As anyone who is involved in a hobby knows, there are a number of tools that are an absolute must. For anyone interested in making their own moonshine, a proper still is one of those tools that they should not live without. However, if you are new to making moonshine, you may be confused on what a still is and how it works exactly.
To explain slightly, a still boils your ingredients and then cools it. This process allows for the creation of ethyl alcohol and is the process that creates your moonshine. Although we look at stills in the Ultimate Moonshine Guide, there are a few points that I would like to go over when it comes to a still.
Stills should be copper.
Yes, there are a number of stainless steel stills out there but the majority of stills should be copper. If you are purchasing a still, make sure that it has copper innards. The main reason for this is that copper removes the sulfur based compounds from the alcohol. If it is left in, the taste of your alcohol will be very unpleasant.
They should be maintained frequently.
If you are not aware of it, copper breaks down through use and any still that you use will need to be maintained to help prevent that erosion. In addition, you should repair the still every 5 to 8 years and remove any pieces that are eroding.
They should be enclosed.
While there are tubes and other parts protruding from the still, it should be closed for the proper process to occur. You cannot make moonshine with a pot on the stove.
With a still, you should be aware of the two most common types of stills that you can use in distilling your moonshine. These are:
- Pot Still: This is the most common type of still and is one that I strongly recommend that you use. A pot still has a single chamber thatis where the ingredients are heated. In the pot still, there is also a vessel. This vessel is where the purified alcohol is collected. One of the benefits of the pot still is that it is very easy to use and anyone can learn how to use it. One of the problems with the pot still is that it is an incomplete separation. This means that the alcohol is less pure but on the positive, this form of alcohol usually has more flavor.
- Reflux Still: A reflux still is a still that is a fractionating column. What this means is that the boiling and cooling down is done in several parts of the still as there are several copper vessels that are filled with glass beads. AS it works through the still, the alcohol becomes very potent and usually has to be diluted to make it safe for people to drink. Vodka is one of the alcohols that you make using a reflux still.
If you are just starting out, I recommend that you stick with the pot still as this is a much easier still to work with. However, as you become better accustomed to using the pot still and making moonshine, you can begin to use the reflux still.
Finally, when you are purchasing or making your first moonshine still, make sure that the still is copper, of good quality and can be cleaned properly. After that, all you need to do is add the recipes.