Saturday, January 24, 2015

How to Ferment Sugar Wash Effectively

for all you hobby distillers out there make sure you get everything ready. Spring is near weather will be getting warm and it will be time to ferment. 

How to Ferment Sugar Wash Effectively

You may not appreciate the value of fermentation if you are still discovering how to moonshine. But the fact is this process is very essential because it plays a big role in achieving the alcohol strength of your spirit. Also, fermentation is a constant process that you wash must undergo before it is subjected to distillation. This is very contrary to the beliefs that a still is all it takes to come up with moonshine. The spread of this myth maybe due to the way early moonshine makers perform fermentation. In the early years, fermentation is usually done in a seperate contain than the stills boiler. In essence, fermentation is a very significant process because without subjecting your wash into this process, your wash will absolutely end up in a flop. Performing it in a modern fermenter is also the best way to do it.

Basically, the fermentation process when it comes to making moonshine is the step that requires the longest time. But then, it is a very easy step because it can happen on its won without any inputs from the moonshiner. In actuality, the amount of time needed to complete the process depends on the kind of the yeast that you pitch in the fermenter. Once you are already seasoned with making moonshine, you will also notice that there are differences on fermentation times among same kind of yeast from different makers.

Typically, the standard sugar wash recipe of 10 pounds of white or raw sugar mixed with 5 gallons of plain water will yield a strong brew of 16-18% alcohol as long as the correct type of yeast is used. Thus, selecting yeast with the highest tolerance to alcohol is the key in achieving good alcohol concentration. Out of many varieties, turbo yeast is the best pick because it has a high alcohol tolerance and can act as fast as possible under optimal temperature. Some of the most recommended brands of turbo yeast are the Hillbilly Stills turbo  that can accomplish fermentation in approximately 48 hours and even less than that. Fermenting wash in a short period of 24 hours is possible using this brand of yeast if you decrease the formula to 2 pounds  sugar to  each gallon of water. This yeast also has instructions on the bag to make the perfect ferment. This will work perfectly if the temperature is extremely optimal 80 degrees is perfect. If the temperature drops below 70f, the yeast will really start to slow down.  Using the 24 hour and 48 hour strain will consume a total of 5 days fermentation time given that the formula used in the standard recipe of 10 pounds of sugar to 5 gallons water. Over that period, the effects of the yeast taper off and the alcohol concentration shoots up. Some home brewer prefers the 48 hour strain because the flavor is more enhanced. However, in the absence of this strain, the 24 hour variety is absolutely a great alternative.

It should never be a problem as well if you cannot hold of turbo yeast because there are plenty of options where you can choose from. You can visit local home brewer shops and ask what varieties of yeast are available in their store. From this, you can consul which of these is the best alternative for making moonshine. A lot of whiskey making yeast such as Whiskey Turbo Pure  have high tolerance to alcohol and can be used as a great replacement. The only drawback to using wine yeast is you will have to supplement the wine yeast with nutrients such as turbo yeast originally comes with nutrient packets while wine yeast comes in plain packets. This is because wine yeast contains squashed grapes that include all the necessary components to help the yeast survive. you can use wine yeast but, you must remember to add nutrient packets as well and be mindful of the fermentation time which can take up to two weeks.

Going back to the process, you must have a mixture of sugar and water. With this, you can already add your yeast to the mixture, you must ensure that it has been out of the refrigerator even before you start with creating your wash or it may be shocked with the change in temperature. If you are using dried active yeast, you have to option to just pitch it in the fermenter or dilute it with a cup of water for approximately 15 minutes before you mix it with your wash. Yet, you must remember that the water should have equal temperature with your wash to avoid disturbing the yeast.

Once the yeast has been mixed with the wash, youneed to thow a towel or burlap sack over the top. (turbo yeast can work so fast it will blow an  airlock out) You must also be aware that some yeast variety yields more if you keep cover with a towel or bulap  so that the carbon dioxide can escape the fermenter. The rationale behind this is that the yeast can act faster in an environment full of oxygen. After which, you can seal the fermenter completely and this time the remaining carbon dioxide will escape the container through the air lock.

You will also notice an increase activity a few hours after you pitch in the yeast due to the fact that the yeast is setting and rehydrating itself getting ready to take action. At this stage, you will also see that the ferment is  bubbling constantly until all the sugars contained in the wash have been fermented. Typically, the process may take 3 to 14 days depending on the type of yeast that you use. Out of all varieties, bakers yeast has the longest fermentation time which is why this yeast is not remomended. Once all the sugars have been fermented, there will be no more alcohol production, no more food for the yeast and carbon dioxide as well which makes the wash ready for distillation.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Making of Whiskey

The principals for the distillation of whisky have changed little over the last 200 years. Just three basic ingredients are needed - water, barley and yeast. Technology now aids production, but traditionally there are five stages to the process - malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation. Here we go through and expalin each of these important stages.
Step 1 - Malting
Barley contains starch and it is this starch which needs to be converted into soluble sugars to make alcohol. For this to occur, the barley must undergo germination and this first part of the prodess is called 'malting'. Each distiller has their own preference about the type of barley they buy, but they need a type that produce high yields of soluble sugar. The barley is soaked for 2-3 days in warm water and then traditionally spread on the floor of a building called a malting house. It is turned regularly to maintain a constant temperature. This is also carried out on a commercial scale in large drums which rotate.

The malting floor at Springbank
When the barley has started to shoot, the germination has to be stopped by drying it in a kiln. Traditionally peat is used to power the kiln and it is at this point where the type of peat used and length of drying in the peat smoke can influence the flavour of the final spirit. The barley is now called 'malt' and this is ground down in a mill, with any husks and other debris being removed.

Step 2 - Mashing
The ground down malt, which is called 'grist', is now added to warm water to begin the extraction of the soluble sugars. The water is normally from a pure, reliable, local source - this is why most distilleries around the world are next to a river or lake. The character of this water can influence the final spirit as it can contain minerals from passing over or though granite, peat or other rock. The liquid combination of malt and water is called the 'mash'. It is put into a large vessel called a mash tun and stirred for several hours.
Inside the mash tun at Glen Moray
Inside the mash tun at Glen Moray
During this process, the sugars in the malt dissolve and these are drawn off through the bottom of the mash tun. The resulting liquid is called 'wort'. This process is normally carried out three times with the water temperature being increased each time to extract the maximum amount of sugar. Only wort from the first two times is used. The third lot is put back into the next batch of new grist. Any residue, such as husks, is called 'draff'. This is collected and used in the production of farm feed.
Step 3 - Fermentation
The wort is cooled and passed into large tanks called washbacks. These are traditionally made of wood, but now a number of distilleries use stainless steel. Here the yeast is added and the fermentation begins. The yeast turns the sugars that are present into alcohol. As with the barley and water, the distiller will carefully select the strain of yeast that they use and it can also have a small effect on the final flavour of the spirit. The fermentation normally takes around 48 hours to run its natural course, although some distilleries will let it go for longer so as to create further characteristics that they require. The liquid at this stage is called 'wash' and is low in alcohol strength (between 5-10% ABV), like beer or ale. You could make beer from the liquid at this point, but the difference with whisky is that the liquid is now distilled rather than brewed.
Step 4 - Distillation
In Scotland, the wash is traditionally distilled twice. In Ireland, it is distilled three times although there are exceptions in both countries. Here is a brief explanation of the double distillation process. The stills are made from copper, which has been found to be the best material for extracting impurities from the spirit as it is being distilled, and consist of a bowl shape at the bottom that rises up to the neck at the top. All are the same in principal, but a different shape will give a different flavour and character to the final spirit. Taller stills with longer necks will give finer, lighter spirits while shorter, fatter stills will produce a fuller, richer spirit.
The stills at Glenburgie
The stills at Glenburgie
The stills tend to work in pairs. Firstly, the wash enters the larger wash still and is heated (this was traditionally by coal, but is now largely by gas or steam). The liquid vaporises and rises up the still until it reaches the neck, where it condenses. This liquid is called 'low wines' and is unusable as it is. The low wines are passed to the second smaller still, called the spirit still. Any residue from the wash still is collected and used to manufacture farm feed. In the spirit still, the alcohol produced is split into three.
Alcohols from the beginning of the distillation (called 'foreshots') are very high in alcohol level and very pungent. Alcohols from the end (called 'feints') are weak but also pungent. It is only the alcohol from the middle or 'heart' of the distillation that is used and this is skillfully removed by a stillman and collected through the spirit safe. The foreshots and feints are then mixed with the next batch of low wines and re-distilled. The heart is the spirit that is then taken to be matured and that will become whisky. This 'heart' has an alcoholic strength of 65-70% ABV.
Step 5 - Maturation
The spirit is put into oak casks and stored. The most common types of oak casks are those that have previously been used in the American bourbon and Spanish sherry industries. The spirit must mature in casks for a minimum of three years before it is legally allowed to be called whisky in Scotland. During maturation, the flavours of the spirit combine with natural compounds in the wood cask and this gives the whisky its own characteristic flavour and aroma.
Casks maturing in Warehouse No.1 at Glenlivet
Casks maturing in Warehouse No.1 at Glenlivet
Wood is porous, so over time it will breathe in air from the surrounding environment in which it is stored. This will also give the whisky some unique characteristics. If the distillery storage facilities are next to the sea, on an island or in the middle of the Highlands then the air quality, temperature and humidity will be different and influence the end product. During each year of maturation about 2% of the spirit is lost through natural evaporation. This is called the 'angel's share' and explains why older whiskies are less readily available and more expensive to buy. There is simply less whisky in the cask to bottle.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Product spotlight for December

We are bringing out a new yeast for you. It is going to be a true WHISKEY TURBO YEAST.
We are going to start by selling bags for 6 gallon wash. We will also be carrying 5 pound boxes and 50 pound bags. This makes Whisky making much easier.  Hillbilly Stills is dedicated to bringing you new products as they come out. Please consider give it it a try. I think you will love it

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spooky Drink Preparation For Halloween

Halloween is a holiday when adults have as much fun as the kids. Although we may not be bobbing for apples or eating cider doughnuts off of strings, there are still plenty of ways to make your adult refreshments festive and spooky for Halloween. We have compiled a few of our favorites to give your party a little inspiration.

Pumpkin Punch bowl

Depending on the number of guests you are expecting for your party this Halloween, you will likely have to find a very large pumpkin. However, the preparation could not be easier! With a serrated knife, cut off the top fourth of the pumpkin. Scoop out the pulp and seeds with a large spoon, and thoroughly scrape the inside walls of the pumpkin. Then, either fill the pumpkin with a cider moonshine punch, or fill with ice, and leave bottles of your favorite beer inside to chill.

Bloody Shirley Temples

Turn your favorite childhood drink into a new Halloween staple that your guests will love by adding a few easy props. Purchase unused syringes from a local pharmacy, and fill with a combination of your favorite moonshine or vodka and grenadine. Fill glasses half way with Sprite, and prop the syringes against the sides of the glasses. Your guests can shoot their tasty mixture into their drink themselves! Refill the syringes if you are dying for seconds!

Pumpkin Keg

Anyone can serve their guests pumpkin beers. Instead, why not present everyone’s favorite fall-time beer in a homemade pumpkin keg? All you will need is a large pumpkin and a spigot. Draw a large circle with about a three inch radius around the stem of the pumpkin, and cut with a large carving knife at an angle. Carve out all of the insides of the pumpkin with a spoon, and scrape the sides clean. Cut a hole near the bottom of the pumpkin that is slightly smaller than the spigot, and insert it tightly. Fill the pumpkin with your favorite Oktoberfest brew and serve to your happy guests. Or, try making a fall festive punch with your own homemade moonshine.

Halloween Ice Trays

If you don’t have the time to transform a pumpkin into a perfect drink dispenser, you can easily give any beverage the Halloween spirit with some festive ice trays. Whether you favor a skull and crossbones or you want to get a little more grim with these brain shaped ice cube trays, the options are endless.

Halloween brings out the child in all of us, and it is the perfect excise to have a little more fun with your drink presentation. What is your favorite way to serve your home brew on Halloween? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Product spotlight for October

Here here you go, You have been asking for a full copper still and here it is. We bring you a 30 gallon copper pot that will accept our HS5500 Watt heating system that is world renowned by the way. It has an 8" man-way for cleaning and a 1.5 inch drain on the bottom. It comes with a stand so if you would like to use open flame heat then that is not problem either. All seams on the pot are TIG welded for a lifetime of service.. We can add any option you like to this kettle but there will be charges for added options. Your gonna love this ole girl
Make sure you select the no. of plates you would like. 
Many of our customers just rave about the craftsman ship of this system. It is all American Made right here in Ky.

  • You get
    1. 30 gallon all copper pot
    2. HS5500 Heating system
    3. Hillbilly Flute column

Calling All Preppers

To be properly Prepared for what ever catastrophe  that is going to hit our country you need to be able to make fuel and alcohol for medicine. You may also need an accessional drink to deal with what your facing.

SHTF Prepping

Why should distillation equipment be added to your prepper equipment checklist? Here are 3 excellent reasons, to name a few: distilled spirits, fuel alcohol, and antiseptic. These goods would be highly valuable during a SHTF event and can all be easily manufactured with simple, small-scale distillation equipment. As a bonus, all of these goods would be highly desirable in a barter economy.


Fuel is included on many, if not all survival prep lists. Here are a few things to keep in mind on this topic: first, that there are many types of fuel and the different types have different uses. Second, a good fuel strategy is one that provides fuel based on expected need as well as one that provides provisions for replenishment. We’ll address all of these issues below.
The two primary fuel categories are stationary and mobile. Here are examples to help clarify. Wood and coal are both stationary fuels and are appropriate for heating and cooking, in a set location. Gasoline and diesel are mobile fuels and are appropriate for powering mobile equipment such as a cars, motorcycles, and tractors.
Some fuels can be used as stationary and mobile fuels while others cannot be or at least should not be. For example, wood is great for heating and cooking but it’s useless as a mobile fuel. Gasoline, a mobile fuel, will power a small engine, but it’s not the best for cooking, and relying on it as a long term heating strategy would be very unwise considering the amount of fuel that one would need to keep on hand.
Finally, mobile fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene have limited shelf lives and will be subject to supply issues during instances of widespread infrastructure meltdowns.
Considering the abovementioned facts, one potential fuel supply strategy would involve a good stockpile of wood and relative close proximity to a source for more, as well as a renewable mobile fuel source. Because the mobile fuels listed above will be subject to supply limitations and producing them will be very difficult, if not impossible, we cannot recommend them. Natural gas and propane could also be used as mobile (and stationary fuels), but they’re subject to the same limitations as the others. Fortunately, there is a mobile fuel that is quite easy to produce, keeps well, and doubles as a mobile as well as a stationary fuel: alcohol.
To use alcohol as a fuel in a small engine, it must be 90% pure. This is an issue, albeit only a small one, as fuel alcohol produced by means of distillation maxes out at a purity of 95%. Re-distilling will not result in a higher proof product. To remove the last bit of water from the fuel, it must treated with a drying agent. Fortunately, corn grits actually work very well to accomplish this.
Fuel alcohol can be produced in any still but column stills are the most appropriate for this task, as they’re more efficient at making the high alcohol contented need for use in engines.  Though, considering that there are many uses for alcohol, all requiring different proofs, the best still for a prepare would be a  reflux still for fuel alcohol, or can be left empty for making whiskey, antiseptic, and distilled water. This tip of still can be very versitile.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Legalization of Home Distilling

There is still movement in the Legalizing of Home Distillation.  My son Matt is in contact weekly with senators and Representatives on this topic. He has Been to DC recently and met with some of our Senators.
 National Geographic is about to  produce a documentary on home distilling. Hopefully this will shed some light on our hobby distilling and help to get legalization moving forward. We don't know the date on the airing of this documentary.  We will post this when we find out.