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Preparing a Sugar Based Wash

The following information was provided by

Preparing a Sugar Based Wash

Dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, and cool to below 30C before adding hydrated yeast.

Different sugars will result in sweeter or drier alcohols.

Ok, either knock up a "thin" wort (pronounced "wurt") for vodkas, etc (via a reflux still), or get fancy and do a full grain recipe for whiskey (using a pot still).

If you are using a reflux still, it's no point using anything other than a thin sugar/water wort, because the reflux will strip out all the flavours. So no point in paying heaps for grains, malt extract etc, when sugar is so cheap.

If you're after a neutral spirit, one thing you can do different is to add some activated carbon to the wash (eg with the sugar). This will take out the cogeners as they form. Just make sure that you filter/decant off this carbon with the yeast, so that it doesnt go into the still (and release the nasties when heated).

Thin Wort

This is by far the easiest to do, to produce basically a flavourless vodka, which can be flavoured using either commercial flavourings, or use fruits to convert to liqueurs.

See Mikrobios' pdf Wine for Distilling on this topic - you still need to take some care to get a really smooth neutral spirit.

Also Viktors econ-o-wash.doc A cheap, well researched (720 litres over 6 batches) supermarket ingredient sugar based wash.

Thin Wort Recipes

  • Vodka - sugar/dextrose only.
  • Rum - use molasses instead of sugar, diluted to a SG of 1.06 - 1.07 If you use more than 50/50 molasses/sugar you'll get a heavy rum. "Fancy" (high grade) molasses will give a better flavour, and has more fermentable sugars than say blackstrap molasses. You can also use brown sugar instead of molasses.


Basically the same as for beer making, but a lot easier. Use a 25L beer fermentor, sanitised by soaking full of water + 150 mL bleach for half an hour.

Dissolve 5 kg of white table sugar and 100g of yeast nutrients in 4L of boiling water, then top up to a total of 20L using cold water.
sugar made up to total volume
should have an SG and only require of water
and should produce a wash of % alcohol

You require approx 17g of sugar for every %.litre of alcohol you want to make. Eg if you want to make 20L of a 14% alcohol wash, you need 17 x 20 x 14 = 4760g = 4.76 kg of sugar.
kg sugar made up to L total volume
should produce a wash of % alcohol

Dr. Legendre's One Dollar wash (TM)
(Product name may not reflect actual cost)
    PREFACE: A recipe you might want to try... this is working well for me. Comments & criticism are welcome. Email: DISTILLER@ARABIA.COM

    Ingredients (with approximate costs)
    • 5 gal (19L) potable water (cost?)
    • 12lb. (5.4kg) white sugar (3 x 4lb sacks @ $1.48 ea = $4.44)
    • 1/2lb. (220g) crushed 6-row malted barley (1/2 lb = $0.50)
    • 20g DAP (5 t. = $0.25)
    • 10g Wyeast nutrient (if doing a good long boil, try using half this amount or less 20g = $0.64)
    • 3T. Acid blend ($ 0.25)
    • 2 x 5g Lallvin EC-1118 (2 @ $0.85 = $1.70)

    (Total cost approximately $7.70; optimum yield 3.15 liters@95% ABV or 7.5 liters@40% - about one US Dollar per liter of drinkable spirit. In contries where Cuban sugar is not under embargo (read: most), you will pay about half of this..)

    In a pot with a good lid, heat 1 gal. water to 142F (61C) and add the barley, stirring well. Cover, insulate with a coat or blanket and leave set for at least 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, uncover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil the barley for at least half an hour, an hour is better - 15 minutes before the end of the boil, add the Wyeast nutrient. After the boil, add another gallon of water, the acid blend, DAP (see note 1), and the sugar - 4 lbs at a time, mixing until all the sugar is disolved. Add this mixture to the clean fermenter, along with enough water to make 5 gallons or an original SG of approximately 1.105 (14% potential ABV).

    Take 1/2 pt of the new wash in a quart jar, and dilute it with 1/2 pt. of warm water. Following the package directions, rehydrate the 2 packages of yeast and add them to the diluted wash in the jar, (which should be about 72-74f) to make a starter. Let the starter work for about 2 hours then pitch into the wash - 15 minutes before pitching time, aerate the wash with a stone. Stir well and seal up the fermeter. You can further aerate the wash in the first 48 hours to stimulate yeast reproduction (budding), but not thereafter or alcohol yield will suffer. Ferment between 72-82f, the higher of these figures will speed things up. Hopefully finishes in 5-7 days at 14%.


    1) The DAP can (and probably should) be divided into three doses, spread out over the first few days of fermentation; seems like excessive initial concentrations of Ammonia compounds stress the yeast.

    2) Watch the pH in the first day or two of strong activity; the barley will serve as a buffer for the acids produced, but the pH should still be casually checked and kept in the 3.4-4.0 range. Potassium carbonate or calcium carbonate may be used to correct if the pH drops too far, but this is probably not necessary.

    3) Stir several times a day for the first day or two, until it is obviously working well - this is important. Later when the activity begins to slow, stir daily to re-suspend the yeast.
Smudges Recipe :
    I'm sure I'm not the only one who's never had any luck (until recently) getting them to work, so I thought I'd share my recipe.

    From experience, its easy to make a brew that will ferment out to 10%, but to make the effort of distillation worthwhile, you really want something closer to 20%. Simply adding more sugar to a basic 10% recipe doesn't work, even when using a high-alcohol tolerance yeast. They seem to stick with plenty of sugar left.

    While Turbo Yeasts are great, they are expensive (around $9) costing more than the sugar itself. My recipe (excluding sugar) costs just over $2 for a 25-litre batch, and is a little more in keeping with the home brewing ethos.(All prices are in Australian dollars)

    Here's my recipe for a 100 litre wash
    • Sugar 28kg
    • Molasses 2.5kg
    • Di-Ammonium Phosphate 175g
    • Marmite 100g
    • Yeast - ICV K1116 35g
    • Fermaid K 25g
    • Yeast Hulls 25g
    • Magnesium Sulphate 25g
    • Baking Soda 25g
    • Tea 4 cups
    With a 95% conversion efficiency, this much sugar will produce about 14.5 kg of ethanol which is about 18.5 litres.

    Combine all the ingredients (except the yeast) with warm water so the resulting mix is between 35 and 40 degrees. Aerate with an aquarium pump and air-stone.

    Rehydrate the yeast as per manufacturer's instructions, and add to the brew. (

    Continue to aerate for 4 hours. Use a thermostatically controlled heater to maintain the temp at 25 degrees (once it drops to 25 degrees).

    I achieve the following fermentation rate:

    Hours SG
    0 1.110
    12 1.105
    24 1.070
    36 1.040
    48 1.004
    60 0.997
    72 0.990
    It's pretty much all over in three days, with the result best described as an unpleasant tasting beer, but containing plenty of alcohol.

    A breakdown of the ingredients is as follows:

    Molasses - contains sugars but is mostly included for its vitamin and mineral content. The fermentation rate halved when I didn't include it. Molasses is a waste product of sugar refining and can be assumed to contain bacteria. Do not dilute molasses if you do not intend to add yeast immediately as the bacteria will get established. This amount of molasses with this yeast does not foam over, despite the rapid ferment. Buy it from a stock feed supplier - 25kg for $22

    Di-Ammonium Phosphate - Source of yeast assimilable nitrogen. Its need is well documented. About 350mg/L of Nitrogen recommended for fermenting this much sugar. This recipe provides 375mg including the DAP in the Fermaid K. Buy it from Winery Supplies ( 1kg for $8.

    Marmite - Source of B group vitamins. If you don't know what it is already, then you probably live in North America and won't be able to buy it anyway. Often used in mead recipes. Fermentation sticks when not included.

    Yeast ICV K1116 - Produced by Lallemand. Alcohol tolerance listed as 18%. Buy it from Winery Supplies ( 500g for $35. Lallemand ( also market a range of distillers yeast. Danstil A is claimed to have an alcohol tolerance of +20%. According to Lallemand Australia the exact same yeast is marketed to winemakers labelled L2226, which is easier to obtain. I will try this yeast next. Keep it refrigerated in an airtight container.

    Fermaid K - General yeast nutrient, produced by Lallemand. Do a web search if you want to know whats in it. Buy it from Winery Supplies ( 1kg for $23. Keep it refrigerated.

    Yeast Hulls - General yeast nutrient, prevents stuck fermentations. Buy it from Winery Supplies ( 1kg for $23. Keep it refrigerated.

    Magnesium Sulphate - Epsom Salts. Source of Magnesium for yeast and plants alike. It's need is well documented. Buy it from the supermarket/hardware store/chemist.

    Baking Soda - Sodium Bicarbonate. An inexpensive pH buffer, but molasses, tea and Marmite may also do the same job. Buy it from the supermarket for $6.50 a kg

    Tea - Source of tannin. Often appears in mead recipes. No identified role in fermentation, but it occurs in grape juice, so included on the basis that it can't do any harm when I was trying everything I could think of might help.

    This recipe works, but probably includes excessive amounts of some ingredients. The annoyance of a stuck fermentation outweighs the likely savings, so I've pretty much stopped experimenting.


For more details about sugar, see the Sugar page.

Wal summarises ...
    Sugars are important to distillers. I found the various terms confusing, so I searched around and made some notes from various web sites:

    Sugar is the chemical sucrose that occurs naturally in plants. 'Saccharum officinarum' is the species of basic importance to the history of the sugarcane industry.

    The first evidence of crystal sugar production appears at about 500 BC in Sanskrit texts that indicate it took place in northern India. Knowledge of this technique spread from northern India eastward to China and (along with the cultivation of sugarcane) westward into Persia, eventually reaching the east coast of the Mediterranean about 600 AD.

    The sugar industry entered the Mediterranean basin as part of an agricultural revolution carried out by the Arabs. To mill sugarcane, the burgeoning industry borrewed existing Mediterranean technology for extracting olives and nuts and, in a second operation, used screw presses to obtain more juice from the bagasse. The juice was then clarified, reduced to the point of crystallisation in open pans over furnaces, and the resulting syrup was placed in conical pots from which the molasses drained, leaving a loaf of sugar in each pot.

    It was only after 1700 that sugar was transformed from a luxury product into one of everyday use by even the poor. This took place as Brazil and the new West Indies colonies began producing sugar in such large quantiities that price was significantly reduced.

    From ... The above process is still common. This is unrefined non-centrifugal sugar. In India it is called 'khandsari', 'jaggery' or 'gur'. In Latin America it is called 'chancaca', 'panela', 'raspadura' or 'piloncillo'. The sticky brown sugar variant is the mixture that comes out of the crystallising pan. The liquid molasses remaining after this first boiling and removal of the crystallised sugar is called a 'light molasses'. When boiled again, the molasses remaining is called a 'dark molasses'. After a third boiling the remaining molasses is called 'blackstrap molasses'. This is normally used as cattle food and alcohol. The darker sugarcane jaggery is produced from these later boilings.

    Types of sugar :
    • The nearly pure sugar crystal formed by the crystallisation process is covered by a thin film of molasses which is not stable in storage, and needs to be further purified to yield the stable, pure sweet sugar. Centrifuges are used to drain the molasses off from the sucrose crystals in the first stage. It is further refined to produce white sugar crystals. See 'How Sugar is Refined' and 'Growing and For the different types of sugars see 'Cook's Thesaurus:Sugar' The size of the crystal determines the refined sugar's use:
      • Standard white granulated sugar.
      • Confectioner's/Icing/Powdered sugar - pulverised, and usually with about 3% cornstarch to prevent lumping.
      • Superfine/Ultrafine/Castor sugar - finely granulated. Dissolves well in cold water.
    • Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallisable sugars as well as some remnant sucrose. In England, molasses is called treacle. The sucrose remaining in the molasses can be inverted to produce a honey-like syrup containing glucose and fructose which ensures that crystallisation does not occur during storage.
    • Raw sugar is approximately 96-98% sucrose. Unrefined or partially refined natural sugars tend to vary in color and have many names depending on their country of origin:
    • Demerara (UK) - golden brown crystal sugar from first step of refinement (not moist)
    • Raw sugar (n Australia) - golden crystal sugar similar to Demerara (not moist)
    • Turbinado - light brown sugar (not moist)
    • Muscovado - dark brown sugar made by crystallising dark syrups (not moist)
    • (Moist brown sugars these days are produced by adding molasses to refined sugar.)
    • Beet sugar is derived from sugar beets and is also pure sucrose like cane sugar.
    • Beet sugar molasses though is not used for human consumption.
    • Palm sugar is similar to sugarcane jaggery or gur and is produced from the sap of palms, including the coconut palm.
    • Golden Syrup is made from thickened cane syrup which is partially inverted.
    • Light and Dark Treacles are made from partially inverted light and dark molasses.
    Rum may be made from either fresh cane juice, cane syrup, or from molasses.

Yeast Nutrients

The yeast nutrient is necessary because refined sugar has no additional nutrients in it. If you try using just sugar, water & yeast, with no nutrients, you will get very little alcohol. Not much will happen without nutrients present. The alcohol you do make will contain more of the undesirable byproducts, like aldehydes and higher order alcohols. To grow, yeast needs amino acids, minerals, and enzymes, so that it can form the proteins the new cells will need during its "budding" to form daughter cells. It provides the necessary potassium, nitrogen, and phosphates needed (that would in other brewing usually be provided by the malt). If it can't "bud" to form daughter cells, it will still be able to reproduce a couple of times, but it does so using up its own reserves. The resulting cells aren't quite so skilled at the job of making ethanol, and tend to do a couple of extra other things instead.

Use yeast nutrients at the rate of 3 grams per litre of wash (eg 60 g for 20 L). It is typically made of the following, and/or similar:
  • diammonium phosphate
  • magnesium sulphate
  • yeast (usually deceased,but imparts vitamins and minerals)
  • folic acid
  • niacin
  • calcium pantothenate, and
  • thiamine hydrochloride.
The "Great New Zealand Home Wine Making Book" suggests to ... "buy some ammonium sulphate or ammonium phosphate, and some pottassium phosphate or potassium sulphate and add 2g (1/2 teaspoon) of each to every 4.5 L. Another valuable addition is vitamin B1. You can buy these as tiny 3 milligram tablets from your local chemist or pharmacy and add one of these each 4.5 L" ...

This is why sometimes in some recipes you might see tomato paste or vegemite being touted as a "secret ingredient" that helps produce cleaner alcohol with less off-flavours to it. This is because they are acting as a primative mix of nutrients. It is far better however to use the prepackaged nutrient mixes, as these specifically target the needs of the yeast, based on quite a bit of laboratory testing & research. See the Turbo yeast and AllTech company web pages for more details about yeast and nutrients.
Jack writes ...
    Making sugar only washes isn't as straightforward as it seems- 2 pounds of sugar, a tablespoon of acid blend, a teaspoon of diammonium phosphate, and a gallon of water should never fail to ferment out completely- but half the time I try it (especially in large amounts) it doesn't work. The easiest way I found to prevent stuck sugar mashes is to just add SOMETHING that I find laying around the house. Only honey and maple syrup have failed as an "insurance additive" to otherwise pure sugar washes. Molasses, malt syrup, grains from beer making, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, and dry malt extract have all been tried, and all the batches with one or more of these materials prevents the ferment from sticking. I tend to use the malt extracts and grains the most- a half pound of malt syrup/dry malt extract, or a pound or two of the cheap crystal grains from the homebrew shop are enough for 5 gallons (20 liters).



The other important thing is the acidity of the wash. Getting it right should achieve better utilization of the sugar, a slightly higher alcohol %, and less other alcohol congeners. The wash should also take less time to ferment. The "Autofuel Manual" recommends that the optimum pH for mash is between 4.8 and 5.0 to keep the yeast happy, and to retard the growth of lactic acid micro-organisms. They also state that .. "Most grain mashes have a naturally acid pH of between 5.4 and 5.6 after malting or conversion has been accomplished. Other materials, notably saccharine substances like molasses and fruit pressings, have a naturally alkaline pH and must be acidified prior to fermentation." For sugar washs, the optimum pH is more like 4.0 to 4.5
If using citric acid ....
To get a pH of you need to use grams per litre
ie grams in a L wash to use


Wal writes ...
    Wine makers aim for a pH of 3.5 which equates to 0.6% acidity and which is equivalent to 6g of citric acid/litre of water, or 2 lemons/litre of water.

    (1 lemon is roughly equal to 3g of citric acid or 1/2 tsp.)

    A pH of 5.0 equates to 0.4% acidity and is equivalent to 4g of citric acid/litre of water, or 1 large lemon/litre of water.

    1.2g of citric acid raises the acidity of 1litre by 0.13%.
    i.e. 1tsp. (2lemons) raises acidity of 5litres of mash by 0.13%
Tim Watkins comments ..
    for acidifying the mash, I've always used lactic acid (88%) that I bought at the local brewshop. Use it sparingly though. In a sugar/water mash there is practically nothing to buffer the acid, so a little goes a long way. I can recall acidifying only water (about 16l or so) in to the appropriate range with only about 1/4 of a teaspoon.
Don (Nighthawk) adds
    ..... as an amature wine maker I always test the must just before pitching the yeast, and adjust it to .6% using acid blend (a combination of malac and tartaric acids) available at most brewing supply places. During fermentation the acid level will usually increase by about .1% which is where I like my finished product (.7% acid). I understand a slightly acid environment gives the best results from the yeast and is a mild preservative, and have always had good results, so when I do a batch of sugar/water I balance it to a pH of .5% (using the ratio of 4 oz. acid to 30 Imp. Gal = .1% increase) as the basis for calculating how much to add. On a number of occasions when I was out of acid blend I've used canned frozen orange juice which seemed to work just as well, and once I even resorted to vitimin C, but this was when the stuff was dirt cheap. LOL Buying acid blend in bulk makes it very inexpensive, so I never brew anything without it, but this is just my way of doing it.
Asking at my local homebrew shop, I was told that the yeast nutrients in with the Turbo yeasts etc can often contain up to 45% citric acid, purposely to acidify the sugar washes. I can't confirm this myself, as I can't even find decent Litmus paper in this wee town ...

Using the new alcohbase yeasts, the mixture can ferment up to 21% alcohol.

Inverting Sugar

Some people "invert" their sugar, saying that it makes it easier for the yeast to ferment it. Others reckon that it makes no difference at all. For more details see the Sugar page. Wal writes ...
    Some recommend to turn the sucrose syrup into an invert sugar syrup by adding an acid such as citric, tartaric or cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate).

    For 2 lbs of sugar (1 kg.), 1 pint of water (500 ml.), add 1/4 tsp. (1 g.) acid (or juice of 1/2 lemon). Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool.

    There is a relationship between pH, temperature and time. At 100C, and a pH of 3.6 (6g acid/litre) you need to simmer for 15 minutes.
From :
    Inversion is the process by which sucrose is cleaved to form invert sugar, i.e. a mixture of equal parts of glucose and fructose. Inversion is catalysed by acids or enzymes.


    In acidic products, especially those with pH under 4 (jam, fruit purťe and many soft drinks) more than half of the sucrose added is inverted to glucose and fructose when the products are consumed






    + C6H12O6






How much alcohol can you expect to make, knowing how much sugar you put in ? Easy. The theoretical yield is 51.1%, but you will get less than this, around 48% because you lose some of the sugars to forming the small amounts of other alcohols, esters, etc (eg 480 g (610 mL) of ethanol for every 1 kg sugar). All going well, you should be able to capture approx 90% of this, ie 550 mL pure (100%) ethanol per kg of sugar. So ... for say 5 kg of sugar, you should be able to get 0.55 x 5 = 2.75 L of pure ethanol. I collect mine at 75% strength, ie I get around 2.75 / 0.75 = 3.7 L of distillate . If you run a pot still at 40%, this means you will get around 6.9 L of distillate. Knowing how much alcohol is present then lets you know when your run is about to finish.
If start with sugar and the still makes % alcohol
You should collect around of Distillate


Bakers yeast will produce a maximum of around 14% alcohol, whereas the "turbos" can generate up to 20% alcohol. Obviously you'd use different amounts of sugar for either case. To estimate the sugar you need, multiply the wash % alcohol by the volume and by 17 grams, eg to make 20L at 13% you'd use 20 x 13 x 17 = 4400 g = 4.4 kg.
To make L of wash at % alcohol
Use kg of sugar


Glucose (dextrose) can be used instead of sugar, and is sometimes said to produce a "cleaner" wash. You will need to use slightly more (12.5%) by weight to get the same result as using sugar (eg use 1.25kg of glucose for every 1kg of sugar needed).
To get the same result as using kg of sugar,
use kg of dextrose (glucose)


Maximum Sugar Concentration

Why not just add heaps of sugar ? Because the yeast won't be able to handle it, and will burst. The better yeasts (ie alcobase) can take up to 0.35 kg of sugar per litre of water, but most other mortal yeasts won't. Keep it to around 0.20 to 0.25 kg/L unless otherwise specified on the packet.
To make L of wash at kg/L
Use kg of sugar


However, Donald advises ...
    When making thin worts for distillation achieve higher alcohol yields by "stepping up" the fermentation, usuing yeast nutrient and real distilers yeast. To "step up" simply add (50%-100%) more fermetables after primary fermentation and repeat until yeast is maxed out. Do not use this procedure if you want to re-use yeast. You may however, harvest enough yeast (1/4 of total) to re-ptich then step up the rest.

    ie .. so start out with the regular routine of say 5 kg sugar in 20L of water, to get an SG of around 1.07. Ferment down until about 1.0 or 1.1 (ie starting to slow down), then add another 3-5 kg and see what happens ? (me asking) Yes, but keep those yeast nutrients in there & make sure it includes diamonium phoshate.

    With proper yeast strain & yeast nutrient a complete end fermentation is common past 20% so getting 17%-20% at home is only a matter of watching the hydrometer. Adding too much sugar or adding too much all at once will result in the wash foaming up when distilling, or burning onto the element.

Simple Moonshine

Patrick writes ...
    One of my favorite recipes is simple: in a 5-gal (20L) bucket throw in 10-12 pounds (5kg) of white sugar, pour 2 1/2gal. (10L) of near boiling water in and stir well. then mix 2 gal. (8L) of your favorite fruit juice. I've found that the more exotic the fruit the better flavor you get. toss a good sized handful of yeast on top, stir well cover the bucket and leave in a warm place for 2 weeks. Siphon into your still and cook at 180 degrees F (82C) and collect the spirit. One way to tell when to stop is when the liquid will no longer burn a bright blue flame.
Harry's Grand-dads recipe:
    How to make Rum out of Molasses and Brown sugar.

    Take 4 gals molasses and 10 lbs sugar. Mix these together in 16 gals water. Now you commence setting mash in large wooden casks (not in any tin vessels) - only a wooden cask for good results. Put the above in cask the 1st day then when nearly cool add 1 ale bottle full of yeast (which is to start mask working). Remember when you put in the 4 gals molasses and the 10 lbs sugar into cask - have a little paddle made for stirring and stir constantly for fully 1/4 of an hour to blend things together, these will be mixed in hot water (not boiling) but just so as you can put your fingers in it without getting scalded. The hot water will melt the sugar and molasses splendidly and will give you more spirits and better rum. After you're finished stirring the 1st days lot also boil 8 lbs of old potatoes in muslin bag and put into the mash with yeast. And also with the yeast and 8 lbs potatoes you boil about 3/4 of a milk bucket of old maize in a sugar bag tied like a pudding and dont forget to drop this in the 1st days mash with the potatoes and yeast and again stirr well. This finishes the 1st days mash and dont take them out till the mash is fit to go into the boiler on the fire for distilling.

    Second days setting. Put another 4 gals molasses and 10 lbs sugar into cask on top of the 1st days setting and stir well for fully ten minutes. This finishes the 2nd days setting.

    Third days setting. Add another 4 gals molasses and 16 gallons water (no sugar) and again stir well (this finishes the setting of the mash).

    To know when this is fit to put through you will see a little scum of bubbles will come to the top now and again. This will continue for two days sometimes three days then when scum is at its highest and starts to drop (Brew it). Don't forget when you finish the 3rd days setting to put a bag over the top of the cask then the lid belonging to cask on top of bag and a weight on top of it to keep warm and airtight. Have an occasional look at the cask when you finish setting the 3rd day because it works sometimes in 36 hours according to the hot or cold weather. In summer time it works a lot quicker than winter so a good idea is to brew in the summer time and stow away to get a bit of age so as it will not be too new to the taste, then sell in winter time when rum is more freely drank.

    Now to make good rum to sell you want to know when distilling when to cut off the good rum from the second class stuff and the only way to do this is to get a hydrometer. (High means good spirits, low means poor spirits). You place this under the end of the worm in whatever you are catching the spirits in and as this vessel starts to get more than 1/2 full this hydrometer will start to float and register whatever proof the spirits is that you are making.

    Now you always want two vessels one to catch the good 1st class spirits and immediately the hydrometer begins to register too low a reading pull the 1st class vessel away and pop the 2nd vessel under in its place to catch the 2nd class spirits. After a good while just have a teaspoon with you and dip same into the the 2nd class and throw a spoon full now and again into the fire and if it flares up like kero or meths that would be thrown in keep on as this is a sign there is still good 2nd hand spirits in the brew but after a while when what you throw in fire quenches the fire like water stop as this is the sign that you have taken all the spirits out of the mash. Anyhow you can taste it and if it has an alumny taste draw the charge from boiler and fill up again for another boil up.

    Now the 2nd's have to be stowed away to themselves in a vessel and all the good 1st class stuff put to themselves as this 1st class brew is ready for sale without further distilling but in order to bring the 2nd class stuff to 1st class you have to put it through the still the 2nd time then it is 1st class and can now be stowed away with the other 1st class brew.

    Now the next thing to know is how to do up your white spirits and tone it up for sale. Here is the rinkle. Aways put your spirits away in a large cask, or a wine cask is the best as rum and wine taste alike. Never put rum in a cask that beer has been in or you will spoil its taste. When you put it in the wine cask leave the bung hole open for 24 hours and as soon as you put it in the cask make a small curtain bag and put about a match box full of cloves in it and let down the bung hole tied with long piece of string so as you can lift it out. Then get a good well ripened pineapple and peel it and cut it in narrow strips about the length of a cigar and twice as thick and poke these down the bung hole, then get about 3/4 of an ordinary teacup full of seeded raisins and put these down the bung of cask into the spirits with the others, then put the bung back in cask and stow it away. Then when you are ready to sell your rum it is in its natural white state. Now you have to colour it for sale. Now to properly colour rum use white sugar not brown because it will make the rum too cloudy and dull and dark looking.

    So in order to have a good clear clean bright looking spirit in a glass for drinking always use white sugar for colouring purposes. Buy a small frying pan for this purpose and dont use it for any other means because any greasy sediment will show in the coloured spirit. To colour say 5 gals rum put about 1/2 teacup of white sugar to start with in the pan, not over a blazing fire but on red hot coals; these should not be too strong to overburn the sugar or your rum will have a bad burnt taste so be careful and burn sugar to a good clean dark brown bubble. Keep moving the sugar in the pan with a long stirrer so as to evenly brown every grain then pour a cup of cold water in the pan on top of sugar at the same time stirring. When sufficiently stirred pour into a good clean bright quart bottle for colouring with. Of course you keep on burning sugar making bottles of the colouring till you have sufficient to colour your rum as it will keep in a bottle for a long time. The best guide is to buy a few shillings worth of good rum in a bright bottle and have this alongside of yours when you are colouring and you can compare the two so as you will not overdo things in the colouring or not give it enough colour.

    Now everything is ready & OK for sale.

    Finally i nearly forgot to mention when you are taking the rum out of the cask for colouring. When you colour, strain thoroughly before you put away for sale as the pineapple and cloves and raisins always leave a sediment and you in order to have a real clean article must strain real well.

    Don't forget to get fully 22 feet of pure tin piping for the worm and 1 inch which means 7/8 waterway and when the worm is made must be coiled so as a gradual incline to lead the spirits through and no uphill position in the making as this means a blockage in flow and cause the mash to boil over. Get a good plumber to make the worm for you, should you not be able to get the pure tin you will have to get copper. But tin is more easy to clean all you have to do with tin after you finish each grew is to pour a bucket of cold water through it and it is always bright and clean. Understand when you are setting worm in cask at bottom it sticks out about fully 3 or 4 inches on a slight slope through a watertight hole through cask into catching vessel.

    When distilling the 2nds in the white spirits state be careful not to have too strong a fire as this is very inflammable and will blow up so be carefull.

    Say you have 5 gals of 2nd class brew cut off from the 1st class. When you put this into the boiler to distil put about 1/2 gal clean water in with it and it wont blow up, the water wont harm the brew, it will be of benefit to it and the rum wont be so fiery to taste.

    For any second treatment the putting through of white spirits a person really wants a very much smaller boiler as the 50 gal boiler is too big. You only really need about a 10 gal boiler and you can have one made at the same time to just have the same size neck so as to fit the lid & pipe & worm & all and when boiling a mash use the 50 gal boiler, you never want to fill the boiler with mash - only slightly over 1/2 full or it will boil over in spite of you as it is just as hard to keep from boiling over as milk.


Maurice writes ... This is a recipe from County Fermanagh, taken from a book called "In Praise of Poteen". I've never tried it myself.
    • 7lb of bakers yeast
    • 3 stone of brown sugar
    • 4lb of treacle
    • 1lb of hops

    Steep ingredients in 3 gallons of lukewarm water at the bottom of a 40 gallon barrel after steeping fill barrel to three quarter full with cold spring water. Leave in a cool place to settle. After several weeks transfer to your still.


To find large quantities of molasses, try farm stock feed dealers. They will sell black strap molasses for horse or cattle feed supplements. Different types of molasses have different sugar contents. (See for different kinds of molasses and the mills and plants / procedures that go into making them.) It therefore pays to measure the specific gravity (SG), until you get the desired concentration. Due to its high osmotic pressure, it needs to be diluted to less than 25 Brix (weight % sugar), or else the yeast wont be able to get started on it. Unfortunately, due to it sometimes only having around 46% sugar, this means you only get a sugar content of 14%, and a final alcohol of around only 6-7%. To get around this, you may need to feed the molasses to the wash in several stages.

In response to some questions about using molasses ..
    I intend to produce fuel ethanol using molasses as a feedstock. This will provide the sugar source but I have been told that on its own it does not contain enough nutrients for optimum alchol conversion.

    Somebody suggested that you can add corn steep liquor (CSL) - does anybody have experience of this and what ratio of molasses (at 49% sucrose) to CSL would you use? Or is there a better alternative.
David replied ..
    This is simply not true most of the time. Molasses generally contains more than enough nutrients although where high temperatures have been used in its processing it can occasionaly be a little deficient in one or two vitamins (generally not a problem as yeast require very small amounts of these). The problem is not the nutrients but the presence of bacteria and wild yeasts which molasses contains a lot of. To get round this you need to introduce larger than normal amounts of yeast and to have your pH right so the good yeast quickly get the upper hand and quickly dominate. This then leads on to the proper fermentation temperature as too quick a fermentation raises the temperature and can quickly kill the yeast. If you look after both these aspects you should have very little problem.

    One of the problems with molasses is that it often dosnt have the sugar content that the seller claims and it therefore will not produce as much alcohol. There is often a lot of unfermentable material as well. A standard 44 imperial gallon drum (US 55 gallons) contains something like 260 to 280 kg of molasses. This contains a lot of inert material. If buying and using molasses for this purpose one needs to constantly monitor and check the brix level so you get what you are paying for. Note: not the theoretical or claimed level but the actual level.

    The addition of CSL will generally improve the fermentability but you will probably need the addition of enzymes and this adds to cost. Note that CSL generally has much better starch levels than molasses. Molasses is invert sugar which still has a fair amount of the sugar content remaining but from which a lot of the easily extractable sugar has been removed. A lot of the sugar remaining is in the form of more complex starches so it is all not utilisable. Again the use of enzymes can help remarkably. Hope this is some help.

    B.r., David
Randy writes ...
    with molasses you wont need to add sugar. Molasses is sugar in the liquid form. Brown Sugar is an economics alternative. It may be less expensive that molasses. You will have to adjust your mixture with water to get the brix (sugar content) number that you want. You should know that there are more than one type of molasses. The kind made from sugar cane is clear. The kind made from sorgham or a similar plant is darker. I only have sorgham available to me here. But with a mill located only a few miles away, it does have a cost effective angle for me. I found a link about the processing of sorgham into molasses syrup if you want to read it. It is interesting in that it describes the temperatures that the sysrup is added to storeage containers to prevent fermentation. It also describes the addition of enyzmes to convert starch to sugars and to invert sucrose to glucose and fructose.
    One thing to keep in mind though is that you wil need to gently stir the fermentation buckets daily to keep the syrup in suspension.


Make sure you read the section on distilling rum too.

Wal summarises the various recipes ...
    The French have two categories of rum - one from the molasses by- product of milling and refining sugar (rhum industriel) and one directly from sugarcane juice (rhum agricole). The 'Household Cyclopedia' of 1881 has a method for making rum which scaled down is about 800 g of molasses/5 litres of water or about 1 l.5 lbs/1 US gal of water. This would give a wash of about 5%abv. To make the equivalent of sugarcane juice, we need 1 cup of white granular sugar, 1/3 cup molasses and 7 cups of water. This would give a sugar content of about 15% which is equivalent to sugarcane juice.

    1)Traditional ('Industrial') Rum (20 l or 5 US gals)
    (molasses used in proportion of 1 kg molasses/5 l water) 4 kg (9 lbs) molasses for 20 l (5 US gals) of water
    This is equivalent to 100 g sugar/ litre

    2) Traditional ('Industrial') Rum for the Homedistiller (high alcohol)
    4 kg molasses and 4 kg white sugar for 20 l water
    This is equivalent to 300 g sugar/litre

    3)'Agricultural' Rum (French rhum agricole, Brazilian cachaca)
    3 kg white sugar and 1 kg molasses for 20 l of water (17% sugar)
    This is equivalent to 175 g sugar/litre

    4)'Agricultural' Rum for the Homedistiller (high alcohol)
    5.5 kg white sugar and 1.5 kg molasses for 20 l water
    This is equivalent to 310 g sugar/litre

    Rum gets additional flavor from ex Bourbon barrels and caramelised (burnt) sugar. A suggested proportion would be 5-10 tsp/litre of rum which would give a sweetness of 2.5-5% which is in line with what is added to other liquors.

Jack writes ...
    I've made good rum by using half sugar and half molasses. IF the molasses is bitter tasting (most feed store molasses is), then it's strong enough to make a solid flavored rum, even when it only makes up half of the fermentables. Hell, a 4 gallon bucket of molasses, 25 pounds of sugar, and 20 gallons of water made a good (and cheap) rum for me more than once.

    In my experience (molasses from Hawaii, piped into a bucket from a tanker), molasses needs to be diluted down to about 10 to 15% potential alcohol- it will ferment out only halfway (15% potential alcohol will only drop down till you end up with 7.5% alcohol by volume- molasses is only 50% fermentable). It doesn't need yeast nutrient, but a quarter ounce of acid blend per each 5 gallons of mash has shown to give a better flavor.

    I use two of those little 5 gram packets for each five gallons of mash. I don't stir at all- there is no grain/fruit to mash down, anyway. It typically takes about a week to ferment out and to begin clarifying on it's own.
PK writes ...
    I use a 7L pot still with thumper so I have to make 3 runs per batch (you just can't argue with free). It comes off at 75-80%. My wash is made from about 8kg cheap brown sugar and 50g yeast nutrient in 23L bucket, it finishes at about 15% alc using champagne yeast. I found that aging in toasted oak for at least a week, undiluted, made a product that would fool my friends. Noticed an even grater improvement when I got lazy and didn't discard my oak chips and just added more. Great taste when diluted to about 45%.

    The foreshots are easy. Even with a 7-8L batch I discard the first 50-60mL. I stop collecting when the temp. off the thumper reaches about 185 F (85C). I notice that at this point % alc. begins to fall as well and the smell changes.I still keep going till the temp off the still reaches about 195 F (90.5C)

    I have found a quick way to make charred oak chips. I wrap a tinfoil packet of oak chips about 3 layers and put them on my stove element at less than medium... Here's what keeps the fire out, a big old iron frying pan placed on top. In about 1/2 hr. good Smokey oak. I also sometimes add some caramelized brown sugar if the batch seems a bit harsh.
In a later update, PK writes ...
    ..I would like to suggest that first run distillers stick with brown sugar for the first couple of washes, at least to get comfortable with your pot stills temperatures.

    My recipe (I wouldn't let my old buddy "Captain Morgan" place my bags in my berth!):
    • In a food grade bucket, big enough to hold 23L, dump 5Kg of molasses plus 4Kg brown sugar into it. ( Just a guideline. I generally add brown sugar to 16-17% potential on hydrometer)
    • Rinse the molasses container a couple of times to get it all out using hot water.
    • Dump 50g of yeast nutrient into wash and add water while stirring to you have as specific gravity that aims for about 16%(17% is ok, but I just don't like to push the yeast too far... myself).
    • Add lavalin EC-1118 yeast at temperature around 70-75F. stir in!
    • After a good violent fermentation the wash will be ready in 7 days keeping the ambient temperature 70-75F.
    • Let it settle... or don't. I've found no difference. Dump into still and let 'er rip.

    My still:

    I'm using, out of convience ( If it ain't for free, it ain't for me), 2 8L syrup containers from a commercial milkshake machine. Stainless steel.

    First I dump the tails from the last lot ( first time... ohh well, next will be better!) along with a healthy portion of previous thumper juice( the stuff that accumulates in the thumper). I heat this on my stove because it has more power. When boiling I transfer to my hot plate (1200w) and wrap pot in insulation blanket.

    Connecting pot to thumper and thumper to condenser, I operate the hot plate on max as well as a plate warmer under the thumper (125w).

    More about the thumper. After experimentation I find that just enough liquid to cover the inlet is sufficient... any more reduces yield. ( Note: first timers should use a little wash for liquid, after that thumper juice. My thumper is the same size as my primary and I suspect that this allows for a lot of reflux allowing me to attain 80% purity from a 15% wash.

    Get the meth out:

    As Tony says discard the first 50mL. I've seen it, smelled it, and measured it. After 50mL of my wash is collected it will, seen, stop spitting... smell, a lot better... measured, the temperature stabilizes, mine is about 169-170F.

    Collection continues between 169 and 173F ( measuring temp. of thumper head). As smell changes (173F), I mount my thermocouple to my primary still and continue until its head temperature reaches 194-195F. I do not collect above the 173F(non smelly) point of the thumper. Well I do but its recycle. I should mention that as the first drops appear at the still I back off my hot plate temp a little bit, somewhere around ĺ.


    In a bottle add toasted oak chips to distillate. If second time, add distillate to used oak and add a little more. 2-3 tbsp per 1L distillate. Yes distillate... Don't dilute!

    So far I havenít seen such thing as too long a time sitting on oak. However after a week or 2 I find it quite acceptable. Filter and dilute to drinking strength.

    On parting:

    Know your still. I'm sure every pot still with thumper has is unique operating characteristics. PLAY!

    I only hope this helps you demote the ďCaptain MorganĒ to Stewart 2nd class as it did me.
The "Household Cyclopedia" advises ...
    Mix 2 or 3 galls. of water with 1 gall. of molasses, and to every 200 galls. of this mixture add a gallon of yeast. Once or twice a day the head as it rises is stirred in, and in 3 or 4 days 2 galls. more of water is added to each gallon of molasses originally used, and the same quantity of yeast as at first. Four, 5 or 6 days after this, a portion of yeast is added as before, and about 1 oz. of jalaproot powdered (or in winter 1 1/2 oz.), on which the fermentation proceeds with great violence, and in 3 or 4 days the wash is fit for the still; 100 galls of this wash is computed to yield 22 galls. of spirit from 1 to 10 overproof. If the molasses spirit, brought to the common proof strength, is found not to have sufficient vinosity, it will be proper to add some sweet spirits of nitre (ethyl nitrate); and if the spirit has been properly distilled by a gentle heat, it may, by this addition only, be made to pass with ordinary judges as French brandy. Great quantities of this spirit are used in adulterating foreign brandy, rum, and arrack. Much of it is also used alone in making cherry brandy and other cordials by infusion; in all which many prefer it to foreign brandies. Molasses, like all other spirits, is entirely colorless when first extracted; but distillers give it, as nearly as possible, the color of foreign spirits.
Andrews tale ...
    I just tried out the first product from my new still on the general public (ok, it was family and friends at a tailgate) and it was a hit! Everyone agreed that it not only smelled and tasted "just like real rum" but that it was yummy. I am very excited.

    I made an all molasses mash, pitched champagne yeast, and ran once through my reflux still. My condensor is attached to my column so I don't really have a good way to de-reflux my still. I took off distallate at an average of about 150 proof, and then kept the tails seperate when they droped to about 125-130 proof and the temp at the top of my column was about 90C.

    I made about a 22L mash. I used a lot of molasses, around 7L, I'm not really sure of the amount because I went by my hydrometer. I added enough to get my potential alcohol up to around 16%. Nothing magical about that number, something I pulled out of a hat considering I was going to pitch champagne yeast, and noting that the molasses itself has a lot of dissolved solids in it that aren't sugar and will raise the reading.

    I charred toasted oak chips by baking in my oven wrapped tightly in foil at 500deg F. I cut the alcohol to about 90 proof and soaked on the charred oak as well as uncharred oak. It had been soaking about 3 weeks before I dressed it up for the big night out. After filtering out the wood with a coffee filter, I carmelize sugar and add about a teaspoon to 500mL.

    Two ways that I know of to carmalize sugar. The way cooks do when they make carmel and need to melt alot of sugar: dissolve the sugar in water first, boil until all the water goes away, and continue until the desired color is reached. It's quite a frothy mess and takes awhile. Since I don't need much what I do is just put a small coating of sugar in a dry saucepan, just enough to cover the bottom. heat on med to med-high and toss the sugar around in the pan alot. It will melt and then slowly change color. You have to do a lot of swirling of the pan so that you don't burn the sugar locally while some of the other sugar is still crystallized. It requires constant attention, but you're done in about 5min. Watch yourself on that liquid sugar, it is HOT and sticky. I.E. if you get a dab on your finger, it will burn and you can't get it off quickly.

    Mostly made mixed drinks since it's still young (I can taste a little something back there but it's faint), but with further ageing and mellowing I'm sure it will be even better.

    A couple people were interested in how I was able to get flavour through my reflux still. I have some ideas, but thought I'd also put this out for discussion. My reflux column has good surface area and insulation, but no cooling water in the column itself. I control the temperature of the top of the column by the heat input to the boil. My guess is that at the temperatures I run at, although I do a good job of knocking down the water vapors, there is still plenty of flavor coming over to my condensor. The oak chips also definately impart flavor to the liquer. Seeing as scotches, bourbons, ryes, tequilas, all age on oak as well, this can't be the flavor that makes it taste like rum, but is more of a backbone and mellower, I am guessing.
Jeanette writes ...
    In my limited experience, ( 4 batches of rum, only 2 worked ok ) I reckon that you have to have some molasses in your brew. The brown and dark brown sugar has enough in it to give some flavour, but if you want to make a good strong rumbo, go with the molasses. At the start of the run, you may have to throw out more than the usual amount of meths. You've gotta do it or you may ruin the entire batch. So collect in 20 - 50ml lots at the start so it is easier to segragate the off stuff. Keep a close check on the smell and taste of the rum when you get close to the end of the run.
Mike writes ...
    The recipe according to me for CAPTAIN MORGAN SPICED RUM is (starting batch)......
    • 6 kg brown sugar ,
    • 100 gm (extremely good) yeast nutrient
    • 2 packages (5gm per each) Lalvin-EC-1118 yeast. Make sure you bring the yeast up to a good foam (1/2 hr @ 80 F (26C) in 150 ml of the wash).
    • Add yeast to wert and add heat band to keep fermentation to 74 degrees F (23C) untill it reaches 0.998 specific gravity.
    • After must filter the must through a wine filter(# 3 VINAMAT ) filter pad to get rid of as much yeast as possible before distilling.
    • Distill as per Tony's rules and collect in a big enough container to allow the cut down with distilled water (as per Tony's calculators on his website). Make sure the alcohol is 53%.
    • Add 1 Tbsp toasted (white American Oak chips) take that any way you like....HA HA HA....,
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon,
    • 1 tsp ground ginger,
    • 2-dried cloves.
    • You may add as much caramelized white sugar as you would like to deepen the colour of the spiced rum
    • Let this soak for 1-2 weeks (or per taste or smell)
    • you mus t put the spiced rum through a coffee filter before you drink it unless you like alot of stuff going down your throat that does not belong there.
    • The way I distill is I use 60 oz. bottles for the distillate. After the first one is full I take a hydrometer reading. Same with the second and the third and so on. I finish when the coloumn temp reaches 90 degrees C temp. Then I take 2 minutes of tails for flavour and then I shut it down. Too much more will give you brackish yuck flavour!! After the run is finished I combine all the 60 oz. bottles and take a final gravity reading.Usually around 85-92%. This is then split in half with distilled water (unless making spiced rum which has to stay at 53% to get the vanillins out of the oak chips). The spiced rum can be dilluted down to 40% but it is quite good at 53%. By the way...I use brass scrubbers in the still because the don't impart flavour like stainless ones do.
    and then have a PARTY!!!!!!!

    Update ! - Mike has a new improved recipe ..
    Mike's Canadian Spiced Rum
    • 800 mL 80% rum (fermented from 6kg brown sugar, 25gm citric acid [to invert the sugar] , 25gm Supervit (Italian) yeast nutrient. 10gm Ec-1118 yeast from Lalvin (ferments HIGH ALCOHOL!!!) Run this stuff through a good reflux coloumn.
    • 1/4-tsp ground cloves
    • 1/4-tsp (generous) powdered cinnamon
    • 1/4-tsp (generous) powdered ginger
    • 1-tsp-Crosby's Cooking Molasses (Blackstrap will do !)
    • 1-Tbsp-Toasted White Oak Chips (Check your local wine shop as this is a popular addition to Red Wine !)
    • Now....after all this CRAP....let this stuff macerate in a 60 oz (1.7L) bottle (plastic or glass...your choice) for at least 7 (SEVEN) DAY'S (PLEASE!!!). SHAKE-THE-CRAP-OUTTA-THIS-BOTTLE-EVERY-DAY for the whole week (make's the flavours blend incredibly well). If you want an even fuller flavour...leave the bottle (or bottles ) to macerate (soak) for another week... (let's the spices and stuff impart an even stronger flavour). Play with it....see what you like!!
    • After must run your (YUMMY-STUFF) through a coffee filter 2 (TWO) times at least (more filtering...clearer product!!!).
    • After must top off the bottle (SORRY) to the top!!! This will give you about 38% alc/vol...which is perfect for this type of rum. I know that the Captain Morgan Rum is 3% less in alcohol...and it is much sweeter... I find this version BETTER! (only my opinion!). Oh...and yes...when I say TOP OFF THE BOTTLE...I mean,top it off with filtered or distilled WATER!!!
Mike elaborates on his recipe ...
    I thought that I would tell you how I keep my primary fermentor at about 78 degrees F. I use 10 feet of Pipe heating cable (this stuff is self regulating in watts,therefore controls the temp to keep it at an ambient temp of 75-78 degrees F) like your typical room temperature. I put an old plug (off an old clothes iron) on the end,wrap this around a SMOOTH WALL glass carboy and then wrap packing tape (you know...the clear pain in the butt stuff) around it about 5 to 6 times to seal it good and tight. If you dont know what I mean by pipe heating cable...check out the cable that you put on your roof to prevent ice dams in the winter. Fill up your carboy (check the temp before adding yeast).Plug this BAD BOY in to the outlet. If temp is Too high...put the airlock in and wait about 8-10 hours...then add hydrated yeast. This is guarranteed to ferment a 6kg brown sugar plus 50g Supervit yeast nutrient plus 10g Lalvin EC-1118 yeast ,wash (with a starting gravity of 1.100) down to 1.002 in just 7 (yes that is seven) days (just did it...I am not kidding!!!). And yes...I use brown sugar because what is it is cheap($3.89 per 2kg Canadian) and it is white sugar laced with pure molasses. It ferments out completely and in a reflux still...comes out at 85% pure,lots of flavour,and tastes great if left full strength on toasted oak chips for about 8-10 days,then cut to 40%.You end up with a beautifull Golden Rum.
Wal writes ...
    Making rum from molasses is well known. But why not make a cousin liquor from palm sugar ? Sweet sap from various palms is fermented to make 'toddy' (India), and then distilled to make 'arak' which is similar to white rum. Palm sugar from palm sap is available in Asian groceries. More than one kind of palm yields sugar, among them the toddy or kitul palm (Caryota urens), palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer), coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), sugar palm of India (Phoenix sylvestris), sugar palm of Java and Malaya (Arenga saccharifera). Those most prized are the palmyra and kitul sugars. The sugar ranges from pale honey-gold to deep dark brown in color with variable consistency. In India it is known as 'gur', while in Indonesia it is known as 'gula jawa'(coconut palm) and 'gula aren' (sugar palm). It is used on a daily basis in these countries as a sweetener. Read the label carefully to make sure you are getting pure cane sugar as unrefined cane sugar is also sold in these shapes.
John offers his recipe ..
    • 6kg blackstrap molasses
    • 1 pkt yeast nutrient
    • 1 pkt lalvin EC1118
    • 3kg white sugar

    In a 25litre fermenter with air lock, disolve the molasses and nutrient in warm water to around 22 litres at 25degC, pitch the yeast and keep the temp around 25degC until all bubbling stops. Add the 3kgs of sugar giving a quick stir and let it go at 25degC and leave for a couple of days after bubbling finishes. Decant, leaving the sediment behind (save the sediment in a sterile jar for the next batch).

    When you distill, drop something in the boiler to aid bubbling when it boils (I use a couple of copper pipe offcuts (about 1"x1") to stop surging and give it just enough heat to do the job.

    Throw out the first 50mls and collect the rest to about 88 to 90degC. I pull it off at about 80%.

    Toast some american white oak in alfoil until smokin, let cool, then mix with the rum with about 2 tablespoons of golden syrup (cocky's joy, treacle) and 1 tablespoon of foodgrade molasses for every 2ltrs of rum for about 4 to 5 days. Filter through a coffee filter and water down to 40% (80 proof) and enjoy.

    Dont forget to shake the bottle every day while on oak.
Hector writes ..
    Molasses (as strange as it may sound for you guys who pay such exorbitant prices for it) is a waste by-product of sugar refining. It comes from concentrating the water in which they wash the semi refined sugar that later in the process becomes brown sugar (a necessary step towards obtaining white as they tell me). Molasses is rich in yeast nutrients and doesn't have that many fermentable sugars in it but being so dirty cheap, at least hereabouts (32,4 NZ$ for a 300 kilo drum is the last price I paid 2 weeks ago) you can stretch the osmotic effectiveness of your yeast to 20-22 degrees Brix in your mash and ferment away in large, though inefficient batches.

    Anyway, what I wanted to tell you (and this fact I both read about and observed empirically) is that the only mayor difference between rum and whiskey is the main ingredients fermented in the wash. I think it was our never sufficiently praised Wal who once pointed to a link to Islay island distilleries and there I was amazed to find that they use exactly the same source of oak kegs (2nd run ex-bourbon) as does a close-by rum distillery .

    However, you can't obtain the same organoleptic profile for rum from sugar washes (brown or white) but you can get a better, more subtly flavored product by fermenting "panela" or "papelon" as we and Colombians call it. I have been able to buy some in the past while living in South Florida, USA, in small Latin food grocery stores. Panela is solid unrefined evaporated cane juice molded into box or conical shapes and it's 98-96% fructose (100% fermentable by any brewing yeast), and has lots of nutrients for yeast. It gives all of the flavors of molasses with a better alcoholic yield but at a higher cost (0,35 NZ$ a kilo in my town's supermarket).

    A tip: same as black pepper in the whisky profile, cinnamon plays a small but key part in replicating rum's authentic accents. Vanilla pods too and in still more subtle tones cloves and nutmeg. I don't know why but we people of the Caribbean tend to spice everything up with the same things.

    it is essential to reproducing the rum taste profile to use molasses as your main wash ingredient. Iíve come to the notion that not all sugar refineries are the same, technologically speaking. Here in Venezuela Iíve found that old and small sugar factories (usually technologically backward) produce better molasses for distilling purposes simply because thereís more sugar in them. Perhaps thereís an artisan sugar factory near your home, or you can get sugar cane molasses from one such industry. Itís worth to find out. I havenít tried this myself because we have a cheaper alternative hereabouts thatís called ďpapelonĒ or ďpanelaĒ thatís simply boiled sugar cane juice to the point of crystallization thatís then emptied and cooled into conical or box like molds (Venezuelan moonshiners use it almost exclusively as their wash sugar material), but you can try and make an all brown sugar wash. Try to make it from the darkest sugar available to you and if you can find it in naturist stores (and itís cost-effective for you) add some sugar cane molasses also to this wash.

    Yeast love molasses. They find every nutrient they need there, so when using molasses donít add any yeast energizers or such. Brown sugar is mostly fructose (Typically more than 60-70%) and sugar cane impurities, so it will be more easily fermented by yeast than white sugar (mostly sucrose, a more complex molecule, not directly fermentable by yeasts). Industrially, rum is distilled as vodka, to itís azeotropic max (96%), but when diluted to 40% you can taste the difference from a corn or malt alcohol, for instance. Then it is aged in ex-bourbon oak (sometimes ex-brandy) barrels for no less than 2 years and in each barrel they put secret quantities of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and they add a very small quantity of a ďmother rumĒ thatís typically aged as long as the first batch made at that distillery (local Santa Teresaís is more than 200 years old). Iíve tried this stuff and itís heavily scented (specially with vanilla tones) and very smooth. Iíve found that using vanillin (I buy mine in the drug store), which is a powdered substance that artificially evokes vanillaís smell and taste, and some natural vanilla extract helps reproduce the subtle tones any rum must have. For oaking try to find some ex-bourbon (American white oak) barrel pieces or sawdust and make an extract from the alcohol youíll make diluted to 60-70% in water. Also try adding a tiny bit of raisin extract (soak some raisins in 90% alcohol) because this tastes like brandy and higher end rums have some brandy tones owing to the French oak barrels. Hope this helps.
Flaming Pinto writes ...
    I have a light rum/neutral spirit recipe that is working very well for me. I thought I would pass it on.

    15 lbs (6.8 kg) white sugar
    24 oz molasses
    5 tbsp yeast nutrient
    2 tsp yeast energizer
    yeast starter (see below)

    To make yeast starter: Dissolve 4 tbsp Red Star brand Distiller's Yeast in 3 cups water at 93-97 degrees F (34-36C). Add 1 tbsp molasses, and 2 tbsp white sugar. Stir or shake until disolved and cover. Let sit, shaking occasionally for 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

    Heat 1 gal (4L) water to almost boiling, pour into fermentor. Disolve 10 lbs sugar, molasses, yeast nutrient, and yeast energizer into hot water. Top up to 6 Gallons (23L) with cold water keeping temperature at 85- 89 degrees F (29-32C). Stir until well mixed. Pour yeast starter into fermentor and stir briskly. Put lid and air lock on fermentor.

    After a few minutes, the ailock should start bubbling briskly. Keep wort at 85 degrees F (29C) for the duration of fermentation.

    After 3 days, stir in remaining sugar.

    Airlock should bubble vigorously throughout fermentation.
    I have been using the recipe for a few months now and it never fails to produce 15-18 percent batches in 6 to 8 days. I use a pot still and run it through twice to achieve 85% purity with an output of around 1 gallon (3.8L). Flavor and aroma of final spirit is that of a very light rum.

    Cost in sugars and nutrients is around 12$-14$


Wal writes ...
    Bees collect nectar, which is mainly sucrose and 40-80% water. They process this using the enzyme invertase, and by evaporation into a product containing 18-20% water we know as honey:
    • Water 18%
    • Fructose 38%
    • Glucose 33%
    • Sucrose 1.5%
    • Maltose 7.2%
    • Higher sugars 1.5%
    • Minerals 0.2%
    • Total acid (as gluconic acid) 0.6% (pH 3.9)

    Mock Honey. Not to be outdone by bees, we can also process granular sucrose to make a home-made 'honey'. Here is a mock-honey recipe (a form of invert sugar syrup), based on the above, using 4 units of granulated sugar to 1 unit of water:
    • 2000g raw sugar (say 8 heaped cups). For a darker color substitute with soft brown sugar (1 cup)
    • 5tbsp. malt extract (maltose)
    • 500ml water (say 2 cups)
    • 6g or 1tsp. acid (a mixture of various - tartaric, citric) or juice of 2 lemons. A pH of 3.6 is equivalent to 6g of citric acid/litre or 1tsp.
    Boil water, add acid and sugar and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool. When cool add 1tbsp raw sugar (sucrose). This produces about 1 litre of mock-honey syrup. SG of honey is 1.5kg/l.

    You could infuse dried flowers (camomile, roses, citrus flowers) to provide a floral aroma. If you are making a heavily spiced mead, and you want to save money, the recipe is appropriate.

    For low technology brewing techniques using honey, as still practised in East Africa, see "Honey Beer"
    For brewing using honey as practised in Medieval times, see "A Guide to Mead"

    "Spirit of Honey", distilled from a honey mash, consisting of 1 part honey to 5 parts water is mentioned in "Delightes for Ladies" by Sir Hugh Plat, 1609

    Vikings made mead and sometimes added honey to malt when making ale. In Tudor times a mixture of honey and ale fermented together and spiced with pepper was called 'braggot'. Prior to hops the herbs (gruit) used to flavor ale included bog myrtle, rosemary, yarrow, alecost.

    For making mead or a honey mash see "Mead" Honey is basically an invert sugar lacking in nutrients and the advice on nutrients is useful. The addition of acid is not recommended. Also "The Basics of Mead Fermentation" Another good site is "An Analysis of Mead Making and the Role of its Primary Constituents" Also "Mead"

    Honey Liqueurs:
    Found 3 German honey liqueurs that use Mexican Yucatan honey - "Barenjager","Barenfang", BarenMet" - The Polish firm "Polmos" makes a honey liqueur called "Krupnik" and "Medos"

    Honey is used to sweeten and flavor whisky liqueurs "Drambuie", "Glayva", "Irish Mist". "Stag's Breath" is a sweet mead fortified with whisky to liqueur strength. In Portugal "Brandymel" is a brandy flavored with honey. For those who want to make their own honey liqueurs, here are several recipes:

    Krupnik (Poland)
    1 bottle of vodka (750ml)
    2/3 cup of water
    1 and 1/2 cups honey
    1/4 vanilla bean
    1/4 nutmeg
    3 cinnamon sticks
    1 strip of orange or lemon peel

    2 whole cloves
    Combine honey with water, spices in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 5 mins. Add vodka, remove from heat. Serve hot or cold.

    Poland and Lithuania were part of a Commonwealth, which explains the similarity of the names - Krupnik, Krupnikas.

    Krupnikas/Viryta (Lithuanian)
    1 litre alcohol
    4 cups of water
    900g (2lbs) honey
    2 tsp caraway seed
    10 cloves
    10 whole allspice
    4 sticks cinnamon
    2 sticks vanilla
    2 pieces ginger
    2 pieces galangal
    10 cardamon seeds
    1/2 nutmeg
    3 strips lemon peel
    3 strips orange peel
    1 pinch saffron
    Boil spices until water reduced to 2 cups. Strain. Pour spiced liquid into honey and stir. Add alcohol. Allow to cool.

    Spices for Polish Mead (5 gals or 20 L)
    hops - 2ozs (50g)
    1 tsp ginger
    1/2 stick cinnamon
    1/2 stick vanilla
    pinch of nutmeg
    6 cloves
    2 peppercorns
    lemon peel
    orange peel

Honey Mash

One of our Utah mates recommends this. Ferment for 75 days and distill. Said to taste great and the mash comes to about 18% alcohol.
  • 5 lb of honey
  • 4 gallons water, with
  • some yeast and
  • a little lemon juice..

Mead Brandy

Jacks recipe for Mead Brandy ...
    I think this would be close to the ancestral roots of Krupnik (the honey sweetened vodka). First step: make mead
    • Per gallon (4L)
    • 3 pounds of honey
    • one TEAspoon of yeast nutrient
    • one TABLEspoon of acid blend
    Dissolve everything in the water - then pitch a dry champagne yeast (I prefer Lavlin's K1V-1116 over the EC-1118 because the '18 tends to develop a stale, brackish taste over time that can follow into the spirit). Once fermented till dry - distill twice in a potstill or just go by taste in a reflux still.

    It's good as a clear spirit, but I prefer to water it to 40 to 45% and age it on a quarter teaspoon of charred American oak until it gets a Glenmorangie (10 year) gold color. This takes maybe a month in the bottle. Age it at this lower strength as vanillins tend to interfere with the honey aroma of the spirit, and the bitter - sweet taste of this wood tends to balance well with the honey - the sugars in the wood that are extracted at this low strength also tend to smoothen out the spirit.
For more on mead :

Maple Syrup

Your Brother in Magick, The Omnipresent Mecakyrios writes about using maple syrup..
    Yes, you can use maple syrup to make alcohol. How? Well you take a recipe, follow it and BAM you have your brew. What if you don't have a recipe? Well most people I know substitute maple syrup for honey in their mead recipes. What is you don't have a mead recipe? Well, darn, do I have to do everything for you? Just joking, if you don't have a good mead recipe I will include one that has been in my family for years:

    This is exactly as it is written. My comments with be enclosed in [brackets]. I will write the metric version below the original.

    Honey Wine

    Makes 1 Gallon [US Gallon]

    3 Pounds Honey - Any Kind [Just substitute maple syrup for the honey]
    1 Large Lemon Juiced [Only use the juice]
    1 Tablespoon very strong English Breakfast Tea
    1 Large pinch of bread crumbs
    1 Package of good wine yeast ["good" means a strong alcohol content]

    Fill a pot half way with clean water [basically, if you can drink it, it tastes good, and you don't get sick from it], and bring it to a boil. Turn of the heat and add everything except the yeast. Stir to mix everything real good. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes [I assume uncovered, as this is what I have done and everything turns out fine]. After the wait, fill the pot to make one gallon, stir, and put into the bubbler [the fermenter with an air lock]. When the brew is room temperature, float the yeast [sprinkle the yeast - not mixing it in] and add the top [put the air lock back on the fermenter].

    Let sit kicking away [producing CO2, or bubbling] for one month. After a month, pour [siphon] the green wine [fermented solution] into another bubbler [a secondary fermenter with an air lock] and let sit until clear. Once it is clear [about 2 to 6 months] bottle the new [not aged] wine. Let the wine sit for as long as you can so the flavor will loose it's bite [let the mead age for about 6 months to a year in the bottles].

    Metric version
    Honey Wine

    Makes 3.78 Liters [Litres]
    1.36 Kilograms of Honey
    1 Lemon Juiced [Just use a lemon not grown in the States]
    15 cc. English Breakfast Tea
    1 Large pinch [use the fingers of a person not from the USA] of bread crumbs
    5 gm. of good wine yeast ["good" means a strong alcohol content]


Wal writes ...
    Wine and brewer's yeast won't ferment lactose - they in fact use it to sweeten beers and lemon brews. You need a special lactose fermenting yeast.At least 2 are found in kefir - candida kefir & kluyveromyces marxianus. Commercial distillers use the latter with whey, a by-product of cheese making. Apart from pure lactose you could use whey powder, which is 80% lactose. The only problem is getting the lactose fermenting yeast. I saw a source from Germany;

    Airag is fermented horse milk, a frothy, thick, alcoholic milk (about 3%a.b.v.) that fueled Genghis Khan's warriors and still remains a local favorite today. Mongols who like airag will drink up to 20 litres in a single day. It can be distilled to produce arkhi with an alcoholic content of about 12%. A Chinese style still is used. It is basically a pot with a wok filled with water over it, acting as the condenser, with the condensed alcohol on the underside of the wok dripping into a centrally placed ceramic jar. These days cheap vodka is readily available. Mare's milk is not readily available, so I have thought of using milk whey powder (75% lactose), and the lactose fermenting yeast kluyveromyces marxianus. 1.5kg of whey powder/5l water would be equivalent to 1kg of sucrose/5l water.

    Lactose accumulates an estimated 1.2 million tonnes annually as a by product of the dairy industry. Lactose is a disaccharide like sucrose, and it can be converted to its monosaccharide components, glucose and galactose by acid or enzyme hydrolysis. 100g of lactose will produce 50g each of glucose and galactose. The lactose converting enzyme is also sold to people who cannot digest lactose in milk products. For the distiller unfortunately, converting the lactose won't work very well, as wine and beer yeasts will ferment the glucose, but for some genetical reason not the galactose when the two are combined. Even separately, galactose is fermented slowly. So using the lactose fermenting yeast, kluyveromyces marxianus is the way to go.
    Milk whey is about 4.8% lactose
    Milk whey powder is about 75% lactose

    Concentrate your whey by boiling. You use your fermenter as a water distillation unit to get distilled water and a concentrated whey of say 25% lactose which you could ferment using kluyveromyces marxianus - you get 12% alcohol.

    I thought of using lactase. Lactase enzyme can convert lactose to glucose and galactose, which is fermentable by ordinary wine/beer yeast but unfortunately because of genetics, when the two are together you get a poor fermentation.

    You could I suppose also first ferment your 5% lactose whey using kluyveromyces marxianus, and then add sugar (1 kg/5l) and a saccharomyces yeast to ferment the sucrose. Whey contains a lot of soluble proteins and minerals which are a source of nutrients for the yeasts. This uses the whey as a source of water and nutrients. Note, this is a theoretical proposal.

    The Golden Cheese Company of California also makes alcohol from its whey after removing the protein. See:

    Utilization of Whey Through Fermentations

    From "Alcohol from Whey" ... "First, the whey must be concentrated: that is, some of the water is removed. This is done by a process called reverse osmosis,....Then the protein in the whey is separated out (precipitated and filtered)....What is left is chiefly a mixture of water, the milk sugars and some minerals. By conventional fermentation technology, the sugars are converted into alcohol,....from which it can be recoverd by distillation."

    For those in New Zealand, Anchor Ethanol was the first company in the Southern Hemisphere to manufacture alcohol from casein whey on a commercial basis.
Don advises ...
    A micro distiller in the US is making vodka usuing only lactose sugar with the yeast strain Kluyveromyces marxianus and yeast nutrient. The yield is high and the alcohol is very very pure due to the pure nature of the raw material. This allows for great results even from modest equipment. It's a home distillers dream come true. Worse equipment and better product! I works on mares milk alcohol for the Mongol hordes and it will work for you too. Give it try, you'll be impressed with the results.