I managed to finish off some moonshine before leaving for FS12, but haven't had a chance to post the photos until now.
I make my own whiskey, and part of that process is making the raw ethanol I use as the base. Moonshine!
Here's what I start with.
8kg of Sugar and 30L of spring water. I would normally use tapwater but you need to let it rest for a day so the chlorine they put in it can evaporate, and I was short on time.
I do one bag at a time in the 10L pot.
Sugar goes in...
And I heat the mix to help dissolve the sugar better.
Keep stirring! You're done when the mix is completely clear.
All the heated sugar water (keep it under 33C!) goes in a 23L fermenting bucket - same bucket you use for wine or beer - with a package of high yield yeast.
I'm not going for flavour, I'm going for alcohol content, so I use the 20% yield stuff that tastes kinda "bleh" in wash form but distills out nice and clean.
Into the bucket it goes! Stir thoroughly!
Close it all up and put the CO2 trap on and watch it bubble.
A week has gone by and it's time to distill! The wash goes into my homemade still, which is made out of a European beer key (Heineken I think) and a water heater element.
Here's what the "wash" looks like. All milky white. It shouldn't be sweet at all because the yeast converted it all to alcohol. In beer and wine brewing, this is where you'd stop and bottle, but this stuff is tailored to distilling and tastes yucky in this form.
Glug glug into the still it goes.
I use a special kind of still that is a bit different from your standard "pot" or "kettle" still, in that it uses a column to cycle the distillate from vapour back to liquid many times, which purifies it the longer you let it cycle. Inside the column I use pure copper mesh (scrubbing pads, basically) to add even more surface area and help increase the purity of the final product.
More surface area means more condensation of the distillate and more purification.
It goes into the bottom of the column.
At the top of the column is the cooling coil - you keep a continuous run of cold water going though it, and this causes the vapour to condense, drip down, revapourize, and continue in this cycle until you're ready to pull the distillate off.
I pay flat rate for water so letting it run all night costs me nothing extra. I use a portable dishwasher hose which is designed to attach to the faucet and be easily removable.
Here's the still, all set up and running.
You let the still run until the temperature at the removal point reaches 170F. This is the temp that methanol vaporizes. You don't want the methanol. That's the stuff that binds to your optic nerves and makes you go blind.
In a 23L wash at about 15% alcohol, you want to throw away the first 50mL of distillate. Only about 10mL of it will be methanol, but better safe than sorry.
Once the temp reaches 173F, you're into pure ethanol territory! Ethanol is the good stuff! I throw away the methanol (or keep it as a cleaner for later) and run the ethanol through activated charcoal to help eliminate any fussel oils or other nasty-tasting impurities.
You're all done once the temp reaches about 179F-180F - everything after that is gross fussel oils and other stuff that causes hangovers. Normally I put it through 5-6 filter runs to get rid of the last remnants.
In the end, I got about 1.25 gallons (4.7L) of 95% pure ethanol from the 23L wash.
That's 190 proof. Basically, this stuff evaporates off your tongue before you're even done drinking it. Drinking even 1/4 of this jug in under one hour will kill you. Seriously. This shit is dangerous. One shot of this is the same as 3 regular shots. However, being free of the nasty stuff in most distilled spirits, you wake up the next morning hangover free. It's quite amazing.
To make the final whiskey, there's a few more steps but this is where I stopped this time.
I brought the jug with me to Flatstock - so if anyone wants a sip, let me know.