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This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.

February 3, 2013
Last updated

Alcohol Yields

Owner of Clawhammer Supply

How Much Alcohol Will a Still Produce?

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.


The amount of alcohol produced by a still depends on starting alcohol and final proof. In this article we'll explain how a commercial distiller would determine how much alcohol to expect from a run.

For the instant gratification seekers in the crowd, here's the short answer:

  • A 1 gallon run will yield 3-6 cups of alcohol
  • A 5 gallon run will yield 1-2 gallons of alcohol
  • A 8 gallon run will yield 1.5-3 gallons of alcohol
  • A 10 gallon run will yield 2-4 gallons of alcohol

For the researchers, science nerds, alchemists, and truth seekers, here's why:

Starting Alcohol

Starting alcohol can vary significantly, having a big impact on the final yield. Starting alcohol is generally expressed as "alcohol by volume" or ABV. It's simply the percentage of alcohol in a solution of alcohol wash. For example a 10 gallon wash that contains 1 gallon of pure alcohol will have an ABV of 10%. The higher the starting alcohol, the higher the potential yield.

The starting alcohol of a wash is dependent on two things: the amount of fermentable sugar produced by the mash, or added in lieu of making a mash, and the type of yeast used.

Fermentable sugar

Fermentable sugar is exactly what it sounds like - the amount of sugar available to be eaten by yeast that can later be turned into alcohol. If there isn't very much sugar then there won't be much alcohol. However, too much sugar is wasteful. The amount of sugar needed depends on the recipe, the size of the batch, and the potential alcohol production by the yeast. Though, in general, the more fermentable sugar there is in the mash, the higher the potential starting alcohol and the higher the yield.


The type of yeast used is very important as well. Bread yeast (the kind that can be purchased at a grocery store) will produce starting alcohol in the 10% range, whereas a strong distillers yeast may produce starting alcohol as high as 20%. This is due to two factors. First, distillers yeast has been bred to withstand higher concentrations of ambient alcohol. Where a bread yeast might die off once starting alcohol has reached 10 or 12%, a distillers yeast will still thrive, and will do so until ambient alcohol has increased to a much higher level (20% or so). Second, some distillers yeasts are packaged with loads of yeast nutrients i.e. Turbo 24, 48, etc. This can actually be a bad thing, as the excess nutrients contained in turbo yeasts can cause off flavors in the final product. Checkout our article "Bourbon, Whiskey, Vodka and Moonshine - How Much Yeast?" for more information on yeast.

In short, good yeast will allow for a higher starting alcohol and a greater final yield without producing off flavors.

Final Proof

Final proof can also have a significant impact on yield. If 10 gallons (with a starting alcohol of 10%) is distilled, the amount of pure alcohol collected will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 gallon. However, the collected spirit won't be 100% pure (200 proof). It usually gets proofed down to somewhere around 100 proof, or 50% pure alcohol. While the total amount of alcohol collected remains the same, there is now twice as much "product" and the "yield" is doubled. The higher the final proof, the lower the final yield, the lower the final proof, the higher the final yield.

Collection efficiency

One final note is that all of the alcohol produced during fermentation will not be collected during the run. Generally only about 85 or 90% is collected because it takes too much time and energy to get the last little bit...and it isn't the good stuff anyway. For example, if there is 1 gallon of pure alcohol in a wash and it is distilled with a collection efficiency of 85%, then .85 gallons will be collected.


Here are a few examples of yields that a commercial distiller can expect when running 1, 5, or 10 gallon test batches:

  • A 1 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 10%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 2.72 cups.
  • A 1 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 20%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 5.44 cups.
  • A 5 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 10%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield .85 gallons.
  • A 5 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 20%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 1.7 gallons.
  • A 8 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 10%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 0.89 gallons.
    A 8 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 20%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 1.79 gallons.
  • A 10 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 10%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 1.7 gallons.
  • A 10 gallon run with a starting alcohol of 20%, a final proof of 100, and a collection efficiency of 85% will yield 3.4 gallons.
Remember, it is illegal to distill alcohol without the proper permits.

Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • Fruit runs, fructose involved in calculating? To run 18 gallon of Crab-apple, 6-(5-Gal) pail mash in with 8 lbs USA,, of rye. 40lb of sugar. Start of 1.080 end .995 or 12.395% so of 22 usa gal , ready , how much ( adding fructose factor) will this produce? ?Qts

    Posted by Crsig on August 24, 2023
  • How much will 5 gallon of honey make in alcohol

    Posted by Rory Pierce on May 30, 2023
  • It would of been nice to have the mathematical formula to calculate the final yeild based on the starting quantity and starting percent alcohol, and the efficiency. I think it is:
    (start quantity x starting alcohol) x distilling efficiency = final yield
    Is this correct? in my formula:
    7 gallons at 12% with at 50% efficiency would yield 0.42 gallons or almost 54 ounces is that correct?

    Posted by Deacon on April 27, 2023
  • Where can I find all of these articles?? I’d like to read them and I can’t seem to open them. Thankyou 👍👍

    Posted by Bob on March 27, 2023
  • If I want to make 15 gallons of alcohol At a 100 proof how much mash do I need

    Posted by Derek on February 08, 2023
  • Confused help confused

    Posted by Vonda on October 24, 2022
  • Confused

    Posted by Vonda on October 24, 2022
  • I stayed at 130 for two quarts then 128 126 to 120 down to 110 I understand dropping a couple notches but 10 why what is going on

    Posted by Vonda on October 24, 2022
  • When making a Gin mash, how do I increase my alcohol content to 10%. I have a 13 gal still

    Posted by Steven on October 05, 2022
  • I fix my mash for a ten gallon still after it fermented I put around 7.5 gallons in my pot. What can I do with the leftover liquid that’s been fermented it seems to be a waste throwing it out. Can I put it in the ten gallon still and make a smaller run or is it worth it to do this I haven’t made but five runs and all have been very successful so far. Having a yield around 1.5 gallon per run

    Posted by Anthony Groves on August 11, 2022
  • I have a Hydrometer I bought from you all, not sure how to use it, see where some fill a tube like a cigar with shine and check. Is this correct or need larger container to check. Reading are different both ways… thanks

    Posted by Mark on March 29, 2022
  • How many times can you use the wiskey sticks? and can they be rechard to increase there effect?

    Posted by Mike on March 07, 2022
  • I have received so many good tips from you, all freebees!! I really thank you,
    Now if you could give me some real good playing guitar tips, I could sing and play
    While I’m watching my shine dip in the jar!! Thanks a lot Russ

    Posted by Russ on February 14, 2022
  • I don’t get more than a gallon and a quart I’ve done many things to get the yield higher doesn’t work

    Posted by Booze on November 24, 2021

    Posted by Kerry on November 13, 2021
  • Very interesting Iam learning more all the time.when I learn enough about how to make brandy I’ll start with a five gallon still. Thanks enjoying the lessons

    Posted by Bill on February 10, 2021
  • i am trying to get a third ferment from my wash since the leftovers of the wash appear to be “sugary” i got decent results from the second fermentation but not this third one. i am reusing the yeast cake from the original but no luck this third mash ferment (no activity). any ideas?

    Posted by aLLAN on December 14, 2020
  • hi I just bought a 2gallon still .How much would it make. I see all the others, not a 2 gallon listed help me

    Posted by NEAL on December 11, 2020
  • Yes after your first run can you put finished product back into the still with the old mash for your 2nd run and again for third run or do you jump out after first run and just use the finished product for second run and maybe Third Run what to do with old wash or mass after first run

    Posted by on December 09, 2020
  • If starting a run with a 10% wash Will the yield be the same With both a pot still and a reflux still or will one produce less? Doug

    Posted by DOug on November 25, 2020

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