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March 28, 2013

How to Distill - 101

How to Distill

10 Gallon Moonshine Still Kit

Although our still parts kits can be used for many things (homebrew beer, water, essential oils, etc.) we've had a ton of requests for a simple video on how to distill alcohol.  It may seem counter intuitive, but we've resisted for a few reasons.  First, there is already a lot of information out there on distilling, using just about any kind of still imaginable (column stills, pot stills, fractioning stills, reflux stills, pressure cooker stills, keg stills - you name it). Also, there is a lot to learn on the topic of distilling. Finally, distilling alcohol is illegal without the proper permits. 

The only permit that allows for production of distilled spirits for consumption is a commercial federal distilled spirits plant (DSP) permit. This is only available for commercial operators. Federal law provides no exemptions for the production of distilled spirits for personal or family use. Read our summary of distillation laws for more information. Additionally, state laws apply to the ownership and operation of distillation equipment. Rules on distillation vary from state to state, but in general, it is illegal to produce alcohol for consumption or for fuel, on the state level, without proper permits. Make sure to review your state's laws for rules on the ownership and operation of distillation equipment before purchasing parts from us and manufacturing a still. 

Under no circumstances should you ever distill or sell alcohol without a permit. If you choose to distill alcohol, make sure to obtain all applicable fuel or spirit permits (explained in the distillation law summary, mentioned above.).

We'll never be able to explain everything there is to know about distilling in a YouTube video. We also don't have the time to make a feature length film on the art of distilling, so we've always just suggested that one purchase a book on the subject.  

However, distilling isn't rocket science and we've received so many requests that we decided to put together a simple video. Here it is:

Distilling is pretty dang easy stuff once you get the hang of it, but to make the highest quality product, and more importantly, to make sure you're doing it safely, do the following before you actually start making your own alcohol: make sure to read our article on "moonshine" safety and also get yourself a good book on the topic.

As always, feel free to call or email us with questions on this article or questions about our copper "moonshine" still parts kits.

  • I was reading your article about how to make a corn mash. I’m new to this and if i read it correctly it seems that you strain your mash prior to pouring it back and forth between two buckets and adding your yeast and putting it in your fermentation bucket. Is that correct? The reason I ask is I thought that you cooled your mash, added the yeast, dumped it back and forth and then put all of it in the fermentation bucket waiting to strain it until just before you put it in the boiler. I think I confused myself. thanks!

    Posted by Paul Roberts on January 04, 2021
  • Can I use turkey Coker to distill with a flame buffer plate?

    Posted by ANdrew on December 11, 2020
  • If i have 50 gallons of mash and a 5 gallon still do i still have to throw out the heads every time I refill the pot?

    Posted by on April 04, 2019
  • We’ve run our first batch but I confused about distilling it twice. Can you please explain in more detail.
    Do I take what we have made and cut it with water by 30% and rerun?
    Thanks for your help!

    Posted by Gayle on January 25, 2019
  • why no comment from clawhammer??

    Posted by clyde on October 09, 2018

    Posted by Dave on May 31, 2018
  • I am new to distilling and want to try my hand at it. What books do you recommend for beginners? Any help would be appreciated

    Posted by Richard on March 07, 2018
  • I noticed that my heat source has a safety system to shut it self down and start up again causing the flow to also stop and start. Can this ruin my whole batch? Tastes Awesome but is slightly cloudy.

    Posted by Dave on January 27, 2018
  • In your corn whiskey recipe there is only the sugar that released from the corn Can I also add sugar? I am saving to get either the 5 or 10 gal still. I watch a lot of videos and this is the only one that doesn’t use sugar but one of the few that uses the malted barley which releases the corn sugar I’ve heard. so I’m just a bit confused. Can one use both? Thanks!

    Posted by Larry Puckett on February 22, 2017
  • Newbie. We made a run and it was the smoothest best tasting shine I have ever had. We cut the heads and tails and had a 90 proof first run. After 2 weeks in the jar it tasted like rubbing alcohol. Why did the taste change?

    Posted by Eric on June 21, 2016
  • do I have this correct on the mash.
    1: heat 5 gal H20 to 165 deg F add 8 1/2 lbs flake maze ( corn) stir 3-5 min
    2: heat mixture to 152 deg add malted barley stir for 1-2 min. let sit for about 1 1/2 hours.
    3: heat 1/2 cup H2O to about 110 deg add 1 table spoon sugar. mix mixture
    4: when corn & barlet mixture temp at 70 deg add yeast mixture and stir.
    5: when mash no longer bubbles ( 5 to 7 days) and has a foam on top its ready to still?
    can I let the mash sit in the original container if i plan to pump mixture into pot for stilling? can what is left in the bottom of the mash mixture be reused for another mash mixture?

    Posted by chris on May 03, 2016
  • Ok check this out on my reflux still do you still throw out the 4 shots and can I just dump it back in on the same run and do the heads the same way I have a ball valve on top of my boiler

    Posted by Bubbajim on October 12, 2015
  • is it ok to make a still from a stainless steel pot and lid

    Posted by brooke keefer on March 27, 2015
  • How long do u cook off 10 gallons

    Posted by skeeter on March 26, 2015
  • I bought a 5 gallon steel from you. My questions are I need to know all of the temperatures for ethanol methanol and water evaporation for high altitude 4000 feet. Thanks

    Posted by jeremy on September 04, 2014
  • What is a good ratio for all the ingredients for a five gallon bucket.

    Posted by James on July 28, 2014
  • How long does it normally take to run a five gallon batch to get a gallon out of a five gallon still?

    Posted by Scott on May 09, 2014
  • How long does it normally take to run a five gallon batch to get a gallon out of a five gallon still?

    Posted by Scott on May 09, 2014
  • getting ready to order a 5 gal. pot read a lot and learned a lot but on the five gal. when you run honey shine I no you throw out the foreshot but do you have to run the head, heart and tail on a small pot.

    Posted by mike on March 12, 2014
  • Could you please email me a few of your recipes for moonshine for a 8gal pot. Thank you

    Posted by Wayne on February 23, 2014

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