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January 24, 2014

Bourbon, Whiskey, Vodka and Moonshine - How Much Yeast?

We get a lot of questions about yeast. Everyone seems to want to know how much yeast is needed for making 5 or 10 gallons of mash. For those that have read The Best Yeasts for Distilling, it's obvious we are very fond of bread yeast. We have found over the years that bread yeast can easily produce as much alcohol as other yeasts if used correctly.

The question we hear a lot is "How much yeast do I need for the ____ recipe?" The answer is "It Depends." Every type of yeast is slightly different. In general, yeast can be categorized into three different groups: champagne & beer yeast, distillers yeast, and bread yeast. Use the following guidelines for measuring the quantity of yeast that is added to a mash.

Before we get started, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only and the information in this article is for educational purposes only. Please read our complete legal summary for more information on the legalities of distillation.

Champagne or Beer Yeast

Whiskey mash with Bread Yeast When using a champagne or beer yeast it will have directions on the packet. Every champagnebeer yeast we have ever used is packaged to ferment 5 gallons of beer. When using champagne/beer yeast use 1 packet for every 5 gallons of mash.

Distillers Yeast

When using distillers yeast follow the directions on the packet.  If there are no directions we suggest 1 tablespoon of yeast per 5 gallons of mash.

Bread Yeast

When using bread yeast we have had great results with Fleischmann's bread yeast over the years. Bread yeast can be bought in packet form or in 1-2 pound bulk packages. It is normally cheaper to buy in bulk but it is more convenient to store the yeast in packets. We prefer packets and can justify the slight cost increase for the convenience/storage factor. Just follow the steps we have outlined below in order have great results using bread yeast.

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    Create a simple yeast starter for 5 gallons of mash

    1. Add 1/2 cup of 110 degree water to a sanitized jar.
    2. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the water and mix thoroughly.
    3. Add 2 packets of yeast (14 grams or 1 tablespoon if using bulk yeast).
    4. Swirl the glass to mix in the yeast with the sugar water.
    5. Let the glass sit for 20 minutes and it will double in size.
    6. Once the starter has doubled in size add it to the mash and aerate. 


    To learn more about yeast and fermentation check out our article on "Fermentation and Yeast".

    Remember, it is illegal to distill alcohol at home for consumption. Do not do this.



    • aMazing how the container doubles in size?!

      Posted by Jono on September 22, 2017
    • Clawhammer, i need some help brother ,How much flechmans yeast to run a 15 gallon ,15 pounds of sugar batch of shine ?


      Posted by james vizcarrondo on May 21, 2017
    • Hi Emmet

      I still haven’t seen in the blogs how much yeast to use ? The best i can see or work out is 10 grams per litre of mash. I was using turbo but have just started my first one with bread yeast . I will let you know how it goes.

      Cheers Shane

      Posted by shane on April 17, 2017
    • this is the first time distilling i thought i go with a simple sugar shine batch to start with your recipe calls 5 gallons of water and 8 pounds of white sugar nothing is stated about yeast i read about the starter yeast please give my a little more detail from there do i add the starter to the 5 gallons of 70 degree and the 8 pounds of sugar a little more step by step please i plan on using bread yeast is that a good starting place?

      Posted by Mark on December 29, 2016
    • I have trouble on my bread yeast and sugar fermEntation , anyone please help me, I TRY TO FERMENT 5liters of water on 2 kilo gram of sugar,1 table spoon of yeast .. I wait almost 5 hours but still there no bubble on my airlock and then I leave it and then I wait again days, but still my theres no bubble showing and no foam forming inside the fermentor bottle .. now its almost two weeks now still the same I going to throwthis and change a new one? Guys please help me ,, any suggestion please coz I dont want to waste … one question .. I am FERMENTing sugar wine for almost a month now but still no foam and bubbles come out and it has still noise on the fermentor bottle if im going to distilled this still it can produce alcohol?

      Posted by radian on October 16, 2016
    • Hi Guys
      I’m a novice at this and enjoy all the questions, but there are no answer
      Would really be nice

      Posted by Robin on May 17, 2016
    • how much bread yeast tomato paste and how much lemon for 5 gallons

      Posted by glen on April 26, 2016
    • Hi, Paul,
      your best bet is to check with your hydrometer as I have found that if your mash is only bubbling every 30 secs. or so then your mash is probably ready or as ready as its going to be. because of your low temp.You could try putting your mash somewhere warmer for a couple of days,see if you get any response, if not rack it

      Posted by james on April 14, 2016
    • @Paul, Hi there i saw your question regarding the fermentation of your wodka mash. i would recommend to just let it sit till basically no more bubbles come. it is quite odd in my opinion that after 36 days still bubbles come but that is not bad or anything. do not add any extra yeast because for as far as i know that will not work well. best is just to wait. how much yeast did you add in the first place ?

      Kind regards,


      Posted by Samuel BOAS on April 09, 2016
    • Could someone please help I have made 23lt of Vodka sugar mash for the first time,1 full packet of Prestige Professional Vodka Yeast Blend with AG,and 8kg of sugar.The problem is its have not stopped bubbling and today is the 36th day,it bubbles every 30 seconds.the temp is 18c ,i am in Ireland so its not that warm this time of year.
      I would like to know if the mash is ruined,do I just have to wait,or can I add more yeast or anything to speed the process .
      Someone please reply.

      Posted by Paul on April 06, 2016
    • Very interesting and informative ,

      Posted by BIll on March 25, 2016
    • never done any of this before wish i could knew an old timer i could learn from but i dont know of any so im teaching myself just got a small 3 gallon still kit off eBay once i get the hang of it i want to get one of yours but how much mash do i use? do i fill it up or only go halfway? any info will be greatly appreciated thanks!

      Posted by frank on January 05, 2016
    • Hello y’all
      I’ve been making moonshine for abot three years straight. My biggest feat was not making enough out of one batch. I bought a 3 gal batch still out of eBay. I have a 55 gal plastic drum that I filled with 20 gal of mash. For the 5 gal mashes I had in the past I used I pachet of fleshmans yeast and weilded great results I’m now making 20 gallons of the same mash but will use 4 packets in stead of one. It does great and I’ve the tried turbo yeast. The secret is raisons and I added corn starch as well. It gives the yeast something to eat off of instead of just the sugar. Which keeps it alive longer which gives u more alcohol. It’s so cheap and easy after a few days I just add more yeast just to make sure. I’ve gotten great results and do not see a need for turbo yeast. Yeah the avb is a little higher but for the price and waiting it, to me, isn’t worth it. I got 5 percent with bread and 8 for turbo but turbo was way expensive and I had to order it. Yeast gets 4 and a half in my book and I suggest it to anyone making shine or whisky.

      Posted by Jared on January 01, 2016
    • If you use turbo yeast and keep a bit of tails to grow you own, would this be the best of all worlds?

      Posted by Carl on December 11, 2015
    • I am an old shiner, I have been doing this since I was 8, when my pap paid me a dollar a day to clean the mash barrels and haul the wood for his fire. I started my own still when I was 14, with paps help of course. He always used the natural yeast from the grain when he malted it, except when the weather got colder then he would use grams bread yeast to help it out. We didn’t have a lot of money so that’s what we had to use. His whiskey was famous in the hills of WV and he never had a problem getting rid of it. I retired his still 30 years ago but still run an 85 gallon still with a 5 gallon thump. My son started shining when he was in his 20s after college, he said to keep the tradition alive, but he started getting information off the internets to improve the quality. After much trying and tasting, he is now running his still with bread yeast. The taste is cleaner and fresher and the proof is as good as ever. Does bread yeast work? Yep you can bet your socks on it, works every time.
      I am very happy that there are so many of yall learning to make your own whiskey. Just remember the cleaner the ingredients the better the taste. Happy shining

      Posted by OLd COpper on November 24, 2015
    • I started o about a mounth ago i started with ec 1118 and have about 5 grams for every 5 gls i wasnt getting alc. That i should so added red star one to two oz. Per gl i am useing air locks and they are finaly really moving so i have use alittle extra yeast what should i do please help

      Posted by need to know what i should do on July 11, 2015
    • Mountain Mike:
      No….they/I/We are not kidding. Bread yeast is the best, simplest, cheapest answer there is. Bread yeast is more or less a blank slate in a technical level, it hasn’t “learned” or “inherited” any of the traits of its predecessors.
      These “inherited” traits are what the massive breweries/ distilleries rely upon to maintain a constant production quality and/or flavor in the final product. As a matter of fact, the Guinness brewery has used the same strain of yeast for hundreds upon hundreds of years, and are a VERY highly guarded secret. They literally keep their yeast in a temperature controlled vault.
      You can reproduce the flavor of your own product by keeping the “tails” of one batch to add to the next. The yeast will “learn” and become a clone of the last batch. After a few progressive turns like this (approximately 7 or so), your final product will be as reliable as a professional distillery.

      Posted by 100% Irishguy on May 30, 2015
    • help
      I am new to making whiskey and am having a problem, I have tried three different yeasts the last one I tried was Fleischmann’s as you suggest, all have worked for 36 hours and them died off leaving little or no alcohol content in the mash. Any help will be appreciated.

      Posted by Jim on December 08, 2014
    • Hunter, sounds to me that is just the krausen from the yeast. Nothing wrong all top fermenting yeast will do that. If a secondary “skin” or anything floating after initial krausen I would be worried then.. The gunk on your carvery should wash fine with a mild soap which can be found for brewing in homebrew shops.. Happy brewing!

      Posted by Dudz on August 31, 2014
    • Bread Yeast works great but I have never had an ABV of more than 10%. I always end up with about a solid gallon of 80 to 90 proof moonshine on a 5 to 6 gallon mash.

      Posted by Barper on August 07, 2014

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