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May 21, 2014 posted in Recipes

How to Make Watermelon Moonshine (Step By Step With Pictures)


Watermelon Moonshine Recipe

Are you tired of making the same old moonshine recipe? Perhaps you've noticed the early summer bins of watermelons at the entrance of every supermarket or maybe it's harvest time and you have some ripe melons in the garden? If so- don’t waste your time eating them. Get ready to party and make some watermelon moonshine! Below is a detailed watermelon wine recipe which once distilled makes an awesome watermelon brandy. 

How to make watermelon moonshine

Mashing Equipment

Making watermelon wine is pretty simple. You'll want to have the following handy to make this mash:

  • Cutting board and a sharp knife

  • Blender

  • A fine cheesecloth

  • A couple of 5 gallon buckets

  • Large pot for mashing

  • Hot plate

  • A large paddle or spoon for stirring

  • Wort / immersion chiller (for cooling the mash)

  • A hose for siphoning

  • Thermometer

  • A glass carboy or food grade plastic bucket for fermentation

  • An airlock


  • 5 large watermelons

  • 2 pound of raisins

  • 4 pounds of cane sugar

  • 2 packets bread yeast (or wine yeast)

Mashing, Fermentation, and Distillation Procedure

  • The first thing you'll need to do is extract the sweet, sweet watermelon juice from 5 large watermelons. The easiest way to do this is to cut the Watermelon in half and then into quarters. Once quartered, cut into slices and remove the rind. Next, reduce to chunks that will fit into a blender.

Slice Watermelon and Remove Rind

  • Next, add to chunks to the blender and obliterate!

Add watermelon chunks to blender

  • Don't over-blend. Shut down the blender as soon as the fruit has been liquefied. Remember you'll need to pour this through a cheesecloth later and you don't want to blend it so much that the pulp comes right through the strainer.

Lightly blend watermelon fruit

  • As you fill up your blender containers with watermelon puree, dump the blended goodness though a cheesecloth installed in a sanitized food safe straining bucket. Nylon paint strainers work great for this.

Pour watermelon puree through cheesecloth

  • Remove the cheesecloth containing pulp from the bucket and let some of the juice drip out.

  • Once the bag is a manageable size, squeeze it to extract as much watermelon juice as possible.

  • Pour the strained watermelon juice into a large stainless steel mash-tun.

  • Add sugar to the juice and stir until it dissolves.

Add sugar to watermelon juice

  • Add 2 pounds of raisins.

Add raisins

  • Heat the strained watermelon juice, raisins, and sugar to 160F. This will kill most of the naturally occurring wild yeast and bacteria found in the watermelon juice.

  • After heating, add cold water to reach a total volume of 5 gallons (if needed).

Add enough water to reach a total of 5 gallons

  • Cool mash to 70 degree with a sterilized wort-chiller.

Use immersion chiller to cool watermelon mash

  • While the mash is cooling, make a yeast starter using 2 cups of 120F water, 2 tsp of sugar, and 2 small packages of bread yeast.

Making a yeast starter using distillers, ale, or bread yeast

  • Take a starting gravity reading using a brix refractometer. Load the hydrometer by using a small dropper to remove a bit of juice from your mash pot.

Use a brix refractometer to calculate starting gravity

  • Ideally, the brix reading should be around 1.065, which will produce a starting alcohol of about 8%. If the reading is low add 100% pure cane sugar until the desired starting gravity has been reached.

Take a brix refractometer reading

  • In case you're not familiar with brix refractometer, here's what the reading looks like

Brix refractometer results

  • Aerate the mash by transferring it between two sterilized food grade buckets. Pour it hard so lots of bubbles form on top of the liquid.

Aerate watermelon moonshine mash

  • Transfer the 70 degree mash to a sterilized fermentation vessel.

Transfer watermelon mash to carboy

  • Add the yeast starter to the fermenter.

Pitching yeast into brandy mash

  • Admire the beauty of the carboy full of watermelon juice.

Carboy full of watermelon juice

  • Add an airlock and ferment at 70F until finished. If you're not sure how to tell when it's done, read this article on fermentation.

    • Our batch finished very quickly (in about 2 days) due to a high starting temp (which is not ideal).

Add an airlock to fermenter

    • Once the bubbles in the airlock slow down/stop take a gravity reading. Once the gravity reading does not change for 3 days or is 1.010 or below it is done. Our gravity finished just below 1.00, giving us a starting alcohol of about 8.5%, which is exactly where we want to be.

    Take a hydrometer reading to calculate alcohol %

    • After letting the wine settle for another 3-4 days (this will give the yeast time to settle to the bottom of the fermenter), siphon into a 100% copper still

    Siphon watermelon wash into copper still

    • Leave the raisins, settled watermelon pulp, and as much yeast behind as possible. Transferring this stuff into your still could cause off flavors to be present in the final product.

    Leave raisins, watermelon pulp, and yeast behind

    • Distill, making tight heads and tails cuts.

    Make foreshots, heads, hearts, and tails cuts

    • After distillation we'dsuggest you add some finishing touches to your watermelon moonshine by doing one of the following:

      • Combine the hearts in a mason jar, add a fresh chunk of watermelon, and leave it sit for a week, refrigerated. Drink soon after. The watermelon fruit likely won't hold up very well for very long at room temp.

      • You could also add some lightly toasted oak chips to the hearts and age for 2-3 weeks.

    Additional Notes:

    As we've discussed in previous articles on alcohol yield, the final take from your distillation run will be highly dependent on the amount of sugar you start with in the mash. Much of the sugar in this recipe will come directly from the watermelons. However, we've added some sugar as well.

    Why did we add sugar to this recipe? Well, fresh watermelon juice has an average brix of about 10. Some are higher. Some are lower. But that's a good average to use as a rule of thumb.

    The particular watermelons we used had a brix of around 8. About 20% lower than the average. We bought them from Walmart and they were grown in Mexico...and you get what you pay for! If we hadn't added sugar, our starting alcohol wouldn't be any more than about 4.5-5%. For the sake of maximizing our efforts we bumped that number up to 8%.

    Why did we stop at 8% starting alcohol, as opposed to adding enough sugar to bump it all the way up to 20%? That'd really maximize our efforts, right? While we would certainly end up with a lot more alcohol, the flavor profile of the fermented watermelon juice would be much less ideal at 20%. Most craft distilleries never produce spirits with a starting alcohol higher than 8-10%, as starting alcohol in this range produces a far superior product to that with a starting alcohol of say, 20%.

      • After distilling moonshine does it taste like watermelon after distilling

        Posted by clay on July 12, 2016
      • Great!

        Posted by olajide on June 21, 2016
      • Can you tell me how to make it if we use everclear

        Posted by Brenda on May 17, 2016
      • all is understood except hearts,,,tails ect please enlighten..very good web thank you

        Posted by bill maticic on March 16, 2016
      • Just did my watermelon MASH yesterday and I’m just dying to taste this stuff it looks so good just sitting there in that glass carboy!!!!
        Thanks again fellas for a great instructional video!!

        Posted by on February 20, 2016
      • Your article was very helpful and I will like to get more tips from you.
        Thank you

        Posted by Mathew Mbom on January 12, 2016
      • thanks for having this simple tip..

        Posted by mylene ababa on October 11, 2015
      • Can you use a filter to transfer the wash from the fermenting vessel into the still as opposed to siphon?

        Posted by DAvy cRockett on June 18, 2015
      • How can I make watermelon moonshine without the still.

        Posted by Lex stewart on May 24, 2015
      • When starting the watermelon mash? How much sugar do I start with? Ur recipe doesn’t say. And if I wanted to make say 10 gallon at a time do I just double the recipe? Or thriple if I wanted more than 10, and what percent alcohol would I be excepting? Thx for ur time

        Posted by johnny Reb on May 21, 2015
      • Why use the raisins? What exactly do they contribute to the final product?

        Posted by Joel P. on May 14, 2015
      • Heads-hearts-tails are exactly as it sounds. The heads/forshots come out of the still first and are usually harsh or toxic alcohols, after your heads is your hearts this section smells and taste sweet this is the stuff you wanna drink. After your hearts goes into the tails which has a burnt vinyl smell and is rubbering on your finger tips, don’t wanna drink that

        Posted by MArcus on May 14, 2015
      • For those wondering about the shot phase, Here is a guide. Foreshots should never be consumed.

        Posted by Anna on May 14, 2015
      • I’ve never distilled before. Please explain the head, tail and heart shots.

        Posted by Eric on March 24, 2015
      • You lost me on the fore shots, heads, hearts and tails.

        Posted by Shaw merrill on March 24, 2015
      • Is there something else you can use besides raisins? I do not endear the flavors raisins impart to my home brews.

        Posted by Methane on March 23, 2015
      • ok

        Posted by brandon on February 10, 2015
      • So are you saying that you only drink the hearts for the most part and leave the rest alone (or use for your next batch)?

        Posted by J. Davis on October 11, 2014
      • 2 thumbs up…….
        Very informative website…
        Learn a lot will be experimenting with some of
        your ideas and methods….

        Posted by clifford johnson on September 06, 2014
      • how cani buy a bread yeast packet in the SHTF situation.

        Posted by trongjai on August 17, 2014

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