Hearts Series, Episode 5: How to Distill a Whiskey Recipe

Posted by Jeff on 28th February 2015

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Next video in the Hearts series: |Aging Products vs Oak Barrel Maturation|

Products used in this video:
Cracked Corn
6-row Malted Barley
-Endo-Alpha Amylase

**Please note, we no longer carry endo/exo alpha amylase. We carry a combined powdered amylase formula which can be used in place of both endo and exo alpha amylase.**
-Exo-Alpha Amylase
Floating Thermometer

Video Transcription

Howdy folks, Jeff from Moonshine Distiller here again. With this hearts episode, we’re going to be going over our simple corn whiskey mash. When a lot of people start doing all-grain whiskey mashes, it can be an intimidating process. There’s a lot going on, and some people are worried about their grains becoming gluey, and everything becoming just a complete mess. It’s really not that bad of a process, especially if you follow this simple recipe.

To start off, you do a pre-mash; this helps keep the mess down once you’re doing your actual mash. To do the pre-mash, you’re going to add 9 pounds of cracked corn to your food-grade bucket (preferably food-grade) and mix in (preferably) 2 gallons of pre-boiled backset. This is basically what’s left over from your previous whiskey wash. If you don’t have this, don’t worry. It doesn’t make that much of a difference, and you can use plain water like we’re doing today.

Once you do this, it will help pre-gelatinize some of the starches from the corn, and you’re going to want to let it cool down to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. So since this was just boiling, we’re going to give it a few minutes to cool down, and come back in an hour or two.


Alright folks, so it’s been about an hour and a half, and our mash has finally cooled to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, that is the optimal temperature for your alpha amylase, so you’re going to add about a teaspoon of alpha-amylase. Of course, you can add more if you want the process to go a little bit more quickly, and that enzyme will help the starches from the corn break down into sugars that are fermentable by your yeast. For this process to happen, you’re going to let it sit for about 48 hours, and then we’re going to come back and do the actual mash. So, we’ll see you in about two days.


Howdy folks, we’re back, and it’s about two days later. The first thing you need to do for the actual mash is boil about 5 gallons of water, which we’ve already done to save time. Next thing you’re going to do is add your pre-mash to that 5 gallons of boiling water. After you do that, you’re going to bring the entire thing back to boiling. One thing you want to be careful of is, while the heat source is on, you want to make sure you keep stirring it fairly consistently; that way you prevent any scorching of the grains in the bottom of the boiler. So this will probably take about 15 or 20 minutes here, so we’ll get back to you when we’re done boiling it.


Alright folks, so we’re back. It took about 20 minutes to get this thing back up to boiling. As it gets to boiling, I can see it start to get a little bit thicker here; starting to get more of that porridge-like consistency as the starches gelatinize. The starches gelatinizing is basically just the starches starting to absorb water. This is a necessary process for the enzymes to cut the starches down to the fermentable sugars. So, for the starches to completely gelatinize, it’s going to take about 1 to 2 hours (I usually give it 2 to make sure everything gets completely gelatinized). And at that time, it’ll take a really thick consistency (it will almost be hard to stir); it will be almost like a porridge or an oatmeal consistency. So, we’ll give it another 2 hours here and get back to you.


As you can see, the mash has thickened up considerably; this is from the gelatinization of the starches. At this point, it could be thicker, but thanks to the pre-mash, we already converted some of the starches to sugars. Now that it’s nice and thick, all we have to do is let it cool to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and add the rest of the alpha-amylase. This should convert the remaining starches to sugars, at which point we’re ready to go with our fermentation. So for now, all we’re going to do is add our thermometer, and let it sit till it reaches 150 degrees. Typically, this will be overnight, but if you live in a cold area like we do, you can put it outside in the snow and this can be reduced to a couple of hours.


Alright folks, so we’re back for the final step of our whiskey mash here. We’ve let it cool for about 2 hours now, outside in the freezing cold, and as you can see, it’s almost exactly 150 degrees. So we’ll take this thermometer out, and add our alpha amylase, and last but not least, our malted barley. Give it a good stir, get all that barley wet, try to break up the clumps as you go, and that alpha amylase should help break up all the starches into sugars which are digestible by your yeast.

So there you have it, folks, that’s our whiskey mash. Now that things have loosened up a little bit, we’re going to get this in our fermenter, wait for it to cool down to 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and add our whiskey yeast. After that, a week or two of fermenting, and it should be ready to go in the still. The only thing you’ll need to do before putting it in the still, especially if you’re using an electric heating element, is strain this through a nylon mesh bag. You want to get out as much of the particulate as you can, so it doesn’t stick to the heating element and scorch during your boil.

Other than that, hopefully we’re able to provide a lot of useful information for you, and thanks again for watching. We’ll see you next time!

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3 thoughts on “Hearts Series, Episode 5: How to Distill a Whiskey Recipe

  1. Blake Eldridge

    Hi Jeff. In your whisky mash video you add something else besides alpha amylase to the mash once the mash has cooled to 150 deg. What is it? How much malted barley do you use? Do you ferment this mash with an airlock system? I really want to try your whisky mash. Thanks.

  2. Jack

    Does it make a difference in fermentation if i use a nylon bag in the cooking process removing all the grain before putting the wash in the fermenter, do I lose any taste or will it affect gravity?

    1. Jeff Post author

      The main reason we recommend doing the filtration at the end is so that you have a much lower risk of contamination. You want only the yeast you put in there to ferment the mash. Anything that might be on the mesh bag could contaminate you mash and cause off flavors.


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