Distillation – The process of distillation focuses on separating the ethanol (alcohol) created in the fermentation process from the wort (or used mash). The goal is to get 80% ethanol and 20% flavors and water from the mash

Wash – Fermented wort is referred to as ‘wash’. To transfer your wash, you will need to strain or siphon your wash through a cheesecloth and then into your still. The cheesecloth is necessary because you want to allow as few of the larger chunks of mash into the still as possible. If you choose to siphon your wash rather than strain in, try to leave as much of the solid chunks in the bottom of the fermenter

Head or Foreshots– The first few ounces or so of methanol boiling out of the wash. This should always be thrown out!

The general rule of thumb is to discard 1/3 of a pint jar for every 5 gallons of wash being distilled.

How much to discard:

  • 1 gallon batch – discard the first 2/3 of a shot glass
  • 5 gallon batch – discard the first 1/3 of a pint jar
  • 10 gallon batch – discard the first 3/4 of a pint jar

One way to determine the presence of methanol is to monitor still temperature. If anything is produced by the still before wash temperature reaches 174 degrees, it’s methanol.

Pure methanol is dangerous and it is known to cause blindness and even kill.

Body or Hearts – the distillate coming out of the still after the head and when the temperature is 175º F-185º F

Tails – When the temperature has reached roughly 205º F you will want to stop collecting the distillate. The liquid now coming out of the distiller is call the ‘tails’. This will also give your whiskey a bad flavor, so keep it separate from the body

Angels Share – alcohol vapors that are created during the aging process

Rye flour paste is the traditional method used by moonshiners to seal seams on copper moonshine stills.

If a still has not been sealed properly, vapor will escape from the joint. Alcohol vapor is explosive at high concentrations. So, always seal your still and never distill indoors.

  • 3/4 cup rye flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Mix the rye flour and water together with your hands
  • Roll the flour paste into a snake

Once the boiler reaches 115 degrees apply the flour paste to the still
As the still heats up the rye flour paste will cook onto the still creating a seal at the joint
Keep an eye on your still to make sure that alcohol vapor is not escaping from any joint. Re-apply paste if needed.