Corn Moonshine – Basis for Homemade Bourbon
Americans are famous for their love to corn moonshine. If the beverage was made in Kentucky, then after 2 years of maturing in oak barrels it has a right to be called “bourbon”. In other states it’s just corn whiskey. So how to make bourbon?
Real bourbon is made from corn malt – germinated grains, which are then dried, crushed, boiled and fermented. If you want to follow classic technology, you have to make malt (or buy it) and work with it just like with homemade whiskey. At home, it is simpler to use corn grits or flour saccharified with any variety of malt. Both methods of making bourbon give an equal taste of the final product.
The choice between grits or flour is not crucial because it has no impact on the moonshine yield. Malt (fine-ground, rye or wheat) is required for corn raw materials saccharifying (amylolytic process), It won’t work without malt.
Caution! It’s very important to maintain temperature regimes which are mentioned in the recipe. I recommend preparing thermometer in advance and not starting the making process without it.
Corn Brew Recipe
1. Heat up water to 122°F/50°C. It’s better to use water bath thanks to which the mash will not burn and controlling the temperature will be easier or any other brewing kettle. The operating principle of this simple construction is shown in the photo.
You need to put a large cooking pot on a stove, then put smaller one on top of it. We’ll cook corn mash in it. Pour 1.5 gl/6 liters of water in the smaller pot and fill the bigger pot with water up to 2/3 of its volume.
2. Slowly pour flour (grits) into hot water while constantly stirring. Boil the mash for 15 minutes with the same temperature stirring it every now and then in order to keep it from getting thick and lumps from appearing at the bottom.
3. Increase the temperature to 149°F/65°C and maintain it for 15 minutes, stirring the mash.
4. Add 0.3 gl/1 liter of water to the mash, heat it up to 167-176°F/75-80°C and maintain this temperature for 20 minutes. You can close the lid.
5. Preparing malt, smash dry into coarse-grained grits. If you use green malt use grinder.
6. Cool the mash to 149°F/65°C, add malt, stir it until homogenous mass. Close the lid, cover it in an old blanket and leave it in a warm place for 7 hours. In this interval of time the mash will get saccharified and become sweeter.
7. Prepare yeasts following the instructions on the label.
8. Lower the temperature of the mash to 77-84.2°F/25-29°C and then add diluted yeasts and stir it up.
9. Pour the must into a fermentation container, install airlock on the bottleneck (optional, but it’s preferable for the brew not to get sour). Leave the container in a dark place with room temperature.
10. After 3-6 days the corn brew will become brighter, the airlock will stop emitting gas, and there will be a smell of alcohol and a bitter taste. This means that it’s time to make the first distillation.
Getting and Refining Corn Moonshine
11. Filter the brew through gauze to remove coarse grains, which can burn during distillation.
12. Distill the brew without separating the yield by fractions. You’ll get about 0.4 gl/1.5 liters of raw alcohol with 30-34% ABV.
13. Dilute the corn distillate with water up to 15-20%. Purify it with coal if desired and then distill it once again at a low temperature. Draw off first 100-150 ml of the yield. That’s a harmful fraction which spoils the quality. Finish drawing off corn moonshine while the ABV drops below 45%. The yield should be about 700-800 ml of distillate with 56% ABV.
14. Dilute with water up to 40-45% and mature for 1-2 days before drinking. The beverage has a light sweet aftertaste and subtle aroma of corn grits.
15. In order to make homemade bourbon, you should mature the obtained corn moonshine with oak chips or in oak barrels for 3-9 months.