You are here:Home > How-To's > Distilling Basics
The Basics of Distilling

Creating a distilled spirit is a two stage process:

Fermentation happens when microorganisms, usually yeast, metabolize, converting sugars into alcohol. We make beer when starches from grain, such as corn, wheat, barley, and rye, are converted into fermentable sugars that yeast uses to convert into alcohol. Beer is the pre-distilled form of whiskey and can also be the basis for vodka and gin. We get wine when the sugars from fruit, such as grapes, cherries, plums, and peaches, are converted by yeast to alcohol. Wine is the pre-distilled form of brandy. If you know how to make beer or wine, you're only one simple step away from distilling spirits.

stillation is the process of separating the alcohol in an alcoholic drink from everything else. The form of alcohol that we enjoy in drinks is ethanol, and it boils and begins to turn to vapor at about 173 degrees. Water, on the other hand, boils at 212 degrees. By slowly heating a mixture that contains alcohol and water (such as beer, wine or other fermented wash), it is possible to vaporize the ethanol while leaving much of the water in the liquid state. When ethanol is vaporized, it floats up and away from the liquid mixture. As this vapor is cooled it re-condenses and turns back into a liquid. A still is the apparatus one uses to hold your fermented wash, contain the steam vapors, cool them back into a liquid, and then let that distillate run out into a container.

This blog is for educational purposes only. All “moonshine” stills featured on the site are non-functional props. All discussions, including recipes and “how to’s” are theoretical in nature. The blog posts are in now way an endorsement or encouragement to break the law. Products sold are intended to be used in accordance with the proper licensing or permitting procedure of the respective jurisdiction of the user.