Whiskey has warmed the hearts of cowboys, billionaires and everyone in between for hundreds of years. From legendary homegrown to the finest Scotch, whiskey is a favorite of all. However, before you start making whiskey at home, you should be aware that it is against the law in many countries.
For example, in the United States, the law states that it is legal to own an alembic but it is illegal to use it to burn alcohol unless you have a special permit. These are the Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit (which you should apply for as an individual wanting to make whiskey) or the Distilled Spirits Permit (which large companies like Jack Daniels apply for). Still, ownership and distillation laws vary by state. You should research your local laws before you begin whiskey making.
It may sound strange, but the corn kernels need to germinate, and putting them in a burlap sack helps with that. Once you’ve filled all of the corn into the bag, cover it with warm water. You can do this by placing the sack in a tub or in a (very) large bucket.
You will need to keep the corn moist for about 10 days. Check your corn for sprouts. The corn is ready for the next step when the sprouts have grown to 1/4 inch in length.
Wash the corn in a tub, thoroughly rubbing off any dirt and the sprouts. If your corn has taken root, rub those roots off as well. Place the washed corn in a fermentor for primary fermentation.
This process is called “mashing”. Make sure each corn kernel is properly crushed. When you’re done, pour in 6 gallons of boiling water.
When the water has cooled to 30°C, add a cup of champagne yeast. Mix the ingredients well.
When the water has reached the desired temperature, add 3.2 kg of rye grains, 0.9 kg of barley and 0.45 kg of malt. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
You will need to stir the mixture constantly. As you stir, increase the temperature by 5 degrees every 5 minutes. Once the temperature reaches 71.1°C, stop increasing it.
You want to keep the temperature at 160°F (71.1°C) as you do this, so it converts the starch into fermentable sugars and dextrin. This can only be achieved by continuously stirring for two to three hours.
Let them cool down to 21.1°C. Add three grams of yeast and stir the mixture well.
Using a funnel, you can transfer the mash to a fermenter of your choice. Many hobby whiskey makers use demijohns, which are essentially large glass bottles. You can often buy these along with an airlock, which you will definitely need later. You can also make an airlock yourself. To do this, poke a hole in the cork or cap of your carboy that’s exactly the size of surgical tubing (which you’ll also need with this method). Once you’ve drilled the hole, insert the hose into the hole and let the other end hang in a glass or pitcher of water.
Once you’ve added all the mash and yeast, you’ll need to airtight your fermenter with an airlock so absolutely no air can escape your fermenter. During the fermentation process, the sugars in the mash, such as glucose or fructose, are converted into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
The fermentation time depends on the recipe you are using. It can last from a few days to more than a week. For the corn whiskey, let the mash ferment for seven to 10 days. For the recipe with rye, you should let the mash ferment for five to seven days.
There are several ways to determine when to take your whiskey out of the fermenter. The best and most accurate way to tell when the fermentation process is complete is to use a hydrometer, although the naked eye will work too. Using a Hydrometer: Hydrometers measure the density of a liquid compared to the density of water. When the mash is finished fermenting, the number on the hydrometer should stay the same. You should check the number once a day, three days before and three days after the recipe says the mash should be finished fermenting. A good way to use the hydrometer is to take a sample with a pipette. Place this small sample in a wide-mouth graduated cylinder. Lower the hydrometer into the sample and stir gently to allow bubbles to escape. Measure the level of the liquid. This measurement should give the same number three days in a row.
It is recommended to use a hydrometer to determine the end of the fermentation process. However, if you really don’t want to buy one, you can inspect the fermenter with the naked eye. Are bubbles forming on the top outer edge of your fermenter? The day you notice no more bubbles forming, you should give the mash one more day to ferment and then move on to the distillation process.
The distillation process aims to separate the ethanol (alcohol) produced during the fermentation process from the mash. The goal is to get 80% ethanol and 20% water and aroma from the mash.
For safety reasons, it is often the best idea to purchase copper or stainless steel from a qualified manufacturer. However, if you want to tackle the project of building your still, you can find instructions on how to do so on WikiHow.
The fermented mash is called “beer”. To decant your beer, you must strain it through cheesecloth into the still. The cheesecloth is necessary because you want to avoid getting solids from the mash as much as possible into your still. If you prefer to siphon rather than strain the beer, try to leave as much of the solids at the bottom of the fermenter as possible. If a few larger chunks of the mash do make it into your still, it’s no tragedy. You can stay there.
You must follow the enclosed instructions exactly when setting up. If you built your still, refer back to the instructions on WikiHow. Once the still is assembled, slowly heat the beer. If you heat it up too quickly, it can burn. Bring the beer to a boil in 30 to 60 minutes.
You still should have a thermometer attached directly in front of the lab condenser. Keep an eye on this thermometer while the beer is brewing. When it reads 50°C to 60°C, start the cooling water for the lab cooler. This will start the distillation process.
Once you’ve added the cooling water, the cooler will start to drip. For a beer with a volume of approx. 19 l, you should pour away the first 50 ml that drips out of the cooler. This first part is called the forerun and is methanol, which evaporates first from the beer. It tastes gross and you shouldn’t let it get into the rest of your whiskey.
Once you’ve discarded the forerun, read the thermometer again. It should read 80°C to 85°C. At this point, ethanol, or “middle run, ” comes out of the radiator.” This is the liquid gold you’ve been waiting for. You should collect the middle run in 500ml containers to keep track of your production.
When the temperature has reached around 96°C, you should stop collecting the distillate. The liquid that is now dripping out of the radiator is called “after-run”. Again, this would give your whiskey an off-flavor, so don’t mix it with the middle cut.
After collecting all of your distillate, you need to let all parts of the still cool down (be careful – it’s very hot). Once it has cooled, give it a thorough cleaning.
Most whiskeys are aged in oak casks. However, if you don’t have one on hand, you can also add oak chips to your whiskey while it ages in another container. Through aging, the whiskey will acquire the wonderful flavor we all love. You can purchase both oak barrels and oak chips online. Suppose you are aging your whiskey in a tall glass or another closed container. In that case, you will occasionally need to open it to allow alcohol vapors to escape, just as they would if aged in a wooden cask (these evaporating vapors are called “Percentage of called angels). Allow the vessel to breathe at least once a week. First, fill it with warm water if you decide to use a keg. This will cause the wood to swell, effectively sealing any cracks. This is very important, otherwise, your whiskey could ooze out of the cask.
When you make whiskey at home, the aging process takes a lot less time than making whiskey commercially because you’re undoubtedly making a much smaller batch. Therefore, your whiskey will have more contact with the wood as there is less liquid ‘fighting’ for a place on the wood. Your whiskey will be fully matured in a few months.
The whiskey is aged at home can take on too much oak flavor. To avoid this, try the whiskey every three weeks or so.
-% ) of your whiskey and dilute as needed. To determine the alcohol content of your whiskey, you can use your hydrometer. Note that 75 to 80% ABV whiskey will not be very pleasant to drink. Generally, whiskey is diluted to 80% or 40% alcohol. To dilute it, add water.
Once your whiskey has the flavor and color you want, it’s time to bottle it. Store your bottled whiskey or enjoy it now, the choice is yours. Enjoy it!
Note that methanol is toxic. Be extremely careful when distilling it. Be aware that home whiskey making in the United States is illegal unless you hold a Federal Distilled Spirits Permit or Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit. However, different states have different rules for making alcohol at home. Find out about the laws in your state online.