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How to Make Whiskey in Your Garage

by emilyhutch 12 Dec 2017
Did you know that alcohol is a great thing to have on hand in an emergency? Not only can it clean wounds and deaden pain (of course, use it responsibly if you are over 21 years old), alcohol is a great asset to have to barter with your neighbors. You don't have to stock up on expensive whiskey for your food storage. Simply use what you already have in storage to make it.


  • 5 gallons of distilled water
  • 5 lbs of pure sugar
  • 1 package of yeast
  • Sweet feed--mix of barley, corn, wheat, and molasses
  • 10 lbs of ice
  • 6-gallon stainless steel stock pot with lid
  • 6-gallon glass or plastic jug
  • 2 5 gallon buckets
  • large stainless steel mixing bowl
  • tin vent
  • tape measure
  • turkey fryer
  • propane
  • strainer
  • pancake turner
  • large rubber spoon
  • large funnel
  • airlock valve
  • copper pipe
  • steel clamps
  • traceable thermometer
  • meat thermometer
  • hydrometer
  • graduated cylinder
  • measuring cup with mL
  • 4-5 mason jars
  • small charred white oak barrel



Cut a hole in the bottom of the large stainless steel mixing bowl. Attach the copper pipe using food grade silicone. Cut another small hole in the bottom of the bowl and attach a meat thermometer using food grade silicone. Cut a small hole for copper pipe in near the base of a 5-gallon bucket. Place the tin vent in the 5-gallon bucket. Bend the end of the copper pipe around the tin vent. Seal the copper pipe to the exit hole with food grade silicone. Fill the small charred white oak barrel with warm water until the wood swells prevent leakage. Hook up the propane to the turkey fryer.

The Mash

Pour sweet feed into the 5-gallon mixing bucket until the bucket is filled 4 inches deep. Place the sweet feed into the 6-gallon stock pot. Add 4 gallons of distilled water. Stir well. Place pot on the turkey fryer, cover, and heat to 150*F. Allow the traceable thermometer to float in the mash. Once the temperature is reached turn the heat down and maintain 150*F for one hour. The grains will convert to starch and sugar. Stir frequently to prevent the grain on the bottom from burning. The mash will be the consistency of oatmeal.

The Wash

Strain the grain from the liquid.  Place the strainer over the 5-gallon mixing bucket. Rinse the grain with the remaining distilled water. Use the pancake turner to press as much liquid out as possible. This will be messy. While stirring add the sugar. Allow the mix cool to 90*F. Then add the yeast and stir well. The yeast will eat the sugars in the mixture.


Using a funnel pour the wash into the 6-gallon jug. Place the airlock valve in the top of the jug. The water in the airlock valve will prevent anything from getting into the jug while still allowing the carbon dioxide to escape. Let it sit at room temperature, about 75*F, for 7-10 days. When the airlock valve stops bubbling it is ready for distillation.


Pour the fermented liquid back into the 6-gallon stock pot. Attach the large stainless steel mixing bowl to the top of the stock pot with steel clamps. Heat until it reaches 175*F, then maintain the temperature. This will take several hours.


Fill the 5-gallon bucket with ice to cool the gas coming off the wash. The ice should cover the copper pipe and tin vent in the bucket. Place a measuring cup at the base of the 5-gallon bucket where the copper pipe comes out. The first 50 mL or head will be pure methanol and acetone. Toss the head or keep it for cleaning purposes. DO NOT DRINK. Use a mason jar to catch the body of the moonshine. The still should be producing 1-2 drop per second, more than that and it will be mostly water. Fill 3-4 mason jars with good moonshine. The moonshine will be clear. Pour a sample of moonshine into the graduated cylinder. Test the proof with the hydrometer. It should be 130 Proof, add water to around 80 Proof if desired. The taste will change at the tails, the liquid may also be cloudy. Fill one more jar with the tails. This can be added to the next batch or tossed.


Place half a liter of moonshine into a small charred white oak barrel. Changes in temperature and humidity will expand and contract the wooden barrel pulling the flavors together and give it that rich dark color. Sample the whiskey every few days or weeks until the desired taste is achieved. Then transfer the whiskey to a glass bottle for long-term storage. Happy brewing!

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