Basic Whiskey Recipe

So a "no frills" whiskey recipe might go as ...
    Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 °C, and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 °C, then strain off and keep liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 32 °C (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast & leave to ferment (maintain at 26 °C) until airlock stops bubbling and final SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into still.
Jack recommends (highly) ..
    Bring about five gallons of water to a good boil, then add 12 pounds of (unhopped!!!) pale malt syrup and dissolve it, then boil it for a good 15 minutes, then cool (I use a wort chiller, it takes me 20 minutes to get this much water down to a pitching temp)- pitch with either 60 grams of dry bread yeast, or any ale or lager yeast that (This is important) has a reputation for producing low to no amounts of esters (these are nasty in whiskey). after about 3 to 4 days distill it and make the cut according to the corn whiskey book. I put mine in a bottle with some toasted American oak chips, diluted down to 50%abv - The best malt whiskey I have had in a long time! YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY THIS !!! (yeah, I know, three exlamation points- the sign of a true madman-trust me anyway). The next experiment is to steep 50 to 100 grams of peated malt (grains) in the 5 gals of water (at 155F for 45minutes) before bringing to a boil and adding the malt syrup- You guessed it- SCOTCH!!! and IRISH WHISKY from a store bought still (a eurostill) and maybe an hour or two of stove work- no mashing temps, no worrying about water hardness or Ph or iron content- simple, easy- you gotta love it.

    Update ! ... Just tried out something new- if you add 3 tablets (dissolved in a little water) of Beano- (it's found in the pharmacy- it's an enzyme that breaks down long chain starches into short chain sugars to help with gas problems) to the malt whisky mash recipe - it'll increase alcohol yields a little (like 2-3%) as well as make the stuff less likely to foam in the still- also, if you have a twin element still, let it heat up on the lower setting to slow down the heat up time and prevent foaming even more ( I even add a half teaspoon of mineral oil to break up the foaming - it's a lot of work to keep malt syrup mashes from foaming in a still) A variable power setting would also be helpfull.
Rob advises ..
    for corn mash, I just use the cracked corn as is. I do grind up the malted barley but just cracking it is fine. I use about 2 lbs barley and 8 lbs corn. Get the water to boiling, about 6 gallons depending on the size of your pot. Add the craked corn and let it simmer at around 180 degrees (82 °C) or so for about 1\2 hour.. This softens it nicely. Temperature for this is not critical. Turn heat off and let temp drop to about 145 F (63 °C) and add the malted barley. Keep temp at 143 or so for about 2 hrs.. This results in dextrous for a high alcohol mash. Then what I do is take my primary fermenter and cover it with some filter cloth and hold the cloth in place with a bungie cord. The cloth I use is the kind with holes that is used to make soccer jersies. I dump the mixture about 2 quarts at a time and sprinkle hot water(160 F (71 °C) or so) over it. This washes the sugars out of the grain. Once each 2 quarts is finished, I scoop out the spent grain and repeat the process. The resulting wash is fermented for 5 days or until it slows. Then I siphon it into a secondary fermenter and let it finish working and so it will clear.
CornFed writes ...
    for those that want to use corn or a all grain base mash... First of all when using corn meal various problems can occure, so proper lautering and filtration is needed to seperate the wort from the meal. This can be problematic in itself. The use of micron bags and or screens are needed. I get around some of this mess by using cracked,crushed or whole corn, though whole corn needs to be worked a little longer so that total starch conversion can take place. Steeping for 40 to 50 hours in a mixture of hot water (110F.) potassum metabisulfite which releases sulphur dioxide and lactic bacteria (Lactobacilus) to aid in softening the corn. After the corn has soften and swelled in size, I then add more water and raise the temp up to 140F. Now I add a Enzyme cocktail this is very important as corn has very little if any enzymes in it that can convert the starches over to usable sugars. I keep the mash at this temp. for 3 to 4 hours then raise it to 155F. for 30mins during this time you must keep the whole thing stirred. I use a turning gear motor and a paddle to get the job done. Now for the time being lets talk about These Enzymes as they are very important. I use a Enzyme cocktail of more than one or two enzymes Mainly because I'm striving to convert the corn down as much as I can to usable sugars. I don't have a constant recipe as of yet that I use, because there is so many types of Enzymes and all have different actions. Finding the right ones require the study of these actions and how each Enzyme works to help other Enzymes in breaking down cellwalls, protein, glutens and starches. Cellulase is a enzyme that breaks down Plant fibers and cellwalls, Proteinase breaks down protein. Glucanase breaks down gluten, Amylase of which there are two types Alpha and beta breaks down starches both are found in malted barley. The list of Enzymes goes on and on, Amyloglucosidase, Ferulic acid easerase, Xylanase, Alpha-acetolatate decaboxylase are just some of these. You can obtain some of these Enzymes under different names some of which are Cellulase 13L, Combizyme 108L, Depol 112L, 670L, 740L,Maltamyl, San Super, Ceremix. Ok now that you are totaly confused lets get back to the mash , after conversion has taken place add more water and lauter then filter the wort, this will remove any unwanted particles.

Jack describes his new recipe ...
    I found an AMAZING way to make malt whiskey Brew an all-barley malt (2-row) batch like normal; mash/rest/sparge. Rather than just cooling the sparged wort- boil it (a good strong rolling boil) for 90 minutes, then cool it with a wort chiller or a bathtub (it should be at 70 to 80F in 45 minutes).

    Here is the new twist- Pour the mash into a sanitized glass carboy, sit it in the bathtub and surround it with cold water. Let it sit until ALL of the trub (the white, brain like sludge that settles out to the bottom) has finally settled out. Once the trub has ALL settled out (it must be perfect- the wort must be sparkling clear)- this can take about 4 hours, THEN siphon off the PERECTLY CLEAR wort into another fermenter (I use the stainless steel pot I boiled it in), and add your yeast and Beano.

    Once fermented and cleared (about two weeks), freeze concentrate, then potstill it using the "making the cut" numbers from the corn whiskey book.

    This is the BEST whiskey I have EVER HAD (my wife's family goes to Scotland to get their stuff- this is better!). Not only is it smooth from the tight middle cut, but the long boil and PERFECT trub separation (I boiled 5 gallons, I only fermented about 3- I didn't let ANY trub carry over into the fermenter. Like I said it must be perfect separation) will give you a whiseky malt flavor that is so clean and clear, the spirit's finish actually tastes like you are chewing on a grain of 2-row- It is the most amazing, soft, grainy finish (without being harsh) that you will ever try. The long boil, and the perfect separation from the sediment is what does it. Give it a try- you will never go back to malt syrup whiskey again.

Rev. Cunninghams Family Recipe American Whiskey
    • 2 pounds Corn (off of the ear, can, or thawed from frozen)
    • 1 pound of raisins (if you can, use light raisins)
    • 3 Oranges
    • 15 Peppercorns
    • 1 Gallon of water
    • 3 pounds Sugar (the recipe calls for regular table sugar, but I like brown sugar)
    • 3 teaspoons of acid blend
    • 1/2 teaspoon of nutrient
    • 10 grams of champagne yeast

    Place the corn into a blender and process it until it is pulp-like. Pour the corn pulp, zest of the 3 oranges, and peppercorns into a nylon straining bag (tie the top) and place into the primary fermenter. Boil the one gallon of water and put it into the fermenter with all of the other ingredients EXCEPT THE YEAST. Stir, cover, and let sit for 24 hours. After the 24 hour wait, stir in the yeast. Stir daily for 3 days. After 2 weeks, strain the juice from the bag and rack the wine into a secondary fermenter. After about 4 weeks (making sure the wine has fermented out all of the sugar and cleared) distill.When distilling, be careful that you have fermented out all of the sugar, because if too much sugar is left, it may caramelize while distilling.
Carolina Shiner writes ..
    I have used the cornflake recipe 2 times a week for a month,dont ask why. It has been taste tested by several old timers who could not tell it was not the original corn moonshine recipe. Here is the whole thing,
    • 19 ltr of well or spring water or water with NO Chlorine,
    • 10 lb white sugar mixed in the 19 ltr water. Blend well to put sugar into solution
    • add 1 lb of cheap or even out of date corn flakes ground into almost powder
    • for more corn flavor just add more flakes
    What you are doing is making neutral wash and adding flavor. For exact instructions on neutral wash visit Sugar Washes.
For quite a large scale operation, The "Household Cyclopedia" recommends to make Malt Spirit by ...
    Mix 60 quarters of barley grist, ground low, and 20 quarters of coarse ground pale malt, with 250 barrels of water, at about 170°. Take out 30 barrels of the wort, and add to this 10 stone of fresh porter yeast, and when the remaining wort is cooled down to 55°, add 10 quarters more malt, previously mixed with 30 barrels of warm water; stir the whole well together, and put it to ferment, along with the reserved yeasted wort; this wash will be found to weigh, by the saccharometer, from 28 to 32 lbs. per barrel, more than water. In the course of 12 or 14 days, the yeast head will fall quite flat, and the wash will have a vinous smell and taste, and not weigh more than from 2 to 4 lbs. per barrel more than water. Some now put 20 lbs. of common salt, and 30 lbs. of flour, and in 3 or 4 days put it inside the still, previously stirring it well together. Every 6 galls. of this wash will produce 1 gall. of spirit, at from 1 to 10 over-proof: or 18 galls. of spirit from each quarter of grain.

    Note that 1 quarter = 2 stone = 12.7 kg, and 1 barrel = 42 gallon = 160 L, along with the usual 1 lb = 0.45 kg.
Another helpful post from Jack offers ...
    Most extract- beer brewers (as well as home whiskey makers) tend to have some trouble with grain based whiskey mashes- I've found a method that makes it much easier:

    Grind all of the grain in whatever mill you have (most homebrew shops have these on site) and get 2 quarts of water per pound of grain ready by adding 2 teaspoons of gypsum per 5 gallons and then adjusting the ph with citric acid to about 5.8 (for the best results, measure out all the water you need 2 days ahead of time and bring it to a rolling boil for 25 minutes, let it cool with the lid of the pot on. This will drive off any chlorine, as well as produce a white powdery precipitate on the bottom of the kettle- this is the remains of temporary "carbonate" hardness in the water and is not good-pour off the water and leave this stuff behind. after it's cool treat it as above). The cheap pH strips at the homebrew shop will tell you when you've reached the right pH.

    Heat the water about 165 to 170F, then slowly (with stirring) add in the grain. The grain should cool the water down to about 152F. Using either an insulated picnic cooler, or your stovetop, try and hold this temp for 90 minutes. NEVER let it go above 160F or you'll kill off the enzymes.

    After 90minutes is up, most brewers involve themselves in the frustrating idiocy that is called "sparging"- this is where you slowly sprinkle water over the grain (now in a container with a screen covered outlet at the bottom) to rinse the sugar off of the grain- It normally takes a good hour to do this right, and those using a lot of corn or rye, it won't work- these grains stick together and won't allow the water through. Instead, after the 90 minutes is up, since you haven't stirred it, the mash will have separated into a top clear layer, and the grain will be on the bottom. Using a measuring cup, scoop out the clear liquid into another kettle (don't disturb the sediment), until there is no more clear layer to scoop off. Measure how much water was taken out- take some more water (treated as above) and bring it to 160F or so and add that back to the grain bed.

    Let it settle for about 30 minutes, and scoop off the clear layer again. Add more preheated (and ph adjusted) water to repplace what you took off, and let it sit for another half hour. This time, when you scoop off the clear layer, gather up the grain in a fine mesh bag, and squeeze out all the water you can.

    Taste the grain after doing this, if it is still sweet, you may want to soak it in more water.

    Combine the batches of clear mash and boil them (to sterilize them) for about 15 minutes.

    This is known as "no-sparge" brewing and is said to make the best malt flavored beers. For those of you with a spigot on a bucket (or kettle), just open it up and let whatever water that will run off by itself do so. As long as no husk material is in the "Freerun wort" there is no need to recirculate it. I found this method listed in an 1800's distilling book, and have found it usefull because when making grain mashes with lots of flaked grains (or alot of wheat), my sparging runoff always got stopped up. Because you can't boil a mash with a lot of grain in it (the husk causes off flavors), just mashing the grain and cooling it to ferment it would always give me a contaminated batch with some really nasty flavors.
Blueflame uses his cousins corn whisky recipe, which ...
    for a 25 gallon wash use
    • 1/2 cup of dried yeast
    • 50#'s cracked corn
    • 50#'s sugar
    • 25 gals water
    • 2 gals.honey
    Let it work for 7 to 9 days, strain off then distill until to 60 - 70 proof then he stops (he uses a pot still and catches everything.) Then puts it to age in charred kegs and uses burnt apricots in the kegs (6 apricots to 10 gal of whisky). He then lets it sit for 6 to 8 months then dispenses it to the family members at out annual gatherings. Its really smooth and taste like Crown Royal
later, Blueflame mentions ...

    It usually distills off about 90%
    We dilute down to 45%alc then keg with about 300 of 3/4 by 3/4 charred oak blocks per 16 gals
    We use 12#s of honey and about 2 dozen black peppercorns also
    Let sit-- or charcoal filter--- really smooth.
Yet more recipes from Jack ...
    .. using 12# of pale malt syrup and "making the cut" according to the corn whiskey book (I went by taste, when there was no bite at all- that's when I collected) and aging on a small amount of heavily charred american oak (1/2 teaspoon per 750ml bottle at 55%abv) makes something that can give any irish malt a run for the money.

    I've also been working on a "cheap scotch" method. In 2.5 gallons of water, steep five pounds of peated malt (homebrew shop) for an hour at 155F. Once done, filter out the grain (rinse the grain with another gallon of water at the same temp), and bring the water to a boil- add ten pounds of sugar, ferment with an ale yeast, then either double distill it in a potstill and mix with some polished sugar spirit, or make the cut in a reflux still like with corn whiskey (I haven't tried the reflux still method but the blended potstill batch was declared "a fine batch of peatreek" by a visiting Scot- appearantly, peatreek is another word for "moonshine").Give it a try.
Yet more from Jack (an all-in-one summary) ...
    Making decent Scotch whisky is very easy to do at home (provided you know anything about all grain beer brewing). Even if you don't all grain brew- peated malt and malt syrup can be made into very nice Scotch (I've never tried the synthetic flavoring route- and I never will). Mash preparation will be first, then distillation:

    Allgrain method - (I'll assume you can brew your own all grain batches)- start with a mix of 10 to 15 pounds of common 2-row malted barley, and mix in anywhere from 0 to 5 pounds of peated malt (both commonly found in homebrew stores) into the 2-row. grind the grain in a mill, then mash the grain at about 150F for 90 minutes, using 2 quarts of water per pound of grain. After 90 minutes is up, draw off some clear liquid, and add a drop of iodine tincture, if it turns purple, there is still starch in the mix- mash another hour at 150F. If there is no change, sparge (rinse) the grain slowly (maybe 30 minutes) with water heated to 170F. Continue until 6 gallons has been collected. Bring this to a boil for 5 minutes, then cool it by using either a wort chiller or a bath of ice water (don't add ice to the mash). Once cool, add your yeast (a dry ale yeast works best)- this should come out to about 7 to 11%abv once it's finished fermenting. Adding some Beano (an anti-gas enzyme sold in the US) is also a good idea- it will break up more complex starches and turn them into fermentable sugars- jaust add it with the yeast.

    The easy way of making Scotch is to go to the homebrew shop and buy 3.75 pounds of peated malt and Steep it for a half an hour in 3.75 gallons of water at 155F. After steeping (nylon stockings work well as a giant "tea bag" for the grain), remove the grain, pour another gallon of hot water over it (no hotter than 170F) to rinse out any more flavor. Bring the 4.75 gallons of water to a boil, take it off the heat source (this is done to prevent scorching the extract), and dissolve 12 pounds of pale malt extract (UNHOPPED!!) in the water. After the malt syrup is dissolved, cool the mash. After it's cool add your yeast (and Beano).
    I asked about why the rinsing water had to be at exactly the right temperature, and Jack replied .. You never allow the water to go above 170F because it will leach tannins out of the grain husk (it'll end up so astringent that it tastes like straw). In this "steeping" procedure, your not really converting any starches, just leaching out flavors from the grains, but you must stay below 170 or you leach out some really nasty flavors. 155F is the perfect temp. This is the same technique used to add "specialty grains" to homebrewed beer made with malt extract. I just found it worked well to put the smoky flavor into malt whisky as well.

    Once the mash is fermented, load it into a potstill (making a heavier Scotch from the start is best- if it's too strong you can blend in some polished neutral spirit later on). If you have done a 5- gallon batch, distill the mash until you collect 1.6 gallons of "low wines" (it will be anywhere from 17 to 30%abv). After the batch has been "reduced" it can be stored with no danger (not flamable- can't spoil, etc)- but it must not be ingested (it will likely be cloudy- this is the heavy alcohols we'll get rid of them next). Take the 1.6 gallons of "low wines" and put it back in your potstill, distill until you collect 0.4 gallons of Scotch. On this second run- discard the first 100 ml of spirit that comes out as "heads"- throw them out. The 0.4 gallons you collect is to be checked to see what strength (about 70%abv) it is, water it down to about 60% and age it on some toasted American oak (heavy toast- used if you can find it) age it in the bottle at about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of oak per 750ml of spirit. Every month, add a little water as it ages. one month at 60%, one at 50%, and the final at 40%, will extract both vanillins and sugars from the wood, and be very smooth for it's age. This is a wastefull, low yield method- but it produces the smoothest spirit (close to Glenmorangie). A splash of port or sherry (1.5ml per bottle) is also a nice touch. The potstill should be on a burner- it should not be an element- run still. Too much of a chance of scorching the whisky. If you have an element run reflux still, procede as above, then freeze the fermented mash in plasic jugs, then let the spirit thaw and drip into a collection container- collecting 1/2 of the 5 gallons (leaving the rest as ice in the plastic jug). Put this "freeze concetrated" mash in your reflux still, add an equal amount of water, and distill it. The freezing concentrates the alcohol/flavor, and the watering of the mash prevents foaming and burning on the heating element of the still. This makes a lighter, but just as good spirit- collect the 100ml of heads, then run as per a normal reflux still, and age the spirit as above.
Jack also writes about Japanese (Scotch) whisky production ...
    I went to a Scottish games festival here last week and picked up an unusual book. It's titled Japanese Whiskey, Scotch Blend by Olive Checkland (Scottish Cultural Press, 1998). It's a look at the life of the man responsible for bringing Scotch-style whiskey making to Japan: Masataka Taketsuru- who was sent to Scotland to learn the trade of whiskey- he stayed for three years, and returned to Japan, setting up a distillery for Suntory (they financed his trip), then a few years later, he established his own distillery: Nikka. Most of the book deals with the problems his Scottish wife had to go through living in Japan during WW2- but the appendices has about 3 pages of notes recopied from the notes Masataka wrote down while he was learning. Appearantly, in 1919, the Scots were not overprotrective of "trade secrets" as they are now. After reading the book, and the notes, I did some math to reduce them down to a "homedistillers" level. A lot of the notes were concerned with prices for malt, peat, and taxes- but there were a few gems in it:
    • The yeast was obtained from a brewery in Dublin -it was tan/brown in color. (in 1919 this means the leftover yeast from a batch of stout).
    • Four runnings were taken from each mash- the first two were fermented and distilled, the third and the fourth were used to start the next mash. (this means you mash the grains with water, wait, then drain all the water off, add an equal amount of water to that which was drained off, wait again, then drain that off, and repeat twice more- saving the first two mashes for the ferment).
    • The mash temperature was 144F (62C) and was held for 90 minutes on each of the four mashes.
    • The grain to water ratio was 2 to 3 pounds of malt per gallon of water.
    • The ferment was held at a temperature of 78 to 97F (25-36C) and was complete in two days.
    • The specific gravity of the first mash was in the 1.067 to 1.080 range.
      The second runnings were at a gravity of about 1.037 to 1.025
      The third runnings were at a gravity of 1.009 to 1.007
      The fourth runnings were at a gravity of about 1.004
    • The mash was considered "ready to distill" when it fermented out to a gravity of 1.002
    • According to the Hazelburn distillery, a 5 gallon (20 liter) batch of mash should get you 75.47fl.oz. (2264ml) to 60.37fl.oz (1811.1ml) of "proof spirit"- this is based on their use of 42,400 gallons of mash to get between 4,000 and 5,000 proof gallons of spirit each week. (they used 6,000gallon fermenters).
    • Drinkable spirit is identified by adding water till it's 45.5%abv, and checking for clarity. (if it's cloudy- it's tossed in the feints receiver)
    This is the historical info:
    • Before WW1, one gallon of whiskey was 3 shillings (15p), after WW1 it went to 10 shillings (50p)
    • A plain oak cask costs between 2pounds and 10 shillings- sherry casks cost as much as 4 pounds.
    • The non-sherry casks are made of Canadian oak. 4.8 bushels of barley (one bushel=54 pounds) costs 71 shillings (pre WW1 it was 30 shillings)
    • A distillery worker's wages was 4 pounds a week - they worked 10 to 12 hour days.
    • Peat (post WW1) cost 7 shillings per cubic yard (pre WW1 it was 3 shillings, sixpence)
    • In one week the distillery uses 40 tons of coal (2 shillings per ton pre-WW1, post WW1 cost 2pounds per ton.
    In other news/advice, I have been playing about with more dry yeast- the dry yeast made by Muntons and Fisons is PERFECT for distillers of grain whiskey (malt especially), three, 5 gram packets of this yeast will drop the gravities listed above in the time stated above (2 days to go from1.080 to 1.002!). If you want to make authentic Scotch- this info would be of use. To make it more authentic use the Muntons and Fisons yeast in a stout recipe first, then recollect and re-pitch into the whiskey mash. For those who have access to it, Hugh Baird malting company sells peated malt that, cut 50-50 with plain two-row malt will give the 17ppm phenols that the heavier whiskeys use (the lighter brands drop down to 2 to4 ppm phenol). Hope this is usefull to someone- I've found it helpfull in my malt whiskey experiments.
Bob offers ...
    I have found that trying to ferment only grain is a loosing proposition. I use the grain as a flavor additive and a nutrient source for the yeast. It can be done, but the yield is low. This is a receipe that I have developed over a number of years that gives very good results. Here it is: This is for a 15 gal. mash batch:
    • Add 25 lbs. (11kg) of sugar to about 10 gal. (38L) of warm filtered water. I use water at about 100 degrees F (38C).
    • Stir with vigorous agitation until sugar is completely dissolved. I have a home made stirrer that chucks into a drill that I use. While stirring, raise the paddles so that air is whipped into the sugar water solution.
    • On a stove or hotplate, stir 2 pounds (1 kg) of unhopped dark malt extract into 3 gallons (11L) of boiling water.
    • After the malt is dissolved, add 5 pounds (2.25 kg) of corn chops (a grind that is not as fine as corn meal so that it will stay in a grainbag). Stir, while boiling for 1 hour.
    • For the first 15 minutes or so, you need to stir almost constantly, as the corn will stick to the bottom of the cooking vessel.
    • Let malt/corn cool until you can pour corn into a grain bag. The liquid is added to the sugar/water solution.
    • Tie the grain bag with the cooked corn and add to mash.
    • After mash has cooled to 75-80 degrees F (24C) add 1 tablespoon yeast that has been dissolved in a cup of warm mash. I use distillers yeast.
    • Let fermentation go as long as possible to get highest yield.
    • Distill, pressure filter through block charcoal, cut to desired proof and enjoy.
    For added variety add 2 drops of double strength vanilla extract to a liter. A vanilla bean should work great also. Another good drink: Add 4-5 mint leafs/liter. Shades of mint juleps
Paul describes his recipe ...
    All these are in U.S. measurements. I'm also look for the easiest way that takes the least amount of time. I start with 10 lbs steam flaked corn purchased from a feed dealer. Every dealer varies in the quality of his or her product. I guess I lucked out because mine is pretty much all corn no other garbage. 7$ a 50 lbs bag. Some times I'll substitute 2 lbs of flaked wheat, rye or both. Those get a little pricey @1$ lbs.

    Along with being short on time I'm cheap. I boil 4 gal of tap water. Mine is well water so it is acidy and has calcium in it already. When the water is boiling I put it into a 6 gal. bucket that is insulated. I then pour in the 10 lb mix of grain. I stir it with a portable drill with a 5 gal paint stirrer attached. I keep a cap on the bucket to keep the heat in. Every 10 min or so I stir the heck out of it. Helps break up the corn and gelatinize it also aerates the oxygen free boiled water. When the temp hits 150 I throw in 2 lbs of cracked malted barley. I stir this with the drill, keep it covered and insulated and stir every 10 min or so. Hopefully the temp doesn't go down more then a few degrees. If it does I throw what I can into a pot (4+ gals) and bring the temp up to and hold it at 149 give or take for the remaining time. I then throw it all back into the 6 gal bucket take the insulation off and top off with ice- cold back slop. When temp hits 118 I check the SG. (12 to 14) There is usually 2-3 inches of clear yellow liquid on top.

    I take 2 cups of liquid put into a bowl add some water and pitch 1/3 cup of bakers yeast. Let it foam up good then toss it in and stir. I have made 2 side by side batches one with bakers and one with distiller yeast and you can not tell the difference IMO. With insulation back on bucket ferment for 3 day or less. (When airlock bubbling slows down.)

    I have a 2 bucket system I use to separate the grain from liquid. A 6 gal bucket with a tap on the bottom and a 5 gal bucket that fits into the other. I cut 2/3 of the bottom out of the 5 gal and have a fine mesh nylon bag that fits over the top. I tie wrap the bag around the lip of the bucket so the bag doesn't slip with the weight of the grain. I let the whole thing drain over night. (I collect almost 4 gals of liquid not bad) By this time any yeast sediment has settled to bottom of the 6 gal bucket. I open the tap and slowly drain off the liquid so I don't disturb any sediment. I liquid is see-thru clear.

    I then throw into a pot still distill 2x and add distill water to taste. Oak it with toasted oak or if I want it quicker JD chips and a dried apricot (2 weeks) in a mason jar. I think that's everything. Cost about 5 bucks for 6 quart of fine bourbon.
Tarvus describes his recipe ...
    All grain brewing for distillation is much simpler than all grain beer brewing. You can eliminate the hassles of lautering altogether and ferment "on the grain". You can even distill "on the grain" if using propane, but I think you might have scorching problems trying that with electric elements. You can also eliminate all the hassles of protein rests and mashout since you won't be worrying about "mouth feel" or lautering. And you don't have the hassle of doing a boil and hop additions either. You won't have to worry about some of the things that can spoil a beer - like hot side aeration and grain astringency since they don't affect the distilled product. Grain mashes seem to naturally create the ideal ph for fermentation and the grains themselves contain all the nutrients necessary for a good ferment. Finally, the need for post-fermentation sanitization is not as high as for beer. After all, you are going to be boiling the stuff right away in your still rather than bottling and storing it for weeks or months like you would beer. Unlike beer, the risk of infection bacterial infection of the final product is nil.

    I have brewed nearly 100 all grain beer batches and 4 all grain batches for distillation so I have a bit of experience with both. If you plan on an all barley malt brew, it's very simple. If using a high percentage of adjuncts like corn, it gets just a bit more complicated, but still easier than beer brewing.

    Most of the equipment you will need, you probably already have - except, perhaps, for a copper immersion chiller and a sturdy wooden paddle for stirring a thick mash.

    Here is my recipe and procedure for all-grain bourbon:

    Grain Bill (Scale down as necessary for your equipment)
    25 pounds cracked corn
    5 pounds rye flour
    17 pounds crushed 6-row malted barley

    32-gallon Rubbermaid trash barrel (fermenter)
    20-gallon stockpot mash tun (doubles as my boiler)
    8-gallon stockpot
    Outdoor propane cooker
    2-quart pitcher
    Oak paddle

    Mash Procedure
    For the mash-in I use all the corn, all the rye and 8 of the 17 pounds of barley malt for a total of 38 pounds of grain. You want about 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain in the mash-in, so that rounds off to about 12 gallons of water

    Pre-heat 12 gallons of water to 162F. This is a little over 1.25 quarts per gallon. You can expect roughly a 13 degree F drop in temp when the grain is added to the water. It is better to undershoot than to overshoot since it is easier to heat up than to cool down the mash. The target mash-in temp is 149F. You can slowly add heat if you undershoot. If you overshoot by a degree or two, don't worry about it. If you overshoot by a lot, you will quickly have to add more cold water to drop the temp before the amylase enzymes become denatured from the heat. (We are shooting for high fermentability in our mash)

    Be sure to stir the mash thoroughly with the paddle. 38 pounds of grain in 12 gallons is THICK, so the sturdy paddle is a necessity! You want to make sure all the grain is moist, that there are no pockets or clumps of flour and that the temperature gradient is the same top to bottom of your mash tun and center to edge as well. Eventually we are going to boil this mash to gelatinize all the cracked corn, but if we don't do at least a partial starch conversion first, it will set up so think and gummy it will be impossible to stir! (Trust me on this - it happened to me!) I like to let the mash sit about an hour at this point. With the thermal mass of this size mash, the temp drop is only about 5 degrees in that period of time and most of the readily available starch converts. If you scale down the recipe, you may need to occasionally add heat to maintain the temp in the 148-149F range. We want full fermentation in order to maximize the amount of alcohol produced so we want to hold 148-149F as much as possible. Going higher than this will cause un- fermentable dextrines in the mash. This is good for beer, but bad for bourbon!

    After an hour, light the burner and slowly raise the temp while stirring constantly. Grain scorching is not a problem unless you forget to stir every few minutes. We want to bring the mash slowly to a full rolling boil. The water loss due to steam is about a gallon an hour. Boil the mash for about 30 minutes to an hour to gelatinize the corn and release additional starch into the mash. Don't forget to stir constantly! The mash will start to get real gooey! Use the blade of the paddle to continually scrape the bottom to keep the grain from sticking! At the end of that time, add cold water to make up the volume lost to steam, (one quart per 15 minutes of boil time) and add an additional 12 quarts of water for the 9 pounds of malted 6-row barley to be used shortly.

    Monitor the temp closely. At this point, you will want to rapidly lower the temperature of the mash to 152F. Do this by using the immersion chiller. Keep stirring as you chill to assure an even temp gradient.

    Once 152 F is achieved, remove the chiller and add the remaining 9 pounds of 6-row malted barley. Once again, stir thoroughly! The temp should fall to the 148-149F range when you add the barley malt. If it drops below 148F, then slowly bump up the temp by adding heat and stirring. I usually let the mash rest at this temp for at least 90 minutes. The previous boil will have released a lot of additional starch into the mash and you want to achieve as much starch conversion as possible. Only occasional stirring is necessary at this point. In between stirs, you will start to notice clear syrupy wort forming on the top of the mash.

    After 90 minutes, you will have achieved about as much starch conversion as you are going to get. Don't worry if you don't have full conversion. Starch haze is a defect in beer, but no starch haze will come over in your distillate. You are never going to achieve 100% conversion of all available starch. I feel like if I can get 28- 30 points per pound per gallon in my mash that I'm doing pretty well. Milling the cracked corn even further before the mash would probably release more starch, but that's an additional step, requires a mill set up for milling corn, and is something not worth hassling with - particularly since corn is like $6.00 per 50 pound sack! Grain is cheap, time is expensive!

    After the 90 minute conversion rest, again use the immersion chiller and chill the mash down to yeast pitching temp. I use a 2 quart pitcher to ladle the mash into my 8 gallon stock pot and empty the stock pot into my fermenter 4 gallons at a time (I ain't into lifting anything heavier than 4 gallons!) Be sure to splash and aerate the mash thoroughly as you dump it into the fermenter! After all the mash has been transferred, I usually top off with a bit more water to bring the gravity of the wort down a bit. I feel like wort in the 1.050 range seems to bring more of the grain flavor across into the distillate than higher gravity wort, but that may just be my imagination. It's up to you whether or not to do the dilution.

    The wort chiller is made from 50 feet of 5/8" OD soft copper tubing. This is the same OD as 1/2" rigid copper pipe so the same fittings will work on both. I've used chillers made from smaller tubing, but between the greater surface area and the increased throughput volume, this chiller is far more efficient.

    My chiller was formed by winding and gently bending the tubing around around a co2 tank. It comes coiled up already from the hardware store so really the only thing required is to tighten the coils a tad and provide verticle elevation to each sucessive coil. There are 15 coils on my chiller and each coil is about 12 inches in diameter. The completed chiller stands about 12 inches high. Stainless hoseclamps hold clear vinyl tubing to both ends of the chiller. The input end has a hose fitting so a standard garden hose can screw into it. The output is just a plain vinyl tube which I use to feed the hot water coming out into my swimming pool. That saves water and helps warm the pool at the same. time. Since the surface of the mash is the hottest part of the mash, the chiller works most efficiently by feeding the cold water into the top coil since the greatest delta T and hence greatest cooling happens there. The output end comes up from the bottom of the coil (inside the loops) and exits out the top.

    It's a really simple, quick and dirty gadjet to build and it's well worth the effort if you contemplate all-grain brewing. I even use it to chill a sugar wash down to pitching temps - so it's useful even without doing all-grain worts.

    My mash tun/boiler is wide enough that I can use my little paddle to stir both inside and outside the coils of the chiller. Stirring really speeds the chilling process. Back in the days when I was brewing lager beers, I would use my RIMS pump to recirculate a 10 gallon GOTT cooler full of ice water through the chiller. I could take 10 gallons of wort from mashout temps of 170F down to 55F in about 15 minutes.

    I don't mess with an air lock; I just put the lid on the garbage can fermenter. It outgases so much co2 that the chance of anything getting in is nil. Besides, the fermentation is so rapid that the wild yeasts and bacteria never get a foothold. If the average ambient temp over 24 hours is going to be less than 70F, I use an aquarium heater immersed in the fermenter to maintain 70F minimum. Within 24 hours, there will be a cap of grain husks covering the top of the liquid in the fermenter. Within a week, (sooner if you've use a turbo yeast) the cap will drop back into the wash. The wash will taste dry and a bit bitter at this point. It will be a neat looking light golden color. It's ready to run.

    I use a stillmaker type fractionating still for my run. I don't do anything like removing packing to de-tune the still, but I run it HARD to minimize reflux for this type of run and I seem to achieve pot still type results. By running hard, I'm talking about running nearly 5 quarts an hour - about like I would do a stripping run.

    I discard about the first 100 ml of heads, then start collecting. I collect in half-quart increments and label them with a marker as they come off. I use taste, smell and visual inspection of a sample of each collection jar mixed with water to determine when I have started collecting tails. Tails get added to the wash for the next run in the series.

    I should note that typically, I wind up with about 30 gallons of wash after topping up my fermenter which I run in 3 ten gallon increments. 10 gallons half fills my boiler which is critical since I distill "on the grains" meaning that a good deal of grain remnants are scooped up in the process of charging my boiler. There is a real risk of a clogged column when distilling on grains and I had a narrow escape from disaster once when this happened to me! Since then, I never fill my boiler more than half full when distilling on grains to allow sufficient headspace so as to avoid clogging the column with spent grains.

    I usually time my distillation day to coincide with mash day. I can get two separate mashes out of a 50 pound sack of corn using my recipe, so I repeat the mash process the day I do the run-off of the previous mash. Accordingly, I leave a goodly quantity of spent grains in my fermenter and add the new mash on top of them. Doing this, I avoid having to pitch new yeast and maintain good flavor continuity from batch to batch.

    Another trick to flavor continuity is called "slopping back", and I use this as well. After my last run, I save 5 or 6 gallons of the spent liquor remaining in the boiler and use this as a portion of my initial mash-in water for the next mash. This assures ideal ph for the new mash, provides good flavor continuity, and eliminates what would otherwise be a disposal issue.

    Once I have determined which of the jars collected are going into my final mix, I blend them together and take a spirit hydrometer reading. Usually I find that my taste, smell, visual examination of the distillate assures that my final mix will be in the 62-63% alcohol range - which is ideal for aging. If it is higher than this, I add bottled spring water to dilute it down to 125 proof for aging.

    It takes at least 4 runs to accumulate enough 125 proof bourbon to fill a 5 gallon oak barrel. Consequently, while waiting to accumulate enough to use in my 5 gallon aging barrel, I have been keeping the hooch in a 5 gallon stainless soda keg. I have a lot of white oak lumber available and after heavily charring some chunks and slivers with a torch, I add the scrap oak to the soda keg to give it a head start on aging. The bourbon develops a nice golden color and begins to pick up a nice oaky taste after just a few weeks. I sneak a soup ladle full on occasion, water it down to 80 proof and enjoy a mighty fine tasting bourbon that continues to improve with age. The only problem is, at this rate it's gonna take me more than 4 batches to accumulate enough reserve to fill my barrel and have enough on hand to top off the angel's share when necessary.     This page last modified Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:51:05 -0800