a 90 day, 100% cash-back guarantee! Also if you are short on cash to buy one, they offer payments through PayPal which is very handy! You are not just limited to making moonshine with these stills either, you can make Whiskey, Scotch, Rum, Bourbon, Cognac, Schnapps, Tequila and vodka.
These still kits from whiskeystill.net are all beautiful and decorative, as noted by other reviewers. Beyond that, the function of these units is nothing short of phenomenal after setup and the recommended test runs. Like a lot of beginners, I began by simply converting store bought white wines into very delicious and potent brandies, however once the brewing bug bit, I ventured into more homemade concoctions.
Living in the Midwest, where there is no shortage of corn available, I have come up with a very simple method to make corn whiskey moonshine. Feel free to try it for yourself and flavor/age/refine it to your own specific tastes (of course abiding by all distillation and brewing laws in your area).
Basic Required Equipment:
You will need a large pot for making your mash and mixing spoons, also a brewer’s thermometer, cheesecloth or a fine colander for straining, a plastic funnel and two sanitized 5 gallon buckets for aerating. A test tube and hydrometer is also needed to determine the alcohol content of your whiskey. For the fermentation process you will also need a vessel of adequate size. My recommendation is a 6.5 gallon glass carboy, but you can get away with using a water cooler jug with a homemade airlock (details later). There are various brewing kits available online or in wine and beer shops, these are just the basic elements.
* 8.5 pounds of crushed corn (a.k.a. flaked maize)
* 1.5 pounds of crushed MALTED barley
* 5 gallons of water
* 2 packets of bread yeast (Fleischmann’s Active Dry yeast works well)
* 1 teaspoon sugar
Heat the water to about 170 degrees Fahrenheit and then turn off the heat. Add the crushed corn to the water and stir for 3-5 minutes. Then decrease stirring to 5-10 seconds about every 5 minutes.
* Note the corn will thicken into a doughy gel as it is stirred, which is perfectly normal. Essentially, the corn is breaking down and releasing starch into the water. This starch will eventually ferment to become sugars, which later will become the alcohol you are
ultimately producing. The mixture will thin out quite a bit once barley is added and you begin mashing.
As you stir, keep monitoring the temperature of your mash mix. Once the temperature drops to 152 degrees Fahrenheit, add the malted barley and stir for 1-2 minutes until mixed well. Cover the mixture and let rest for 90 minutes.
* During this resting period, the malted barley will begin converting the corn starches into sugar. It is the enzymes within malted grains that allow this conversion to take place, hence, why it is essential to use malted barley for this recipe. Later, during the fermentation process, the yeast will then convert these sugars into alcohol.
While the mash is resting, you can get a jump-start on activating your yeast. To do this, combine in a glass 2 packets of active dry bread yeast to 1/2 cup of water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and add a teaspoon of sugar.
* This step will allow you to confirm that your yeast is good by the formation of an expanding “yeast cake” on top of the water. Once added to your mash mixture, this yeast will be ready to immediately begin the fermentation process.
After 90 minutes, the mash will need to be cooled to an appropriate temperature to add the yeast. To do this you can either use an immersion chiller to rapidly cool the mash, or you can simply leave it sit for a few more hours until the temperature of the mixture reaches about 70 degrees. Once that temp is reached, poor the mash through your cheesecloth or fine strainer into a clean bucket to separate the solids.
* It is recommended to cool the mash mixture quickly to decrease the chances of it being contaminated with ambient bacteria while sitting.
* My favorite method to separate out the solids is to use cheesecloth and scoop out a little mash at a time. Then, simply squeeze it for all you’re worth to get the most liquid possible out of the mix. More liquid means more final product and less wastage.
The next step is to aerate the liquid mash. The simplest way to do this is to pour it back and forth between the two clean buckets. Bubbles and froth as you pour is a telltale sign that you’re aerating properly. This is a critical step as the yeast will need oxygen to survive and fulfill their appointed task in your mixture. Pour the mash back and forth about 10-15 times for best results.
* It’s then recommended to take a specific gravity reading of your mash by filling a test tube with liquid and using a hydrometer. The specific gravity is used to determine the potential starting alcohol content. After fermentation, another reading is taken and those numbers are used to calculate how much alcohol is in the wash.
The final step of making mash is fermentation. First add the yeast starter to the mash and give it a good stir. Then transfer the mash to your fermentation container. Seal the container with an airlock and leave it sit for at least 7-10 days. A good rule of thumb to follow is if the mixture is bubbling, it is still fermenting, and you should leave it sit for best results. Be patient as this may in some cases take up to 2-3 weeks.
* I initially made my own airlock with a rubber stopper, some clear plastic hose, and some zip ties. To do this I just put the hose through a hole in the stopper and looped it a few times. If you like you can carefully add some sanitizer solution to the hose as well so the very bottom of a few of the loops are full, forcing air to bubble out but not letting any air or solution into your fermenter.
Now you’ve got a simple wash… Very easy to turn it into a high-proof shine from here with your 2.5-gallon still!