Home Distilling: What Not To Do

  1. First thing is safety: Do not drink alcohol while you are distilling. Distilling produces highly flammable alcohol and can be dangerous for those lacking in common sense. For obvious reasons, keep and store your distilled spirits away from any open flame.
  1. Make sure that you have enough time to finish your distillation. Distilling can take up to 8-10 hours. It is important that you are in the vicinity of your still during this time.
  1. Depending on the size of your still, you will want to throw out the first bit of alcohol that comes out. For a 5 gallon still, it is recommended that your throw out the first 150ml. This stuff is not only unpalatable, but it may also be poisonous.
  1. Your still should only be made of either copper or stainless steel. Do NOT use aluminum. It is also important to note that some moonshiners have been known to use lead to seal their stills.
  1. Check your equipment. Make sure your condenser is clear and that your still isn’t leaking. A clogged or inadequate condenser will prevent steam or liquid to escape. This will cause pressure in the still to build up, which may cause your still to blow up.
  1. When you are cooking your grain, make sure that the temperature isn’t too hot. You will also want to make sure that you stir the grain. Corn in particular has a habit of sinking to the bottom of the pot where, if left unattended, it will burn. The taste of burnt corn is undesirable to say the least, and as such should be avoided.
  1. When diluting your spirits it is wise to use bottled water. The reason for this is that tap water may have minerals or chemicals that can make your spirits cloudy.
  1. When it comes to flavoring your spirits remember that less is more. It is easier to add flavors than it is to take them out.
  1. Make good cuts. One of the most important aspects of making a palatable spirit is to make good cuts. It is recommended that you keep your spirits in small containers and order them from first to last. This simple trick will aid you in deciding what you want to keep and what you want to redistill.

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