This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
Before we get into the particulars of this process, we'd like to take a moment to remind you that home distilling is illegal without state and federal permits. However, making fuel alcohol with a fuel alcohol permit, is legal. The recipe below should only be used to make fuel alcohol unless proper permits are possessed for making distilled spirits.
Apple "Moonshine" RecipeThe first step in the process of making apple "moonshine," or brandy, is to actually make apple wine. After the apple wine has finished fermenting, it can be distilled and turned into apple "moonshine," which is actually technically a brandy.
- 25 pounds of ripe apples ( 1/2 bushel - we have a mixed variety of apples which works really well)
- 5-10 pounds cane sugar (1-2 pounds per gallon of mash)
- Enough water to reach 5 gallons of total liquid after juicing the apples
- 2.5 teaspoon yeast nutrient (Follow the directions on the label- most brands require 1/2 tsp per gallon)
- 1 packet dry wine yeast
- Pleasant Hill MacIntosh Fruit Press 3-5 Gallon
- Pleasant Hill Maximizer Fruit Grinder
- 6.5 gallon fermenter with airlock
- Large pot for mashing
- Mash paddle or spoon
- Brewing/Wine hydrometer or refractometer
- Brewing thermometer
Target Apple Wine Stats
- Starting Gravity: 1.065
- Ending Gravity: 1.000
- Wash Alcohol By Volume: (ABV) 8.5%
- Spirit ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
- Time to Ferment: 7 Days (can vary depending on yeast and temp)
- Fermentation temperature: 70F
The rest of the recipe is below. However, if you're into short cuts, you might want to check out our Apple Pie Moonshine Spice Kit before reading the rest of this recipe. It produces an awesome apple shine using a secret mix of spices and off the shelf alcohol!
Mashing And Fermentation Process1. Pick a half bushes of apples. When making apple wine the more acidic and sour varieties of apples are best (Winesap, McIntosh, and Jonathans all work great - but you can use any variety).
2. Wash the apples.
3. Add the apples to the apple grinder and grind them to a pulp.
4. Add the mash bag to the apple press.
5. Add the ground apples to the fruit press.
6. Press the apples.
7. Collect the apple juice in a sterilized bucket
8. Once all of the apples have been juiced, add the juice to the mash pot.
9. Add 4 gallons of water (or enough to reach 5.5 gallons total volume).
10. Mix the apple juice and water together.
11. Take a gravity reading.
13. Write down the gravity reading (Our original gravity was 1.013).
14. You can go ahead and start heating at this point.
15. Add 4-10 pounds of cane sugar while the mixture is heating up to 162F (you want to have a starting gravity around 1.065)
16. Take another gravity reading it should be somewhere around 1.065. If the starting gravity is low keep adding sugar until the starting gravity is around 1.065. ( The wine will yield 8.5% if it ferments down to 1.000 )
17. Cool the mash to 70 degrees with a wort chiller and siphon the mash into a 6.5 gallon fermenter.
18. Re-hydrate yeast if the package requires it.
19. Add the yeast to the fermenter.
20. Add 2.5 teaspoon yeast nutrient (Follow the directions on the label- most brands require 1/2 tsp per gallon).
21. Add an airlock to a fermentation vessel and ferment in a dark location between 65-86 degrees (depending on the yeast strain) until fermentation is finished. We suggest fermenting in a cool dry basement, around 70 degrees.
Apple "Moonshine" Distillation Process
- After fermentation, transfer the apple wine to a 5 gallon bucket with an auto-siphon. Transfer only the liquid to the copper still, leave behind the yeast and other sediment.
- Make tight heads and tails cuts.
- Commercial distillers would set the hearts aside to be aged (for a premium product) or even conusmed without any doctoring. They might even "stretch" the amount of consumable product by mixing a bit of the heads and and a fair amount of the tails (nearest to the hearts) with the hearts. They would most likely age this product because aging smooths out much of the harshness of the heads and tails. Most distillers don't age for any particular amount of time. They age "until it tastes right." During the aging process they'll taste the product from time to time to see how it is progressing, as the last thing they want to do is "over oak" the product.