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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.
Here is a scaled down version of one of the best recipes of all time: Honeyshine. There aren't many examples out there of folks doing this, but they do exist. This recipe is perfect for testing on a small-scale pilot distillery system. It's basically a no frills distilled mead but the wildflower honey should provide quite an interesting final product.
This procedure is different from others in that it uses actual honey as the sugar source. For example, this Montana Honey Moonshine uses grain and cane sugar for the base and only is only back sweetened with honey. That's probably because honey is quite expensive. For example, small-batch local honey fetches about $75 per gallon! This makes honey whiskey quite an expensive small distillation project, but it would probably be worth the cost and the effort.
The following is how a commercial distiller would likely make honey whiskey on a small pilot system.
Honey Whiskey Recipe
- 1 gallon of wildflower honey or honey of choice
- 5 gallons of water
- Super Start distillers yeast or yeast of choice
- Yeast nutrient
- Heat 2.5 gallons of water to 160° F and stir in 1 gallon of honey until completely dissolved.
- Add an additional 2.5 gallons of room temperature water to the honey solution.
- Cool to 70F using an immersion chiller.
- Aerate by pouring mash back and forth between two buckets.
- Add yeast of choice.
- Add 2.5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient (Follow the directions on the label)
- Transfer to a glass carboy, install air lock, and allow to ferment around 70 F for at least 2 weeks or until it is finished fermenting. Check out 'How to Know when Fermentation is Finished' for information on fermentation.
- After fermentation is finished allow to settle for 10-14 days.
- Siphon (do not pour) into a 5 or 10 gallon copper still.
- Distill the fermented product.
- The distiller would make extremely tight heads and tails cuts if they did not plan on aging.
- The distiller would be tight with heads cut but more liberal with tails cuts if they were planning on following aging instructions below.
- It could be aged for 2-3 weeks using lightly toasted american oak chips.
- It would probably be good without aging if a bit of honey was added to the finished product.
Again, distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirits plant permit as well as relevant state and local permits.