An arguably BASIC method to making your own whiskey at home! There's nothing like taking a sip of good whiskey while taking pride in it because you slaved over it from start to finish. Be warned, though, in many areas it is illegal to distill your own spirits.
Step 1: Step 1: Materials
The grains and yeast that will be used in this instructable are just what I have chosen. There is an unbelievable amount of recipe's out there, but this one is quite basic yet fruitful. Once you get a good understanding of the basics, you may want to explore the internet for various recipe's or even come up with your own.
- 5 gallon (US) bucket w/lid that has a good seal
- a couple balloons (in case one explodes)
- pvc pipe, approx 2 in long, 3/4 in wide (as long as a balloon can fit on nice and snug)
- hot glue gun OR J.B. weld
- some coffee filters
- rubber bands
- some method of distillation (I use a simple 1 gallon water distiller I found on Amazon)
- hydrometer and a graduated cylinder that is at least as tall as the hydrometer
- a couple glass containers that can be sealed (I use half gallon mason jars)
- toasted wood chips
- activated carbon
- an empty gallon water jug with the bottom cut out to be used as a funnel
- 10 lbs white sugar
- 3 cups whole grain oats
- 1 cup each of rye flour and corn meal
- 3 packs of active dry yeast
- 4.5 gallons of water
Step 2: Step 2: Prepping Your Fermenter
If you already happen to have a fermenter, skip this step!
First, take your bucket lid and drill a hole through the top, making sure you can snugly fit your pvc pipe through it. Place your pipe so that about a half inch sticks through the bottom, and seal around where the pipe contacts the lid with your hot glue or J.B. weld and set aside until completely dry.
Next, once the seal has dried, fully sanitize the inside of the bucket and the bottom of the lid, including the inside of the pipe.
Finally, take a balloon and inflate just enough to take a needle and poke 3 holes near the top of the balloon and snugly fit the balloon on the part of the pipe that will be facing outside the bucket. During fermentation, unwanted gases are produced and need to escape or your fermenter may explode. The mash cannot be exposed to air, for bacteria may invade. The balloon allows a seal to the container, but as gas builds up, the balloon will inflate and let the gas seep out without letting anything else in.
Step 3: Step 3: Preparing the Mash
First, in a large pot, bring one gallon of water to a vigorous boil. While the water is heating up, weigh out 10 lbs of sugar and pour into the bottom of your bucket. When the water is boiling, pour into the bucket and then stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Next, fill that same large pot with 1/2 gallon of water and fill a smaller pot with 1/4 gallon of water and bring both to a boil. Once boiling, add the oats to the small pot and combine the rye and corn meal into the large pot and bring the solutions to a light boil. Stir both pots often, making sure to prevent clumping and keeping anything from sticking and burning on the bottom. This process will extract sugars from the grains, helping with fermentation and adding flavor.
While these are "cooking", add a small amount of sugar, a 1/2 a tsp or so, into a bowl of warm water, then add all your yeast and set aside.
Keep stirring your rye, corn, and oats for about 10 or 15 minutes. Once that time is up, add both pots to your bucket and stir around. Add enough cold water to your bucket so that there is approx 4.5 gallons of solution.
Wait until the solution in the bucket, or mash, has cooled down to 70-95 degrees F. Once you have reached one of these temperatures, add your bowl of yeast which should have foamed up by now. Stir in the yeast.
Finally, seal the lid onto the bucket and soon the balloon shall inflate. Set the mash aside in a warm, dark place. If it is somewhere where the temperature will drop below room temp, it is not a good location. Try to keep the environment between 70-95 degrees F.
Step 4: Step 4: Fermentation
Patience is a virtue, something to remember when fermenting.
Fermenting will take at least a couple weeks, or until your balloon is not erect anymore. Once the balloon has stopped inflating, it is time to kill your yeast. The best way to do this is to make room in your fridge and place the bucket inside until your mash is clearer, at least not as cloudy than before. You should not have too cloudy of a mash when you distill.
The fermented mash is safe to drink, in fact. Take a sip or dip your finger in to taste, and you will be able to taste a sort of sweet yet slightly sour wine-like product.
Remember, patience! Do not stop fermentation early, you will need it to ferment until it is done to reach the highest alcohol % in the mash as possible. Stopping early will also alter the flavor of the end result.
Step 5: Step 5: Distilling
Ready your still. If you are using a 1 gallon still like I do, scoop out one gallon of mash and place in another container. Take a coffee filter and attach it with rubber bands to the end of your gallon jug funnel. Slowly pour your mash you set aside into your giant funnel so that it filters out any remaining yeast or grains. Aim your filter so the filtered mash ends up in your still.
Once you have filled your still, start running it.
Ever heard the old saying that instructs you to remove the first shot of a run because it is bad for you etc.? Don't bother with that yet, I'll tell you when.
Soon a clear liquid will start coming out of your still, which is your spirit. Run until the spirit coming out of your still does not have any alcohol taste anymore, then put in a glass container and seal.
Repeat the distilling process until you have ran your whole bucket. In the end, I typically have about a gallon of spirit that is about 40% alcohol. This is your first run.
Take your first run and run it again, this time taking out the first shot of liquid to come out of the still. Run until what is coming out does not taste like alcohol anymore, and store in a glass container and seal.
Step 6: Step 6: Dilution
Your second run batch will be way to high % to be a typical whiskey, unless you like it like that for some reason.
You will now need to dilute your second run to your desired %. Whiskey is typically around 40-42% alcohol.
Use your hydrometer and graduated cylinder to measure your current alcohol %.
Hope you like to do math...
let, x= run volume (ml) b = % you want to reach y = run % z = ml of water you need to add
You need to find out how much water you need to add (z) to reach the % you want (b).
Here'sthe equation for you... z = [ (x * y)/b ] - x
Plug in the numbers to find z. NOTE: remember, percentages go in as decimals (ex. 85% is 0.85)
Step 7: Step 7: Aging
A "less" complicated way to age your whiskey is to find an oak barrel and age it, but the following is a quicker way.
Take your wood chips and toast them with a butane torch, just slightly blackening the outside. Make sure to use small chips, which can be found in grocery stores near charcoal and other grilling needs.
The chips SHOULD be oak, but it's whatever you desire.
Next, fill up glass containers with your diluted spirits about 3/4 the way full and fill the rest of the way with the chips. Seal off the containers.
Place a pot of water on a burner, and put your jars in the pot. The water in the pot should reach about 1/4 of the way up your containers. Turn the heat to low, and let the jars sit in this warm water for about 6 hours. Make sure to periodically release pressure built up in the containers.
After 6 hours, your whiskey will now be actual whiskey. It should have an amber hue to it, similar to what you see in the stores. Remove the containers from the pot and there ya have it, your'e good to go. You have successfully made your own whiskey. You can store the containers in a cool place and age in the chips for however long as you want if you want a richer taste. The longer you age, the better.
Before you consume, make sure to filter out your chips and any other particles in the whiskey with your jug funnel and a coffee filter.
Step 8: Step 8: Filtering
This step is not required, but highly recommended for smoother taste.
Take your jug funnel and place another coffee filter on the end. Put a decent amount of activated carbon, about half a pound, in the funnel. Pour your whiskey into the funnel and it will filter through the carbon and through the coffee filter, catching it into another container. The more times your filter, the more impurities you will extract, removing harsh flavors. Store your whiskey in sealed bottles or whatever you are using, and you will have completed the basic whiskey making process.