How To Make Spirits
Before we start talking about how to make spirits, we need to clarify some issues first. Different countries have different rules regarding the production of spirits. You will need to adhere to the rules and regulations of your country when making spirits. For more information about the production of spirits in the UK, here are some helpful links.
There are two ways to make spirits. They are;
1) Make a flavourless alcohol base or wash, distil it, then flavour it with spirit flavourings.
2) Create a spirit mash using the component ingredients, then distil the liquor through an alembic still. (A good spirit recipe will guide you through this method.)
In both methods, there are some basic principles to be adhered to. These are hygiene, i.e. good cleaning and sterilisation, and temperature. Make sure you can maintain a constant temperature. If the temperature is slightly colder, you can use a heating device to address this issue, as long as the temperature is consistent. If the temperature fluctuates a little, insulation will help. Try using towels, blankets or something similar.
Method 1 - Making and flavouring a Spirit Wash
You will not need much space to do the fermentation. A 25-litre bucket will fit in an area 40cm wide x 40cm deep x 45cm tall, or 50cm tall with an airlock. Making your own spirits can be fun and rewarding as there are good savings to be made. We recommend the mini distillery kit for anyone who has not made Spirits before. This contains all the equipment and products you need and helpful instructions, at a very reasonable price.
- 30 Litre Bucket with Lid, Grommet & Airlock
- Spirit Hydrometer (Range 70-100% ABV)
- Mixing Paddle
- 25-litre bucket with lid
- Heating device
Consumable Products Required
- Campden Tablets
- Yeast (for fermentation)
- Turbo Carbon (to aid purification)
- Turbo Clear (for clearing)
- 7kg of Brewing Sugar (Glucose/Dextrose)
- Liqueur or Spirit Flavourings
The Production Process
- Fill a sterilised bucket with 21 litres of clean water, add a crushed Campden tablet and leave it overnight to neutralise any chlorinates and raise to room temperature.
- Add 7 kilos of brewing sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. (This will make a 25 litre solution.)
- Add the yeast and mix well.
- Now scrunch and massage the Carbon Sachet to break up any solid lumps.
- Add the carbon and stir well. Be careful not to spill any, as carbon can stain.
- Leave to ferment at room temperature, between 18 and 24°C, for approximately seven days. (Speed of fermentation is relative to temperature. Therefore it may take slightly longer if the temperature is on the cooler side. However, this will not harm the fermentation.)
- When the fermentation is complete (gravity reads between 980 and 990 on your hydrometer), remove the carbon dioxide using a paddle or de-gasser, then add the Turbo Clear. (Turbo Clear is a two-part sachet which requires adding an hour apart.)
- Leave for 24 hours to clear. (Preferably in a cool place.)
- When the alcohol wash has cleared, syphon the liquid into a separate sterilised container, leaving behind any sediment. (This is known as racking off.)
- You now have approximately 24 litres of a clear alcohol solution, which is flavourless, containing between 14% and 20% ABV depending on the sugar content and yeast used.
The Distilling Process
- Firstly place the Ceramic Boil Enhancers and Distilling Conditioner in the still.
- Pour in the alcohol wash. (Depending on the size of the still, you may have to do this in batches.) Do not overfill.
- Replace the lid and switch on.
- Place a collection jug under the exit spout. The still will take around an hour to heat up enough for the distilling to start. Remember to discard the first 50 ml of your spirit, as this will be methanol, which is poisonous.
Air Still T500
Approx. Running Time 2 Hours 5-6 Hours
Typical Yields 700 - 800ml 3500 - 4000ml
- Take the alcohol and dilute this by adding 50% water (this will now be 40%ABV). Feed the alcohol through the carbon filter. The carbon cartridge requires activating with hot water for 1 minute before you start.
- Now you can add Spirit flavourings. Most spirit flavourings have mixing instructions on the product packaging.
- Once you have finished, switch the machine off at the mains and allow to cool before you clean and sanitise the equipment.
How Much Will It Cost?
The initial outlay for a Still can seem quite expensive. However, many consider it a good investment when comparing the cost of commercial spirits and liqueurs to homebrew ones. Plus, homebrew spirits are as good as or even better than many in the supermarkets. When you try them out, it won't just be the alcohol giving you a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
The Still Spirits mini distillery Kit includes everything you need to make your first batch of spirits & liqueurs. If you already have the fermenting equipment from brewing wine or beer kits, stills are available separately from £145.99.