Old Time Corn Whiskey
- I got this some time ago from a kiwi site. I won't give the link as
it tries to download tracker.exe from every page of the site (not
kosher, IMHO). It's also part of the source of what I know
about 'Proof Vials'. Anyway, here 'tis...
From www dot snoopy-bugger-site dot co.nz :-))
March '99 Newsletter
The fine art of moonshining
1. Go to the woods and find a good place to hide your still - near a
good source of water. Next, construct any water lines which may be
2. Next choose the corn you will be using. Do not use a hybrid or
yellow corn. Use a good, fresh, white corn like holcomb prolific,
which will produce about three quarts of whiskey per bushel.
Inferior brands will only produce about two and a half quarts per
bushel. Get nine bushels.
3. Put at least a bushel and a half aside to sprout (no more than
two bushels). In the winter put this corn in a tub, add warm water,
and let it stand for twenty-four hours. Then drain it and move it to
a sprouting tub. Cover it with plenty of warm water; leave it for
fifteen minutes and drain. Put the tub close to a stove, and turn
the cold side of the tub to the stove at least once a day. Each day
add warm water again, leave it for fifteen minutes, and drain it off
again leaving the tub close to the stove. Also transfer the corn
from the bottom of the tub to the top of the tub at least once a day
to make sure it all gets the same amount of heat. You should have
good malt in four or five days with shoots about two inches long and
In summer, simply put the corn to be sprouted out in the sun in tow
sacks. Sprinkle warm water over them once a day, and flip the sacks
over. Be careful, however, not to let the corn get too hot or it
will go slick, when it starts to get too hot, stir it up and give it
air to cool it.
4. The day before the sprouted corn is ready, take the remaining
eight bushels of corn to the miller to be ground up. Do not let him
crush the corn or you will have some heavy material left that will
sink to the bottom of the still and burn. Take this meal to the
woods. The last three or four days should have been spent building
the furnace and installing the still. It should be ready to work
now. Build a fire under the still. Fill it nearly full with water,
and stir in a half a bushel of corn meal. When it comes to a boil,
let it bubble thirty five to forty minutes. Cook it well or it will
puke too much when cooking it later. When it has cooked
sufficiently, bring one of the barrels over, put it under the slop
arm of the still, push in the plug stick, and let the contents of
the still fill the barrel. Add a gallon of yet uncooked meal and let
the hot contents of the barrel cook it alone. Make sure it is
stirred in well. Move the barrel aside, and repeat the whole process
until the meal is cooked. ( return home )
5. The next day, get the sprouted corn (malt) ground up at the mill
and take it to the woods. You can also use a sausage mill. In the
woods, thin out the mash you made yesterday. This is done by
standing a mash stick upright in each barrel. Add water and stir it
in until the mash stick falls over against the side easily of its
own weight. When all are thinned, add a gallon of malt to each
barrel and stir it in. At the same time, add a double handful of raw
rye to each barrel, sprinkling it over the top. This helps to make
the cap, helps the mixture begin working, and helps the final
product hold a good bead. (If using sugar, add ten pounds to each
barrel the same time you are adding the malt) cover the barrels if
they get rained in your work is ruined. ( return home )
6. The next day, the mixtures should be working. If one or two of
them aren't, then mix them back and forth with the ones that are,
using a dipper. You, want them all to be working at the same time so
that they will all be ready to run at the same time. This liquid is
known as beer. ( return home )
7. The next day, return to the site and stir up the mixture in each
of the barrels to, speed up their workings. ( return home )
8. About two days later, check again. At the same time, gather the
wood you will need, bring in kegs, fruit jars, and whatever else you
may need. (On this forth day, if your using sugar, add a half of
gallon of malt to each barrel and thirty-five to forty pounds of
sugar to each barrel. Stir it in and let the mixture work for five
more days. )
9. If you are not using sugar, then the whole mixture should be
ready to run on the fifth day of its working. (With sugar it takes
about nine or ten days.) You can tell when it is ready by studying
the cap that has formed over the beer. Sometimes this cap will be
two inches thick. Sometimes it will only be a half-inch thick, and
sometime it will only be suds and blubber, called a "blossom cap"
all of these will be fine. When the cap is nearly gone, or only a
few remnants left scattered on the top, the mixture is ready to run.
The alcohol has eaten the cap off the beer. Do not wait to run it at
this point or the mixture will turn to vinegar, and the vinegar will
eat the alcohol thus ruining the beer. It is better to run the whole
thing a day early than a day late. You'll still get mild good
whiskey. Appearance of " dog heads" also indicates its ready to run.
[Note one variation on the above process was also popular. Two
bushels of mash were put in each fifty five gallon barrel and cold
water added no cooking was used. This mixture would sour in three to
four days and produce a crust. This would be broken up, stirred in,
and the mixture left for another two or three days until the mixture
would sour again. Then a gallon and a half of malt was added to each
barrel and the mixture allowed to work for another week. At this
point, it was ready to run in the same manner as the other we have
10. Now all the connections on the still are sealed up with a stiff
rye paste save for the cap and cap arm. The plug stick inserted
through the top of the still, handle first, and the handle pulled
out through the slop arm until the ball of rags at the other end
jams the opening. Fill the still almost to the top (leave about 3
gal. off for expansion due to heat) with the beer. Put 10 gallons of
beer in the thump barrel. Build up a fire underneath, as the beer
heats, stir it continuously with the swab stick to keep it from
sticking to the bottom and sides of the still. Keep this up until it
has come to a rolling boil and can thus keep itself stirred. Then
paste on the cap and cap arm using rye dough.
11. Chunk the fire easy, start slowly, and gradually building it up
in intensity. About 15 min. After the beer starts boiling in the
still, the steam will hit the cold beer in the thump barrel and
start it bubbling and thumping. On cold days, this thumping can be
heard for several hundred yards through the woods.when the thumping
quits, the beer is boiling smoothly in the still and doing fine.
Place a container under the end of the condenser. A funnel should be
inserted in the container which is lined with a clean, fine, while
cloth on the bottom, a yarn cloth on top of that, and a double
handful of washed hickory coals on top of that. The coals remove
the "bardy grease" (it shows up as an oil slick on top of the
whiskey if not drained off) which can make one very ill.
12. When the thumping stops, the whiskey starts. A gush or two of
steam will proceed it at the condenser end. This will be followed by
a strong surge of liquid which quickly subsides to a trickle. On the
second surge, she's coming for good as one man said. Begin catching
the alcohol on the second surge (if it is being made with sugar,
this first run will not hold a bead. Save it anyway). Keep running
the still as long as there is any taste of alcohol in the liquid
being produced. Then drain the thump barrel, add the results of the
first run, about 10 gallons of backings. Then drain the still
through the slop arm and fill it with beer as before.
13. On the second run through, you'll have good whiskey because the
steam has gone through the backings in the thumper. It will be
double strength. Keep checking it with the proof vial, catching it
as it comes out the condenser, thumping it in the palm of your hand
and watching for bubbles. When it's dead , pull the container away.
You should have two to three gallons of good whiskey. The bead on
which will be half under the liquid and half over it. (if you're
running sugar whiskey the results from the first run on will be
whiskey. And the bead will be two thirds under the surface and one
third over it. ) catch the remainder of the second run in another
container. These are new backings for the third run. Another way to
tell if the whiskey is still strong enough to catch in the container
of good stuff is by taking some of the alcohol , dashing it on the
hot still cap, and holding a match to the steam. If it burns keep it
14. From the second run , you should have two or three gallons of
good whiskey and seven or eight gallons of backings. Drain the
faints out of the thumper and let them hit the ground and run away.
They are no good for anything. Add the new backings to the thumper.
Drain the still, fill it again with fresh beer, and run it a third
time. This time, since there are fewer backing you'll get less
liquor, but more backings for the fourth run. On the forth run,
you'll get more liquor because you have more backings, but you" also
get fewer backings for the fifth run and so on. The yield will vary
up and down with each still full. Keep running until all the beer
has been used up. Without a thumper, all the backings would have
been saved , and all run through the still on the last run.
15. After about seven runs, the net result will be about seven to
ten gallons of pure corn ( unsugared ) whiskey, for an average of
about a gallon to a gallon and a half per bushel of corn. ( with
sugar the result should be about six gallons to a bushel ) these are
called" high shots " they are about two hundred proof and must be
cut to be drinkable. To cut either add about one third backing from
the last run, or water. Many prefer water. Add the liquor you are
cutting the alcohol with until it holds a good steady bead in the
proof vial. If the bead will not hold steady after three good thumps
in the palm of your hand, then it will stand any amount of jolting
and bumping during shipment. From nine gallons of high shot you
should get about twelve gallons of fine whiskey.
1. If wood fuel is being used ash is best of all. It gives a good
steady heat and no smoke. Also good are hickory and mountain oak.
2. Always use copper . Beer doesn't stick to it so badly , and there
chance of any kind of metal poisoning.
3. Never let the whiskey run too fast . Always keep it cold while it
is running . If it kept as cold as the water it is being condensed
by , it will remain smooth and mild and not harsh to the taste.
About sixty degrees is normal.
4 Use the best water available ( many prefer to use streams running
west off the north side of a hill ) the water could make a
difference of several gallons in the final yield.
5. Everything must be kept spotless . The copper inside the still
should shine like gold . Barrels too must be kept clean. Smoke them
out after each use with several handfuls of corn meal bran set afire.
6. Add three or four drops of rye flavoring to each gallon of
whiskey to give it a yellow tint and a distinct rye flavor.
7. The place to make the whiskey is in the boxes . If it's not right
there no amount of cooking and boiling can save it.