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How Do You Distill Whiskey

Local Laws About Distilling At Home


Once you are sure that you have the proper license at the federal level, and you confirm that you are in compliance with your state laws about at-home distilling, you want to also check with your county and city statutes. You never know until you look if your specific county, parish, city, or township may have local certifications, licenses, or permits that are needed to operate your moonshine still at home. can also be used to quickly find information from your local government websites.

Distilling : How Whiskey Is Actually Made

Unless you’ve been living without the internet, you surely know that Star Wars season is upon us. If you are lucky enough to live in Manchester, England, check out the replica of Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina, the “no-droids allowed” drinking hole located in the pirate city of Mos Eisley on the barren planet of Tatooine. In the film, a bevy of copper pipes run along the ceiling and more pipes run along the wall. Because Tatooine is a dry planet, my best guess is that distilled spirits would have been the most popular libation there: They could have thrown any old sugary, starchy substance into a pot with water and yeast to ferment and later distill. Distillation would have spread across the Star Wars universe like it spread throughout the continents on Earth, either for health reasons, sanitary reasons, or pure enjoyment. On Earth, we can pinpoint the arrival of distillation somewhere between the years 1 AD and 3 AD, but no one can be sure. But what exactly is distillation?

State Laws About Still Ownership

Each state has its own legislation about at-home distillation. Some states allow citizens over age 21 to distill alcohol at home without any permits or licenses at all, and other states do not even allow citizens to own distilling equipment unless they have obtained the proper state permit.

Federal law takes precedence and overrides any state law that does not agree with it.

For example, Missouri citizens still need to obtain a federal permit in order to distill spirits, but they do not need to obtain additional permits from the state. On the other hand, a Florida citizen who wants to own a still for decoration does not need to obtain a federal permit, but would need to obtain the proper license from the state of Florida.

State laws about owning and using distillation equipment are available on the website for your states government. Begin your search with this list of State-by-State Distilling Laws from the Hobby Distillers Association. You can also use to search for the current information on your state’s website.

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A Brief History Of Moonshine:

The depression, prohibition, and limited access to the mountainous region of Appalachia gave rise to an almost forgotten yet legendary beverage called moonshine. Moonshine is a generic term for homemade whiskey. The term was coined due to the fact that early bootleggers often made their whiskey in the middle of the night, under the light of a full moon out of sight of neighbors and the law. There is no standard recipe for moonshine it can be made from any combination of grains in any type of still. However, moonshine made in the mountains of Appalachia was traditionally un-aged corn whiskey and was made in copper pot stills.

Jack Daniels Embraces A Hidden Ingredient: Help From A Slave

Distillery 291  From Photography to Distilling, the ...
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By Clay Risen

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. Every year, about 275,000 people tour the Jack Daniels distillery here, and as they stroll through its brick buildings nestled in a tree-shaded hollow, they hear a story like this: Sometime in the 1850s, when Daniel was a boy, he went to work for a preacher, grocer and distiller named Dan Call. The preacher was a busy man, and when he saw promise in young Jack, he taught him how to run his whiskey still and the rest is history.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Jack Daniels, and the distillery, home to one of the worlds best-selling whiskeys, is using the occasion to tell a different, more complicated tale. Daniel, the company now says, didnt learn distilling from Dan Call, but from a man named Nearis Green one of Calls slaves.

This version of the story was never a secret, but it is one that the distillery has only recently begun to embrace, tentatively, in some of its tours, and in a social media and marketing campaign this summer.

Its taken something like the anniversary for us to start to talk about ourselves, said Nelson Eddy, Jack Daniels in-house historian.

Frontier history is a gauzy and unreliable pursuit, and Nearis Greens story built on oral history and the thinnest of archival trails may never be definitively proved. Still, the decision to tell it resonates far beyond this small city.

I dont know what role slaves would have played, Mr. Veach said, but Im sure it was there.

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The Origins Of Whiskey

Like most alcoholic beverages, whiskey’s history is extensive and often incomplete. There are numerous claims as to its origin, but this guide should help you comprehend the essentials and understand its genesis.

1000-1200 AD: Arrival in Scotland

Nobody knows where or when the first grain spirits were created, but they were undoubtedly present in Europe no later than five thousand years ago.

Its been said that distillation was introduced to Scotland and Ireland by visiting monks over a thousand years ago , giving rise to whisky.

In the absence of European wineries, Scottish and Irish monasteries turned to fermenting grain mash, resulting in the establishment of the first modern whisky distilleries.

1405: First mention in a publication

In 1405, the word whisky first appears in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise, where it was written that the head of a clan died after taking a surfeit of aqua vitae at Christmas.

1494: Distilleries are established

By 1494, the distilling of whisky is fully underway, as evident by a record in the Exchequer Rolls of 1494 where King James IV of Scotland.

The 1600s: European colonists begin arriving in America

Distilling whiskey was eventually brought to America by European colonists. Scots and Irish emigrated to the United States and Canada, where they established distilleries using their native grains and mashes.

1725: Production of whiskey is threatened

The 1780s: Whiskey as currency

1791: Whiskey Tax

1791-1794: The Whiskey Rebellion


Learn The Basics Of How Whisky Is Made

Triple distillation helps to concentrate not only the alcohol, but also lighter, more fruity flavors: heavier, more water-soluble compounds are left behind at every stage. The fermented washor mash is heated in the first still, which separates the alcohol to a strength of roughly 20%. The second still concentrates the strength of the alcohol further the decision to separate the collected liquid into the heads , heart, and tails is optional at this stage. The final distillation in the third still is cut into the heads, heart, and tails the spirit in the heart may be nearly 80% ABV, but the size of the cut and the composition of the foreshots and feints determines what type of associated flavors are captured.

Whenever the heads and tails are separated, they are usually recycled into the next distillation in the same or preceding still. Its not even strictly necessary to have a third still, because the second still can be reused for the third run. By varying the cut points and altering the amount and influence of the recycled heads and tails, the distiller is able to develop a range of different flavors in the final spirit.

Triple-distilled whisky isnt usually any stronger than other whiskies. Although it comes off the third still at a higher strength than it would after just two distillations, the distiller reduces that strength before the liquid is filled into casksso it ends up maturing and being bottled in the same proof range as other whiskies.

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Testing The Abv Of Your Rye Whiskey

After the aging process, you should test the ABV of your rye whiskey and dilute if necessary. You can use a hydrometer to do this. You can dilute the whiskey with purified water prior to bottling it if the ABV is too high. Rye Whiskey must have a minimum of 40% ABV to be classified as a rye whiskey.

Prepping And Cleaning Your Whiskey Still

How to Distill Texas Whiskey


Keeping up on prep-work for your still is mission critical. Even if you cleaned your whiskey moonshine still after your last run and let it sit for a while, it is still recommended to clean it before transferring your whiskey mash water. This is especially the case on copper stills that are starting to show a salt buildup.

If you want to add packing to your column, this is the time to do it. Pack your column with the amount of copper packing that is appropriate for your setup.

If your still setup has a condenser, hook up your water input and output.

Finally, its time to add your mash water to the whiskey still. Again, you can use a cheesecloth or auto-siphon to transfer the mash water into your still without including solid material. Its very important that you dont allow any solids or sediment to be included in the still.

If this is your first run ever, below is a great walkthrough of how to set up your pot or reflux whiskey moonshine still.

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So What Yeast Should I Use

There are numerous good yeast options whenfermenting a whiskey wash. You couldalso use a generic yeast like bakers yeast, but youre selling your whiskeyshort and really not saving much money . All good yeast options are listed in the WhiskeyYeast section of our website, including many beer yeasts that live adouble-life.

Its important to choose a yeast with an alcoholtolerance high enough for the wash you want to ferment. Our basic whiskey maltpacks target a wash at 14% ABV, which can be a bit too high for some yeasts.For beginners, its best to start with a Whiskey Distillers Yeast*.

*Note 1: If the yeast doesnt come in a pack withnutrient and glucoamylase enzyme, its important to add these separately.

*Note 2: Our own Bourbon / American Whiskey yeastpack contains nutrient and glucoamylase, but it has a slightly lower alcoholtolerance and may struggle with 14% ABV. This is best matched to our AmericanWhiskey malt packs.

S And Functions Of The Still:

  • The first part of the pot still is the pot, seems obvious right? The pot is exactly what you are thinking it is, quite literally a pot in which you put the alcohol you that will be distilled . This is where the undistilled alcohol is stored and heated up, as it heats up in the pot the alcohol turns to vapor and travels into the head.
  • The second part is the head this is simply where the steam from the evaporated alcohol goes to first and the temperature is measured since there is usually a thermometer here, it should read between alcohols boiling point and waters boiling point .
  • The third part can have several names including swan neck or the column this part is connected to the head and is essentially like a roadway for your alcohol to travel to the condenser .
  • The fourth part is called a condenser or worm. This is the final place that the alcohol is in the form of steam as it is CONDENSED back into a liquid . The condenser can be a long coiled pipe or a straight pipe that has some length to it. The condenser is cooled by some form of cooling system
  • Take a look at the diagram below to better help you visualize what the parts are and how they work together

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    Is It Legal To Make Moonshine In Texas Personal Use

    Making and selling moonshine is a public safety risk, says TABC Lt. Allan Cameron. Although it is legal for Texans to make limited amounts of wine or beer for personal consumption without holding a TABC permit, it is not legal to manufacture distilled spirits without holding a TABC Distillers Permit.

    Home Distilling Of Alcohol A Five Steps Beginners Guide

    Distilling Homemade Vodka

    Home distilling of alcohol is a nice hobby. But if you want to make homemade alcohol / spirits in a high quality, it is not done to put the fruit into a barrel and leave it. There is a certain quantum of basic skills necessary to make an alcoholic mash of fruit and to distill the mash . Not till then you will rejoice in distilling alcohol at home.

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    What Is Distillation

    Distillation is the process by which a liquid is heated to create a vapor and then condensed back into a liquid again. The whole idea is inspired by nature: Puddle water turns into invisible vapor after a day of hot sun. A cool evening reverses the process, and droplets of water form on blades of grass. “Might heating a liquid with fire then do the same thing?,” asked our ancestors. “Would holding something cold over the warm vapor would make it liquid again?” The birth of distillation hides in those questions. Throw in some nice smelling herbs and make a perfume out of the condensed vapors. Take some fermented liquid and make alcohol even better.

    While we may never know who exactly was the first to discover distillation scholars have been guessing at this for at least a century we do know that the alchemic practice is ancient. Aristotle at the very least explained the first prerequisite of distillation, evaporation, in his Meteorologica, where he wrote that seawater could be made pure by evaporation.

    What’s amazing is that this basic architecture a bulbous bottom with an arm extending from the top to collect vapors and then divert them to a second vessel is still widely used today. These pot stills, along with another kind of still called a column or continuous still form the backbone of distillery operations worldwide. Without them, you’ve only got beer.

    What Is Fermentation

    Fermentation is where the alcohol begins. The mash is combined with yeast, which eats up all of the sugars in the mash, converting that sugar into alcohol. The process typically takes a few days, depending on the strain of yeast. The fermentation process also introduces different flavors into mash, creating a beer-like liquid with about 10% alcohol by volume.

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    How Is It Done

    The enzymes that break starches down are mostactive at around 65 70°C and also require the right pH to workeffectively. The principles are very much the same as for making all-grainbeer, but a bit more forgiving. We recommend that you start with John PalmersHow to Brew ,as this guide explains the process very well. Dont worry if it seems toocomplicateda whiskey mash is a lot simpler than a beer mash.

    Mash tips:

    • A ratio of roughly 1 part grain to 2.5 3 partswater is best
    • A target temperature of about 67°C is good. Lessthan 65°C will have reduced activity, and over 70°C will kill off your enzymesquite fast.
    • A mash of one hour held at the targettemperature will be adequate. A longer mash mayincrease your yield, but isnt always worth the extra effort.
    • DO measure pH and be ready to adjust it into theoptimum range . This not only reduces the likelihood of a failedmash, but also ensures the best extraction efficiency.
    • DONT allow bits of grain to transfer to thefermenter

    New Make Spirit And White Whisky

    E38 peach wiskey distilling How to

    Once the distillation is completed, the raw distillate is obtained. This distillate is turned into Whisky by being matured in casks for at least three years . Just as the minimum maturation period differs in Great Britain and the USA, so does the name for the raw distillate. In Scotland and co it is called ‘New Make Spirit’. In the USA the term ‘White Dog’ has become established. It is not known where the term comes from, but it was probably used by the first American settlers. ‘White’ certainly because the spirit does not take on a brown colour without caskmaturation. Where the ‘dog’ comes from is not known.

    Some American distilleries even sell their ‘White Dog’ without caskmaturation or an ageing period for only a few days or weeks. These products are called, for example, ‘White Whiskey’, ‘White Lightning’ or ‘Legal Moonshine’. The term ‘moonshine’ contains something quite illegal per se. Moonshining is the illegal, domestic production and smuggling of spirits. As this used to take place mostly at night under the ‘moonlight’, the resulting distillate is called Moonshine. In Europe it is not allowed to sell a spirit under the name ‘Whisky’ unless it has been stored in casks for at least three years. But in the USA, many distilleries have seen a chance in selling their ‘White Dog’ to make up for the revenue shortfall until they can sell the first Whiskey, which has matured for years.

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    An Illustrated Description Of The Production Of Bourbon

    When you ask the master distiller of a bourbondistillery about the strongest influences in bourbonproduction, you get the following answer: the grain, the yeast strains, the new white oakbarrels and their storage have the biggest influence on the taste of bourbon.

    What’s the reasoning behind this statement, which tells nothing about the particulars of the production process? The answer is as simple as it is convincing. The American distilleries usually have the same production equipment and the same climate. Therefore the distinguishing features of individual bourbon producers must be sought on another level.

    A word on Tennessee whiskey: Tennessee whiskey separated from Kentucky straight bourbon and the Bourbon Act for marketing reasons. However, the production process of these two whisky types is the same, except that Tennessee whiskey is charcoal-filtered before it is filled into barrels.

    On the following pages the production process is described in its chronological order:

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