Making your own essential oil

Would you like to make your own essential oil? Read more about this below. Essential oil is often quite expensive to buy, so it can be interesting to make your own essential oil with our Copper Column Still.

What is essential oil?

Essential oils are oils (essential oil) derived from aromatic plants. Well-known plant species used for essential oil include rosemary and lavender. In total, there are more than 500 different plants that contain essential oils. Essential oil is also referred to as volatile oil.

What is essential oil used for?

Essential oil is used for a variety of purposes. The best-known purpose is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy uses essential oil to care for the body and balance the mind. Essential oil can be used in baths and steam baths and can be rubbed on the skin. Essential oil can also be used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, in perfumery, for flavourings and aromas.

Distilling plant matter

The neck of the Copper column still has a grid on which the plant matter can be placed. By subsequently heating water in the still to 100 degrees, the oil can be extracted from the plant matter by steam. The steam is cooled down again in the cooling bucket, creating the essential oil. The essential oil can be separated from the hydrolate with a type of funnel called an separating funnel – oil separator.

Hydrosol

Hydrolates are also called hydrosols, herbal water or essential water. This is the portion of the distillate that remains after the essential oil has been removed. Hydrosols contain a wealth of ingredients and therefore have a therapeutic effect. They are cooling, hydrating, healing and anti-inflammatory.

Are you thinking about making your own essential oil? View our Copper column stills here. This still can also be used to make liqueur or whisky, in which case the complete sets are also recommended.


How do I separate the heads (foreshot), hearts (middle cut) and tails (feint)?

Are you thinking about making your own liqueur, whisky or other moonshine? You have come to the right place. You may have already read a thing or two about the heads, hearts, and tails. You can read about how to distinguish the three below..

Heads

When distilling, you should separate, or cut, the heads, hearts, and tails. The head of the distillate is the first portion of the run. You can recognise it by its smell. It has an unpleasant smell like nail polish or methylated spirits. You throw away the heads or you can keep it to use as a fire starter for your BBQ. This is approximately 2% of the first distillation (base spirit) from the initial mash. The distillate from the first distillation is also called base spirit or low wine. Another method to determine when to cut the heads is by determining the alcohol percentage. This percentage is very high at the start of the distillation process, 80% and higher.

Hearts

When the alcohol percentage falls below about 80%, it is time to cut the heart. The heart is the largest portion of the run. It smells fragrant and tastes good. The heart is the liquid you want.

Tails

When the alcohol content has dropped to 50 percent, we proceed to the final cut, or tails. The smell of the tails is difficult to describe, terms such as “plump”, “greasy” and “brownish” are sometimes used. When you rub it between your fingers, it feels oily. The tails should also be discarded.

View all our copper stills here.

 

 


Basic theory of distilling

Getting started with distilling

When you have a saucepan of water on the stove, you will see condensed drops on the inside against the cold lid. Try it: they taste like … water. Nothing special. Now suppose you are boiling wine in that same saucepan, and you taste the condensed drops – you will find that they still taste a little like wine, but mostly very much like alcohol. Congratulations, you’ve discovered distilling. A few thousand years too late to apply for a patent, but still very clever.

Distillation is a technique for separating substances in a solution by means of evaporation. In our case, that solution is an alcoholic drink, and those substances are mostly water and alcohol. The trick is in the difference in boiling points (or vapour points) of these substances. Alcohol at boils at around 78 °C, while water, as you know, does not evaporate until it gets to 100 °C. If you gently heat a mixture of water and alcohol, such as wine like in the example above, the alcohol will initially evaporate slightly more than the water and the vapour will contain more alcohol than the original mixture. By removing the vapour and then condensing it, you separate the alcohol from the water: distillation. This method is also used to make petrol from petroleum, for example. Please don’t try the latter with a saucepan on the stove, nor taste it :+) By distilling you can roughly separate the different substances, but this is not a precise separation. If you want a more precise separation, you must repeat the distillation. We usually do this (at least) twice: first distillation and second distillation.

Whisky still | Distillation Supplies

The First Distillation

The first distillation is mainly intended to extract all the alcohol from your mash (base spirit) so you can discard the remainder. A 10- or 20-litre bucket, or those fifty bottles of sour wine, take up a lot of space in your kitchen. Assuming a basic drink of about 15 percent, you can expect an alcohol percentage of around 35% after the first distillation. The rest is water. When you taste the result, you can imagine the naming: you unmistakably recognise the fundamentals of a cognac or whisky, but it is still coarse, unrefined. Let’s say: rough. This is because wine, sugar water or whatever you want to distil, contains more than just water and alcohol. It also contains other volatiles created during fermentation. And not just a handful, but thousands. Fortunately, or every drink would taste like vodka. You want some of those substances in your distillate. They provide flavour and aroma. The difference between whisky and cognac is largely in the different basic products. We prefer not to add other substances because they don’t taste good, cause a hangover or are bad for your health. The most important substances are methanol that drips from your still at the beginning of your distillation process and the so-called ‘fusel’ or ‘fusel oil’. This is a collective name for a series of higher alcohols with complicated names that present themselves at the end of the distillation process.

The Second Distillation

The second distillation produces the potable spirit. Because the unwanted parts of the distillate present themselves at the beginning and end respectively, it allows you to separate them from what we’re really interested in: the alcohol. We do this during the second distillation, where the low wine from the first distillation is distilled again but make a distinction between the unwanted heads and tails of the desired hearts. This second distillation produces the potable spirit. The correct separation of these ‘fractions’, not too soon and not too late, is where skill is required. Pure alcohol is just boring vodka, and minimal amounts of the tails particularly, add flavour to your distillate. The result of this second distillation is usually an alcohol percentage of around 70 to 80%. You can repeat this trick. The higher the final alcohol content, the purer and more refined your distillate, until it eventually just becomes tasteless. Vodka, for example, is distilled up to 90-95%, and then often also stripped of all taste by using carbon, for example, while cognac, for example, contains around 60-80%. You will notice that these are not the percentages you see on your store-bought bottles of spirit (unless you live in Russia). Distilled alcohol is almost always diluted with water after maturing (see below) but before it is bottled.

Maturing your distillate

Fresh from the still, your distillate is not yet what it can be. A distillate must mature. There is a reason for paying more for a bottle of twenty-year-old whisky than for a three-year-old whisky. Maturing occurs at approximately 55-65%, not at the 35% that you are used to drinking. It isn’t diluted until just before bottling. Incidentally, maturing does not have to be done on wood at all, nor does it need to take twenty years. Most white drinks such as vodka, gin and eau de vie only mature for a few weeks in glass or oak wooden barrels. Plenty of time for substances to interact and form new combinations. ‘Brown’ drinks such as whisky, cognac and calvados are generally aged in wood. Before bottling spirits, they are diluted to bottle strength, often around 35-40%. In addition, the drink can be pimped, for example by adding caramel for a nice brown colour or by adding a little sugar.

Oak woorden barrel | Distillation Supplies

Oak wooden spirit keg

Source: book “about spririts” Wateetons.

Do you fancy getting started? View our copper stills.


Making whisky

Whisky is one of the most popular types of distilled alcoholic drinks, made from fermented grains. The preferred grain type varies from region to region, ranging from barley (very popular in Scotland), malted barley, rye, wheat, and corn (which is the main ingredient of American Bourbon). An exception is Indian whisky, which is traditionally made not from fermented grains, but from fermented syrup.

The existence of whisky can be traced back to the ancient times, almost to 2000 BC in the kingdoms of ancient Babylon and Mesopotamia. However, the modern history of whisky began between the 11th and 13th centuries when Christian monks brought the art of distilling to the Northern England areas of Scotland. It was during this time that the art of distilling began to progress, and the regions of Scotland (well suited to produce grain products) became the world’s most popular producers of whisky.

The basic process of whisky production has not changed over the past 200 years. Technological advances allowed brewers to control every aspect of this process, but the fundamentals (use of water, barley and yeast) and local laws meant that the original recipes that gave the original popularity to this fascinating drink were preserved.

The basic processes in making whisky:

Malting

The main component of barley responsible for creating alcohol is starch. To take full advantage of this effect, the barley must sprout, often called “malting”. When the brewery has chosen the grain it wants to use, it soaks it in water and spreads it on the floor of the so-called “malting house”. After several days of resting (grain has to be turned regularly to maintain a constant temperature), the malting process is stopped by rapid drying in an oven (Scottish barley is often dried with peat smoke, which gives the final product specific aromas). After the dried malt has been ground in a mill, all the dirt is removed, or “the wheat is separated from the chaff”.

Mashing

The extraction of the sugar from the grain is done by adding hot water, which allows the sugars to sink to the bottom of the still. The quality and type of the water is important for the end product – natural spring water usually contains a wide variety of minerals. Adding hot water is repeated twice, but the removal of the sugary water from the bottom of the barrel is only done the first two times. The yield from the final removal is not used for whisky production but is used as animal feed.

Fermentation

The fermentation process in whisky making is done in tanks called washbacks. After adding the carefully selected yeast, fermentation begins, and the sugar slowly turns into alcohol. After about two days, fermentation stops, and the liquid will have an alcohol content of only 5-15%.

Distillation

The distillation process is used to increase the alcohol percentage to 90% and remove unwanted substances (such as methanol) from the mixture. The majority of Scotch whisky is distilled twice, Irish whiskey three times, but some recipes require up to 20 distillations. The process itself is done in traditional Scottish pot stills (best suited for single malts), Coffey stills (which are better suited for grain whisky) or industrial “continuous” distilleries. In any case, the fermented liquid is heated to boiling point (lower than that of the pure water), which causes the alcohol to evaporate and the steam is collected in the condenser. The liquid produced has an alcohol content of 20% and must be reprocessed. After the second distillation, the liquid can reach the maximum allowed percentage of 94.8% alcohol enforced by Scottish and many other countries’ laws.

Maturation

Before the whisky is matured in oak barrels, many recipes require dilution of the whisky to about 63 to 64% alcohol content. After maturing in barrels for several years (varying in time in different countries – America two years, Scotland and Ireland three years), whisky absorbs different components of the wood, changing the taste and colour. Many of the well-known whisky brands have a very long maturation process, ranging from 3 to 4 times longer than required by law.

Bottling and final whisky making processes

Before whisky is bottled, a few final processes are required. Filtration is done to remove any unwanted acid esters that become visible in the bottle after prolonged exposure to a cold environment. Finally, the colouring of the whisky is done by adding strict amounts of caramel.

Check out our whisky stills here.


Making your own wine

Do you want to make your own wine? Making your own wine is easier than you think! You can decide on the taste and create a good stock. Ideal for special occasions or a spontaneous visit from friends or relatives!

Ingredients for wine making

The most important ingredients for making wine are (grape) juice, (wine) yeast, sugar, acids, and yeast nutrient salt. Ultimately, you can add ingredients yourself and determine your own taste. By experimenting with the amount of sugar, for example, you can create the most delicious flavours!

Equipment for wine making

Equipment for fermenting wine includes:

  • White bucket
  • Tea towels
  • Strainer
  • Funnel
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fermentation bottle
  • Airlock and siphon rod
  • Clean wine bottles

Basic instructions

1) Squash the grapes and add water

Do you have home grown grapes? Squash the grapes with your hands or a masher and add filtered water or spring water. Do not use tap water! Substances are added to tap water that have a direct influence on the taste of the wine.

2) Add the sugar (or honey)

The amount of sugar has a direct influence on the taste of your wine. If you like sweet wine, you can add extra sugar.

3) Add the yeast and stir it

By adding and stirring the yeast, a must is created. In the winery this is the name for the freshly squeezed, but not yet fermented juice from grapes or other fruits.

4) Cover it and let it sit overnight

Cover the bottle or bucket with a tea towel. This allows sufficient oxygen to get to the must and prevents fruit flies, which carry vinegar bacteria, or dust from ending up in your wine.

5) Stir the must a few times a day

When you start to stir the must, the mixture should bubble. This activates the fermentation process.

6) Sieving and siphoning

After a few days, the liquid will stop bubbling as much. The solids can be strained out and the mixture transferred to a fermentation bottle. Apply an airlock so that the gases created during the fermentation process can escape.

7) Maturation

The longer the wine is matured, the better the taste. If you have added extra honey or sugar, a longer maturation is best to prevent the wine from turning out too sweet.

8) Bottle your wine and serve!

Transfer your wine to clean bottles and enjoy your home-made wine! Serve or store the wine in style. Use our sprit keg to rest and preserve your drink. You won’t have to transfer the wine again.


Making genever (Dutch gin)

Are you planning to make your own spirit and specifically genever or gin? This alcoholic drink is very popular in the Netherlands. It is a pure distillate made from grain or molasses, juniper berries and herbs. The Dutch are convinced that gin was invented in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Our Belgian neighbours are convinced that they discovered young genever. Fun fact: genever was given a protected geographical indication in 2008. This means that this drink may only be distilled in the Netherlands, Belgium and some German and French provinces.

Making genever (Dutch gin)

When distilling genever, you start by selecting suitable grain. In principle, any type of grain can be used, but the most popular grains are barley, rye, wheat and corn.

Basic recipe for 1 litre of genever:

  • 1 litre of vodka, brandy or alcohol +/- 40 vol%
  • 20 grams of juniper berries
  • 0,5 – 1 gram coriander (+/- 0.25 / 0.5 teaspoon)
  • 0,5 cloves
  • ½ stick of liquorice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (or sugar)

Method for distilling genever (dutch gin)

  1. Pour the vodka, alcohol, or brandy into a kilner jar or suitable bottle and mix the spices with the drink (without the honey).
  2. Close the bottle or jar and leave it to macerate for two weeks at room temperature. Shake the bottle or jar from time to time, taste, and with a weak juniper taste increase the number of juniper berries to 15 grams or allow it to macerate for longer.
  3. If the herbal taste is too weak, increase the amount of coriander. When making adjustments, leave the genever to macerate for a few more days.
  4. Allow the drink to settle and carefully siphon off the clear portion.
  5. Filter the drink, for example through a coffee filter.
  6. After filtering, add a teaspoon of honey (or some sugar). You do this to remove the bitter taste of the genever.
  7. Pour the drink into a clean bottle or pitcher.
  8. Allow the drink to mature a little longer (this will give the drink a slightly fuller taste).

The fun thing about distilling genever is that you can play around with the herbs. In addition to the basic herb (juniper berries), the following is also added to genever: St. John’s wort, angelica, cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, 1 clove, some crushed aniseed, coriander, citrus peel and dried bitter orange peel. We do not recommend using all herbs, but a little creativity won’t hurt. So, experiment when distilling your own genever!

 

 


Copper still

If you want to distil your own spirit, you will need at least one still. Stills come in different types, one of which is the copper still. This still is the easiest option if you want to start making spirits straight away.

Why are stills made of copper?

You may be wondering why stills are often made of copper. This is not only because of the beautiful appearance of copper, but mainly because this type of material is easy to shape. Much easier than most other materials that may be used for a still. In addition, copper is a first-class heat conductor, which is of great importance when making your own alcohol.

Why buy a copper still?

Copper is widely used for making stills because it is a good heat conductor. But why are the stills not made of stainless steel? After all, stainless steel is also a first-class heat conductor. And sustainable. And there is a good reason for this. First, the taste of the drink is affected in different ways during distillation. The duration of the distillation and the lengths of the heads, hearts and tails can have an effect on the taste. Second, it appears that the material the still is made of also has an effect on the taste of the drink. This also means that using the right “condenser” is also important. Of the two types, the worm tube comes into contact with copper the most. This mainly applies to making your own whisky.

Copper stills from Distillationsupplies.com

The beautiful copper stills from distillationsupplies.com are suitable for both professionals and beginners. The hobby stills are perfectly finished and can be fired on both gas and wood. Furthermore, the hobby stills are equipped with a thermometer and a free heavy gas burner. With our stills you can start distilling your own spirit straight away. Finally, these stills are equipped with a mixer which can be operated by hand to prevent caking inside the still.

Copper not only gives the still a good look, but also has an essential effect on the taste of your homemade spirit. Not just during distillation but also during condensation.

Do you have questions about one of our (copper) stills? Feel free to contact one of our professionals. They will be happy to help!


Why buying an alcoholmeter is important

Are you planning to distil your own spirit? You will need a still. But that’s not all you need. Another essential part for distilling your own spirit is an alcoholmeter. We will explain the importance of buying an alcoholmeter in this blog.

Using an alcoholmeter

It is important to know how to use an alcoholmeter. To measure the alcohol percentage of your home-made drink, lower the bottom of the meter into the distillate. Leave the meter like that for a while. You can read the meter to see how much alcohol your home-made drink contains. An important point of attention when measuring the alcohol percentage is the temperature of the home-made drink. When the drink is exactly 20 degrees Celsius, the measurement will be the most accurate. As a rule of thumb, you can apply the following:

  • For every degree above 20 °C, 0.2% alcohol must be subtracted from the value of the measurement
  • For every degree below 20 °C, 0.2% alcohol must be added to the value of the measurement

Buying an alcoholmeter

Buying an alcoholmeter is easy from our online shop. Our products are of the best quality and available at a competitive price. When you purchase an alcoholmeter with your still, we deliver it directly from stock and we do not charge shipping costs. That is cheap and quick to buy an alcoholmeter. Do you have any questions about the meter or one of our other products? Please contact us, free of obligation. We will be happy to help.


Making vodka

Vodka is a bland spirit with no specific character, aroma, taste, or colour. These properties are developed during the distillation process or by treating crude spirits with activated carbon or other substances. Well-distilled vodka can be further purified and refined by treating it with activated carbon and other substances. Vodka is normally not matured and can be made from grains, potatoes, sugars, fruits and just about any other product that can be fermented into alcohol. This makes vodka an economical spirit that can be made simply and quickly from readily available ingredients. Below you find everything for making vodka.

Selecting ingredients by making vodka

  1. Select the ingredients you want to ferment into vodka. Vodka is normally made from wheat, rye, barley, corn, or potatoes. You can also use sugar and molasses, either as the main ingredient or in conjunction with other ingredients. There is even a distiller who makes innovative vodka from red Pinot Noir wine. Whatever you choose, it must contain sugars or starches. This is necessary to produce alcohol. Yeast eats sugars or starches and emits alcohol and carbon dioxide.

    • When making vodka from grains or potatoes, you need to make a mash that contains active enzymes that break down the starch from the grains or potatoes and convert it into sugars that can be fermented.
    • Fruit juice already contains sugars, so when using this you don’t need enzymes that break down starch. If you make vodka from sugars, you only have to ferment it, just like with vodka from fruit juice, and you don’t have to make a paste.
    • If you make vodka from a drink that has already been fermented, such as wine, you can immediately distil it and turn it into vodka.
  2. Make sure you have enough of all the ingredients for your mash. If you’ve decided to use only potatoes for your vodka, for example, they’ll need a little extra help converting their starches into sugars. That is what the enzymes are for. Use this table to see if you need to add extra enzymes to your mash to convert starches into sugars:

                                Ingredients you will need to make your mash

    IngredientsDo you need enzymes?Additions
    Cereals and potatoesYes.Cereals and potatoes are sources of starch, not sugars. Enzymes are therefore necessary to convert the starch into sugars.
    Malted grains such as malted barley and malted wheatNo. Malted grains naturally contain a lot of enzymes that convert the starch into sugars that can be fermented.The enzymes in malted grains are activated when the grain cracks open and is briefly exposed to warm water. Ground and malted grains can be used alone, as they contain starch, or you can add them to a starchy but low-enzyme mash. Choose malted grains that are rich in enzymes, such as malted wheat.
    Refined sugar and molassesNo. These naturally already contain sugars and therefore the yeast does not need additional enzymes.You can make vodka from just sugar or you can add sugar to starchy mash to make it more fermentable.
  3. Check to see if your mash’s ingredients need additional enzymes. You can buy amylase enzyme powder that is suitable for consumption on the internet. Add this powder to your mash to convert starch into sugars when using potatoes, for example. Use the amount recommended for the amount of starch to be converted. You don’t need to use malted, enzyme-rich grains such as malted barley if you are using enzyme powder.
    • For the enzymes to convert starch into sugars, including starch from malted, enzyme-rich grain, the starch must first be gelatinised. Flaked grains are often gelatinised. Ingredients that have not been gelatinised, such as potatoes and non-flaked or malted grains, must be heated in water until they reach the temperature at which the starch will be gelatinised. Potatoes usually gel at around 66 °C and barley and wheat usually gel at around a similar temperature. So a mash of potatoes only needs to be heated to 66 °C. If you heat the potatoes to a low temperature, they should be shredded very finely before putting them in the water.
    • Enzymen die zetmeel omzetten, werken alleen op heel specifieke temperaturen en worden vernietigd als ze te heet worden. 66° C is een goede temperatuur maar als ze verhit worden tot boven de 70° C zullen ze vernietigd worden. De absolute maximum temperatuur die ze aankunnen is 74° C; in deze temperatuur zullen de enzymen een tijd hun werk doen en je kan dus ook je brij tot deze temperatuur verhitten, maar het grootste deel van de enzymen zal vernietigd worden.

     

    • 1 Try a wheat mash. In a 38-litre pot with a lid, heat 23 litres of water to 74 °C. Add 7.6 kilograms of dry flaked wheat and stir. Check the temperature and keep it between 66 °C and 68 °C. Now stir in 3.8 kilograms of crushed and malted wheat. The temperature should now be about 65 °C. Now put the lid on the pot and leave the mixture to stand for 90 minutes while stirring occasionally. During these 90 minutes the starch is converted into sugars and the mixture should become a lot less thick and viscous. After 90 minutes to 2 hours, let the mixture cool to a temperature of 27 °C to 29 °C. Leave it to stand overnight and cool slowly, but do not let it fall too far below 27 °C.

    • 2 Try a potato mash. Clean 9 kilograms of potatoes. Cook them in their skins in a large saucepan for about an hour until gelatinised. Discard the water and mash the potatoes well with a masher or in a food processor. Return the mashed potatoes to the pan and add 19 to 22 litres of water. Stir well until you get an emulsion and heat it to about 66 °C. Add 1 kilogram of crushed and malted barley or wheat to the mixture and stir well. Put the lid on the pan and leave it to stand for about 2 hours. Stir it every now and then. Leave it to cool overnight to between 27 °C and 29 °C.

      • If you let your mash cool slowly, you give the enzymes from the malted barley more time to break down the potato starch.
      3 Try a corn mash. Make a mash as you did with the wheat mash recipe, but replace the wheat with flaked, gelatinised corn. You can also germinate your corn, so you won’t have to add malted grain to your mash. There should be a sprout of about 5 cm from each grain of corn. The germinated corn contains enzymes that are formed during the germination process.

Fermentation by making vodka

  1. Clean all your equipment and prepare your workplace. Fermentation takes place in clean and disinfected vats that are sometimes open, but usually sealed airtight to avoid risk of contamination. Fermentation usually takes about three to five days.

    • Fermenting can also be done in barrels that have not been cleaned or
      disinfected and the result will also be drinkable alcohol, but because there may
      still be bacteria or yeast residues in the barrels, unwanted flavours or a higher
      amount of alcohol may develop during fermentation.
    • There are special cleaning products for sale on the internet such as B-Brite and a disinfectant called iodophor. You can buy these to clean your barrels with.
  2. Select and install your airlock lock. An airlock is a mechanism that allows CO² to escape without O² entering. 19 litres of drained mash can be fermented in a bucket with a capacity of 28 litres or in a fermentation bottle with a capacity of 23 litres. A bucket must have a lid attached and there are special caps for fermentation bottles, but you should never completely close the bottle or bucket as the pressure built up by the carbon dioxide can cause the bottle or bucket to explode. That’s why you need to attach an airlock to the lid or cap.
    • If you are fermenting your mixture in an open bucket or container, place a cheesecloth over the bucket to keep insects or other unwanted items from ending up in the mixture.

    3. Drain your mash into the bucket or bottle in which you will be fermenting. If you made a mash, use a fine strainer to drain all the liquid from your mash and drain that liquid into your well-cleaned bottle or bucket. Try to let the liquid splash into it and pour it in from as high as possible. This allows plenty of oxygen to enter the liquid. In the beginning, yeast needs oxygen to grow and ferment properly. This is because yeast makes cellular material in the form of lipids from oxygen. But after the yeast has passed this growth phase, no more oxygen should be added. Yeast makes alcohol when no oxygen is present.

    • Alternatively, you can also let your mash ferment without draining it first. But if you do this, you must get some air into the mash. For example, you can use an oxygen pump from an aquarium or an oxygen stone. You should drain some of the liquid from the mash first. It is also easier to ferment the smaller amount of mash left over after pouring, as the mash may overflow from the bottle or bucket during fermentation.
    • If you are using a mixture made of sugar, you should also mix in as much oxygen as possible by pouring it in high and allowing it to splash.
    • If you are using fruit juice, also pour it from as high as possible into the bottle or bucket and run it through a strain.

     

    • Add yeast to the mixture you want to ferment. If you are using grain yeast, it is best to hydrate it first. Then stir the yeast into your mixture with a clean, sanitised spoon. If you use an airlock, it will bubble during fermentation. When the fermentation is almost done, the bubbling will diminish or stop completely when your mixture is fully fermented. Place the fermenting liquid in a room with a temperature of about 27° to 29 °C for the best, most efficient fermentation. If you don’t want to set the heating that high, you can also heat the liquid with a heating belt or with a light bulb. Do not allow the light to shine directly on the liquid.

      • You can buy yeast that is specifically designed for distilling. This type of yeast works very well and produces a lot of ethanol during fermentation and fewer by-products and unwanted types of alcohol. How much yeast you should use depends on the type of yeast you have.
      • The packet may include yeast nutrients. Yeast nutrients are needed if you are using a mixture that does not contain as many nutrients on its own, such as sugar mixtures, but they can also improve fermentation of nutrient-dense mixtures such as grain mixtures.

    Collect the fermented liquid. Pour the fermented alcoholic liquid into a cleaned and sanitised bucket or bottle or directly into the still. Make sure you don’t add the yeast from the bottom. This could burn when heating the still. You can also strain the fermented liquid again or filter it in another way before distilling it.

Distillation

Preparing for distillation. Copper stills heat the fermented liquid with a relatively low alcohol content until it reaches a temperature higher than the boiling point of alcohol but lower than the boiling point of water. This allows the alcohol to evaporate while most of the water does not. The evaporated alcohol (and that part of the water that has evaporated) goes up the column, pipe or tube of the still. That column, pipe or tube is cooled from the outside with cold water so that the evaporated alcohol cools down and condenses and becomes a liquid again. This alcoholic liquid is collected and becomes your vodka.

  1. Heat the fermented liquid in the still to start the distillation process. How you should heat your still depends on what type of still you have. It can be done on a gas burner, wood fire or an electric hob. The desired temperature is 78.3 °C, but the temperature should not in any case exceed the boiling point of water, 100 °C. As the fermented liquid heats, the alcohol and other substances evaporate and condense back into the part of the still that is cooled by water.
  2. Discard the first portion. The first portion of distilled liquid contains many harmful substances such as methanol and other dangerous chemicals that you shouldn’t drink. If you are distilling 19 litres of liquid, you must discard the first 30 millilitres of distilled liquid. Collect the good alcohol. After you discard the first few drops, the next amount of distilled liquid will contain the desired ethanol alcohol along with some water and other substances. If you are using a column still with flowing cooling water, you can adjust the amount of cooling water you use to affect the amount and quality of the distilled liquid. Try to make sure that the amount of liquid that comes out of your still is between two and three teaspoons per minute. If too much is distilled too quickly, the quality can deteriorate.
    Discard the last portion. Towards the end of the distillation when the temperature rises to around 100 °C or above. This last portion contains fusel oil. These last few drops do not taste good and must be discarded.
  3. Check the alcohol percentage and purity of the distilled liquid. Cool some of your distilled liquid to about 20 °C and use an alcoholmeter to determine its alcohol content. There may be too little alcohol in the distillate (less than 40 percent alcohol) or it may be too concentrated (greater than 50 percent alcohol). Vodka is usually diluted before bottling, so the distillate can have a very high alcohol content. The distillate can also have too much flavour or be too aromatic and so may need to be distilled or filtered again.
  4. iDistil the distillate again if necessary or desired. This increases the alcohol percentage and increases the purity of the distillate. It is very common to distil the distillate 3 times or more to get a high-purity vodka.

Final steps:

  1. Treat the distillate with an activated carbon filter if necessary. Pour the distillate through a carbon filter, which is available to buy on the internet, to remove unwanted flavours and aromas. A carbon water filter can also be adapted to increase the purity of your distillate.
    2. Dilute the vodka until it has the right strength. Add demineralised water to your vodka until it has the desired alcohol percentage. Use an Alcoholmeter to measure the alcohol percentage.

    3. Bottle the vodka. Fill bottles with your vodka and seal them with a cork or cap. The best way to do this is to siphon and tilt the bottle as you fill it. You can make your own labels if you like. You can also buy a special machine to fill your bottles, but that is expensive and if you are producing for home use, it is better to bottle by hand.