spirits is as much the art of preparing the fermented wash to distill as it is
the actual distilling. These recipes
were prepared so that the beginning distiller can have early success in
producing quality spirits. These recipes are for 5 gallons of
fermented wash and the ingredients can be adjusted proportionally for greater
or lesser quantities. You will
need a stock pot and a fermentation vessel large enough for the batch you wish
to produce. Equipment used for home brewing
beer is typical.
usually the spirit first recommended to the new distiller. It is the easiest to produce with ingredients
locally available to everyone. Rum is
the distilled fermentation of molasses.
Molasses is the by product of refining sugar cane into white granulated
sugar. Molasses still contains sugar
ranging from 40% sugar content in blackstrap molasses to as high as 55% in
light table molasses. While it can be
argued that the best rum comes from a fermentation of pure table molasses and
water, the quantity of molasses required for such becomes very expensive for
the hobby distiller. Brown sugar is
white sugar with a coating of molasses (use only “Cane” sugar, if the package
doesn’t say “Cane Sugar” then it is beet sugar). Brown sugar (use the dark variety) can
produce very tasty rum at far less expense than using pure molasses. Be aware that we are using two pounds of
brown sugar per gallon. If you have
access to reasonable cost unsulphered table molasses the recipe could be
altered to substitute two 12 oz jars of molasses per pound of the sugar. Do not use more than three 12 oz jars of
molasses per gallon as the osmotic pressure due to the density of molasses will
be too high for fermentation. One could
also use a combination of white granulated sugar and table molasses (say 10
jars of molasses and 5 pounds of white sugar).
10 lbs of
pure cane dark brown sugar
4 gallons (approximate)
of prepared water (see other distilling information)
1 sacket of
Rum Yeast (for substitution see other distilling information)
Heat 2 to 3
gallons of the water to boiling in a large stock pot then reduce heat. Dissolve the brown sugar and/or molasses in
the water. Hold temp above 165F for 10
minutes to kill bacteria. Pour the sugar
water into your fermentation vessel. Top
off with cool water to a total volume of 5 gallons. Let cool to 80 F. Sprinkle yeast across surface, allow to stand
for 15 – 20 minutes and then gently stir in.
Ferment for 5 to 7 days (as long as fermentation continues). Siphon into your still boiler keeping as much
of the yeast sediment from entering the still as possible. Distill per still instructions. Age for 30 days at distilled strength shaking
once a day. Dilute with aerated distilled
water to 80 proof. Enjoy!
4 lbs corn
meal (grocery store grade)
3.3 lb can of
unhopped malt extract syrup (from any homebrew shop)
8 lbs of pure
cane sugar (if it doesn’t say “cane” then it is beet sugar)
1 packet (4g)
of alpha amylase enzyme
Whisky Yeast w/AG (the amyloglucosidase is important for max yield)
oak chips (for aging)
Heat 2 to 3
gallons (3 will be easier to stir than 2) of the water to approximately 200 F
(just shy of boiling) then reduce heat. Slowly
pour in the corn meal while stirring. Continue
to cook and stir until corn is fully gelatinized (10-15 minutes). Dissolve the sugar and the malt syrup in the
corn meal/water porridge. Turn off heat
and allow to cool to 165F. Stir in the
alpha amylase enzyme. Allow to rest for
1 hour. Pour the mash into your
fermentation vessel. Top off with cold (chlorine
free) aerated water to just over 5 gallons (approx. a quart over). Let cool to <85 F. Sprinkle room temperature whiskey yeast across
top of mash. Wait 15-20 minutes until
yeast has rehydrated then stir in gently.
Cover and ferment at 75-80F until fermentation is completed (4-7 days). Strain mash into the still boiler using a
large straining bag or clean white pillow case.
Distill per instructions provided with the still. Age at distilled strength with the oak chips
for 30 days or longer shaking once daily.
Strain off oak chips and dilute with aerated distilled water to 80 proof. Enjoy!
INFORMATION FOR PREPARING A WASH
Water: The quality of your water is important
to making good spirits. The water should
be clean, chlorine free (chlorine can kill yeast), ideally have some calcium
content (but devoid of iron content) and be approximately 5.5 to 6 on a PH
scale (just slightly acid).
PH can be measured and adjusted with supplies purchased from
a homebrew shop. If you want to proceed
without actually measuring the PH most municipal water supplies and bottled
store water have a neutral PH of 7 to 8.
Add ¼ tsp of lemon juice per gallon and then your water will likely be
in the ballpark. Calcium content can be increased by adding 1/8 tsp of gypsum per
gallon. Aeration can be accomplished by filling a sealable container half
full with your water and shaking it vigorously for 60 seconds. Aeration can also be done with an aquarium
air pump used with new clean tubing and a new clean bubbler stone. Pump bubbles through your wash or mash for 20 minutes.
Yeast: Different yeasts can be used
successfully. Bread yeast does work but it will die at a
lower alcohol percentage than distilling yeast strains and settles out poorly. Inconsistent results using bread yeast are
due to the fact that all brands and types within each brand are different and
bread yeast manufacturers never reveal which yeast strain they are using. Bread yeast will require added nutrients to
complete a proper fermentation. Turbo yeasts already include the
nutrients (no additional nutrients required) that are required for fermentation
and can be used with most any type of spirit.
Specific turbo yeasts designed with the right nutrients for the
application (whiskey, vodka, rum, etc.) are perhaps the easiest and most
foolproof to use. Generic distillers yeast (DADY) works well in grain mashes and in particular for the
production of ethanol fuel. It requires
added nutrients in sugar type mashes. Wine yeast is often obtainable rather
economically (try Lalvin EC-118) and will also require added nutrients in sugar
washes. Wine yeasts are sold in small
sackets so you will need one for every 2 gallons of wash. Homebrew beer
yeasts can be used for grain mashes but they are typically not used very
often for distilling purposes as they are generally limited to lower alcohol
fermentations and typically develop flavor profiles which do not suit many
types of spirits. For yeast nutrients you will need something
that includes both vitamins/minerals and DAP (diammonium phosphate) or buy the
two separately. If nothing else is
available to you can add a small can of tomato paste and throw a few raisins
into your wash to add nutrients. Grain
mashes typically require less added nutrients as the grain supplies them.
Fermentation Temperature: Yeast works in a very narrow
temperature range. Most all yeasts will die at high
temperatures (above 85 F) and work very slowly (if at all) at low temperatures
(below 65 F). Keep your ferment around
normal room temperature (72 to 78 F) for optimum results. Be aware that the fermentation process itself
generates some heat particularly with large batches. It may be necessary to keep your fermentation
vessel in a cooler place than your desired temperature especially for the first
Fermentation Time: Complete fermentation can take from 3
days to two weeks depending on the ingredients, the yeast being used, and the
temperature of the fermentation.
Rigorous fermentation will be obvious during the 2nd and 3rd
days after tossing your yeast but will become much more subtle after that. The best way to tell when fermentation has
ceased is to use a fermentation vessel with an air lock. That way you will see when the air lock stops
bubbling entirely. Generally speaking it
is OK to leave a wash sealed in the fermentation vessel for a few days if
needed before you distill.