Whiskey Recipe – Easy Mash Corn Whiskey Base

Posted by Jeff on 18th December 2013

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Moonshine Distiller Whiskey Barrel

People sure do love their whiskey, so one of the most common questions I get is, “Do you have a good whiskey recipe?”

Well, yes and no. I almost never make the same whiskey recipe twice, as I am always varying and tweaking the grain bill based on the last batch(es) that I made. However, there are several processes that I use repeatedly.

One of these is a process that I use with almost every moonshine mash recipe is one that keeps the corn mashing mess to a minimum. The biggest challenge of mashing corn is getting a complete gelatinization of the starches so that they can be broken down into sugars. As this starts to happen, the entire mixture thickens to a porridge consistency making it very hard to stir, yet stirring is necessary to keep it from burning to the bottom of your mash pot.

The bourbon mash recipe below will walk you through the process I use to keep the corn mash as thin as possible. The idea is to start breaking those starches down as soon as possible so that the mash stays thin. If you have any questions or comments about this whiskey mash recipe, please leave a comment for us below!


Easy-Mash Corn Whiskey
Yields 9
This is a basic corn-based whiskey recipe to demonstrate the MoonshineDistiller.com no-mess corn mashing method. Corn mash recipes can easily be adapted to personal tastes by varying the proportions or grains and adding grains like rye and wheat.
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Prep Time
48 hr
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
48 hr
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
  1. 2 gallons of hot backset (optional, just use boiling water if you don't have backset available)
  2. 9 pounds of milled corn
  3. 5 gallons of water
  4. 5 lbs of pale malt 2-row
  5. 2 tsp of SEBamyl GL Saccharification enzymes
The pre-mash
  1. Boil 2 gallons of backset from your previous wash.
  2. Add it to the 9 lbs corn in a bucket.
  3. Once the mixture cools to less than 150 F, add half a teaspoon of alpha amylase formula and mix in well by stirring.
  4. Let the mixture sit for 48 hours.
The mash
  1. Add 5 gallons of water to your brew pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the backset/grain mixture and bring up to 200 F, stirring to prevent scorching while the heat source is on.
  3. Maintain the temperature at over 200 F for about 2 hours by turning the heat source back on when the temperatures drop to low.
  4. Turn off the heat source, cover your brew pot, and let the mash cool to 155 F.
  5. Add to your sanitized fermentation vessel (should be larger than a standard 6.5 gallon bucket due to the additional volume the grain takes up) and mix in all the malted grains and remaining alpha amylase formula.
  6. Cover the fermentation vessel as the mash cools.
  7. Once the mash has cooled to around 80 F or less, add your preferred whiskey yeast.
  8. Mix the yeast in and cover.
  1. Make sure you have a stainless steel brew pot large enough to hold at least 5 gallons.
  2. A floating thermometer is very handy when you are trying to maintain the mash temperature.
  3. When the mash is done fermenting, I find it easiest to strain the solids out through a nylon mesh bag.
  4. You can vary recipe to your personal taste by changing the ratio of corn to barley and/or adding grains like rye, wheat, oats, or spelt. If you add a significant proportion of grains that will not convert themselves, you should use 6 row pale malt instead since it has a higher diastatic power.
  5. The type of yeast you use is up to you, but you may need to reduce the grain to water ratio if you are using a standard beer yeast (they have trouble fermenting up to 9% abv).
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Recipe Name
Easy-Mash Basic Corn Whiskey
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Average Rating
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43 thoughts on “Whiskey Recipe – Easy Mash Corn Whiskey Base

  1. W.Litteral


  2. Varocketry

    Please, please, please – full bore BOURBON recipe.

    Videos for every step of that mash process, separating the fermented mash, etc. to get everything into the boiler.

    1. Jeff Post author

      I think we can probably make that happen! It isn’t a terribly hard process, but I know it can be intimidating for those who have never done it.

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  3. Kolonel Korn

    My understanding………..With two row malt, you can convert 3 lbs of unmalted corn with 1 lb of malted barley. So, 5 lbs of 2 row will convert 15 lbs of corn. Also, a good rule of thumb is that 4 lbs of corn can be converted with 1 lb of six row malted barley.

    The amylase enzyme is probably just a precaution, but I think you can safely avoid using that due to the amount of your malted barley. Is that assumption wrong?

    1. Jeff Post author

      Kolonel Korn, you are correct. It is not necessarily that it is needed, it is just a little extra insurance for folks who are new to the process. There are a lot of factors that go into how effectively the enzymes can convert the starches into sugar (temperature, time, concentration of the enzymes, etc). By adding the alpha amylase (which is pretty cheap), you are giving yourself a little more leeway with some of the other factors.

      Also, while it may not necessarily be needed for this specific version of the recipe, it may very well become needed if you replaced some of that malted barley with rye or something else that doesn’t have much diastatic power.

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  5. Roy

    I notice that some of the recipes you have call for cracked corn, not malted corn. What turns the cracked corn for starch to sugar so the sugar can be turned into alcohol?

  6. Jason

    I’m a homebrewer so my only experience in making alcohol is with beer. This might be a dumb question but, in the recipe above it says to cover the mash after you mix in the yeast. When fermenting beer you use an airlock to keep bacteria out and to keep the beer from oxidizing. I’m sure this isn’t a problem with mash meant for distilling since it will be distilled. My question is, what type of cover to use? I’ll probably use my keggle as my brew pot to cook the mash and also as my fermentation vessel. But it doesn’t have a lid so how tightly fitting should the lid be?

    1. Jeff Post author

      Mashes that are meant for distillation are slightly different than beer fermentations. There are several reasons why you don’t need an airlock, although many choose to use one anyway.To begin with, the the yeast used for distillation washes ferments a good deal fast. This causes the air to be continually flowing out of the fermenter, keeping anything from getting in. And unlike beer, where you let it age through the secondary fermentation that is very slow, most distilling washes only make it through thee primary fermentation before they are put into the still. Additionally, with distilling, a lot less emphasis is placed on complete sterilization. If wild bacteria get into your distilling wash, typically you won’t even know once it is distilled. And even if you do, usually it can add desirable characteristics. For example, a sour mash whiskey emphasizes the wild fermentation!

  7. Tetrakis

    I just cooked this up this week. Very easy so far – soaked the cracked corn in the 2 gallons of water for 48 hours – check. Boiled 5 gallons of water in my brew pot (15 gallons) – check. added the corn mash to the boiling water and kept at 200 degrees or so for 2 hours – check. let the temperature drop to 155 and added my grains – check.

    my question is – is it important to actively cool the wort/mash to <80? I let it sit out, and I guess it is quite a thermal mass, and 12 hours later is still at 100 degrees. Your instructions use a "passive voice" such as "let the mash cool" and "once the mash has cooled" implying that you are not using an immersion chiller – correct?


    1. Jeff Post author

      Tetrakis, you sound like a fellow homerbrewer! And yes, you are correct. I usually just let the mash sit out overnight and pitch the yeast in the morning when it has cooled. Granted, this could take longer if you live in a warmer climate than the Rocky Mountains! The main risk to letting it sit longer is that wild yeast will develop. In brewing this is terrible and usually ruins your beer. However, in distilling, this is often desirable. For example, sour mash whiskeys use a large degree of wild fermentation. So, this is really up to you! If you don’t like the flavor that a little bit of wild fermentation adds, you can cool it with an immersion chiller to reduce the risk.

    2. glenn mac dougall

      hey Tetrakis i just tried this for the firast time i let it sit 46 hrs before i opened it. When i opened it it smelled kind of sour. i used i gallon of backset from a previous distilation two days before. Is the pukey smell normal dont know whether to throw or ferment

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  10. Roberta

    I’m a beginner distiller coming from the homebrewing world. A couple of questions. First, do I want the 2-row pale malt crushed or uncrushed? Second, How long would I expect to ferment this for? Thanks!

    1. Jeff Post author

      Welcome to Moonshine Distiller! I actually started as a homebrewer as well. With the 2-row malt, yes you do want to crush it, just like you would for brewing. This will make sure you get a full conversion and enzyme extraction. And for the ferment, that depends completely on what type of yeast you use. For example, a turbo yeast can be done in just a day or two, while a beer yeast could take a week or two. I would just recommend watching the bubbles coming out of your airlock, and run it once they slow down.

    1. Tom

      I got onto ebay and looked for someone to cut food grade silicone rubber for me. It was a little pricey but lasts a long time. I have a 10, 15 and 25 gallon pot.

  11. Rob Jacobs

    Can you add the amount (and/or type) of yeast to the recipe’s list of ingredients? Thanks. Look forward to giving this a try.

  12. Scott

    @Jeff, & crew:

    I’m new to shining & want to make some for xmas. I’ve heard NOT to use yeast when making corn-based moonshine b/c it effects the taste and the old-tymers said “gives u more of a headache.” https://youtu.be/IzsEA2jOovY

    And INSTEAD to use Malted Corn and not yeast at all. Whats the best thing?


  13. Chris

    I am wanting to try this recipe, but want to make sure that the volumes are correct. I see to use 2 gal of backset w/grain in the pre-mash step. Then in the mash step using 5 gal of fresh water and then introducing that 2 gal backset mixture from the pre-mash to that. I know the grains will absorb some of the liquids, but they still have the density. Won’t that exceed a 5 gal mash pot? I would think you would need an 8 gal mash pot at the minimum or maybe I misreading the recipe. What size mash pot would you use to make this recipe without overflowing and with room to stir without making a mess?

    1. Jeff Post author

      Essentially, the idea is to add as much liquid as possible so that the mash doesn’t get super thick while you simmer it. I personally use a 13 gallon brew pot, so 2 gallons and grains + 5 gallons has never been an issue. If it looks like it will be too much for your brew pot, I would just recommend adding as much water as you can.

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  15. Garry

    I have a question for you. How many days can the corn mixture sit before adding the malt? I think I may have waited to long, as I was waiting for my yeast to come in. It has been over a week and when I opened my bucket it started bubbling. I had not added the malt. Would it be best to start all over as now I have all ingredients at hand. Thank you in advance.


    1. Jeff Post author

      Hi Garry, the malt needs to be added at 140-149 degrees for the enzymes to effectively break down the starches in the mash. However, experiments are where some of the best things are created, so I would definitely let your mash ferment out and see what it tastes like coming off the still!

  16. Kevin

    I have, probably a major question. I see a lot of recipes call out for the grains being “malted”, then in some of the FAQ’s you are talking about 2 row vs. 5 or 6 row malted grains. What is it, why is it, and how does it weigh in, on making shine.??? Can you tell I’m new to this.?? Can anyone explain this, or head me in the right direction for the info. Thanks ahead.

  17. General

    I would like your opinion on a mash/wash I will distill next week.
    I am new to distilling and grow sweet corn on my small farm.
    I removed the kernels from 50 ears (about 2 gallons) of the sweetest corn I grow.
    Added ½ gallon of distilled water, cooked to 165 degrees, cooled to 100 degrees and then add prepared bread yeast.
    It been fermenting for a week now, bubbles are slowing down and I will distill next week.
    Any comments?

    1. Jeff Post author

      There are two things that I would recommend doing next time. The first is mashing at a higher temperature. Corn gelatinizes at higher temperatures. The second is that you need something to convert the starches into sugar. This can be done with our SEBstar HTL, SEBamyl GL, and SEBflo TL enzymes or through the addition of malted barley (a more complicated process, but the traditional way of doing things).

    2. David - TN

      I’ve been making shine/whisky for about 4-5 years now simply using sugar/corn but was searching and found this site for Amylase information (Thanks).
      Noticing some of the comments, Mash should only take about 1 week. Longer means you have an issue with nutrients and not enough heat/sugar… or simply the wrong/bad yeast.

      FYI, I use X-Press super yeast. So long as you don’t reach the 20% alcohol (which this yeast will/can make with enough sugar) the yeast starves itself of sugar, hibernation mode sets in where all fermentation stops, the corn settles at this point, and you can re-use the yeast before it dies simply by taking some of the settles yeast and putting it in your next batch.

      Nice money saver and my 2 cents to the forum for the nice helps 🙂

      1. kayle

        david. my wife bought me a 5 gallon boiler for my bday and i am trying to find a simple mash/wash recipe. i bought 50 lb cracked corn, a bunch of yeast, and 30 pounds of sugar. My buddy said that all i need to do is put corn, sugar, and yeast in a big (50 gal) bucket and let sit for a week and a half and it will be ready to run. everything i have read online calls for amylase (spelling?) or enzyme formulas…. is what my buddy told me valid? i am trying to make my mash/wash without a heat source “cold mash”…. haven’t found a single straight cracked corn and sugar mash recipe that doesn’t call for extra stuff… any help appreciated…

        1. Jeff Post author

          The corn provides two different things, the good whiskey flavor and carbohydrates to ferment out into alcohol. However, the carbohydrates are present in the form of starches that need to be broken down into simple sugars that the yeast can digest. That is what the amylase does. By adding the corn without the amylase, you will get the flavor, but be wasting most of those starches. Not to mention it will make your mash very thick, and likely to scorch onto the bottom of your still.

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  19. Jim

    Did the recipe but have two questions. At the point of adding the mix to my fermenter I did a starch conversion test. It was as black as the ace of spades. I added the barley and cooked at 153 for another hour. Checked it again it was still black but checked my OG on a refractometer and got 1.060 so I quit.
    I am an old brewer but new to cracked corn, will you ever get complete conversion? Second, adding the barley when you fill the fermenter. Will you get conversion on it at that point without holding the temp. at
    150’s for a while.

    1. Jeff Post author

      Corn needs much higher heat than barley to gelatinize the starches. We typically recommend a combination of the SebStar HTL and SebAmyl GL to then break down those starches. However, you can also do this with just barley in the 140-149 F temperature range. Which method are you using?


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