Best Make-Your-Own-Moonshine Tutorial

Our Stories October 7, 2011 19 Comments.

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If making moonshine is on your bucket list (things to do before you die), and you’re (most likely) a guy, this blog’s for you.


There are dozens of websites out there that claim authority in this arena, but this one rose to the top of our informal search with very little criteria, except that it was the funniest.


It is from We will start with its requisite disclaimer:


Before you go running out to buy your bag of cornmeal to make moonshine, our stodgy lawyers insist we remind you that making moonshine isn’t just dangerous, it’s also illegal. This recipe is meant for entertainment purposes and anyone who actually follows through with it should be both admired for their ambition and mocked for their stupidity.




Collect the ingredients

Just like any recipe, start by collecting all the necessary ingredients you’ll need to make moonshine: 2.5 pounds of cornmeal, 10 pounds of sugar, 10 gallons of water, and ½ an ounce of yeast. You’ll also need charcoal for the final filter stage. If anyone asks, tell them you are barbecuing sugary corn biscuits for the local orphanage.


Get the right equipment

Gather the necessary equipment needed to make moonshine. Stop by your parents’ place and borrow a few large pots. If you’re lucky, you can also grab your mom’s pressure cooker. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy one, along with a length of coiled copper pipe. Unless you already own a length of coiled copper pipe, in which case we’d have to ask, “Why the hell do you own a length of coiled copper pipe?”


Boil water

You’ve run all over town and aroused the suspicion of both your parents and the clerk at the grocery store — now you are really starting to look and feel like a moonshiner. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to make moonshine before you can celebrate with a warm, liver-scarring sip of your nasty nectar. It’s time to get down to business. Boil the water on the stove until it reaches a rolling boil.


Add the cornmeal

Add the cornmeal to the rolling boil and stir. Pat yourself on the back there, Jimmy Beam: You just made a big ol’ batch of mash! It might look like lumpy snot, but this gooey mixture is actually the foundation of your bootleg booze. Oddly enough, it’s also the foundation of the paste we all made in art class way back in the day. Maybe the special-needs kids who ate buckets of the stuff were actually just getting a slight buzz?


Let the mash cool

Let the mash cool down until it is just warm to the touch. Note: No matter how curious you are, do no attempt to eat any mash. It’s not dangerous, or even that gross, but it will harden into a nearly impenetrable lump somewhere in your colon and stay with you for years, alongside swallowed gum and that marble you ate in the fourth grade.


Add sugar

Add the sugar and yeast to the warm mash. If you yell “BAM” while adding any of these ingredients, immediately drive to the highest bridge in your city and throw yourself off of it. Or eat five heaping spoonfuls of mash — it’s your call, Emeril.


Let the mash ferment

Set the mash aside in a cool, dark room and allow it to ferment for four to five days. These will be four to five days filled with conversations like, “Oh that? It’s a science project I’m doing with my nephew,” or “What, you think I’m making moonshine or something?”

The mash is ready when it stops bubbling. At this stage, it is technically known as sour mash. Unless you are suicidal or lack taste buds, you’ll probably just want to take our word on the “sour” part.


Put the sour mash in the pressure cooker

Put this newly fermented sour mash into the pressure cooker and carefully bring it up to exactly 173 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature at which the alcohol molecules in the mixture wake up from a boozy stupor, rub their little bloodshot eyes and slowly rise to the surface.


Fasten the copper pipes to the pressure cooker

You’ll need a bit of your MacGyver-savvy here. Affix the coiled copper pipe to the vent of the pressure cooker. Run most of the copper coils through cold water and place the opposite end into a separate clean container. As the vapors pass through the cold copper tubing, they condense into a clear, pungent liquid. Some call it white lightning or mountain dew or even rotgut, but you can call it what it really is — moonshine.


Filter it through charcoal

OK, it’s not quite moonshine yet. Filter the quasi-moonshine through charcoal a few times to remove grit, impurities and hair. Then, dispense it into Mason jars for the full moonshine effect and enjoy — if you really can enjoy a shudder-inducing bit of nastiness, that is.


Over the moon

If you’ve done everything correctly, the recipe should have yielded about two gallons of moonshine. If you’ve messed up, you’ll either go blind, die a slow, bleeding-out-of-strange-places kind of death or feel like you’ve wasted an incredible amount of time and cornmeal. Of course, you could also just walk down to the Booze Barn to buy a gallon of Jack Daniels in about 10 minutes and not have to worry about poisoning yourself. But where would this country be if everybody just did the smart, practical thing?



19 thoughts on “Best Make-Your-Own-Moonshine Tutorial

  1. Allen

    Thanks for the information looking forward to trying the receipe. I have been making wine for personal use a while now but this is something I have been wanting to try for years. I would appreciate any extra info that may be available in the future. Thanks ALlen

  2. Matty

    I live in Australia and have been shinin’ for 3 years now.
    Me and a friend decided it was a good idea, and stuck with it.
    We use two very different recepe’s, one is moderd and requires
    flavour to be added after the stilling process.
    It consists of:
    17.6 pounds (8kilo) standard table sugar
    6.6 gallons (25litre) water
    1 packet active turbo yeast (can obtain from home brew beer shop or online)
    Boil half the water and pour into fermentation barrel
    add sugar and stir untill fully disolved
    add the rest of water and yeast and stir in
    Seal barrel with either lid and air lock or a damp cloth (this will need to be re-wet over time)
    Use a heat belt or mat to maintain the core temperature of the mix at 26°C (78.8°F)
    after 5-7days it will stop bubbling and is ready to distil
    During which, the first 1/2 cup of liquid needs to be dumped (this is methanol and is poison)
    After which you get just over a gallon (aprox. 4-5litre) of 97% (190 proof) alcohol
    Water this down at 2:1 with distilled water to make aprox. 14-15 (4 gallons) of 46% (100 proof) alcohol. Flavour and enjoy, or simply substitute for vodka

  3. Rhyne

    Well your instrutions are a little dangerous you forgot to take out the methanol! If you drink methanol it will make you go blind!

  4. CJ Beck

    You forgot to instruct your readers that the first quart of liquid that comes out of the worm is pure poison, methane to be exact, it MUST be discarded.

  5. jay

    It is not methane, its methanol. The quantity he is talking about probably won’t hurt a person, but it is best to dump it out. And no, it won’t produce a quart! The standard is to throw out the first 15 ml (Tbsp.) For every gallon in the pot. Two gallons of mash, throw out an ounce, three gallons, throw out 45 cc or ml.

  6. paul

    been doing this for a while and i alway tell people, get rid of the first 75 to 100 ml that way you are sure all that stuff is out and your just collecting the hearts besides you get 2 3 or 4 gallons of shine 100ml aint going to kill you for getting rid of or maybe it will if your greedy

  7. caveman67

    I’ve done this all my life n never seen 6 gallons of shine unless u used 40 hallo s of wash n abv % is always a lie even what’s n store fda allows distillery’s to lie

  8. box20022

    I use a cornmeal recipe with 5 Gallons of water 5LBS Cornmeal,8LBS Sugar, 1OZ yeast. I have made a gallon to a Gallon and a pint of about 100 Proof alcohol total. Now if I broke it down I would get two Quarts of 125 Proof and the rest about 80 Proof . The people who claim they get 190 proof are either lieing or not telling the test of us how they could get a total yeild that high. More accurate numbers are needed please. Thankyou

  9. David

    I’ve been looking and planning a still for 5-gallon runs (~$200 using all stainless). I’ve made a couple of small runs using lab equipment (I’m a chemist).

    About methanol production….. it surprises me that no one is actually looking at the distillate temperature. I’m planning a straight pipe up from the kettle (1 x 10″) and at the top placing a 1″-Tee. At the top of the tee I’m placing a reducing coupling from 1″ to 1/2″ where a cork(or rubber stopper) can be inserted (also acting as a pressure relief blow-out valve) in which I can drill a hole for a thermometer (ALCOHOL THERMOMETER – NOT MERCURY !!). The thermometer is inserted so that the bulb is positioned at the bottom of the Tee side opening from which it spills over to the copper tubing.

    Methanol (if you’re worried about this) will distill off at around 65 – 68oC; ethanol at around 78oC.

    For a large batch, control your heating and watch the distillate temperature. Discard everything under 70oC and collect all the rest until 97oC.

    I could have cut the distillation off earlier and increased the % alcohol, but waiting until 97oC allowed for more flavors and scent to collect in the whiskey.

    Into a 5 gal bucket:
    2 lbs 12% Sweet Feed (for horses – this has oats and other goodies in it)
    2 lbs of cracked corn
    5 lbs of sugar
    5-6 oz of Nectar
    ~1/2 oz rapid-rise yeast (Brewers yeast)
    Fill the bucket to 90% capacity with warm water and distill once the fermentation has stopped.

    Yields nearly 2 Liters (undiluted, assuming you’re distilling until 97oC) and if you dilute this distillate 60:40 using DI water then it will yield you about 3-4 quarts depending on your adding fruit or not (like pears/apples/cherry).

    If you desire “color” and to remove some other contamination, run this through plain charcoal. Just expect that you will loose some yield as the carbon will absorb some of your product.

    Very easy to do. Was very smooth and I didn’t use charcoal NOR did I discard the methanol — which was minimal.

    Best wishes all !!
    Merry Christmas – And be safe.

  10. bigjoe75

    The people that get sure a high yield (190 proof) do 1 of three things. 1) they lie and get a yield much lower (probably not the case). 2) they run the shine twice two further distill (get a much lower quantity). 3) use a thump keg. This is basically a “second distillation process” which ups the yield to the high proof

  11. Frank Jacobs

    i did two five gallon batches of wenches white grape juice and it cam I got 3quartz of 170 proof but I have a thumper getting ready to due both batches again then I will bring down the proof this is my first two batches what water would u use to cut it with

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