Ready to make your first batch of moonshine but not sure where to start? Then this is the blog for you! Although the term “moonshine” can be used to describe any type of illicitly-made alcohol, stereotypical moonshine is made with some kind of corn mash as the main ingredient, such as flaked maize, corn meal, or cracked corn. You also typically think of moonshine as being in a jug with XXX on the side. Each X stood for how many times the batch was run through the still, with each run further increasing the alcohol content but also losing volume. Modern distillation techniques are a bit more efficient so you may not have to do as many runs if you use a reflux column or a thumper as part of your moonshine still.
Creating your own signature ‘shine really is an art, but you should start with the basics before getting all fancy. And with every batch you make, keep a record of your recipe along with a log of your process (we’ve got a free batch log here for you to download). This makes it so much easier as you start trying new recipes and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
The recipe below can be found on page 167 in Rick’s book The Joy of Home Distilling. The book includes a bunch of other recipes as well—two more for moonshine, and several each for vodka, whisky, rum, schnapps, and more.
Moonshine Recipe (aka No-cook Mash)
While the term moonshine actually describes any illicitly distilled liquor, it is more commonly considered to be an un-aged distilled spirit made from a primarily corn mash, making it fit nicely under the Whiskey category for our purposes.
• 8 pounds (4kg) flaked maize (in this recipe, you may substitute with cracked corn)
• 6 pounds (3.6kg) granulated sugar
• 1.5 teaspoons (7.5ml) gypsum
• 6 US gallons (23L) of fresh, filtered or dechlorinated water
• 8-gallon or larger primary fermenter with tight-fitting lid
• 1 package of whiskey yeast with gluco-amylase enzyme, sufficient for 6.6 US gallons (25L)
• Long-handled plastic spoon
• Test Cylinder
• Clearing agent such as Super Kleer or Sparkolloid (per package instructions)
• Moonshine still (such as a pot still)
1. Bring two gallons of water to a boil and dissolve sugar.
2. Stir in gypsum.
3. Pour mixture into fermenter and stir in flaked maize.
4. Top up fermenter with warm or cool water to obtain a total volume of 6.6 US gallons (25L) at 90° F (32° C).
5. Draw off a sample of the liquid and take a hydrometer test.
6. Add the yeast as per package directions and allow wash to rest until fermentation has completed (approximately 3 to 5 days).
7. Once fermentation has completed, strain the mash using a straining bag or other means of separating the solids from the liquid. The goal is to collect the maximum amount of liquid possible. You can even rinse the grain with a small amount of boiled and cooled water to maximize collection of the fermented liquid.
8. Add the clearing agent per package directions and allow the wash to sit until cleared.
9. Siphon the cleared liquid to your kettle and distill using pot distillation in a moonshine still.