Making moonshine with a thumper instead of a pot still is great because thumpers essentially perform two distillations in one—without stripping the flavor the way reflux distillation does. Depending on your thumper, it’s typical to plan to fill it about halfway with liquid. This is the case for our Brewhaus thumpers, but if you are using a different thumper, check with the manufacturer or adjust the fill level as you see fit. But what’s the best liquid to use in your thumper when you’re making moonshine? Just water? That’s what I used to think, but it turns out that water is one of the last things you’d want to use.

Tails From a Previous Batch: Best

The way the thumper works is that it takes the vapor from the head of your kettle and travels down a tube into the bottom of the thumper. This vapor is cooled when it enters the liquid in the thumper, which condenses the vapor while also heating that liquid in the thumper. So the temperature of the liquid in the thumper gradually rises and then vaporizes up into the condenser and out as product.

Ideally, you should use tails from a previous run for the liquid that you put in the thumper. This is because you’ll be able to get a bit of additional alcohol from those moonshine tails as the liquid heats. If you do use tails for this, only go for the ones that you collected earliest. As tails are collected, the traces of congeners and fusel oils increases, so your most pure tails are the ones that you got right after the hearts were finished.

Some of Your Current Wash: Good

Another option is to use some of the liquid you’re about to distill. Even though this won’t have as much alcohol present in it as tails from a previous run, it’s better than water because it’s still got some alcohol in there. It is also readily available since you’re about to use it to make moonshine anyway, so go ahead and fill your thumper up about halfway and start distilling.

Water: Better Than Nothing

When I first learned about thumpers, I assumed that you would just use water in it, but Rick says that water would actually be your last resort. He said that it technically works, but if you use water then you’re not getting the benefits of using something that already has alcohol present. If you don’t have tails from a previous batch handy, then he recommends to at least use some of your current wash. Again, there’s no real harm done if you’re using water, but you’re simply not going to get as much from this “double-distillation” as you would if you used one of the other options above.

Chart showing best liquid to use in distillation thumper

I hope this info helped you learn more about what to put in your thumper when you’re making moonshine. If you still have questions, feel free to send us a message through Facebook or contact us through our website. Happy distilling!