You dedicate a lot of time and effort into the moonshine-making process and you are optimistic that it’ll taste awesome. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make good tasting hooch. Even the tiniest mistake can make your batch undrinkable.
If your white lightning never works out the way you planned, you might be making some of the common mistakes we’ve detailed below.
Fermenting in the Wrong Container
Fermentation is vital to the moonshine-making process. It occurs before distillation. The corn mash is placed in a container and left to ferment for about a week so the sugar or grains turn into alcohol. One of the most common mistakes new moonshiners make is fermenting in an air-tight container. When you use an air-tight container, no air can get in or out so your yeast won’t be able to convert the sugar or grains into alcohol effectively. The mash needs to breathe! It should be fermented in an open container with cheesecloth wrapped around the top. That way, the air can still pass through, but bugs and debris can’t get in to contaminate your product.
Using Tap Water
You might not even think about it. You use tap water for your mash because it’s easily available, and really, what’s the difference? Tap water can contain impurities and chemicals, both of which can affect the aroma and taste of your moonshine. Serious moonshiners who want to create high-quality hooch know only to use distilled water.
Drinking Your First Batch
If this is your first time making ‘shine and it tastes weird, it’s probably because you haven’t worn in your still yet. You should always discard your first batch—metallic residue could seep into your product. Your second batch will taste a lot purer.
Not Discarding Foreshots
One of the biggest mistakes an amateur distiller can make is keeping all of the alcohol that comes out of the still. Not only will it be disgusting to drink moonshine that still has foreshots in it, it can also be dangerous. The first bit of alcohol to come out of the distillation process is going to smell and taste like solvent because it’s full of methanol and contaminants. If you’re going to make moonshine, you need to know how to make your cuts.
Simple Math Mistakes
Making moonshine takes more than some good sense. It also takes some math skills—though you don’t have to be a mathematician to figure it out. If you’re not double-checking your math when it comes to alcohol content, temperatures, or recipe amounts, you can create a bunch of issues that will ultimately lead to bad hooch.
Excessive Flour Paste
When you notice leaks in your still while you’re distilling, you have to patch them up. As you probably know, flour paste is an excellent way to make a great seal. Unfortunately, some amateurs go overboard and use too much. If your flour-past seal is too thick, your product might not cook completely before your ideal temperatures are met.
Under no circumstances should you use plastic during the moonshine-making process. Not in your still, not as a fermentation bucket, not as a collection vessel. Your final product is going to have a bad, burnt plastic taste if you do. Plastic can’t handle the high heat.
Don’t be lazy! You need to clean and sanitize your still and other equipment after every run. The tails of your last run will affect the taste and smell of your next run if you’re not cleaning your equipment properly.