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Moonshine How Much Head To Throw Out? (TOP 5 Tips)

Additionally, commercial distillers have determined that simply discarding a standard amount per batch, based on batch size, is enough to keep things safe. The rule of thumb is to discard 1/3 of a pint jar for every 5 gallons of wash being distilled.

  • How much head do you throw away when distilling? Always discard the foreshots — they make up around 5% or less of the product collected during a run. Throw out the first 30 ml on a 1 gallon run, the first 150 ml on a 5 gallon run, or the first 300 ml on a 10 gallon run. Heads come off of the still directly after the foreshots.


How much head should I throw away when distilling?

Always discard the foreshots — they make up around 5% or less of the product collected during a run. Throw out the first 30 ml on a 1 gallon run, the first 150 ml on a 5 gallon run, or the first 300 ml on a 10 gallon run. Heads come off of the still directly after the foreshots. Simply put, they taste and smell bad.

What part of moonshine do you throw away?

Always discard the “foreshots.” For this reason, commercial distillers will do one of two things: They will discard the first bit of alcohol produced by the still. This part of the run, known as the foreshots, smells like high powered solvent, tastes even worse, and is potentially poisonous.

Why do you throw away the first bit of moonshine?

Always dispose of the first bit of moonshine, in order to avoid contamination with methanol (which has a lower boiling point than ethanol). Contagion with methanol can be noticed by the bad smell and taste of your moonshine and needs to be avoided, since it is toxic.

What do you do with the heads when distilling?

The first part of the collected alcohol which can be used in blending. These contain more alcohol soluble compounds and often have fruity/ester character. Any heads not used in blending can be added to future runs to improve yield.

Can you drink the heads of moonshine?

These contain the most volatile alcohols and should not be ingested, as they contain methanol and other undesirables. Commercial distillers always discard the foreshots and never consume them.

How much methanol is produced during fermentation?

Depending upon the strain of yeast during fermentation, some 10% of all alcohol created can be methanol. Fermentation usually achieves 8%–10% ethanol in total. That means that about 1% of the total wash can be methanol. Most of the methanol is removed during distillation by reputable distilleries.

How can you tell if moonshine is poisonous?

How to Test for Purity. Folklore tells us one way to test the purity of moonshine is to pour some in a metal spoon and set it on fire. 6 If it burns with a blue flame it is safe, but if it burns with a yellow or red flame, it contains lead, prompting the old saying, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.”

How fast should moonshine drip?

Slowly bring your temperature up to 150 °F. Once you reach 150 °F, if your setup has a condenser turn on the condensing water. Next, dial up your heat source to high until your still starts producing. Time your drips as they speed up until you reach 3 to 5 drips per second.

What temp should I run my still?

Keep it increasing, maintaining a range of 175 – 195 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as possible. Turn off the heat when it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature at the top of the column will tell you about your alcohol vapor as it begins to condense.

What proof is moonshine if it burns blue?

At 128 proof, it’s clear, clean and exactly what moonshine should be. Purity and perfection are the name of the game when it comes to Ole Smoky®Blue Flame Moonshine.

How much moonshine do you get from 5 gallons of mash?

A 5 gallon run will yield 1-2 gallons of alcohol. A 8 gallon run will yield 1.5-3 gallons of alcohol. A 10 gallon run will yield 2-4 gallons of alcohol.

How much methanol do you use in distilling?

It takes about 140 milliliters of methanol to be fatal and this could only be produced by distilling 149 liters of liquid, something that would be far out of the capacity of home distillers.

How do you know when the heads are done?

The vapor temperature will be over 175°F (80°C) when the heads start coming, and it will continue up until the vapor temp reads about 196°F (91°C). Heads usually clock in at around 80% abv (160 proof) and above. They’re high in proof but aren’t quite as smooth as the hearts, which will come next.

What happens to whiskey heads and tails?

Some distilleries discard the whiskey heads and tails but many municipalities require onsite remediation before dumping them down the drain. Many other distilleries recycle the whiskey heads and tails by adding them to the next batch of fermenting mash.

How do you tell moonshine from heads and tails?

Making Heads or Tails of Hearts

  1. Foreshots. When doing a run of Moonshine, you heat your mash to a desired temperature.
  2. Heads. Next, comes the heads.
  3. Hearts. After the heads come the hearts.
  4. Tails. Finally we get to the tails, which get oily from water and proteins that are present.

Foreshots to tails

Are you intending to perform stripping runs as well as spirit runs, or will you solely do spirit runs? Run for Stripping A stripping run is the most effective method of removing water from within the wash system. Simply fill the still with wash and operate the still at a high temperature and speed. Everything should be gathered into one huge collecting container. Once numerous stripping runs have been stored, they can be combined into a single spirit run and conducted as a single operation. Consider the stripping run to be nothing more than an alcohol concentration step: if you conduct a stripping run, you will obtain a bigger, more refined spirit as a result of it.

Running a pot still as rapidly as feasible will extract the most amount of alcohol from your wash as it can be extracted.

Following that, the low wines from multiple stripping runs are gathered, and a spirit run is performed.

Spirit runs are used to separate the heads, hearts, and tails in preparation for the ultimate spirit, which is referred to as the spirit run.

  • Foreshots are the first vapors that boil out during the distillation process, and they are the most volatile.
  • Always discard the foreshots, which account for only around 5 percent or less of the total output gathered during a production run.
  • HeadsHeads are removed from the still immediately following the foreshots.
  • Paint thinner or solvent can be detected in the scent of the heads.
  • HeartsHearts are removed from the still after the heads have been removed.
  • The most straightforward technique to determine when you’ve achieved the hearts is as follows: As opposed to the roughness of the heads, this taste is gentle and pleasant in flavor.
  • The heart cut is very crucial, and it is here that the distiller’s talent comes into play, because he or she must be able to distinguish between the end of the heads and the beginning of the tails in order to produce a good product.
  • As soon as all of the lower boiling point alcohols have evaporated, the tails begin to form.

The tails contain largely water, proteins, and carbs, and they do not have a very pleasant flavor. The tails begin when the rich, deep tastes of the hearts begin to fade and the meat begins to taste thin. The tails account for about 20 and 30 percent of the whole run.

Using a Pot Still: Where To Make Your Cuts

Because there is a Quick and Dirty Cheat Sheet at the bottom of this blog, if you need to get anything done quickly, just scroll down until you reach the bottom of this page. Just keep in mind that manufacturing moonshine with a pot still is a skill that will only improve with time and experience. The temperatures listed here are excellent guides, but the more you distill, the better you’ll be able to determine when to make your cuts depending on your own personal preferences in flavor and scent.

A cut is essentially the point at which you begin and end the process of collecting your distillate.

It is also beneficial to name and number each jar because this will assist you at the end of the procedure when you are combining the ingredients together.


The first substance to emerge from the still is the undesirable substance. Foreshots include methanol and other toxins that you do not want to be present in your finished goods. Not only do foreshots contain relatively little ethanol, but they’re also the source of the headache you experience when you’re hungover, as previously stated. In other words, this is what you want to collect—and then toss away. To collect the foreshots, you’ll need to wait until your vapor temperature hits around 175°F (80°C), and Rick suggests collecting at least 4oz each 5 gallon of distillate that you’re distilling.

Once again, this is the bare minimum that we propose for collection and disposal.


The heads are the next step, which you may keep for mixing or re-distilling at a later time. When the heads begin to appear, the vapor temperature will be more than 175°F (80°C), and this will continue until the vapor temperature is around 196°F (91°C). Heads are normally approximately 80 percent abv (160 proof) or higher in alcohol concentration. They contain a lot of evidence, but they’re not nearly as smooth as the hearts, which will be served next.


This is where the action is at its most effective. Hearts, also known as your Middle Run, start off at roughly 80 percent alcohol by volume (160 proof) before dropping to 60-65 percent alcohol by volume, or even 40 percent alcohol by volume if you want it stronger.

Hearts provide you with the fresh flavor you’re seeking for. You’ll begin collecting hearts when the vapor temperature is around 196°F (91°C) and end when the vapor temperature is approximately 203°F (95°C).


In distillation, tails are the last component of the distillate, consisting of everything that comes out after the temperature of the vapor rises to 203 degrees Fahrenheit (95 degrees Celsius) – 207 degrees Fahrenheit (98 degrees Celsius) The use of tails for blending is popular, although Rick does not suggest it for palatable alcohol owing to the combination of lower alcohol level and increased congener content in tails used “as-is.” It is possible, however, to combine the tails with the heads that aren’t being used and re-distill the mixture to produce neutral spirits.

Again, the temperatures indicated here are excellent guides for beginners, but the more you distill, the more you’ll be able to choose when to make your cuts depending on your own personal preferences in flavor and scent.

More Distilling Info For Beginners

More articles containing tried-and-true advice may be found here. Take a peek if you have the luxury of leisure to go into the rabbit hole. Alternatively, you may view our full blog by clicking here.

How Much Moonshine Do You Throw Away?

Always discard the foreshots, which account for only around 5 percent or less of the total output gathered during a production run. On a 1 gallon run, throw out the first 30 mL, on a 5 gallon run, throw out the first 150 mL, and on a 10 gallon run, throw out the first 300 mL. Following the foreshots, the heads begin to emerge from the still. Simply put, they have a foul taste and odor.

How does moonshine make you feel?

9. Moonshine: a scale of 0-100 Drunk in a hurry, to be precise. Your mood will go from excellent to hammered in a split second after consuming alcoholic beverages. As you begin to move less and less like a sober person and more and more like a marionette directed by the jerky-handed puppet master known as moonshine, you’ll realize you’ve over the legal limit.

What proof is moonshine if it burns blue?

When it comes to proof, it’s clear, pure, and everything you want in a moonshine. It’s all about purity and perfection when it comes to Ole Smoky®Blue Flame Moonshine, and this is no exception. The color of the flame is the best indicator of the quality and strength of our high proof moonshine — if it burns blue, it’s authentic.

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What is the best temperature to ferment moonshine mash?

Variables affecting fermentation The temperature of the space in which the mash is fermented will have a significant influence on the amount of time it takes to finish the process. It will take far less time for a mash fermenting at 80 degrees to ferment than it will take for a mash fermenting at 55 degrees.

Can you Redistill heads and tails?

Heads and tails may be used in a variety of ways and should never be discarded. The following are the reasons: There is a trace quantity of ethanol left in each of them, which may be re-used in your pot or thumper when you run your next batch.

Why is my moonshine yellow?

One probable reason for the yellow hue in your moonshine is that there is a high concentration of minerals in the water…. When this occurs, there is a possibility that some of the extra minerals and chemicals in the tap water will cause the color of your moonshine to be altered.

Does moonshine go bad?

Overall, moonshine is not toxic in the same way that other distilled spirits are not.

Unless you’re dealing with a flavored version of moonshine, this indicates that the product will last indefinitely (which can spoil as a result of its high sugar density).

How long does it take to distill 5 gallons of moonshine?

If I’m doing a striping run, I bring the heat up to the point where I can see a tiny stream of water coming out, and I can do a run in about 4 1/2-5 hours. This is done with a PSII 2′′ cloumn wash/mash system in a 5 or 6 gallon capacity.

Can you drink moonshine straight?

Moonshine is typically consumed directly from the jar, without diluting it with water. It can also be consumed in shot form.

Can you drink the heads of moonshine?

The heads aren’t worth retaining for drinking purposes and should be discarded immediately. Heads make up around 20-30 percent of the liquid recovered during a distillation cycle, on average.

What temperature does moonshine still run at?

To collect the foreshots, you’ll need to wait until your vapor temperature hits around 175°F (80°C), and Rick suggests collecting at least 4oz each 5 gallon of distillate that you’re distilling. In the case of a 6.5 gallon batch, this would be at least 5.2 ounces, and in the case of a 13 gallon batch, it would be at least 10.4 ounces.

Why is my moonshine blue?

Copper Stills and Blue Moonshine are two types of moonshine. Copper is the material of choice for nearly every skilled moonshiner when building their pot stills. Essentially, this is caused by the alcohol vapor reacting with the copper metal and corroding it. As the copper is actually eaten away, bits of copper are transferred into the moonshine batch, resulting in a bluish tinge to the finished product.

What does moonshine do to your body?

Moonshine consumption involves the consumption of methanol. People will just become more inebriated as a result of this. Although not immediately dangerous, methanol’s toxic effects on the human body can be severe once it has been broken down by the body. A single drop of methanol (10 milliliters (ml) in the eye is all it takes to permanently damage the optic nerve and cause partial or total blindness.

What part of moonshine do you throw away?

Forward shotsAlways throw away the “forward shots.” As a result, the old-time moonshiners would always toss the initial amount of shine that came off the still when it was turned on. This section of the run, referred to as the foreshots, smells like a high-powered solvent, tastes considerably worse, and has the potential to be harmful to the user.

How do you know if moonshine is safe to drink?

According to folklore, one method of determining the purity of moonshine is to pour some onto a metal spoon and light it on fire. 6 Although lead is not harmful when burned with a blue flame, it is harmful when burned with a yellow or red flame, leading the ancient adage, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.”

Why do you throw away the first bit of moonshine?

Always dispose of the initial amount of moonshine to avoid contamination with methanol, which can be dangerous (which has a lower boiling point than ethanol). As a result of the terrible smell and taste of your moonshine, you may have contracted methanol contamination, which should be avoided because it is dangerous.

How much moonshine do you get out of 5 gallons of mash?

1-2 gallons of alcohol may be produced by running a 5 gallon batch. An 8-gallon run will generate 1.5-3 gallons of ethanol, depending on the temperature. A run of 10 gallons will generate 2-4 gallons of alcoholic beverage.

Can mash ferment too long?

You may put it off forever as long as you maintain it airtight (or as close to airtight as possible).

I mean, wine can be stored in carboys for months or even years at a time without harming it. It will not harm your mash to wait a few days. If you have too much oxygen in your fermentation containers (especially if you’re using fruits), your fermentation may turn to vinegar.

What liquid do you put in a thumper keg?

Distillers typically add spirit tails, low wines, water, or whiskey to their thumper keg in order to chill the alcohol vapors that escape from the potstill during the distillation process. However, you may experiment with different fruit, herb, and spice combinations to create unique taste combinations for your spirits.

What temp should I run my still?

High temperatures — typically approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit – are used in the distillation of alcohol. Due to the high temperatures that will be present in your distillation environment, it is important that everyone who will be present is aware of how hot your equipment will become.

Throw Away the First Cut: Popcorn Sutton & the Chemistry of Moonshine

This is a delight if you’re in the mood for some Americana, as well as a chemical lesson that could or might not be relevant. Nobody embodies Americana quite like Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who became famous both for his prowess in the production of moonshine and for his contempt for the federal government during his lifetime. The combination of these factors put Sutton in constant conflict with the police, particularly when it came to moonshining and bootlegging(1), but he managed to avoid prison until 2009, when he was found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and a large amount of untaxed alcohol.

  1. Popcorn Sutton and his still, courtesy of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton.
  2. You’re familiar with the phrase.
  3. Distillation is a procedure in which liquids are progressively heated in a flask or jar over several hours.
  4. The vapor flows via a cooling condenser, which transforms it back to its liquid state, which is then collected and disposed of properly.
  5. Besides separating mixtures of liquids with various boiling points, this approach is also effective at extracting liquids from mixes of solids and other liquids.
  6. The crude soup-like stuff in this scenario is referred to as a mash, and it is this combination that allows alcohol to be produced during fermentation.
  7. Co-distillation, in which two liquids with different boiling points come out together, is not rare, despite the fact that their boiling points are different.

(See Fig.

One of Popcorn Sutton’s stills is currently available for purchase on eBay.

As a result of yeast’s anaerobic metabolization of carbohydrates, alcohol is produced, as well as a variety of metabolites, some of which are toxic.

As seen in Figure 1, fermentation is “messy,” and variances in boiling point are important in distillation.

Figure 1: Chemical composition of moonshine as a function of the temperature at which it is distilled.

The remainder of the science is as follows.

It is only in the absence of oxygen that the first step, glycolysis, may take place.

Pitruvic acid next passes through an enzyme decarboxylation reaction (this is why gas is produced during fermentation – CO 2), which changes it to the acetaldehyde that we see in the final product.

Yeast is capable of a wide range of impressive feats.

In the fermentation route, there is nothing that implies that it should be present.

Because pectin may be present in fruits, when berries or other fruits are utilized as a sugar source, methanol is produced.

Moonshine has traditionally been manufactured using maize, which contains pectin.

Despite this, a large number of fatal instances of methanol poisoning have been observed.

What exactly are they?

It’s a good thing that you can now brew your own alcoholic beverages.

Notes: (1) The term “moonshine” comes from the fact that it was customarily manufactured at night to avoid detection by police authorities.

(2) It is estimated that a deadly dosage of methanol is between 10 and 30 mL.

It takes 790 packages of aspartame to equal 10 mL of methanol, yet people are still crazy about it despite decades of evidence that it is completely harmless.

It’s enough to make you want to drink something. (3) Those who are addicted to alcohol are disqualified. Sorry. (4) Hank Campbell is well-known for being inexpensive. As a result, instead of receiving a bottle of Jack, you will receive Jack.

How much to throw out on each run – Distiller Operation

newb 1Posted :Monday, February 11, 2013 7:21:23 AM(UTC)
Rank: NewbieReputation:Groups: RegisteredJoined: 2/11/2013(UTC) Posts: 3 “I am still in the research phase and came across a site in my search about throwing out foreshots/heads/high ends etc.I am wanting to try distilling with a pot type still and saw othersrecommend throwing out the 1st 100-200ml/ 20L batch. I am in the US so I need to convert to oz (ounces)200ml/20l =20L = 5.28 Gal. or say 5 gallons. If I use 150 ml that’s roughly 5 oz for the 5 gals.Would it be right or safe to say, 1oz/gal always then? or 1.5 (a U.S. shot glass) per gallon?Does that number always apply upwards? As in, if I have 20gal of mash, throw out 20 ounces or 20 shots? Same for 30, 40, 50 gallons of mash?I hope my question is clear.”
heeler 2Posted :Monday, February 11, 2013 7:42:47 AM(UTC)
Rank: Senior MemberReputation:Groups: Registered, Moderator Joined: 4/14/2010(UTC) Posts: 1,666Was thanked: 13 time(s) in 13 post(s) “Well do this.start with 5 gallon washes and learn from there. If you toss 50-100mls from the beginning of the run you should be fine, some do more and some do less as you learn you’ll use your nose to define whats what.This is only my opinion and there are as many of those as you can imagine, none are wrong just different.If you do a stripping run (which is hard and fast) dont toss any and then on the spirit run (nice and slow) get rid of the 150 you mentioned and you’ll be golden.”
chooch 3Posted :Monday, February 11, 2013 11:03:50 AM(UTC)
Rank: Junior MemberReputation:Groups: RegisteredJoined: 1/24/2013(UTC) Posts: 74 +1 Heeler75 – 100ml is the norm. I run a 2 gal pot and still toss 100ml.just for saftey sake
Bushy 4Posted :Monday, February 11, 2013 1:28:55 PM(UTC)
Rank: Senior MemberReputation:Groups: RegisteredJoined: 1/27/2012(UTC) Posts: 526 Heelers info is right on, especially about opinions.That said, if you use a pint jar to collect in just toss the first third of a pint or half pint at the most. Save the rest of your heads and tails an throw them in your next batch or for cleaning fluid.
John Barleycorn 5Posted :Monday, February 11, 2013 1:41:16 PM(UTC)
Rank: Senior MemberReputation:Groups: RegisteredJoined: 1/12/2012(UTC) Posts: 804Was thanked: 5 time(s) in 5 post(s) “Originally Posted by: heelersome do more and some do less as you learn you’ll use your nose to define whats what.+2heeler. That’s great advice!Usingyour nose is the best way. Some runs I’ll toss 50 mL others 150 mL. it depends on the wash. When you smell it, you won’t want to drink it so it should be well below your heads cut anyway. The only decision left is whether or not you want keep it in your feints jug. If you’re just getting started, make narrow cuts and toss the rest. After a few runs your nose will recognize what’s suitable for the feints jug.”
newb 6Posted :Thursday, February 28, 2013 11:00:44 AM(UTC)
Rank: NewbieReputation:Groups: RegisteredJoined: 2/11/2013(UTC) Posts: 3 Thanks to all.OK so if I make 5 gals. or 50 gals, it’s still the same, 75-100ml (as per heeler) and I’ll be OKOr would you say 75-100 per 5 gals?

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How to “Cut” your Alcohol Distilling Run

Alcohol distillation is a centuries-old process that is both an art and a science, according to some scholars. It’s simple, but not as simple as simply turning on the computer and sitting back to watch it work. In order to produce the safest and finest tasting spirit possible, conscientious distillers understand that they must monitor temperature control when distilling, as well as the finished product – the distillate. When it comes to creating a high-quality result, one of the professionals’ secrets is their meticulous and accurate “cutting” during the still’s run.

It is necessary to “cut” the alcohol stream flowing from the condenser coil when moving between jars that contain distillate and those that are empty.

The Four Stages of Your Moonshine Run

Some old wives’ tales claim that moonshine would “make you go blind.” You may have heard something similar. Despite the fact that this is an exaggeration, it is true that moonshine that has not been properly prepared might make you sick. Read our guide on how to distill whiskey and moonshine to acquire a better understanding of the safety precautions you should take at every stage of the process. Keep an eye out for the different types of alcohols that are created during the various phases of your moonshine production so that you can avoid establishing a bad reputation for your moonshine by selling it to those who think it’s harmful.

Even if you need to use numerous containers for each stage of the run, this is OK.

The Foreshots

At each stage of the race, different types of alcohol are vaporized and sucked into a collection cup at the finish line. Fine, high-quality moonshine is made from ethanol, which boils at a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit when heated to a boiling point. The boiling point of other chemicals and alcohols, such as methanol, is much lower, and the resulting condensed liquid will gather in your cup or jar after being condensed in the coil. These compounds are extremely toxic. The presence of these contaminants in your moonshine (or whatever alcohol you’re distilling) will not only degrade the flavor of your product, but they may also make people very unwell.

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If you reach this temperature, the ethanol in the wash will begin to evaporate, and you may be confident that the distillate collected before this point includes the majority of the methanol and other hazardous chemicals.

In this initial container, you will find all of the distillate that has been gathered before your run reaches this certain temperature.

These are referred to as the “foreshots.” The foreshots should be around 10% of the total volume of your distillation run at the end of the process. Making the incision a bit later rather than early ensures that all of the potentially harmful substances are removed from the process.

The Heads

You will be distilling actual spirits as the temperature continues to rise. Even though the temperature in the still’s pot is rising to between 175 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the distillate will still contain significant amounts of non-ethanol chemicals that can be used to give your final product a bit more “bite” and flavor if used in conjunction with other ingredients such as spices. This may be great for a product such as whiskey or Scotch, because the complexity of those alcoholic beverages is derived from the mixing of several trace compounds.

The temperature range for the second cut you will make in your run will be between 185 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make a note of the heads and save them away for future distillation, or blend the appropriate quantity with the final distillate to flavor the alcohol to your liking.

The optimal strategy is to make this cut a bit later rather than earlier, and to gather some of the hearts with your heads rather than the other way around.

The Hearts

The distillate with the highest concentration of ethanol is the most desirable section of the run. This phase of your run is referred to as the “hearts” section. Many professionals and long-time distillers agree that this is the section of the run that takes place between around 190 degrees Fahrenheit and approximately 200 or 205 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Without a doubt, it is dependent on the still. Despite the fact that ethanol has a boiling point of 175 degrees Fahrenheit, the mash in your still does not contain pure ethanol.

The hearts will most likely account for about 30 percent or so of the overall amount of your booze run’s ultimate tally.

In this case, it is preferable to combine some hearts with your tails rather than some tails with your hearts.

The Tails

When the temperature of the run hits around 205 degrees Fahrenheit, it is possible that more steam will enter your distillate. There may also be other compounds present in the distillate that burn at a higher temperature than ethanol, which might impart a flavor to this component of the distillate that isn’t precisely what you were looking for. This section of the run is referred to as the “tails,” and it can account for as much as 20-30 percent of your entire distance. Remove the tails and set them aside for further distillation.

It is safe to cut off the heat source for your still after the temperature in the pot of your still hits 212 degrees.

Continue to collect whatever distillate comes out of the condenser coil, but it is not worth it to boil the water in order to extract every drop of alcohol from the alcohol wash, since this would waste time and energy.

Allow your still to cool completely before disassembling, cleaning, and storing it in preparation for your next use. Mason jars have long been the preferred containers for moonshine distillation.

The “Feints”

Fients are the containers containing heads and tails that you have set aside for later use in the process. In this case, you may either add them to the wash with your next run or distill them separately from the rest of the brew. It is possible to distill the feints in a smaller-size still after each alcohol run if you do not want to combine different recipes or tastes from separate mashes. After collecting feints for several runs, some people perform an all-feints run in a bigger still; this is known as the “queen’s share” of feint collection.

  • When it comes to learning the particular qualities of your still that will inform you when to cut your alcohol run, it may take some time and trial and error.
  • This will help you repeat successful runs and figure out where you went wrong in a batch that wasn’t up to your standards the next time around.
  • Follow the rules, practice safe distillation, and learn how to get the most hearts out of each batch, and you’ll be able to sip your moonshine with a grin on your face.
  • Luann Snider Photography provided the image for this post.

Soldered Copper Moonshine Alembic Still Premium @ Essential Oils and You, United Kingdom

Distillation is utilized in a variety of applications, including the extraction of essential oils and the distillation of alcoholic beverages. Despite the fact that our Copper Alembics are ideally suited for these purposes, some care should be taken to avoid bodily damage as a consequence of neglect or the continued consumption of substandard results. Distillation is a fundamental chemical science that entails the separation of a chemical substance into its constituent parts based on the difference in boiling points between the constituent parts of each fraction.

  • The vapors are then directed into a condenser, where they are cooled and restored to their original liquid condition.
  • It is likely that the more volatile components or fractions with a lower boiling point would evaporate first, leading to vapours that are more enriched in those components or fractions that have the lowest boiling point.
  • The more volatile constituents, such as acetone, methanol, and the different esters, are undesirable; methanol, for example, has been shown to cause blindness in certain individuals.
  • Separate and discard the first 50ml of the solution.
  • If you are using a conventional alembic, these fractions are known as foreshots or heads and are distilled first before the rest of the distillate.
  • The hearts are responsible for producing the most desirable and best-tasting component of the distillation.
  • In order to define cut off points, experienced distillers utilize their senses.

The distillate’s heart component (the ethanol) should be completely clear and odorless, with no discernible flavor or odor.

If the collecting process is prolonged for an extended period of time, these substances might taint the flavor of the spirit.

This is accomplished by collecting a few drips on the back of a spoon on a regular basis and seeing how it tastes or appears on a consistent basis.

In addition to temperature (see ourbrass thermometer) and oralcoholometer data, cutoff criteria can be created depending on other factors.

It is not required to continue the distillation process when the vapour temperature approaches 98° C, because the majority of the alcohol has already been distilled at that point.

It is recommended that tails be 25 percent alcohol and grain washes be 18 percent alcohol as a general rule, but this is not a hard and fast rule, and the distiller will need to experiment with these percentages to get the ideal flavor profile.

In addition, a second distillation may be used to further concentrate the flavor. In a fruit mash, the cutoff value for a second distillation can be as low as 60 percent of the original volume. In the case of grain washes, a cutoff limit of 58 percent or higher may be determined.

Distiller Cuts: Separating the Heads, the Heart, and the Tails

When compared to the mind-numbing craziness of our everyday micro-verse, the ancient skill of distillation is rather straightforward. It acts as our modern-day alchemy, and it is far more delectable than the process of converting lead into gold would be. Even yet, the practice of distilling remains a mystery to the majority of the population. A tour of your local distillery will almost certainly include explanations for a variety of obscure words. You could find yourself feeling a little disoriented towards the conclusion of the trip.

This phrase is sometimes used in conjunction with other terms such as “heads,” “hearts,” and “tails” in order to further obfuscate the situation.

They aren’t difficult to understand, but they do need some explanation.

A Distillation Refresher

During the distillation process, the liquid in the still is heated to the point of becoming vapor. The vapor is then pumped through the system to the condenser, where it is cooled and transformed back into a liquid. The distillate that is produced is higher in ethanol and some taste compounds than the liquid that was left behind in the still after the distillation process. During the course of the distillation process, as more alcohol is extracted from the liquid being distilled, the temperature of the still continues to climb.

  1. Neil, Head Brewer at Waterford Distillery, decides when to make the cut / Photo courtesy of Waterford Distillery We refer to these lower boiling point compounds as “heads” since they are the first compounds to be released from the still as it begins to heat up.
  2. The general odour of these substances has a solvent-like quality to it, which is not particularly pleasant.
  3. Furthermore, excessive quantities of certain of these substances (looking at you, methanol) are hazardous to humans, so getting rid of as much of them as we possibly can is a good practice in and of itself.
  4. Briefly stated, distiller cuts are nothing more than a judgement made by the distiller on the quality of incoming spirits.

Collecting the Heart

Once the first cut is made by the distiller, the heads are either discarded or redistilled in order to extract even more alcohol from the still. They will then cut to “hearts” if they have determined that the quality of the incoming distillate is sufficient for drinking purposes. In the end, it is the hearts that form the final outcome of a project. They contain the majority of the ethanol we desire, as well as tastes and fragrances that distinguish our spirit from the competition. Springbank Distillery’s spirit is poured out of the still / Photo courtesy of Springbank Distillery All wonderful things, however, must eventually come to an end.

This is the point at which the distiller will make another cut and divert the distillate flow to another container for the remainder of the distillation process.

Additionally, because to the increasing number of fusel alcohols in the still, increased levels of unpleasant odors are released into the atmosphere. Tails will be disposed of in the same manner as heads, or (in the majority of cases) redistilled to recover additional alcohol.

The Art

The number of heads and tails that are permitted to flow into the heart is one of the ways in which a distiller determines the house character of the distillery. Some distillers base their judgments on characteristics such as time and alcohol by volume (ABV). Others prefer to make decisions based on their sense of taste and smell. The process is both an art and a science in its own right. It might take years for a distiller to perfect their method and become consistent. Furthermore, while we’ve covered the fundamental concept of distiller cuts here, various distilling traditions employ a somewhat different approach to the craft.

  • Several mezcal and scotch whiskey distilleries gather a significant number of tails because they believe it helps to enhance the smoky scents in their finished product.
  • The notion of distiller cuts is not difficult to grasp, but mastering the technique of making them correctly is likely more difficult.
  • You will always know what is in the bottle before spending a single dime thanks to Distiller.
  • Now is the time to visit Distiller or to download the app for iOS and Android devices.

How to Test Moonshine?

The process of making moonshine alcohol is a pleasant hobby that can involve the entire family (or simply a “father and son” or “father, son and grandchild” activity), or it might involve a small group of friends. The process of making your own moonshine alcohol may expose you to an entire community of individuals who share your love for the same thing. It is a rewarding experience that does not cause harm, is entertaining, and does not involve a large financial commitment. Nonetheless, if you want to get the most enjoyment out of your homemade moonshine, you must pay close attention to the way it is prepared and tested to see whether or not it is any good.

Copper is not only a traditional method of making moonshine, but it also has numerous advantages, such as the ability to absorb sulfur-containing syntheses, the ability to reduce bacterial contamination, the ability to transfer heat efficiently, and the ability to improve the overall quality of the product.

  1. Lead may create health problems, and once it enters your body, it is extremely difficult to get rid of.
  2. Natural substances should always be used (water, sugar, yeast).
  3. Clean it well with water before using it, as this will help you to see if there are any leaks in it that might allow the alcohol vapor to escape, resulting in a waste of your time and money and time and money.
  4. If you are unable to do so, assume that the leak is still not completely sealed or that you have discovered further leaks, and then stop everything and do not restart until the leak has been repaired (s).
  5. Also, keep in mind to keep this vessel away from any open flames or other sources of heat.
  6. As a result of the terrible smell and taste of your moonshine, you may have contracted methanol contamination, which should be avoided because it is dangerous.
  7. You should not drink it if you notice a strange, chemical odor.
  8. 2.The spoon test is the most accurate.
  9. You should not consume your alcohol if it is:a)Red, which indicates that lead has been added to it.
  10. c)Blue: This is the greatest color to obtain since it indicates that you have achieved your goal of producing nice, safe moonshine alcohol.

Once again, do not consume it. There are no better ways to make quality moonshine alcohol than to adhere to the guidelines outlined above and to always rely on the spoon test, which will never fail to yield suitable results. Posted byJason Stone on the internet

Know more about “Cuts” in Your Moonshine Run

There are many different methods for distilling moonshine, but genuine shiners understand that it takes time and effort to master the art of creating the greatest moonshine from start to finish. Not every batch of moonshine is going to be perfect on its first try or even on its fifth. But with the correct tactics, you’ll learn what it takes to produce a fantastic batch of moonshine that mixes well with other beverages and can be used in a number of recipes sooner rather than later. Before you attempt to distill moonshine at home, be certain that you are familiar with the federal rules governing home alcohol distillation.

You might be interested:  How Do I Make Moonshine?

What’s a “Cut”?

A “run” refers to the process of putting your mash into your moonshine still, heating it, and distilling the alcohol out of the mixture. It is necessary to split the run into various containers while making moonshine through distillation. A “cut” is the term used to describe the process of switching from one container to another. However, you do not chop whenever you feel like it or according to the size of the container. Cutting your run has certain causes, and the finest moonshine distillers are the ones that cut at the appropriate point in their process.

The greatest moonshine is the stuff that is produced in the middle of a production run.

Parts of the Run

1. Before-and-after photographs When creating moonshine, there are multiple different forms of alcohol created, and each type boils and condenses at a different temperature than the others. Methanol, commonly known as methyl alcohol, is one of the first alcohols to evaporate and then condense in your collecting jar, and it is one of the most common. It is said that methanol is the reason that moonshine is reported to cause individuals to “become blind” since it is exceedingly risky for humans to consume.

You will always discard the fore shots from every moonshine run, no matter how good they are.

Anything that is created prior to reaching that temperature is methanol.

  • In order to make a 1 gallon batch of moonshine, discard the first shot glass of moonshine.
  • The first shot glass of moonshine should be thrown away while making a 1 gallon batch.
  • For a 10 gallon batch, reject the first 34 pint of moonshine
  • For a 20 gallon batch, discard the first 34 pint of moonshine

2.Heads The heads are not inherently harmful to consume, but they do not taste as well or go down as easily as other beverages. Heads are known to contain a variety of unpleasant compounds, which is why they are often blamed for causing hangovers. Heads often account for 20-30 percent of your total moonshine production. The feints should be set aside for re-distillation at a later time. Hearts (number three) The moonshine run’s hearts are the most enjoyable part of the experience. Because they are essentially pure ethanol, they produce the best-smelling and best-tasting moonshine of the batch.

Knowing when to cut between the heads and the hearts, and when to cut between the hearts and the tails, requires practice.

There will be some alcohol in the tail-end of your moonshine run, but there will also be a lot of water and other by-products that do not contribute to the flavor or strength of your moonshine.


Turn off the heat and allow the copper moonshine still to cool completely before properly cleaning the area.

The “Feints”

Take those spare heads and tails (also known as “feints”) and throw them into the wash of your next moonshine production. Alternatively, if you have a large enough collection of feints, you may run an all-feints wash, known as “the queen’s share.” Just to be on the safe side, throw away the fore strokes in a queen’s share run.

Tips for the Best Moonshine Cuts

With the exception of the fore shots, experienced moonshiners agree that it is usually better to cut too soon rather than too late while making bourbon. It’s preferable to cut those late and toss some of the heads out of the window. It won’t be a huge concern if you cut the heads too quickly and some hearts end up mixed in with the heads. Neither will cutting the tails too soon or mixing some hearts in with the tails work in this situation. The alternative is having heads or tails mixed up with the hearts of your moonshine batch, which is far less desirable.

Making moonshine in a still has long been considered a science as well as an art form.

What is cutting of the Head, Heart & Tail?

But what do these words actually signify in practice? What are they, and what role do they play in the distillation process are still up in the air. Let’s start at the very top and work our way down from there.

The Head

The first section of the distillate is referred to as the “head,” and the first part of the head is referred to as the “foreshot.” The foreshot includes the vast majority of the harmful methanol generated as a byproduct of fermentation. Pot stills produce a substantial number of foreshots, which are used by the majority of traditional distilleries. The remainder of the head is the portion of the distillate up to the point at which the distiller decides to begin collecting the ethanol from the mixture.

  1. While the heads carry faint, ethereal scents, a large part of the methanol being distilled is contained inside them.
  2. Traditional practices vary from distillery to distillery in terms of what happens to the heads once they are distilled.
  3. Several other distilleries just discard them or recycle them in another manner.
  4. We store them in one of the tanks beneath the still and redistill them during subsequent distillations.

The Heart

The “heart” of the distillate is the primary body of the distillate that is kept by the distiller. It is the stage of the process during which the majority of the ethanol passes through the still and also contains flavoring chemicals that are pleasing to the palate. Making a creative judgment about how much of the distillate should be kept as the heart before the “second cut” that begins the tail is important.

The presence of heavier, richer flavors is evident as the distillation progresses, as is the presence of disagreeable, water-soluble flavors that are clearly undesirable.

The Tail

When a distiller retains the “heart,” he is referring to the main body of the distillate. As a result, it includes the majority of ethanol that passes through the still, as well as flavour compounds that are agreeable to the taste. The decision on how much of the distillate to preserve as the heart before the “second cut” that begins the tail is a purely artistic endeavor. The presence of heavier, richer flavors is evident as the distillation progresses, as is the presence of disagreeable, water-soluble flavors that are just undesirable at this point.

Making Moonshine

Making Moonshine Isn’t That Difficult After All Jason Stone contributed to this article. Disclaimer: The material contained in this guide is intended only for general informational purposes. The material contained in this handbook is not intended to be legal advice. Whiskey Still Co. makes no representation or warranty that the information is complete or correct in all respects. In no event will Whiskey Still Co. be liable for any mistakes, omissions, or inaccuracies contained in this guide, or for any outcomes obtained as a consequence of the use of the information contained herein.

nor any of its affiliates shall be liable in any way for any direct, indirect, special, or consequential damages or losses of any kind that may result from the use of this guide or the product.

shall not be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of your inappropriate use of the product, regardless of the cause.

A million and one different ways to go about it, and almost all of them are accurate in their own way.

The goal of this tutorial is to assist a total newbie moonshiner in successfully producing their first batch of moonshine from beginning to end.

Whether you are interested in whiskey, rum, vodka, or gin, there are many wonderful individuals, websites, and publications available that are chock full of useful knowledge about anything you are interested in learning about.

Water, sugar, and yeast are the only three components in this recipe, to put it simply.

The distillation process is based on the following principle: once you have a solution of water and alcohol, you must separate them.

It is theoretically possible that when the temperature of a water-alcohol combination is raised to 174°F (79°C), the alcohol will begin to boil out, but the water will remain too chilly to boil.

Dangers Alcohol flammability:Alcohol is very flammable, and when vaporized, it has the potential to cause an explosion.

Although distillation may be carried out inside, it is not recommended unless you have prior knowledge in the process.

Optic nerve injury caused by methanol: Methanol is a lethal toxin, and even low levels of exposure can induce optic nerve damage (blindness).

While doing so as a precaution and to improve the flavor of your goods is not uncommon, it is recommended that you do so.

Legality: Unless you have the right official authority, distilling alcohol, even for personal consumption, is prohibited (both state and federal).

If you choose to distill unlawfully, you should be aware that if you are found, you may face fines and/or imprisonment as a result of your actions.

If you just want to create 5 or 20 gallons, you may simply half or double the ingredients in the recipe.

If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club nearby, shopping in bulk can save you a lot of money.

There are a couple of choices accessible in this situation.

Another option is to look for old filling buckets that are being given away or sold by local doughnut businesses; they are food quality and incredibly inexpensive; try to find them in 5 gallon quantities.

*Please keep in mind that when producing a 10 gallon mash, mixing is considerably simpler in a container that can hold the entire 10 gallons; but, lifting and transferring the container becomes a massive undertaking.

Making the mash is as follows: 1.Boil approximately 2.5 pounds of potatoes until tender, then mash thoroughly.

Pour hot water into the fermenter until it is half full; any water that you can drink is OK for this recipe, even tap water.

Stir until the powder is completely dissolved.

Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

7.Add enough water to fill the tank to 9 gallons.

A temperature range of 70–90°F (21–32 °C) is OK, but do not exceed 95°F (35°C) or you will kill your yeast.

Stir until the powder is completely dissolved.

You want to make it easy for carbon dioxide gas to exit while also preventing pests from getting in.

11.The mash should begin to fizz or bubble within the first 24 to 48 hours of preparation.

13.Distillery as soon as possible (within 3 days).

The technique begins with a thorough cleaning of the still with hot, soapy water in order to remove any remaining residue.

A vinegar run is the name given to the second phase.

a 1 gallon mix for a 5 gallon still).

It may be necessary to repeat this procedure if the liquid that comes out of the condenser does not appear to be completely clear.

There are a variety of factors that might contribute to discolouration and off-tastes in food.

All have been shown to be non-toxic, however they should be eliminated before preparing a batch of drinking water.

The sacrifice run is the penultimate cleaning step before the final cleaning process.

You will proceed in the same manner as if you were making a drinking run, but you will discard your whole first batch of moonshine in the process.

This is also regarded a rite of passage for young distillers, and it is the all-important christening of the still, for reasons that are not scientific in nature.

2.Never consume alcohol while distilling.

It is possible that this will result in overpressure and an explosion.

It is always preferable to distill in the open air.

2.Pour in the mash, taking care not to allow any sediments that have accumulated at the bottom of the container to enter the still, since this might generate off-flavors in the finished product.

3.Seal the onion top in place with a rubber band.

Another method is to cover the bottom of the onion head with plumber’s Teflon tape before inserting it into the bottom half of the still, as seen in the photo.

5.Keep the condenser at a comfortable temperature.

It’s as simple as inserting the supply line into the condenser and either allowing it to overflow naturally or directing the flow to a kitchen sink or flower garden.

Keep in mind that, while certain plastics are suitable for usage, the majority are not capable of withstanding high quantities of alcohol in a safe manner.

The Runner’s Run Heat the mash until you can hear it bubbling, then reduce the heat to a low setting.

After reaching this position, reduce the heat to half its previous setting and keep an eye on the temperature indicator.

Drips, as well as broken or intermittent streams, are acceptable; nevertheless, a continual stream indicates that the temperature is too high.

When you get your product as near to 173.3°F (78.5°C) as possible, it will be more pure, but it will take longer to distill and will have less flavor.

When you go for your first run, divide the difference in half and aim for 190-194°F (88-90°C) by increasing or decreasing the heat.

Fourth, keep an eye out for leaks.

If any are discovered, just seal the holes with the flour-water mixture, taking care not to burn yourself on the hot vapor that is escaping.

Water that is cold or cool is ideal; water that is lukewarm is a signal that it needs to be colder.

Sixth, you will observe that if you have your heat adjusted appropriately, you will require very little tweaking to bring the run to an end.

At the conclusion of your run, you will note that the temperature of your onion top will quickly drop, as will the amount of moonshine pouring out of the condenser.

This will occur regardless of whether or not the heat is turned on.

7.After the still and mash have been allowed to cool, discard the mash.

8-Wash with dish soap and hot water, then dry with a towel immediately after washing.

A short rinse with water might sufficient if you were planned on running another batch immediately after this one.

I’m simply going to go through a handful of the more prevalent ones right now.

The major goal of this is to increase the amount of alcoholic beverages.

Re-distilling: This is the process of enhancing the proof of a moonshine that has previously been distilled.

Unfortunately, it also destroys the tastes that are pleasant to the palate.

It is just the process of adding tastes and/or sugar into a jar of moonshine in order to improve the taste.

Using a coffee filter, strain the mixture after it has been sitting for a few weeks to remove the debris.

It is part of the procedure that it is held in a charred-oak barrel for a predetermined period of time after it has been distilled.

As the moonshine ages and darkens in color, it will eventually transform into a very basic whiskey.

Do you require further information?

The Alaskan Bootlegger’s Bible, written by Leon W. Kania, is a reference book for bootleggers in Alaska. Online: Wishing you success and happy distillation! -Jason Stone, author

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