Note : if you decide to purchase any of these books via Amazon - please use the links I've got here for them. That way I get a wee credit to my account with them - maybe one day stacking up enough credit to buy one of the distilling books that I don't have.

NOTE there is a large selections of books located in the homedistiller wiki section wiki Books_and_Publications

cover The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible by Leon Kania ISBN 0-9674524-0-6 Pub 2001, 172pg, US$22 (+ postage ?) Available from, or email This book is easy reading & humorous. It is a "no-frills" approach to wine and beer making, with a wide range of recipes. It has good explanations, without getting into the theory. Shows how to make much of the ancillary equipment needed, including cappers, a malt drier, and converting a keg for use. It also goes into pot & basic reflux still design & operation.
The designs & operation instructions are principally those from the "BlueFlame" texts ( and "The Lore of Still Building", but with better illustrations of the designs; the recipes are basic "moonshine" style ones. Its a good introduction to the hobby, and a fun read (gotta love his style !), but would leave those who want more of the "how and why" aspects of still design & operation wanting a bit more.

Mike Nixon and Mike McCaw have produced a great new book "The Compleat Distiller" (Dec01), available from This is an extremely comprehensive reference, covering many different still designs & operation. It has a lot of information on construction, as well as great explanations of the theory of distilling. If you're only after one book, make this the one. Its available either electronically (US$12.50), or hardcover (US$25). ISBN 0-473-08135-0

Making pure corn whiskey - a professional guide for amateur and micro distillers" from I would likewise put "Making Pure Corn Whisky" up near the top of the list to buy. Ian has a great knowledge and understanding of the distilling process, and has explained it very clearly and in a straight-forward style. Instructions for building the still are well explained, with many photos to help. He has only suggested a heat input of 750W with the particular design, however I reckon it could easily handle 1500W (and hence half the distilling time) if the column were increased up to a 2" diameter.
The method of preparing corn mash is also well covered. The best bit though is a well laid out method for determining how to make the various "cuts" between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, with tables and examples to help guide you. He clearly explains how by changing when you make these cuts, you are able to alter the taste/profile of the whisky too.
Jack's review : The book gives full plans and details for building an offset-head type of column still, and then goes into great detail in describing how to use it to make pure corn whiskey. Very detailed construction steps (including finished photos of the still- removing all doubt as to whether or not it's really been done) make the construction of the still simple, and the recipe and instructions for making corn mash (with the grain, be it flaked, whole grain, or flour or meal) and distilling it into a VERY palatable product- including solid info on "making the cut" (essential to making good whiskey). For all of those who have, or want to build a still capable of making 95% alcohol this is the book to buy. For those who already have a still capable of turning out 95%- the book will still be very usefull for those interested in making a good whiskey ( I have seen the instructions on "making the cut" in this book used to make some very fine rum as well). For those interested in making something other than essence based booze or just plain gin and vodka, and are tired of drinking potstill whiskey that gives you an upset stomach after only one glass- this is your book. I purchased mine online at for $28.50 (Canadian). Delivery was prompt and the book gives the beginer the skill of a master whiskey distiller by just reading it- HIGHLY reccomended.

The Distillation of Alcohol - A Professional Guide to Amateur Distillers by John Stone and Michael Nixon. ISBN 0473-06608-4. Update : Mike has sold his final copy, sorry. You'll have to get one of their more recent books

cover Homemade Liqueurs by Dona and Mel Meilach (out of print, but easy to find) ISBN 0-8092-7137-0 Pub 1979, 222pg, US$5 (+ postage ?)
If you want to learn to make liqueurs, start here. There are other books that can give you fancy recipes that purport to taste like all manner of commercial liquors, but if you want to actually know what you're doing, this is the book. Beyond its wealth of recipes, it's filled with knowledge and understanding about the process of liqueur-making. It gives you not only variations on its recipes but completely different approaches for some flavors. By reading and paying attention to the recipes, you will come to understand why some things work and some don't; you will come to understand what sorts of changes you can make to a recipe; and you will finally be able to make your own recipes with confidence - because no book can give you all the liqueur recipes there are. Other books can tell you how to make liqueurs, but this book teaches you how to make the recipes. I recommend it strongly to any liqueur-maker who wants more than just rote instruction.

Glenn has just issued a republishing of "The Complete Practical Distiller" by M.L. Byrn. The first edition being published in 1854; he is reprinting the 8th edition published in 1875. (The 8th edition was enlarged to include an article on distilling by Th. Flinz.) More information, including the table of contents, can be found at website: This book is in a similar style to Monzerts "Practical Distiller" (1889) and Wrights "Distillation of Alcohol & De-Naturing" (1906), showing how spirits were commercially produced 130 years ago. Its not a "how do you build and operate a hobby still" book, but rather, how larger scale setups were built & operated. It has many good learnings & tips in it, and the recipes could be scaled down to smaller sizes if you wished. Very interesting for its historical perspective (eg their curiosity over how yeast works).

Don's review of ...
Practical Distiller by Leonard Monzert, circa 1889 reprinted by Lindsay Publications, Inc. US$8.95 The Author Leonard Monzert was a professional distiller and rectifier. This is a valuable reference book for any small distiller or anyone interested in a view from the American pre-prohibition era. Monzert's book is simply and concisely written to include the basic construction and operation of both pot and column stills. The 1889 writing of this book is an important aspect of this publication as well. In distillation history the coffey continuous column patent still had just come into use. It's greater capacity and economy dominated the traditional pot still for the first time in industrial production. This new still give's birth to the first blended whiskey. The excitement towards modern distillation is palpable in this treastie from the golden age of industrialism. Monzert's work contains many traditional formulas, including several that are for various reasons, no longer in production. One is "Red Ratafia" liqueur a cordial made of red cherries, black cherries, raspberries, strawberries, brown sugar, neutral spirits, cinnamon, mace and cloves. Another is "Absinthe Suisse" made with long wormwood, short wormwood, green anise, long fennel, star anise, corriander, hyssop and neutral spirits. Instructions included for essences and botanical extraction are as valuable today, as when they were first written. Also of interest is a diagram of the poteen still used by the "Irish peasantry". The greatest value of this book is that it gives a complete manual overview of alcohol production. This enables any small producer to perform tasks by hand until more proper equipment can be afforded.

Distillation of Alcohol & De-Naturing by F.B. Wright, circa 1918 reprinted by Lindsay Publications, Inc. US$14.95 This is the first alcohol reference book written after "The Free Alcohol Act of 1906" which for the first time allowed tax free production of de-natured alcohol for fuel and industrial use. This change in governmental regulation, allowed the large agricultural sector of the economy to become self-reliant by making it's own fuel. All internal combustion engines of this era ran on alcohol. This technology was crucial to a segmented nation without a national highway system. There is a great inclusion of governmental regulations of the era and it is contrasted to contemporary farm alcohol production programs of Germany & France. Large beverage alcohol chapters are filled with a great variety of still pictures and technical drawings. Many of the still drawings are given as teaching examples and become superceded by more contemporary designs. For example: "Gillaume's inclined column still" was used for molasses distillation and is more forgiving of solids and boil overs than vertical designs. Many entire factory layouts are included in addition to mere still designs. Raw adjunct ingredient processing of potatoes and beets are shown in detail, along with the standard grain and fruit juice. This work is a pre-prohibition "how to book" to build your own still or distillery, it is much more than a simple formula book. It no doubt, helped many family farms gain additional use from scarce resources.

This book is now available as a FREE download at

Manufacture Of Whiskey Brandy & Cordials by Irving Hirsch, circa 1937 reprinted by Lindsay Publications, Inc. $9.95 The author Irving Hirsch, LL.B. LL.M. was a Chemical Engineer and Technical Consultant. This book contains a great deal of information in all aspects of alcohol production in great detail. There are many formulas for spirits, herbal extracts and cordials.
The formula chapters include: Rye whiskey, Apple Jack, Pear Brandy, Slivowitz, Fruit Brandy,Rum, Gin, Aneseed, Benedictine, Blackberry Brandy, Coffee Liquor, Kimmel, Lindburg Bitters, Maraschino Liquor, Orange Liquor, Peppermint Liquor, Rum Liquor, Raspberry Liquor, Stomach Bitters, Vermouth, Walnut Liquor, Absinthe Cordial, Apricot Cordial, Chartreuse, Creme de Cherry, Creme de Cocoa. True to his era, the author believes that single malt whiskey is too strongly flavored to drink straight and should be "improved" by being blended with column distilled spirits. He also intimated that, the time is close at hand when chemical science will make the aging of non-neutral distilled spirits unnessary. However, he redeems himself many times over, with a plethora of flavor corrective and maturation accelerating techniques. Several of Hirsch's inventions are noted in industrial microbiology texts through the late 1950's. This book has a great deal of practical information found nowhere else. It leaves the reader wondering when and why we stopped trying brave new beverage distillation techniques.

All three of these book are available in paperback for US$33.85 per set + S/H at
Outterson, LLC 7747 Woodstone Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45244
Tel 513-474-3521 Fax 513-474-9384
or technical bookstores

cover Home Distillation Handbook by Ola Norrman. Either download a pdf file from the site, then pay US$5 for the password), or buy a printed version. ISBN 91-970694-5-0. Its OK, but is very heavy on promoting their range of flavouring & yeasts. I don't believe it has enough detail, however it does give good instructions on how to build the "Labmaster" reflux still.

Spirits Unlimited by Peter J. Wheeler & R. Malcolm Willmott, for NZ$20 (approx US$10). ISBN 0473-03752-1. The special anniversary edition (Jan 2000) now covers equipment, fermentation, distillation, treating & flavouring the spirit, making whisky, essential oils, and still design. Particularly good is the trouble shooting guide. This book was the first one I got, and still find it an excellent resource. Order it from their web page , or write to PO Box 111, Waimauku, Auckland 1250, New Zealand.

The Lore of Still Building by Kathleen Howard & Norman Gibat. Gives a good range of cheap and easy stills that can be made from pressure cookers and other kitchen items. Also has a fair amount on using ethanol as a fuel.No ISBN number, try 741 North Countryline St, Fostoria, Ohio 44830-1004, ph (419) 435-0404 fax (419) 435-1844

Secrets of Building an Alcohol Producing Still, US$13. Haven't seen it myself, so no comment

Bob Sebert's MoonWater Distillation (link broken?), US$15.
Comments from "UPS747" : I have just recieved Bob Sebert's book: Moonwater Distillation: The design uses a stainless steel boiler made out of cooking pots and the tower is composed of ABS plastic pipe! packed with gravel. More than half of the book seems comprised of his life story and his "finding" of God. The only information on using the still is about one-quarter of a page long and not very detailed. If the still were redesigned to use copper or stainless steel it would probably work well, but I'm certain ABS piping would poison someone. As it is the still looks too touchy in it's design (you forget one little thing and it's ruined) The final page of the book is an adverisement for the still and column premade by Mr.Sebert. Save your money and don't buy the book.

Two German books reviewed by Christian :
Josef Pischl: Schnapsbrennen, Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz - Stuttgart, ISBN 3-7020-0739-3 (ca. 30DM)
Das ist ein sehr ausführliches Buch zum Thema Schnaps brennen. Es behandelt die Maischebereitung, die Destillation und die Nachbehandlung und wendet sich mehr an kommerzielle Produzenten.

Josef Pischl: Schnapsbrennen, Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz - Stuttgart, ISBN 3-7020-0739-3 (approximately 30DM)
This is a very detailed book about distilling alcohol. It treats the mash-preparation, the distillation and the subsequent treatment and contacts to more commercial producers.

Helfried Schmickl, Friederun Pleterski: Handbuch für Schnapsbrenner, Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main, 1999, ISBN 3-8218-1520-5 (ca. 25DM)
Dieses Buch wendet sich an den interessierten Laien und liefert einige Bauvorschläge für Destillen aus haushaltsüblichen Geräten. Ausserdem befasst es sich noch mit der Likör- und Kräuterschnapsherstellung. Das Thema Methanol wird nicht ganz korrekt abgehandelt, hält man sich jedoch an die sonst korrekten Vorgaben des Buches, dürfte keine Gefahr bestehen.

Helfried Schmickl, Friederun Pleterski,: Handbuch für Schnapsbrenner, Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main, 1999, ISBN 3-8218-1520-5 (approximately 25DM)
This book turns to the interested layman and supplies some building suggestions for distilling from household-usual devices. Furthermore, it deals with the manufacture of liqueur and herbal liqueur. The topic of methanol is not dealt quite correctly, but if you keep to the otherwise correct specifications of the book however, no danger should exist.

Peter writes ...
A lot of knowledge of profesional and home-still-equipment is develloped and fabricated in germany, in the neaberhood of Stuttgart. Last summer I visited a few still-equipment-factorys. Plenty of literature is written in Germany. A very good book with 400 pages, 111 figures and 65 tabels, is: "Technologie der Obstbrennerei", Von Hans Joachim Pieper, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart, ISBN 3-8001-5814-0.

(Feb 01) "Moonshine made simple and still makers manual", by Byron Ford, published by Fermetech Wholesalers (Nov 2000) - 19 Petone St, Wellington, NZ, ISBN 0-473-07404-4, for approx NZ$15. If you want to buy a copy, I'm sure Pete : would oblige. It covers discussion on making essential oils, fermentation & distillation, still making, purification & flavouring, and gasohol for the car. There are several recipes for "HokiNooki" moonshine. Its written around New Zealand & Australian distilling. Its an OK introductory book, but nothing flash, and some bits are dodgy/misinforming

Good Booze Recipe And Cookbook by James C. Krohn (Author) List Price: $12 Haven't seen it myself, so can't comment.
Jacks review .." The "good booze recipe and cookbook" by James Krohn is one of the first books I ever purchased on home distilling. The book is not much more than a pamphlet on making sugar mashes (using a 3 gallon bucket of sugar to each 26 gallon garbage can, which is then filled with water), Calgon bath salts are then added (these are no longer made as they contaminated water supplies) for some nutrients and bakers' yeast is added. The mash is then distilled in a potstill made out of a 5 gallon aluminum pressure cooker 4 times (the last run is when you collect the heads) in order to make pure ethanol, to which you can add oak chips (for Bourbon) or coffee beans and then cut with water. The authors' personal set up is 4, 5 gallon pressure cookers welded to make 2, ten gallon stills. The illustrations are hand done- badly. and no usefull design info (not even the diameter of the copper tubing is mentioned) is to be found anywhere in the book. The homedistiller website, a 5 gallon Eurostill, and some turbo yeast will provide a HELL of a lot more info than this book- save your money."

More Mountain Spirits: The Continuing Chronicle of Moonshine Life and Corn Whiskey, Wines, Ciders & Beers in America's Appalachians by Joseph Earl Dabney (Paperback - March 1985) List Price: $8.95.
Haven't seen it myself, so can't comment.
Jacks review .." The book "more mountain spirits" by Joseph Dabney consists of the author writing down what an old moonshiner tells him- consisting primarily of sugar and grain ,or sugar and fruit mashes. The still information is mostly pictures of stills taken by the government- showing the shoddy construction of the stills. The one redeeming chapter is a how-to section on making an all copper still. It's a 2-gallon model with a jacketed-column condensor. A nice looking still, but hardly usefull to someone with an electric stovetop. the still looks like a metal barrel with a wide middle, and slightly resembles Frankenstein due to the rivets holding it together. The only use to the book is a couple of 1800's era recipes for whiskey that are already floating about on the internet."

cover A Practical Handbook on the Distillation of Alcohol from Farm Products (1922) by David J. Goldsmith. List Price: $22.95
Haven't seen it myself, so can't comment.

John Stone has put out a new book "The Carriage Still" Hard copy US$18 or soft copy US$8. The book is very easily read, with heaps of clear explanations and diagrams. The still design is that of his "top of the line" model - a further development of the inline one in the Gin-Vodka book. Details at the web site

For our Dutch readers ...

"Het volkomen stookboek"
Uitgeverij Bas Lubberhuizen

(10 gulden exclusief verzendingskosten) oude editie, slechts nog enkele exemplaren beschikbaar

Engels/English: (old price was about 5 Euro without shipping expenses, this price was before the Euro existed) old edition, only a few copies left with the publisher

Handleiding of leerboek der likeurstokerij
D. Horix met een voorwoord van Johannes Van Dam
Uitgeverij Bas Lubberhuizen

Dit is een herdruk van het eerste systematische leerboek der likeurstokerij, dat oorspronkelijk in 1826 in Duitsland verscheen. het boek biedt naast een volledige handleiding voor het zelf bereiden van likeuren, vele tientallen oude recepten, waarvan vele totaal vergeten waren. (10 gulden exclusief verzendingskosten) slechts nog enkele exemplaren beschikbaar

This is a reprint from the "eerste systematische leerboek der likeurstokerij" that originally appeared in Germany in 1826 Shows besides a full manual for preparing your own liquor, many dozens old recipes, from which some were totally forgotten (old price was about 5 Euro without shipping expenses, this price was before the Euro existed) only a few copies left with the publisher

Stoken in Beeld door Professor J.W. Brouwer (+ video)
ISBN 90 73978 91 2
Uitgeverij Bas Lubberhuizen

Stoken in Beeld is een volledig herziene editie van Het volkomen stookboek. Nieuw bij deze editie is de video. Hierop wordt stap-voor- stap het proces van destillatie getoond en uitgelegd. Het zelf maken van wijn van druiven en ander fruit heeft de laatste jaren enorm aan populariteit gewonnen. Het is eenvoudig en levert een verrassend lekker resultaat op. Dat het even eenvoudig is van deze wijn heerlijke alcohol te stoken, is velen nog onbekend.
Stoken in beeld beschrijft en toont hoe men door vergisting alcohol uit suiker en vruchten kan laten ontstaan, hoe die alcohol kan worden gedestilleerd en op smaak gebracht met kruiden en vruchten. Ook wordt getoond en beschreven hoe men de benodigde uitrusting, zoals de destilleerketel, zelf goedkoop en met eenvoudige materialen kan bouwen. Verder geeft het boek meer dan 100 moderne en ouderwetse recepten voor jenevers, bitters en likeuren en ander gedestilleerd. Samen zijn boek en video een standaardwerk over aanmaak en verwerking van sterke drank.

"Stoken in Beeld" is a completely revised edition of "Het volkomen stookboek". New with this edition is a video. On this video is step-by-step explained and showed the process of distillation Making your own wine from grapes and other fruits has become more and more popular over the years. It is simple and supplies a very surprising good result. That it is as simple to make alcohol from this, is unknown to many.
"Stoken in beeld" describes and shows how with fermentation alcohol is produced out of sugar and fruits, how this alcohol can be distilled and brought to the right flavor with herbs and fruits. Also is showed and described how the necessary equipment, like the distillation pot still, can be build by anyone without big expenses, with simple materials and techniques . Besides this describes the book also more then 100 recent and old recipes for gin, bitters and liquors and other spirits. Together are book and video a standard reference about making high strength spirits.

Uitgever voor de bovenste drie boeken (slechts de laatste zal te vinden zijn op de site omdat dit de laatste editie is)

Engels/English: Publisher for the above three books (you will only find the last one the site because this is the latest edition with a video):

Uitgeverij Bas Lubberhuizen
J.W. Brouwersstraat 32
1071 LK Amsterdam
Tel. 020/618 41 32
Fax 020/675 32 13
Website-address: Tappen uit een geheim vaatje.
De Geschiedenis van de illegale Alcoholstokerijen in Nederland.
Spapens Paul & Horsten Piet
Hapert De Kempenpers
ISBN 90-70427-67-2 1990, 207 pp., HB, groot formaat
Ge´llustreerd. Veel aandacht voor Brabant.

Uit de "Ter inleiding"
From the "Foreword"

Het boek 'Smokkelen in Brabant' eindigt waar de hoofdmoot van 'Tappen uit een geheim vaatje, de geschiedenis van de illegale alcoholstokerijen in Nederland' begint: Oirschot, Anton van & Spapens Paul smokkelen in Brabant. Een grensgeschiedenis 1830-1970. Hapert De Kempenpers 1988 eind zestiger jaren van deze eeuw, toen de Brabantse smokkelaars deze vorm van belastingontduiking als het ware herontdekten.

The book 'Smokkelen in Brabant' ends where the major part from 'Tappen uit een geheim vaatje, de geschiedenis van de illegale alcoholstokerijen in Nederland' begins: Oirschot, Anton van & Spapens Paul smokkelen in Brabant. Een grensgeschiedenis 1830-1970. Hapert De Kempenpers 1988 at the end of the sixties, when the smugglers from Brabant in Holland rediscovered this method of tax evasion.

Dit boek heeft niet de pretentie wetenschappelijk te zijn; we hebben op een populaire manier een bijzonder stukje Nederlandse historie op papier willen zetten. Daarbij hebben we met name dankbaar gebruik gemaakt van artikelen in kranten en van de verhalen van de betrokkenen zelf.

This book doesn't say from itself to be scientific, we wanted to put a piece of Hollands history on paper on a popular way. For doing so we used articles in newspapers and stories from the people involved.


Beautiful to read but unfortunately sold out and only hard to find in secondhand.

Other books include
Also try your public library (remember the place ?). It may surprise you.

Technical Books

Technical books that I've found useful for Still design ...
  • Chemical Engineering - vol 6 (Design) by JM Coulson, JF Richardson & RK Sinnot. Pergamon Press. ISBN 008-022969-7 (hardcover) or 008-022970-0 (flexicover)
  • Perrys Handbook for Chemical Engineers     This page last modified Sun, 07 Oct 2012 08:54:16 -0700