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Fruit and Vegetable Based Washes

Information provided by

Preparing and Fruit or Vegetable Based Mash

Fruits that are high in sugar can be used too.

Fruit pips etc don't contain arsenic, but may have very small amounts of cyanide present naturally, though not enough to poison you.

If you have plenty of excess fruit or vegetables available, give them a crack too ..

Jack suggests ...
    go to farmer's markets, farmer-run co-op stores, and roadside fruitstands- offer to haul away all the bruised/overripe fruit, and promise a gallon or two of wine/brandy to the owners in return for the favor (make sure to deliver on that promise so you can go back next year)- this is the easiest way to get raw fruit at NO cost.

Source Yield
Sugar 100 %
Sugar Cane 9-14 %, more if tropical
Sugar Beet 12-18%
Molasses 50%
Honey 80%
Grape 16-30 % (usually 20%)
Artichokes 17 %
Bananas 20-25 %
Barley & Malt 68 %
Carob beans 40%
Cassava 25 %
Corn 70 %
Potatoes 20 %
Raisins 60 %
Apples 24 %

Keep the ratio of available sugar to water as for the sugar based wash, eg 0.20 - 0.25 kg/L, so as to keep the yeast happy. For example, Wal writes that .. "sugar Cane juice has a 9-14% sugar content so is fermented without dilution. Raw sugar from juice would require dilution. Molasses has a 50% sugar content and requires dilution. Palm tree juice is similar. You can get get palm sugar (or jaggery) and use it as a sugar based wash to produce toddy which can be distilled to arak."

Fermented Fruit and Vegetables - A Global Perspective lists the steps taken to make grape wine, banana beer, cashew wine, tepache, colonche, date wine, jackfruit wine, palm wine, toddy, pulque, ulanzi, basi and muratina.

Wal ...
Scott writes
    The recipe that I use is one that has been in my family dating back close to 200 yrs. (of course there have been slight modifications over the years...we now use boughten yeasts instead of wild yeasts and we buy tomato paste instead of making it). This recipe is for a 5 gallon mash.
    • I take 20lbs. of the biggest stickiest grapes we can pick, and I freeze them.(it is easier to de-stem them when they are frozen).
    • Then I pull them off of thier stems and put them in a 3 gallon stockpot and add enough water to cover the grapes a few inches.
    • Then I bring them to a boil and mash them with a potato masher untill ALL the grapes are mashed pretty good.
    • Then I add 5 lbs. of white granulated sugar and a 6oz can of tomato paste and stir until it is disolved.
    • Next, I pour it all into a 6 or 7 gallon bucket and fill it to 5 gallons with cold water, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon and cover it.
    • When the temp is down to about 78-80 degrees F is when I get my yeast started. I have used baker's yeast and it works fine, but lately I have been using Red Star's champagne yeast.(very similar to ec-1118).
    • I take 3-5, 5gram packets and put them in a pitcher that is 1/2 full of the mash from the bucket. I stir it well, and leave it sit over night.
    • The next morning, I skim off whatever is floating off the top of the bucket and discard it.
    • Then I SLOWLY pour the yeast pitcher into the mash stirring it gently.
    • Then I cover it with a couple layers of plastic wrap and a rubber band (I poke some holes in the plastic with a pin).
    • Every morning, I skim whatever is floating off the top and stir vigorously, and stir again 3-5 times a day.
    • After about 3 days of this, I slowly pour the contents into a new bucket. The grape seeds will be on the bottom of the bucket (I save them and plant them later) you can discard them. Top the bucket with water to 5 gallons, cover it again.
    • I will stir it vigorously 3-5 times a day until it stops fermenting. (usually about 2 weeks) when it is done fermenting, it is still a thick juice that contains alcohol, and does not resemble wine at all.
    NOW it is ready to run. We have always run in a pot-still.
    • 1st run. FAST, collect everything until the distilate comming out is about 20-25%abv.
    • 2nd run. SLOW, discard the first 150ml.
    • we collect in 250ml increments, and add them together to taste.
    • we stop collecting at about 30%abv.
    The finished product has a little bit of a grape aroma and after flavor. We usually age it in natural uncharred oak, and sometimes we add about a half cup of raisins to age it with.

    This is how we have made ALL of our fruit spirits for as long as anyone can remember. Although, when we make our heritage slivovitz, we use wild yeast only, and NO sugar, and we also use a bit more fruit. This is the traditional Croatian method of making Slivovitz that my family and others have used for around 200 years.
Tater writes
    Tater's fruit recipe; Take
    • 1 bushel[40 - 50 lb] of any fruit/ berry.
    • 20 lbs sugar
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 1 pack E 1118 and 1/2 oz distillers yeast:
    If apples or pears grind and or cook em. Peaches nectarines plums cherry's blueberry. I pour boiling water with dissolved sugar on it and lemon juice. I blend it with a drill powered thin set mortar mixer. That's blades I had sharpened. Adding water as I blend till I have a 13 gallon total wash.That's a thin gravy or thick soup texture. I pour mine through a rat wire sieve I made to remove seeds and any fruit that wasn't blended.Stir hell outta wash to get air back in wash and take a gallon of cooled wash and add 1 pack of Ec1118 yeast and 1/2 oz of distillers yeast stirring both in let set till morning and add back stir in well and cover and vapor lock. Remember to leave space in fermenter for pulp to rise or you'll have a mess and stir pulp gently back in wash every day. Will make 3 gallons of around 120 proof fruit likker. If doing a no sugar added wash add more fruit to get wash to texture and use this chart to figure fruit sugar content.

    Freeze 50 to 70 lbs peaches and thaw. Should look like this after thawing
    Then add a little water and stir. I use a sharpened mortar mixer.
    Then pour through sive to get seeds and large pieces of pulp and skin out. Save this to add a bit of water back to and stir again
    Use hands to rub fruit through sieve. Seeds help with this. After all fruit is poured through and seeds and skin are tossed wash should look like this
    Take a pot, add 20 lbs sugar 1/4 cup lemon juice water and heat until clear.
    Add sugar water to wash and add enough water to make 14 gallon total. Stir well and put gallon of wash in bucket and add yeast. This was 1/2 oz ec 1118 and about same distillers
    Next morning it looked like this
    So I added it back to wash well stirred in like this.
    By end of day wash had formed a cap.
    Fermented out in 18 days. Kept cap stirred back in wash to stop from drying or molding.
    Then when cap fell i ran wash and got 3 gallons of 110 proof. The end

Arsenic or Cyanide ?

Seeds of fruits like apples, cherries, apricots, etc., do not contain any arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal that is too difficult for a plant's metabolism to process, any amount of it would likely kill of the plant. The only time arsenic is likely to be present is if it had been used as a form of fungicide/herbicide spray during the culivation of the fruit (very unlikely these days - I think its mostly outlawed), and hadn't been properly washed off.

Plants do however have the ability to work with vast amounts of carbon and nitrogen, this results in most hard seeds containing cyanide (the cyanide radical is CN-). Not really enough to injure anyone, infact commercially made Kirsch (cherry brandy) uses ground up seeds to give a nut like flavor (cyanide tastes kind of like an intense bitter almond flavor). In some recipes grinding up the seeds of delicate tasting fruits should be avoided but with something more robust (like apple), it should be of no concern.

Wal elaborates ...
    The kernels of prunus species (plums, cherries, apricots, apples) contain HCN - hydrocyanic acid, formerly known as prussic acid. 0.05g is a lethal dose for an adult. It has been recorded that a person died from eating a whole cup of apple pips as a treat on his birthday! Normally, when macerating these fruits in alcohol, the stones should be removed, although small amounts are used for flavoring purposes (e.g. Maraschino).

    Fruit mashes (i.e. with stones included) should not be a problem for the distiller, as HCN is susceptible to hydrolysis at high temperatures.
Zoran writes that it is possible to remove any cyanide present, using copper sulphate:
    in Serbia the national drink is a plum brandy called slivovitz. If someone tries to speed up fermentation by crushing plums with some mechanical devices, natural glycosides come in contact with the enzymes present. After hydrolysis, a bitter taste and smell is a consequence of the cyanide present. After distillation farmers do not throw away such brandy. Simply they put 20 g of CuSO4.5H2O on each 10 L of 80 proof (40%) brandy. Chemically Cu(CN)2 is very hard do dissolve, even at high temperature. After distillation they got good drink. Big companies remove cyanide in the same way.

Esters and especially organic acids arise from misfermentations of leafs/twigs or rotten parts of fruit, so try to avoid having them in the brew.

Using Fruits

If tempted to try some of the European use of fruits, the following is somewhat of a guide. Apple brandy is usually 60% apple, 30% pear, and 10% your choice.
  • Run the fruit through a juice extractor or similar, no pips unless you enjoy cyanide,and no pith if possible. Put the skins through the food processor/juice extractor as that's where the enzymes are that the yeast require.
  • Achieve a specific gravity of about 1.050, dilute with water if necessary.
  • Pitch a rehydrated yeast at a temp. of 25/30 C. It is very important to then hold the fermentation at that temperature. It will achieve that pretty much itself ,but just be prepared to help it keep that way. Any dry white wine ,champagne or sherry yeast is good. An excellent French brand is Lallemand (Uvaferm bc or Lalvin ec-1118), but you will also need to use a yeast nutrient (eg Fermaid, or try your local home brew shop).
  • Fermentation will take no more than 8 days (the reason the traditional fermentation takes so long is they use wild yeasts).
  • Don't add sugar if you want this to be "kosher "and a fair dinkum brew. Sugar will raise the ethanol production but at the expense of taste/quality etc.
  • Don't do any additions after fermentation has started - it can stop a brew in it's tracks.
Jack adds ...
    the majority of flavor compounds in whiskey come from the yeast that is used. The aldehydes that the yeast contributes turn into esters on long aging. These halp to provide a better flavor for the whisky. In a fruit brandy (like plums)- this would mar the flavor of the fruit- It may make it more complex if it were aged on oak for a while- but for those attempting to make a clear slivovitz/schnaps type of spirit- the yeast would give flavors that prevent the pure plum flavor from coming through. I guess another rule for fruit brandy/schnaps has got to be: Let the wine clarify fully before distilling- no distilling on the lees !.
A less traditional approach would be..
    2 kg Granny Smith apples or Nashi pears
    1 Campden tablet (for basic sterilisation)
    6 tsp yeast nutrient
    5 kg sugar/glucose

    Peel & grate fruit, add to fermenter with Campden tablets , and 3L water. Cover and leave for 24-36 hours. Dissolve sugar & nutrient in some hot water, then add to fermentor. Top up with cold water to 24L. Add yeast when below 24C. SG should drop from 1.03 to 0.99 over 12-14 days.

    Don't overdo the Campden tablets. They are sodium metabisulphite, and can kill they yeast if not fully dissipated by the time the yeast is added.

    The best fruit to use is windfall fruit (the stuff brown & lying on the ground), as these are higher in sugar. Sometimes when trying to make schnapps, you can reserve a little of the fermented stock, and add this back to the distilled liquor, to enhance the flavour.
For schnapps, Jack explains ...
    Schnapps may be made by fermenting 4.5 pounds of fruit in a gallon of water, in addition to 2 pounds of sugar and a heaping tablespoon of winemaker's acid blend (per gallon). After fermenting, this may be distilled (I filtered out the fruit pulp, but didn't clarify beyond that) in a potstill to produce a nice dram.

    The problem most people get (myself included) when making a fruit wine into a brandy is the fact that not enough fruit is used in the mash. Most wines use 2 to 3 pounds of fruit per gallon- when distilled they taste like unrefined sugar spirit with no fruit flavor- if you up the fruit to 4 to 4.5 pounds per gallon and ferment out to 10 to 15%abv you'll get something worth distilling. So far I've tested this on cherries (sour and black), raspberries, blackberries, peaches, and plums- all have worked wonderfully.

    Tips for apple schnaps: DON'T use any sulfite- use a large amount of yeast with competative factors (lalvin K1V-1116 is the best choice) Ferment the juice in a cool area (to aid with a mellow flavor and to help slow up any contaminating bacteria) If you do the above, and stick to basic sanitary wine making practices, you'll be just fine.
Jack gives an update ...
    After much frustration and experimentation with fruit (I'm known to every single orchard owner within 60 miles- I'm also well liked- the orchard owners get an average of 20 liters of schnaps from me for each fruit they donate- which they do by the truckload), I've finally nailed down this schnaps thing to a simple recipe. Here is how it's done:
    • Stone/ pit the fruit after washing it and culling anything that is rotting/moldy.
    • Add an equal VOLUME of water, which has dissolved in it: (boiling the water sanitizes the fruit, making sulfite a thing of the past):
      • Enough sugar to bring the final abv to 16%abv
      • Enough acid blend/citric acid to drop the pH down to 3.
      • Pectic enzyme: about a teaspoon per 2 gallons
      • Diammonium phosphate yeast nutrient: a shy teaspoon per gallon.
      • A good strong yeast like Lavlin's K1V-1116 or EC-1118- 2 packets (5gram) per 5 gallons.
    • Ferment at the lowest temperature the yeast can work at in order to preserve the aroma of the fruit. Mash/stir the fruit daily during the ferment, in order to prevent a dried out layer of fruit from forming on the top of the mash- this will cause mold problems.
    • After fermentation is complete, filter out the solids, and let it stand till clear.
    • Run it through a potstill once, collecting the heads as you normally do, and keep collecting spirit until you no longer like the taste/smell (best method- everyone's tastes differ), or stop when your hydrometer shows the spirit out of the still is below 40%abv.
    • For those using an ice-water-wok still, freeze concentrate the wine down by half, and for every gallon of freeze concentrated wine, add a teaspoon of table salt, then run it however you normally do- ice-water-wok type stills are very odd in how they are run- it's up to the individual on how to make the cut. Just remember to separate out the heads.
    I have been trying to figure this method out for a while now- going by weight of fruit (fruit wines use 2 to 3 pounds- a good fruit mash: up to 4 pounds per gallon)- but it's always given very different results- going by volume of fruit is much easier- and makes MUCH better Schnapps.
Rutger writes ..
    You should just pulp the pears, put in a little pectinase or other enzymes to break down the pectine (to prevent methanol) and ferment the whole bit. Fermenting will also decraese the viscoity of the mash. Then press it, after fermenting, that is. Distill twice in a potstill.

    I made a lot of calvados and other pear- and applebrandies, and fermenting the peel and other bits makes sure you get the right taste. A juicer will not do it.

    For Poire Williams you will got to have the right pears, simple consumption pears wil not give the distinct taste. It will not be very bad, but not the right Poire Williams taste.
Another contributor adds ..
    I had a glut of blackberries this year so I collected a large bucket of them and pulped them ( unwashed ) to give me three gallons of unstrained fruit pulp. I innoculated this with some actively fermenting beer wort and added a little wine yeast for good measure. Left it in a bucket to finish fermenting ( about two weeks ) and ran it though a pot still. As the still isn't large and over boiled a couple of times, I ended up putting all the fractions I'd collected into the last bath of wash and distilling very slowly. This gave a final product at 70%ABV. Most of this I diluted with water to 40% ( BTW things are vastly improved if you use a decent mineral water for dilution rather than tap water ), some of it I diluted to 40% using strained blackberry juice.

    An odd thing has happened - the water mixed batch has produced a fair number of plate like crystals
    (a fruit acid or salt ?) which slowly settled of of suspension yet the spirit wasn't cloudy in the slightest. The flavour is good - sweet, oddly coconutty with a hint of rum and fruit. The juice diluted batch is in sore need of a little sugar but I'll add that when it's finished ageing, at the moment it's firey, fruity and quite sharp but not unpleasant - it goes well diluted with a bit of lemonade or soda.

    The second recipe -

    A gallon of rowan berries ( mountain ash ) washed, cleaned and crushed. To this I added three pound of honey dissolved in one gallon of boiling water, the water was added whilst still boiling. Once it was cool I topped up to two gallons total volume added yeast and left it until it stopped fermenting ( like the blackberry one it was too thick to get a reliable SG). Double distilled in a pot still this has given a 70% spirit ( not yet diluted ) which has the light flavour of rowan berries with a good honey kick in the after taste - extremely pleasant and watered down in the glass to 40% it's easy to drink.
Wal writes ..
    Normandy in France is wet and cold for grapes. Great for apples. So they make cider and distill it to make calvados which when aged in oak is not inferior to cognac. Cider is double distilled and aged a minimum of 2-3 years. Traditionally cider is made by fermenting only apple juice & nothing else.

    Cider recipes for distilling into calvados:

    Dry cider using fresh fruit -
    • 4kg sharp apples
    • 2kg bitter-sweet apples
    • 2kg sweet apples
    • Champagne yeast
    • Mince, slice, chop fruit
    • Add yeast and ferment on pulp for several days until pulp has softened.
    • Drain free running liquid into fermenter and press out extra liquid from pulp and add to fermenter. A straining bag is useful.
    • Add water to bring volume to 5l.

    Using fruit juice/fruit juice concentrate -

Jack writes ...
    Hard apple cider is simply the fermented juice of the apple. Apple wine has had the sugar level of the juice fortified with sugar or honey. Apple jack is a freeze-concentrated apple cider/wine- bringing it into the 20 to 30%abv range.

    Distilling apple cider/wine will give apple schnaps- but ageing it on some oak may make a much better apple brandy.

    Distilling the cider/wine and then mixing the brandy/schnapps with fresh (unfermented) apple cider at a mix of about 50/50 gives something the French call "ratafia" (from the latin rata fiat- let the deal be settled)- a traditional drink at the end of a negotiation. In the Cognac region it is made with Cognac and fresh grape juice and is called Pineau des Charentes. The Armagnac region calls their version "Floc de Gascone. The Normandy region (where they make it out of apple brandy and fresh cider) they call it "Pommeau". The mix results in a 17 to 25%abv sweet drink, believed to be the ancestor to the liqueur.

    Most grocery stores have unfiltered, no chemicals added, pasteurized cider (typically in a milk jug in the produce section), that can be fermented by pouring it into a sanitized container and adding yeast (a slow, cool ferment with Lavlin's K1V-1116 wine yeast makes excellent cider- adding a an ounce or two of French oak shavings (per 5 gallons) to the ferment also helps with the complexity- the cold ferment is needed to preserve the aroma.). You don't need to boil cider- if you do it can set a pectin haze- ever since the E-coli outbreaks pasteurization has become law (within the U.S.A.).

Scrounge adds ..
    Another tip - if you rough chop the fruit and freeze it and then allow it to thaw, it gives up its juice with much less effort, the technique works with most fruit and doesn't affect the flavour

Regarding slivovitz, Wal writes ..
    Traditionally in the Balkans and Eastern Europe plum brandy (similar to apple cider) is made from the pure fruit only, with no sugar or water added. Relying on wild yeasts, it ferments naturally for 5 weeks. Alcohol content would be about 5%a.b.v. It is double distilled to 70%a.b.v. For this method you need lots of plums. I drank kosher Passover sliwowica (70%a.b.v.) in Poland and it tasted great. Had an amber tinge. Drank plum brandy from yellow Mirabelle plums in France and this tasted a bit mellower than from black prunes. This was a white distillate of 50%a.b.v. In the Balkans they steep whole plums or dried plums in the final distillate to increase the plum flavor and to give a bit of color.

Homemade press for grape/fruit(cider) musts. See: and

Using citrus. Wal explains ..

    Citrus fruits are low in sugar content but high in acid, so they are not an ideal fruit for wine or distilling except for the home winemaker, who has to make appropriate adjustments (see fruit wine sites). There is more money possibly in citrus juices and jams. Fruits like apples, plums and bananas which have a high sugar content are used extensively.

    On the other hand citrus peel is used extensively for flavoring alcohol - by double distilling the macerated/infused peel in 45% alcohol to get a clear citrus flavored spirit (e.g. Cointreau), or by just infusing peel in alcohol (usually 30%) to make a liqueur (e.g. Limoncello). Sugar is added except where citrus peel is part of the botanicals for a dry gin.

    There is a lemon brew (alcoholic lemonade) recipe which uses the juice and rind of 3kg lemons, 2kg sugar, 0.75kg lactose (to sweeten as it does not ferment), beer yeast.

    I have made citrus mashes using the peel and juice to make my equivalent to Cointreau, as I have citus trees in the garden. For a 25l mash I used 5kg of sugar with either the peel and juice of 30 lemons or 15 oranges - do not use the white pith though as it is very bitter. I diluted down to 50%abv and added sugar to taste (to remove the natural bitterness). I was pleased with the result. I have just planted a Seville orange and a Citron - the peel of both are used for flavoring, although the fruit is too acidic to eat.
Prickly Pears ...Wal writes ...
    For those who have an abundance of prickly pear cacti. From a Californian site -

    Prickly Pear Wine (or Mash for the distiller)
    • A 5 gallon (20 L) bucket of Prickly Pears makes about 2 USgallons (8 L) of juice
    • 2 lb sugar (900 g)/1 USgallon (4 L)
    • yeast 1 tsp/gallon
    • nutrient 2 tsp/gallon
Rob writes about Macedonian spirits being made in Melbourne ...
    Their system is gloriously simple. Buy boxes of grapes (anywhere along Mahoneys Rd and many other Melbourne sites), bung them in a 220litre barrel (Mernda market, flemington market and many other sites), squish a bit, stir daily. (some advise to take out stalks, I do, but many don't. Tastes a bit better without.) When finished take off wine as you choose. The wine is usually great, but you need some liquid in the still so the grapes swim. You can add water. The stills are traditionally 2x old coppers, the washing clothes ones. You join them with dough. It is all so simple, and the results are mostly delicious. I started out with a reflux still from NZ, but now I have my pot still... 60 litre capacity, the gas ring is the perfect temp, so no fuss with thermometers. Just light and let it run. The cut off with heads is based on taste for me. Others mix it all back in, or throw a bit away. You can add aniseed, or mastica, rub honey around the top copper. It's all good. I have tasted so many great spirits. If you start with good flavour, then use a pot still to keep the good flavour, you can't go wrong.

Extra Sugar ?

There's a little debate around over the pro's & con's of adding extra sugar to a fruit mash. The traditional approach is that it ain't on - that all you're doing is making extra alcohol without getting extra flavour, hence getting a lower quality product (see Ups's comments below re Brandy - that you want the multiple distillations from a low % to concentrate the flavour).

Gert Strand however, at, however suggests that the extra alcohol (and CO2 produced) extra MORE flavours from the fruit. See his site for excellent instructions on various techniques & recipes when using his Turbo yeasts.

As Rob explains ..
    The trick is, you can distill a fruit schnapps out of say 18% mash in one distillation; if your mash is only 6 or 8% you'll have to distill twice, which causes loss of flavour. Also, when you distill only once, the resulting distillate is lower in alcohol than after double distillation, so you add less water to dilute to drinking strength; this way you also dilute the flavour less. Of course single distillation requires good separation of the middle cut; stop well before the heavier stuff starts coming out.

So the choice is yours. Both ways probably have their own merits and pitfalls.


Ups474 writes ..
    It seems that the flavor of the brandy can be improved by fermenting the wine out to a lesser amount of alcohol. Most of the time, when reading about someone who made a brandy (don't get me wrong here, I'm positive you are already making top of the line stuff, I'm just showing another way of doing it) they use a starting wine with a minimum of 10% alcohol.

    It is a well known (obvious) fact that distilling concentrates alcohol, it is a lesser known fact that it also concentrates flavor. If you have ever had (or made) a very high alcohol white wine, you've probably noticed that it was pretty insipid in the taste department, that is because alcohol seems to displace flavor, so the less alcohol there is, the more the flavor can come through.

    Consider these numbers: A wine of 10% alcohol that is distilled to a final 70% has been concentrated seven times (so has the flavor!), a wine of 5% alcohol distilled to the same final 70% has been concentrated a total of 14 times! This would allow for a richer flavor to be concentrated in the resulting spirit.

    This is how commercial apple brandies and the like are produced (no added sugar is allowed-keeping the starting % low), and may be part of the reason for the great flavor they have. Hope this helps someone. Cheers!
Wal offers ...
    Brandy in Australia, if made in a pot still (getting rarer), is a double distillation process. The heart of the run has a strength of between 74%abv and 83%abv. By law it must be below 83%. The Australian pot still differs from the pot still used in the Cognac region of France (alambic Charentais) in that there is a tall tower (no plates) and an upwardly inclined lyne arm. Both have some reflux capability. In the French version, reflux is limited to the header chamber. Therefore removing scrubbers from a tall reflux column, or using a short reflux column could give the equivalent strength in one run.

    No access to grapes? You could get the same taste profile using raisins or sultanas. 8kg of fresh grapes produce 5l of wine. Raisins have a drying ratio of 1:4, therefore 2kg of raisins or sultanas (shredded) with 5l of water would be a reconstituted equivalent. 14lbs of grapes produce approx. one U.S. gal of wine(4l). To reconstitute raisins, for each 1kg (2.2lbs) add 4l ( of water. Since raisins are 60% sugar, you could use 1.5kg of raisins for each 4l of water or 2kg of raisins/5l water which is the max. yeast can ferment (about 2lbs of sugar/U.S. gal). Most commercial raisins are sulphited and covered in vegetable oil - preferably use naturally dried raisins, or wash well in hot water.

Split Brandies

Sam writes ..
    Some of THE best liquor I ever made was some split brandy.

    I took some previous slop with the usual wheat bran grain that I used and separated it into two barrels. Water and 50 lbs of sugar. I also used either apples or peaches. I took the fruit and run it through one of those juicer machines that separate the juice from the pulp.

    I put the juice in one barrel along with the mash and the pulp in the other barrel with the other mash. I fermented and distilled them separately. Then when I was done with that I would carefully mix the two in a blend that was superb. This worked out better for me than just throwing everything in one barrel and running it. Something about the separation and then the blend. Much better taste and smoothness that way.

    Of course the longer it sat the better it was. A friend of mine kept some for several years and then broke it out for Christmas one year. I/we couldn't beleive how good the flavor/buzz was.

Mock Apple Brandy

Jack writes ..
    Faking fruit brandy is a great way to use up any 95% sugar spirit you have laying about that you can't figure out what to do with. I found this recipe in an old distilling book and scaled it down for home use (the original makes about 100 gallons).

    Mix together:
    • 32 fl.oz. (950 mL) 95%abv sugar spirit
    • 10.5 fl.oz. (310 mL) apple cider (the sweet cloudy type bottled in milk jugs in the cooler in the produce section of the grocery store)
    • 34 grams of table sugar
    • 20 fl. oz. (600 mL) distilled water
    • 2.13 grams of cream of tartar(spice section of grocery store)
    Mix this up until everything has dissolved, then reflux this mix in a stockpot on the stove (low heat) - put the lid on the pot upside down and fill it with ice to keep the alcohol from boiling off. Bring it to a thorough boil for about 10 minutes, then lower the heat until it is just evaporating the alcohol (and the lid is condensing it). Let it cook on low for 4 hours, at the last ten minutes, bring it back up to a good boil, and hold it there while replacing the ice (you can't boil it for the entire time - you'll run out of ice).

    After the 4 hours, cool this mix and let it settle out, the stuff is ready to be treated as an "apple spirit" from here on- It's good (but sweet) straight- aging it in some charred American oak chips (not much - maybe a teaspoon - don't overdo it) will make it taste more like an "aged in wood" brandy. This is suprisingly good, considering how easy it is to make.

    If you want to use apples instead of cider: use 1 and a-half pounds (680g) for the batch size above - chop up the apples, add the sugar, one fourth of the alcohol, and 2/3's of the water, mix (blending the apples is best), and let sit (covered) in a cool spot for 8 days, then press out the liquid, mix with the rest of the water and press again, add the last of the alcohol, and proceed as above. This method also works well with pears and plums

Arak or Raki

For a Greek "raki" alembic still see:

Roger is still working on improving the following method for making Arak ..
    Arak is the national alcoholic drink of Lebanon. It is a distillate from grape alcohol and aniseed similar to Ouzo, but without sugar and gum mastic added...

    Crush grapes, allow to ferment completely, distill alcohol. Clean pot still and redistill alcohol (which I run through activated charcoal), return alcohol which is about 150 proof to the still adding one third the volume of alcohol, water plus 2 pounds of aniseed per gallon of alcohol. The aniseed is kept whole and is soaked in hot alcohol in the still the day prior to distillation. Distill a third time.

    What I get is a distillate that is 170 proof which is diluted with distilled water to 100 proof (if the proof is less than 100, Arak turns cloudy). It is aged in pottery crocks for a month. Another method is to blend 190 proof alcohol with anis oil (produced in Spain).

From about Ouzo ..
    The island of Chios, known as the cradle of spices and aromas, produces a variety of soft and smooth ouzo, which depends on the recipe used. The traditional ingredients include glykanissos (aniseed) combined with maratho (fennel), koliandro (cilantro) and the unique mastic.

    Clearly disassociated from the local tsipouro (raki) and from souma (suma), which is mainly produced by figs. Chian ouzo is still distilled primarily in the small copper stills (kazania) of traditional family manufacturers.

    The classic Greek drink Ouzo begins as alcohol made from grape skins or other local produce. It is then brought together with herbs and other ingredients, including star anise, coriander, cloves, angelica root and even cinnamon and lime blossom. The mixture is boiled in a copper still and regulated by a taster. The resulting liquid is cooled and stored for several months before it is diluted to about 80 proof or 40 percent alcohol. However, homemade ouzo can be a deliriously strong 80 percent alcohol.

    Ouzo is usually served as an aperitif, but is also used in some mixed drinks and cocktails. When mixing Ouzo with water, it turns whitish and opaque. The reason is that the anise oil dissolves and becomes invisible when mixed with a conventional alcohol content, but as soon as the alcohol content is reduced, the essential oils transform into white crystals, which you cannot see through.

Wal writes ...
    Anise flavored spirits: Arak (Lebanon),Raki(Turkey,Crete), Tsikoudia (Crete), Tsipouro, Ouzo (Greece), Ojen (Spain), Pastis (France) -

    Arak, Raki, Ojen is distilled from grape pomace in alembic stills capable of holding 40-130kg. to which aniseed is added. I gather the proportion is approx. 500g/25l of wash.

    Saw in 'Lebanese Cuisine' by Anissa Helou, 1994, on p.35 a method for Arak
    • First a white wine is distilled.
    • To 100 litres of this 'low wine' distillate, 10 kg of aniseed and 50 l of water are added and redistilled. (This corresponds to 100 g of aniseed/litre alc.)
    • Then more aniseed (amount not given) and half the amount of water (25 l) is added and redistilled.
    • This process is repeated 2 more times (4 distillations in total) to get a 60%abv product. I gather the amount of water is half each previous amount.
    The approx. volume of 60%abv from 100 l of low wine is 20 l. The essential oil yield of aniseed is about 2%, but assuming there is much loss due to the distillation method, we could assume 1%. Therefore the amount of anise essential oil (from the 10-20? kg of aniseed used) in 1 litre of the 60%abv Arak is between 5 ml and 20 ml or 1tsp-4tsp (100-400 drops). I would say 1tsp of esential oil/litre 60%abv is sufficient.

    Ouzo has other herbs and spices added such as coriander, cardamon angelica root, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, mastic, tillium flowers. It is usually distilled once (40% a.b.v.) or sometimes twice (60% a.b.v.). I suspect the aniseed was originally added to mask the roughness, as no thermometer was used to control the distillation.

    In Turkey they now use shredded raisins (70% sugar), instead of grape pomace. To reconstitute a grape wash use 2kg unsulphured raisins/5l water. First they produce a raisin distillate to which aniseed is added (approx.100g/l of spirit) and a second distillation is carried out. Aniseed gives a 3% oil yield. Sugar and water is added and it is aged for a month. Arak (from grape pomace) is aged in clay pots for up to year & a 3% evaporation loss occurs. Anisette and Sambucca are sweet aniseed based liquers.

Jack writes ...
    The old arabic word for "juice" (araq) gives us the name for a seemingly misunderstood class of spirits. Most of the time this name is given to a distillate made up with a mash of fermented palm sap, and/or some rice. It is also made from (more recently) figs, dates, raisins, and plums. It can be found (most often) in an unaged (white) state, typically at a high strength. In the west it is mostly encountered in the form known as "raki" - a fruit wash (as those listed above), flavored with aniseed. Rarely it can be found unflavored and cask-aged, following the tradition of fine brandies. It is most common in the Balkan countries of southeastern Europe, as well as the Middle East and north Africa. It is most often had as an aperitif, but if you are lucky enough to find (or make) a mellow bottle, it is better at the end of a meal, after coffee.

    Here are my 2 favorite methods of making this drink:

    1 (cheap, but very good:1 US gallon recipe)): soak in enough water to cover them (overnight) 2 pounds of raisins- after the soak, blend them into a mush in a blender, and pour this sludge into your fermentor. Add 1/4teaspoon of powdered tannin and one teaspoon of acid blend to the raisin sludge. Boil a gallon of water on the stove and dissolve 2 pounds of sugar in it, once the sugar is dissolved, and the water is boiling, pour the hot water onto the raisin sludge. Allow to cool on it's own, and when cool, add 1/2teaspoon of pectic enzyme, and yeast (I use Lavlin k1v-1116 in both of these recipes). Ferment till dry, distill when clear. Distill in a potstill (or a stovetop inverted lid chinese type still) to about 50% (the total run) stop if tails show up before this. Dilute to where you want it and drink (note-copper is essential in the still when making these drinks!!).

    2 (fancy, great taste, not one you advertise, lest you have to share it. one gallon recipe). Soak 6 pounds of raisins overnight, blend into a mush, then add 1tablespoon of acid blend. Bring a gallon of water to a boil, and pour it hot over the raisins in the fermentor-no sugar is added (no tannin either- the acid blend is to balance the fact that table grape raisins lack winegrape varietal acidity, and tend to make a "flabby", one-dimensional brandy on their own). Once cool, add 1/2teaspoon of pectic enzyme and the yeast (same as above). Ferment till dry, distill when clear. Distill the same way as above.

    Distilling in a reflux still with it's packing removed to lower effeciency also makes a great spirit from these two "wines"- By the way- no solids are put in the still- the wine is totally clear when it is distilled. It is best if the fruit wines (they are stable wines, capable of being aged and bottled, if you want) are allowed to mellow a bit before they are distilled (mine is a year old before it goes into the still). On their own, they make very nice dry wines with a sherry taste to them (I tend to prefer them distilled, personally).

    Almost forgot, during fermentation, the raisin pulp rises to the surface. It will dry out and harbor bacteria if not broken up. You need to mash down and stir in the "cap" that the raisins form at least twice a day. Also, resist the temptation to boil the raisins directly- you can pour boiling water on them, but don't boil them on their own- the wine (and spirit) that comes out if you boil them tastes like Christmas pudding- pretty gross.
Wal adds ...
    Seeing that a source of the method of makin arak and quantities used is rare, I will quote the 'Distilling Raki' from 'Rayess Art of Lebanese Cooking' by George N. Rayess, which I found in Google group soc.culturelebanon.

    • Grapes are gathered and are crushed and put with all their elements (seeds, stems, juice etc...) into wells or wooden barrels or glazed earthernware barrels stored inside. It is stirred well once a day for 15 days until it ferments. The sign of that is the appearance of foam on top of it. Then discontinue stirring and leave it set till no more foam appears and the top of the juice appears clear by the rest of the elements having settled at the bottom.
    • Now pour all the mixture into the distilling vessel, the 'karaki'. Distil over very low heat until all alcohol is drawn out of it. Now pour out all the remains in the karaki and wash it well. The next day, pour in the karaki the following proportions:
    • For each 6 gallons of alcohol, add 4 gallons of water and 11 pounds of aniseed. Stir all this well then seal the karaki well with flour paste or dough so that none of the steam may escape. Put the karaki over low heat and when it starts dripping, cut off heat for 24 hours until aniseed is well soaked in the alcohol. Then put on high heat until it starts distilling, then reduce heat until arak starts dripping with quick but disconnected drops. Water in top part of karaki must remain cool throughout entire operation before it gets hot.
    • When the color of arak starts turning white, put aside what has already been distilled. Increase heat and repeat the operation. Distilling is stopped when the amount of alcohol in the arak has become very weak. The last portions distilled are added to the first portions.
    • Arak is stored in large containers painted on the inside. Store for three months or longer until it has cleared and mellowed. If stored in glass containers, it requires over four months for it to become good enough for use. At this point add enough water to reduce the rate of alcohol so that its content measures 21 according to an alcohol measure."

    As a rough estimate this might be equivalent to 200 grams of aniseed for 1 litre of 40%abv or 1/2 tsp of aniseed oil/litre 40%abv assuming an essential oil yield of 1.5%.

    Moroccan 'Mahia'

    In Tunisia the local specialties are 'Boukha' or fig brandy (eau-de- vie de figue) and a date liqueur called 'Thibarine' (possibly named after the Thibar mountains?). What about those contemplating to go to Morocco? 'Mahia' is the local Moroccan spirit. A 1848 source says that it is distilled from dates, although it could be a local generic name for an eau-de-vie made from various things. Like the Lebanese 'Arak' it is anise flavored. The Turkish 'Raki' which is similar to Arak was once made from grape pomace but these days is made from raisins. Mulberries were sometimes used also. "The restaurant sometimes has available mahia, or home-made l'eau de vie, the anise-flavored drink for which Moroccan Jews are well-known." 'Jewish Morocco'

    Dates are a good source of sugar (70%), so I decided to make my own Mahia using dates which I obtained at the equivalent of $US1.50/kg or about $US1/lb. A malt extract (70% sugars) costs double that price. I made a mash giving the equivalent of 300 g sugar/l, using Lalvin EC- 1118 yeast which can tolerate 18%abv:

    Moroccan 'Mahia' (20 litres or 5 US gal)
    • 5 kg (11 lbs) dates - washed and sterilized with boiling water (This amount of dates is equivalent to 3.5 kg of sugar.)
    • 2.5 kg sugar (5.5 lbs) (The dates and added sugar gives the equivalent of 300 g/l sugar.)
    • 1 kg crushed aniseed (This amount of aniseed would give the equivalent of about 200 g/l of aniseed to the final alcohol of 50%abv.)
    • 40 g Lalvin EC-118 yeast
    • 20 g DAP yeast nutrient
    I decided to use the crushed aniseed in a single distillation as I would be producing a distillate of 75%abv which should still retain a lot of flavor.


Wal also writes about Grappa ...
    Rum is made from the waste material (molasses) from sugar processing. Grappa is made from the waste material (pomace) from wine making. It was the drink of the frugal rural folk as there is still sufficient alcohol at about 12% present in the pomace. A more literary name would be "acquavite di vinaccia". Vinaccia is Italian for pomace. For similar reasons in Greece they make tsipouro/raki/ouzo out of stemfila which is Greek for pomace.

    For the Greek version and using a single distillation, herbs (anise seeds etc.) are placed in the bottom of the pot to prevent the pomace from burning. Possibly 500g of aniseed/100kg pomace is used (this produces about 5l of spirit). For a second distillation product, steeping 100g of aniseed/litre of spirit and redistilling seems right (about the equiv. of 50 drops of aniseed oil/litre of spirit). In France grape residue is called marc and its used to make "eau-de-vie de marc".

    Because grape residue contains seeds and stems, elementary distillation produces a rough product which was avoided by more discriminating drinkers. The seeds also produce quite a bit of methanol. Pomace after a first pressing contains much of the flavor of the particular grape type and thus the final product resembles brandy or fruit-based liquor. Lighter pressing of the grape must, better distillation techniques and packaging have made grappa into a sophisticated liquor.

    The vinaccia should be distilled within 48 hours of pressing otherwise the aromatics disappear, and oxidation and acetification starts. On average 100kg of grape pomace yields from 4 - 8 litres of grappa at 70%abv. In making white wine, the grape is pressed first to extract the juice (100kg grapes produce about 55litres of juice), so the pomace from white grapes must be fermented separately to produce grappa. Water (or steam) is added to the red grape pomace resulting in a slurry called flemma which is then distilled. Water is added to white grape pomace which is first fermented and then distilled.

    Traditional method:
    Load 100kg of pomace with an equal weight of water (100litres) in a pot still and distill. Triple distillation is common commercially. Normally it is diluted to 45%abv.

    In Italy grappa is normally an after dinner drink (digestive), or on a cold day you can have it with your morning coffee! Last vintage I decided to try a modern method using the red pomace to provide nutrients and flavor. The yeast was already present.

    Grape's Components:
    • Stalk 3-5%
    • Skin 6-10%
    • Pulp (water, sugars, minerals) 82-90%. The actual water content of grapes is approx. 65-75%.
    • Seeds 2-4%
    The grape pomace (vinaccia in Italian) contains about 10% sugar or 5% alcohol if fermentation has occured. Traditionally equal quantity of water was added and redistilled in a pot still. A modern grappa recipe could be based on making a 'false wine', as sugar is affordable these days, and then distilling as for brandy.

    Modern method:
    50 kg of pomace with 100litres of water (2 kg / 4 L)
    25 kg of white sugar ( 1 kg / 4L)
    Referment for a week, press out and distill the clean wash. I used a reflux tower with a jacket reflux and vapor condenser and which produces 75%abv which is a great brandy base. I kept 5 litres of the reconstituded wine under an air lock for 6 months and it made a reasonable light wine. This is based on the fact that to "reconstitute" the pomace to make a pseudo wine, we need 2kg pomace, 4l water and 1kg of sugar. These proportions are approx. equivalent to 7kg of fresh grapes which give about 4l of wine.
For more links on grappa see


Tequila is made from the nectar of the agave cactus. You might be able to source some bulk agave nectar from a local health / natural food store.

Donald advises ...
    Tequila can be made at home usuing agave nectar, water yeast nutrient and yeast. Additional sugar may added (Jose Cuervo Gold uses 50% sugar). Agave nectar may be obtained from Crosby & Baker, Westport MA, USA.

Using Potatoes

For those of you interested in making authentic Vodka or Schnapps from potato, the following emails from David Reid should be of interest. The problem with potatoes (as all starchy vegetables) is the need to first break down the starch into basic sugars so that the yeast can use them. This is done by using enzymes, either via malted grains or from a packet.
    ...there are probably better instructions and details in books on Schnapps of which in English there is a real dearth of. I would imagine there are some very good books available in German. What I have described is basically the process for saccharifying barley which applies to all grains as long as sufficient enzymes are added and the starch chains are not too long or complex. Barley has by far the highest % of natural amalase (diastase) enzymes plus a very high starch content of a fairly simple nature which is more readily broken down than most grains hence its widespread use and popularity from the ancient Summerians and Egyptians to the current day.

    The advantage of potatoes over most grains is the amount of starch that can be produced per acre (up to 80 tons per hectare with the world record being about 120 ton. Note wet weight not actual starch content although this is generally 80% + of its dry weight). Its disadvantage is the lack of enzymes which must be added (until 40 or 50 years ago not fully understood). I believe the only one that can equal potaoes is cassava (tapioca) but you need a tropical climate to grow it. Traditionally these have been processed at lower temperatures and left soaking for quite a reasonable time, basically to give the enzymes time to do their job and to save energy I would imagine.

    I suspect the reason Simons first attempt failed was largely because of insufficient amalase enzymes. Temperature possibly also had a small bearing.

    I would imagine there is not that much difference in basic processing of schnapps and vodka both being identical in the initial processing although I have not done a lot of reading on the matter.

    To get this better we really need to know the proper composition of potatoe starch and its liquifaction and saccharification temps. Somewhere I have some general details on these last two especially liquifaction but todate do not have accurate details on starch composition. I believe the Danes have done quite a bit of work and reasearch on this aspect (composition).

    Potatoes are harder than most people think and you need a bit of experience to get them right. Books make it sound so easy because they tend to simpIify the process and take for granted that you have a full understanding and experience of all the steps involved quite often leaving out some of the elementary steps. Most of us need to fully understand the basics first before we really begin to learn. I have not tried potatoes yet myself but know this from my reading, broad experiernce of other aspects, and experience with other forms of starch.

    What you will probably need to do is what is called a Stepped Infusion Mash. This is where you start the saccharification process at a low temperature and then move it up in steps, halting for a certain time period at each step to give each enzyme time to break down as much as they can at each stage. If you have made beer in the past using an all-grain mash you will understand the process.

    To get a feeling for it and to understand the process better try the following:
    1. Cook your potatoes so they are still stiff - about 12- 15 minutes at reasonable heat. Up to 20 minutes at low heat. Note they should still be a bit undercooked, definitely not soft, mushy, or floury.
    2. Add coarsely milled barley (particles mostly about 1/16 to 3/32" in size. Definitely not too fine.). Use malted Ale barley or standard malted barley rather than Lager barley as it is definitely higher in enzymes and enzymatic action. Note you need sprouted malted barley not spray-dried malt which is normally on a maltodextrin base and has had most of the enzymes destroyed or inactivated because of the excessive heat used in the drying process.
    3. Cover with sufficient water and bring to 113 F (45 C). Hold 15 minutes stirring regularly.
    4. Bring up to 133 F (56 C). Hold 15 minutes etc.
    5. Bring up to 149 F (65 C). Hold 15 minutes stirring constantly.
    6. Bring up to 158 F (70 C). Hold 15 minutes stirring constantly. All up this makes 60 minutes which should suffice for a small batch. Some batches will take longer especially bigger batches. Most of the liquifaction and saccharification occurs in steps 5 & 6 rather than 3 & 4. If you want to alter this reduce 3 & 4 to 10 minutes and increase 5 & 6 to 20 minutes or longer where required.
    7. Once virtually all the starch is liquified and broken down to simple sugars to halt the enzymatic process raise the temp to 176 F (80 C) (Mashing Out) and then drop it back as quickly as possible to between 140 F (60 C) and 122 F (50 C) so the sugars dont get scorched or burnt.
    8. Cool down further to 75 F (24 C), establish an SG of 1060 (min) to 1080 (max = ideal) and begin fermentation.
    If you muck around with the basic formula doing several batches, altering the temperature and times a small amount each time you will quickly get a feel for it and learn far more than you can learn initially out of books or I can spell out for you.

    I suggest you start with 3 or 4 kg of potatoes and 1/2 kg of barley each time so you have plenty of enzymes together with a very large pot so it dosnt boil over. Once you have got this basic process under control and gained a bit of experience I can help you further with advice and help with enzymes. Also once you have the experience and understand fully what you are doing with the right selection of enzymes you can reduce this 4 to 5 steps down to 2 or 3 steps and save a lot of energy and time producing virtually the same result.

    At first for the small amount produced it hardly seems worthwhile but you will be amazed at how quickly you have control of the process with a bit of experience. Learn this process properly now and it will save you a lot of time later.

    The most important enzymes are Alpha amylase, Gluco amylase and to minor extent Beta amylase. Beta has largely been replaced by Gluco. The other important factor is temperature with each of these working best (most active) at certain temperatures. Alpha works best at higher temperatures normally chopping the starch into smaller blocks whereas Gluco and Beta work from the ends. Temperatures required of the process are therefore dependant on makeup and complexity of the starch.

    As mentioned without knowing the exact composition of the potatoe starch I cannot advise exactly the necessary temps and times. The setup I have given you is basically for barley but should work quite satisfactory with potatoes because of the range of temperatures involved.

    What I am saying here applies to barley as well as individual enzymes. The heat of cooking the potatoes will start the process. For all I know it may help to throw a handful of barley in with the potatoes when you begin cooking. Keep good notes of amounts, times, and temps and if you have much better success compared to the last time or another batch you should be quickly able to repeat it. By doing this you will quickly get a good idea of what is required. Keep me up todate with how you get on.

    Be aware that enzymes are protein and bio-catalyst and like other proteins consist of long chains of amino acids held together by peptide chains. They are present in all living cells where they perform a vital function by controlling the metabolic processes and hence the breakdown of food into simpler compounds eg. Amylases break down starch into simple sugars. As bio-catalyst by their mere presence and without being consumed in the process they can speed up chemical processes that would otherwise run very slowly being released at the end of the process to begin it all again if required. In theory this can go on forever but in practice they have a limited stability and over a period of time they lose their activity because of variables particularly temperature changes and are not useable again. In practice therefore be very wary of quickly changing and wildly fluctuating temperatures.

    Good luck
Teemu writes ...
  • Making vodka from potatoes

    Two good reasons for using potatoes:
    1. Traditionally vodka is made of grain or potatoes to achieve the smooth & soft aroma; witch is typical to commercial European vodkas.
    2. In Finland 1kg of sugar costs about 1,9e, 25kg sack of (feed) potatoes from local Agri-Market costs 2e...

    The recipe, which may lead to prosecute:
    20-25kg potatoes
    1kg of barley, malted and gristed
    50-100g of good (Turbo/Prestige/Partymann...) yeast (hydrated)
    Some fresh water

    Equipment needed:
    30 litre beer fermenter
    A large (30-50litre) kettle (I use a milk can...)
    A meat grinder (for mashing the potatoes)
    A large scoop or a "wash paddle"
    A hotplate with a thermostat

    1. Clean all the dirt from the potatoes, (don't bother to peel them)
    2. Put the potatoes in to kettle and cover them with water, bring to boil. Cook until the first ones break down -this should take about 1hr. In meanwhile hydrate the yeast and mix 1kg malt and 2litre of water (if you use homemade malt, don't dry them -it weakens the mysterious "amylathic power").
    3. Pour the water out from the kettle (use mittens, be careful). Mash the potatoes in the grinder while they are hot. (If done right the mash looks like thick porridge.)
    4. Put the mash to kettle (and adjust the hotplates temperature to 60C). Add 1/3 of the hydrated malt to the kettle and stir well. Wait until the temperature has dropt to 65C. Add the rest of the hydrated malt and stir in well. Let sit there for about 2 hours. Stir often. (If done right the wash should have turned flowing.)
    5. Turn the hotplate off. Put the kettle in somewhere cool. When the temperature has dropped down to 25C pour to fermenter and add yeast (no nutrients needed). First carbon dioxide bubbles should rise after couple of hours; main fermenting takes about two days, ready for distilling in four days -if you have done everything as written. Result will be 7-12vol%, depending the starch level of potatoes.

    This is how I do it. There are many different ways too-but there are always four steps.
    1. Softening the cellular walls.
    2. Mashing the potatoes.
    In industrial scale steps one and two are usually done by using the HENZE-kettle, witch is basically a direct-steam heated pressure cooker (pressure is up to 8atm and the cooking time about 40min).
    3. Converting the starch to maltose.
    4. Fermenting.
    Notice that there are only those 2L of water added to mash, no more are required because the potatoes contains of water.

    P.S. If the wash is done right you should be able to distill it with a still that has an inner heating element -I have a 2kW inner (silver plated) heating element in mine.

    When I asked if he needed to filter the wash before distilling it, Teemu replied ..
    No, no filtering required, but if want to be really sure strain trough a kitchen sive (hole size about 2mm) to get rid off the peaces of malt. The reason why grain washes burn onto the element is that they contain a lots of cellulose (like porridge). [Dry grain (rye) contains up to 40% of cellulose.] Potato wash wich is mashed well and fermented dry contains such a tiny amount of cellulose (like soup), so that it won't burn onto the element! (Fresh potatoes contains only about 14% of cellulose.) You can see this in practice -- typical ready grain wash is thick stuff like (milk) cocoa, ready potato wash is flowing like coffee. Just keep sure that the potatoes are mashed enough small bits (>0.1mm) before adding the malt.

    More scientifical explanation why the potato washes don't burn on to the element:

    Potato vs. Grain
      Water Proteins Fats Starch Cellulose
    Oats 12% 13% 7% 60% 12%
    Barley 12% 11% 2% 63% 12%
    Rye 12% 12% 2% 62% 12%
    Wheat 12% 11% 1.5% 64% 11%
    Potatoes 75% 1.5% 0.1% 14% 1%

    Now if we calculate the water and the starch as element-friendly materials and others as un-element-friendly materials we found that the grains contain ca. 26% of un-element-friendly materials (non fermenting, burnable, low heat transfer rate...), when potatoes contains only ca. 2.6% of un-element-friendly materials! In practice this means that there is only about half a kilo of un-element-friendly materials in 25l batch of potato wash, but in 25l of grain wort the number can be as high as 1.5kilos! Other reason why the potato mash doesn't burn onto the element is convectional floating; the viscosity of fermented potato mash is enough near of water to create the enough rapid convectional floating.
Dane writes ...
    potatoes work really well, It is the enzymes in the barley malt that convert the starch in the corn, Potaoes are almost entirely starch, and water. I use 20lb of 'taters with 5 gal of water, cook for an hour+ mash them all up well, so it's a rumnny, thin mush. Add a couple spoon fulls of acid blend. Add 2 lb of 6 row malt at 150 deg. maintain temp and stir for several hours. let cool add another couple spoons of acid, and nutrient. Add about 1 lb or 2 of pure sugar for some added kick. Use Ec-1118 and wait a week It makes a really good spirit after 2 distillations and a little polishing

Potato Mash

Here's one recommended by Andrew, from Eastern Europe. Combine all ingredients and leave until fermented, should take approx. 2 weeks
  • 21 Litres of water.
  • 7 kg of sugar.
  • 175 grams of yeast.
  • 3 small (125 mL) packets of tomato paste/concentrate.
  • 0.5 litres of natural plain yoghurt
  • 1.6 kg raw grated potatoes.
Wal writes ...
    If you do not have too many potatoes, you can make a potato and sugar mash, as suggested in a Russian samogon site. This would be a good way to get an idea of the effect of potatoes on taste. In the Russian language site there is no mention of adding malted grain to convert the starch to sugars, which could be a problem, unless the potatoes they use have sprouted so much that most of the starch has already been converted! It is recommended to use about 5% malted grain for potatoes as otatoes have about 20% fermentable material, the rest being water.

    Potato and Sugar Mash
    4 kg potatoes
    200 g crushed malted barley
    4 kg sugar
    20 L water
    Peel and cook the potatoes in a minimum of water. Mash. When cooled to 65C, add crushed malted grain and leave for 90 minutes for conversion. Combine mashed potatoes, sugar and water, add yeast and ferment.

    There is one Russian samogon recipe that combines potatoes and oats, which could also give a good Irish poitin mash, as oats and potatoes are common Irish ingredients. Although it suggests crushed oats, rolled oats would be more convenient. No malted grain is mentioned, but the addition of up to 1 kg of crushed malted grain would be useful. Here is my modified version of the recipe:

    Potato and Oats Mash
    5 kg potatoes
    4 kg rolled oats
    1 kg crushed malted grain
    20 L water (5 US gals.)
    Grate the potatoes. Add some boiling water to grated potatoes and rolled oats mixture. Allow to cool to 65C and add crushed malted grain. Allow 11/2 hours for the conversion. Place mixture in a fermenter, adding additional water to make 20 l. Add yeast and ferment.

    Whether potatoes were used to make poitin is debatable, due to the lack of information except for oral stories. Malted barley was the original ingredient for poitin/poteen (unaged whisky), but later other unmalted grains, treacle, sugar were used due to availability and cost factors. Recently even sugar beet pulp is used!

    A method of producing spirits from potatoes was developed in 1669, but commercially potatoes began to be used for distilling alcohol sometime after 1820.

    Lex Kraaijveld ( has a couple of references to the use of potatoes in Scotland and the British island colony of St Helena.
      From June 1, 2002 - "Evidence for this in Scotland comes from the goldmine of information, the 'Statistical Account', compiled and published in the late 18th century. Besides barley and bere, potatoes are mentioned several times as a product from which a spirit is distilled. The quality of potato spirit was not considered very high. Rev. Joseph Macintyre, of the parish of Glenorchay & Inishail in Argyll, writes: 'Some distill a fiery and harsh spirit from potatoes.' and the writer of the Aberdeen parish report agrees. 'Potatoes are less fit for distillation than barley; the spirit produced is much fouler'.....Rev. Alexander Small writes in his report of the Lowland parish of Kilconquhar: 'Potatoes were scarcely known in this country 40 years ago; they now afford the poor half their sustenance, and generally appear at the tables of the rich; they are well known to be very proper food for horses and other animals, and are sometimes distilled into whisky.'

      From February 1, 2003 - "St Helena is a small island in the middle of the Atlantic. In the late 17th and early 18th century, distillation of 'arack' from potatoes was a common activity....In the St Helena records it is written in 1717: 'The miserable devastation formely made by distilling Arack from Potatoes is too sencibly felt now by ever one in the place....." The population of St Helena is of mixed ethnic origin but it is recorded that 'Irish cottagers' grew potatoes there. (Five Views of the Island of St Helena, Lieut. W. Innnes Pocock, 1815)
    So it seems quite probable that in Ireland, poitin (whisky's illicit sister) was also made from potatoes, although due to taste, I suspect that barley would have been the preferred traditional source.