- 1 How Does Making Moonshine Work?
- 2 The Three Main Types of Moonshine Stills
- 3 Pot Still
- 4 Reflux Still
- 5 Fractionating Still
- 6 The 5 Best Moonshine Stills
- 7 1. Still Spirits Turbo Air Still
- 8 2. Still Spirits T-500 Boiler and Condenser Complete System
- 9 3. Clawhammer Supply 5 Gallon Copper Moonshine DIY Still Kit
- 10 4. WMN Trulystep Home Distiller
- 11 5. Olizee 8 Gal Moonshine Still Kit with Thumper Keg
- 12 Which Moonshine Still Is Best For You?
- 13 Related Articles
How Does Making Moonshine Work?
If you’re new to the world of making moonshine, learning the overall process of how moonshine stills work is quick and easy. That said, be aware that making moonshine is somewhat of an art form and requires one to follow a few guidelines.
For starters, a “wash” must be prepared. Wash is nothing more than water and sugar mixed up together and stored in a cool and undisturbed place. Once you’re ready to move on to the next step, you’ll need to distill the wash to make sure it is pure liquid with no impurities.
The next step is fermentation, which requires yeast to be added to the wash. During this step, the water and sugar are transformed into carbon dioxide and alcohol due to the yeast. The process takes around a week, give or take a day or two, and is known by many moonshiners as “mash”. Don’t try to rush the fermentation process or your mash could become fatally toxic.
When fermentation is complete, the distillation process is ready to begin and you’ll need a moonshine still to complete your liquor. The liquid you’ve fermented requires distillation and watering down to lower the strength of alcohol drastically before it is safe for consumption.
The Three Main Types of Moonshine Stills
Before purchasing a moonshine still, especially if it’s your first time using one, understanding the differences in the types of stills is very helpful.
For the most part, there are three main types of moonshine stills to be aware of and consider:
The most basic sort of moonshine still around is known as the Pot Still. Pot stills are preferred by many moonshine makers as they are the easiest to build and to operate.
The main parts of a pot still include the boiler and condenser. Between these two major components, pot stills can create high-quality liquor with relative ease. One pass creates alcohol of up to 65 percent purity. Second and thirds passes may allow for up to 90 percent purity levels of higher.
Pot stills produce liquor by taking the mash, or wash, inside of the boiler and heating it. Heating can be done by flame or electricity depending on the model of the still. Once the liquid is turned into vapor it then rises into the condenser and is again transformed back into a liquid.
The temperature of the still, and the vapor it is transforming into alcohol, is crucial during the process. For the most part, a vapor temperature of around 80-degrees Celsius ensures that your pot still creates the best alcohol possible.
Pot stills are also very handy for other operations such as adding strength or additional flavors to liquor and spirits as well as making essence oils. They are the perfect stills for beginners looking to learn the craft of moonshine making with the least complications involved.
Another popular type of moonshine still is the Reflux Still. These stills are a bit more complex than pot stills in that they include more components.
Reflux stills consist of the same main parts as a pot still, the condenser and boiler, but they also include a vertical column in-between the two. The column is normally loaded with some sort of filler material such as steel, rocks, or marbles. Old-fashioned ‘shiners even used mud, clay, or a flour-mix.
Likewise, the reflux still works in a similar fashion to the pot stills, however, there is a bit more to the process. Vapors don’t pass straight from the boiler to the condenser, they pass through the column, moving further away from the heat source as it goes. The longer the column is, the higher quality the liquor will be when finished.
The reflux still is capable of producing some of the strongest levels of alcohol on earth, over 95 percent pure. That said, keep in mind that this purity level is fatal and must be cut with water or further distilling.
A fractionating still is yet another type of moonshine still worth becoming familiar with. It is, more or less, a suped-up reflux still. A major difference between a reflux and fractionating still is the length of the column component.
While a reflux still typically has a short column of several inches, the fractionating still column measure between a foot and a half to well over three feet tall. Aside from the column lengths, there isn’t much difference to note between fractionating stills and reflux stills.
Fractionating stills typically allow the vast majority of the vapors to condensate, with around 90 percent returning to the boiler as liquid alcohol. As with the reflux still, the fractionating still’s design makes it possible to brew up spirits of 95 percent (or higher) strength alcohol.
Again, it is important to note that alcohol with such high levels of purity should be cut with water or distilled further. Otherwise, these potent spirits can be fatal to the consumer.
The 5 Best Moonshine Stills
Now that we’ve talked about how making moonshine works, as well as the primary sorts of moonshine stills available on the market, here are our picks for the bet stills currently available online:
1. Still Spirits Turbo Air Still
- 120-volt power source
- Great for beginners
- Long-lasting stainless steel body
- Plug-and-play design
- Built-in air cooling system
- Non-traditional moonshine still design
- There may be a bit of a learning curve (though it is easy enough to get the hang of)
The last product on our list is another unit from Still Spirits, the Turbo Air Still. This non-traditional still works for making moonshine, wine, beer, and plenty of other varieties of spirits. That said, it works with a revolutionary new design.
The still includes zero hoses or soldering as well as lacking a complicated assembly or learning curve. All you have to do is plug it up and turn it on. Even more, the system doesn’t need a single drop of water for cooling. It’s powered by a 120-volt power source that can be operated just about anywhere including kitchens, garages, spare rooms and more.
This still’s construction is stainless steel and electronic, making it one of the only plug-and-play still available for purchase (on-line or off-line). Safety and ease-of-use are incorporated into the design, making it an excellent selection for beginners as well as experts alike.
One downside to the still is that it only creates one liter of alcohol at a time. However, on the flip side, it only takes two hours for the entire process. And, the manufacturer is so sure of their product that they provide a 100 percent satisfaction or money-back guarantee. If you aren’t happy with the still, the manufacturer will refund you fully.
2. Still Spirits T-500 Boiler and Condenser Complete System
- Fractionating column and innovative design
- Large 25-liter capacity
- Great for making gin, vodka, rum, moonshine, and more
- Built for brewing large batches of alcohol at low cost to you
- High-end stainless steel construction
- Fast brewing (takes half the time that some other stills require)
- May be larger than you need if you intend to micro-brew
- Brews faster but may not create the same old-fashioned moonshine taste you expect
The Still Spirits T-500 Boiler and Condenser is a complete moonshine still system available for purchase online. With this easy to use still, you can quickly and cost-effectively create high-quality homemade liquor. No previous experience is required.
The still’s innovative 25-liter construction is designed to be one of the most advanced modern fractionating-type moonshine stills in the world. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to top-shelf (expensive) whiskey, shine, and other favorite spirits, the T-500 could be a great option to explore.
A high-end stainless steel body and components coupled with a convenient faucet adapter gives you superior control of water flow. In addition to its high level of ease and safety, the T-500 is one of the fastest distillers around. Did we mention it’s perfect for beginners?
Perhaps the most impressive factor about this still is that it allows brewers to gather a whopping 95 percent of the alcohol in the wash. That means you collect alcohol with approximately 93 percent purity (far more than any other still currently available on the market).
Are you interested in making more than just moonshine? The T-500 is excellent for making all sorts of spirits including rum, vodka, wine, gin, and much more.
3. Clawhammer Supply 5 Gallon Copper Moonshine DIY Still Kit
- Comes with everything you need for a traditional copper moonshine still
- 5-gallon capacity for making large brews
- Easy to set up and run
- An instructional video is available on the manufacturer’s website
- The still’s versatile design also works for making essence oils, filter water, and more
- Due to certain state laws, this still may not be legal for use in your region
- May have a large capacity than you need or desire
Clawhammer Supply’s 5-gallon moonshine still is one of the best DIY moonshine stills available online. Furthermore, it’s made in the United States of America, where moonshiners have been perfecting the craft of still-making for nearly two centuries.
Everything you need to build the still of your dreams comes with the Clawhammer Supply DIY moonshine still kit. Even more, unlike other products, the still actually looks exactly as the advertisement photos (so you know what you’re getting into before you buy).
All you need to put this still together and get to work brewing spirits is a few hand-tools and a few other necessary basics. That said, this product is for those who want an authentic moonshine still experience (from start to end). You’ll need pliers, a hammer, a plumbing torch, solder, plumbing flux, and a bit of patience.
There’s even an online video from the manufacturer that helps you get the job done right. If you have any questions about the construction of the still, or anything else related to the product, the manufacturer is always available to answer your questions and set you in the right direction.
That said, you may want to do a bit of research into whether or not owning and operating a moonshine still in your neck of the woods is legal or not before purchasing this kit. The manufacturer assumes no responsibility for how customers decide to use their still.
All things considered, the Clawhammer Supply moonshine DIY kit is one of the best options for those who want that hands-on experience of building a proper moonshine still.
4. WMN Trulystep Home Distiller
- Available in 2, 3, 5, and 8-gallon models
- Non-toxic stainless steel and red copper construction
- Extra thick fermenter and all food-grade quality materials and components
- Includes built-in Celsius and Fahrenheit thermometers
- Diverse design works for making ethanol, wine, essential oils, and more in addition to moonshine
- Includes a one-year manufacturer’s warranty and a 100 percent money-back guarantee.
- One-year warranty from the manufacturer as well as 100 percent money-back guarantee or free parts replacement
- Is not completely stainless steel, it does contain some copper parts (though they are safe and non-toxic)
- May require a bit of studying to operate optimally
The first item on our list is the WMN Trulystep Home Distiller. This moonshine still is perfect for beginners and seasoned ‘shiners alike. Easy to set-up, operate, and clean, there are few products on the market that come close to its quality. It comes in various sizes including 2, 3, 5, and 8-gallon versions.
A throw-back on traditional Appalachian moonshine stills, this modern still is constructed of the highest quality stainless steel and red copper materials. The components are safe, non-toxic, and 100 percent lead-free. Each part consists of food-grade materials.
The still is made with superior ease-of-use in mind and includes a built-in metal thermometer that displays temps in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. That means you can keep your eye on it and prevent burn out with very little difficulty.
Even more, the still is designed for multiple usages. Aside from brewing up a batch of your favorite liquor, the still is great for distilling water, making essence oils, making ethanol and much more.
5. Olizee 8 Gal Moonshine Still Kit with Thumper Keg
- Available in both 5-gallon and 8-gallon versions
- Stainless steel welded construction and new thumper cage
- Also works as a water purifier and for making wine, brandy, and other types of alcohol besides moonshine
- Innovative independent airway design allows for faster and purer delivery
- Includes a one-year warranty from the manufacturer
- Made for large batches of alcohol, which may be more than you are in the market for
- Could require a learning curve for operating properly
The OLizee Moonshine Still Kit with Thumper Keg is another excellent choice for those looking to invest in one of the best moonshine stills available online. It is available in both 5-gallon and 8-gallon models and is constructed of welded stainless steel parts.
This still is designed for more than just brewing shine and fruit wine. It also works for purifying and distilling water, brandy, and more. Additionally, you’ll never have to worry about the issues that come with copper and solder-made stills as both are absent in its design.
The still includes a newly designed thumper keg that works great for adding extra flavors to your brews. Simply add the fruit or liquid flavor of your choice. It is also what makes the still able to work for distilling and purifying other sorts of liquids.
In addition to the multi-function design, and new thumper keg, the still’s versatile design includes an independent airway. This part of the still allows brewers to distillate their batches quicker and deliver purer levels of spirits.
The still comes with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer as well.
Which Moonshine Still Is Best For You?
Depending on your level of experience, how much liquor you plan to make, and how potent you want your brew to be, the best moonshine still varies.
That said, the WMN TRULYSTEP Home Distiller is all around one of the best moonshine stills on the market for both experts and beginners. Not only does it consist of the highest quality materials and components, but it’s also available in sizes ranging from mini-still size to several gallons.
However, those looking for a micro or hybrid still may prefer to pick up the Still Spirits Turbo Air Still. It is non-traditional but creates a liter of alcohol in just two hours flat and can be used practically anywhere. Also, it requires zero water for cooling which is a huge plus.
All things considered, before purchasing a moonshine still, potential buyers and brewers should research the legal status of owning and operating a moonshine still in their specific regions. Permits or licenses may be required to legally operate a still depending on the state or country in which you reside.
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