Moonshine Recipe: The Classic Method

In this article, we are going to provide you with a traditional moonshine recipe that has been used for years by moonshiners, as well as explain how you can design your own moonshine recipe. (all of which is for educational purposes only, see below for details).

Moonshine recipes have been a part of American history for centuries, with many people seeking to create their own unique and flavorful spirit. Making moonshine involves fermenting a mixture of grains, fruits, or sugars and then distilling the liquid to create a high-proof alcohol. Countless moonshine recipes are available, ranging from traditional corn whiskey to more experimental flavors involving fruits, spices, and herbs.

You may be surprised to learn that creating your own moonshine recipe is not as complicated as it may seem. With a few basic ingredients and some essential equipment, you will be on your way to mastering the art of moonshining.

Moonshine Recipe

Here is a simple, traditional cornmeal-based moonshine recipe, which historically was a common method for making moonshine in rural areas. This recipe is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Distilling alcohol at home without a proper license is illegal in many places, including the United States.


– 10 gallons water
– 10 pounds cornmeal
– 10 pounds granulated sugar
– 1 packet (about 2.5 teaspoons) of active dry yeast
– 1 pound malted barley or malt extract (optional for added enzymes)


– Fermentation vessel (food-grade plastic or glass carboy)
– Airlock for the fermentation vessel
– Large pot for boiling
– Distillation apparatus (still)
– Thermometer
– Measuring utensils
– Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
– pH meter or pH test strips (optional)


1) Preparation: Sterilize all equipment that will come into contact with the mixture.

2) Mash Preparation: In a large pot, bring 5 gallons of water to a boil. Add the cornmeal slowly, stirring to prevent clumps.

3) Cooling: Reduce the heat and let the mixture cool to about 70-80°F (21-27°C).

4) Sugar Addition: Once the mixture has cooled, add the sugar and mix until dissolved.

5) Yeast Activation: In a separate bowl, activate the yeast by following the instructions on the packet, usually involving mixing it with warm water.

6) Combining: Add the activated yeast (and optional malt if using) to the cornmeal mixture, stirring well to combine.

7) Fermentation: Pour the mixture into your sterilized fermentation vessel, seal it, and attach the airlock. Store in a dark, cool place for 1-2 weeks, or until fermentation is complete (no more bubbles in the airlock).

8) Straining: After fermentation is complete, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove solid particles.

9) Distillation: Transfer the liquid (known as “wash”) into the distillation apparatus. Heat it to separate the alcohol from the water and other components. The first liquid to come out (the “foreshots”) should be discarded, as it contains harmful methanol.

10) Collection: Collect the “hearts,” which is the ethanol, being cautious not to collect the “tails,” which contain less alcohol and more impurities.


This recipe would traditionally produce approximately 1 to 1.5 gallons of moonshine at around 40-60% alcohol by volume, depending on the efficiency of your distillation process and the specific equipment used.

Remember, this information is provided strictly for historical and educational purposes. Making moonshine illegally carries both legal and safety risks. Always follow the law and exercise the utmost caution if you are legally producing spirits.

History of Moonshine

Moonshine, a homemade and often illicit distilled alcoholic beverage, has a storied history in the United States. It originated in the 1700s when Scotsmen immigrated to the Appalachian Mountains of Western Pennsylvania, bringing their knowledge of still making with them. Many Appalachian moonshiners are descended from these early settlers.

In the early days, distilling spirits was common among people living in rural areas who had access to surplus corn and grains. However, the production and consumption of moonshine grew notably during the Prohibition era (1920-1933), when the sale and production of alcoholic beverages became illegal in the United States. This period saw a rise in the number of moonshiners who produced and sold their brews secretly, often under the cover of night, hence the name “moonshine.”

The term “moonshine” has existed since the late 15th century, but it was first used to refer to liquor in the 18th century in England. Over time, it has broadened its definition to refer to the homemade spirits themselves and the act of producing them. Moonshiners were known for their resourcefulness, often using bathtubs, small copper stills, or even repurposed car radiators for distilling.

Throughout its history, moonshine has been associated with various flavors and ingredients, leading to the creation of numerous recipes, such as Peach Moonshine Sour and Blackberry Moonshine Sour. Despite its sometimes dangerous reputation, moonshine has become ingrained in the culture of the United States, with legal commercial distilleries now adopting the term and producing their own “moonshine” products.

Today, hobbyists and small-scale distillers who value the craft’s history and tradition continue to practice the art of making moonshine. The resurgence in popularity of moonshine can be attributed to its connection with America’s past and the desire to keep this unique aspect of the country’s cultural heritage alive.

Essential Moonshine Recipe Ingredients

To create your own moonshine recipe, gathering the right ingredients is crucial. It all starts with the mash, a mixture of water, sugars, and grains that will be fermented and distilled to make moonshine. The ingredients you choose will determine the flavor and quality of your final product.

Water: The base of your mash; use clean and filtered water to ensure no impurities or contaminants affect your moonshine’s taste.

Corn Mash: This is the most common base for moonshine. For a traditional corn mash recipe, you’ll need flaked corn maize and crushed malted barley. The corn provides the majority of fermentable sugars, while the barley contributes additional sugars and enzymes.

Sugar: Sugars are an essential ingredient in moonshining as they are the primary source of food for the yeast during fermentation. Brown sugar and simple syrup are good options, with the former adding a richer, molasses-like flavor to your moonshine.

Yeast: This ingredient converts sugars in the mash into alcohol. Use a high-quality distillers yeast or an active dry wine yeast for the best results.

Flavors: Depending on the desired taste, you may want to add various ingredients to enhance the flavor of your moonshine. Some popular options include:

– Blackberries: These can be added to the mash for a fruity twist, providing a subtly sweet taste and rich color.

– Citric Acid: A small amount of citric acid can be used to balance out the sweetness and add some acidity, resulting in a more well-rounded flavor profile.

Remember to measure your ingredients carefully, as consistency is essential for a successful moonshine recipe.

Moonshine Equipment

Before making moonshine, it’s essential to gather the proper equipment. These tools will help ensure the process goes smoothly and results in a high-quality batch of moonshine.

First, you’ll need a still, which is the primary piece of equipment used for distilling the alcohol. Copper stills are highly recommended because they allow for even heat distribution and remove impurities. A pot still is a common choice for beginners, as it is relatively simple to use and creates a stronger, more robust flavor profile.

Next, obtain a fermentation bucket to hold the mash during the fermentation process. A properly sealed fermentation bucket will allow the sugars to be converted into alcohol without any contamination.

In addition to the still and fermentation bucket, other important pieces of equipment include:

– Condenser: This component is essential for cooling and condensing the alcohol vapor back into liquid form. Attach it to your still to ensure efficient distillation.

– Hydrometer: A hydrometer is crucial to measure the alcohol content of your moonshine. It will help you know when the fermentation is complete and allow for accurate monitoring.

– Siphon: A siphon is necessary for transferring the liquid from one container to another, like moving the fermented mash to the pot still for distillation.

– Cheesecloth: This versatile cloth is useful for straining and filtering the mash, ensuring a cleaner final product.

– Packing: Copper or stainless steel packing material is typically placed inside the column of a reflux still to increase surface area, which helps improve the purity and quality of the moonshine.

Your investment in high-quality tools will pay off in the form of delicious, homemade moonshine.

The Distilling Process

Before you start the distilling process, it’s essential to prepare a quality mash recipe. A proper mash consists of corn, sugar, and yeast. Combine these ingredients and add water to create your corn mash. Allow the mixture to ferment for several days, during which yeast will convert sugar into alcohol. Once the fermentation process is complete, strain the liquid to separate solids from the fermenting liquid.

Now, you’re ready to begin distilling your moonshine. Transfer the strained liquid to a still, and gradually heat it to reach the evaporation temperatures of different alcohols. Generally, you want to maintain a temperature between 172°F and 212°F (78°C – 100°C). This range ensures proper evaporation and condensation of the desirable alcohol content while leaving behind unwanted compounds.

During the distillation process, it’s critical to monitor the temperature carefully. You should also measure specific gravity using a hydrometer, which indicates the alcohol concentration in your mixture. As distilling progresses, separate the distilled liquid into different fractions based on their evaporation temperatures and boiling points.

The first fraction to come out of the still, known as the “heads,” contains harmful compounds like methanol. The following fraction, called “hearts,” has the highest alcohol content and is the desired portion for consumption. Finally, the “tails” contain lower alcohol content and various off-flavors. Discarding the heads and separating the hearts from the tails is essential, as mixing these fractions might negatively impact taste and safety.

Once you’ve collected the hearts, you can distill them again for a higher proof or leave them as is. At this point, you have completed the distilling process and have created your very own batch of moonshine.

Popular Moonshine Recipes

Moonshine recipes range from simple, traditional concoctions to creative, flavored variations. If you want to start making your own moonshine, try some of these popular recipes.

Apple Pie Moonshine is a fan favorite, with its delicious apple flavor and spicy, warming undertones. Combine apple juice, apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and sugar, then add your moonshine to create this tasty drink.

Another popular recipe is Peach Moonshine, which combines the sweetness of peaches with the boldness of moonshine. This delightful combination is perfect for sipping on a warm summer evening. Just mix peach puree, sugar, and your moonshine base.

Blueberry Moonshine is a fruity option that’s both refreshing and flavorful. Mash blueberries, lemon juice, and sugar, then mix them with your moonshine for a vibrant and fruity creation.

For a strong, classic recipe, try making White Lightning. This traditional moonshine recipe typically uses a corn whiskey mash, creating that well-known potent moonshine flavor.

If you’re into more adventurous flavors, Chocolate Moonshine offers a unique twist that’s hard to resist. Blend chocolate syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract; then add your moonshine for a delightful, indulgent treat.

Blackberry Moonshine showcases the natural tanginess of berries, making it a popular option. Combine crushed blackberries, sugar, and lemon juice, then mix them with your moonshine to create this delightful drink.

Strawberry Moonshine, with its vibrant red hue and sweet taste, is another fruity option you can try. Mix a strawberry lemonade concentrate, sugar, and your moonshine for a light and refreshing beverage.

Pineapple Moonshine Recipe is perfect for those tropical vibes. Mix pineapple juice, sugar, and your moonshine to create this tropical treat.

Lastly, Peach Cobbler Moonshine infuses the homestyle flavor of peach cobbler into your drink. Combine peach juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; then add your moonshine for a heartwarming option.

Advanced Moonshine Techniques

In this section, we will delve into advanced moonshine techniques that can help you elevate your skills in producing high-quality spirits. These techniques cater to those who have already mastered the basics of moonshine making and seek to achieve a more refined product.

One advanced technique to consider is the hybrid mash method, which combines different types of grains and adjuncts to create unique flavor profiles. For instance, you can create a mash using a mixture of corn, barley, rye, and sugar. This adds complexity to your moonshine and allows you to experiment with different styles such as gin and whiskey.

Another significant aspect of advanced moonshine making is controlling the alcohol by volume (ABV) during the distillation process. When distilling your wash, it’s essential to understand the science behind separating the different compounds, such as volatile chemicals like methanol, which tend to evaporate first. Managing and separating compounds is crucial for producing a high proof alcohol with fewer impurities.

As you venture into producing spirits like gin, consider building upon your existing knowledge and experimenting with a variety of botanicals. The art of gin-making lies in crafting a balanced blend of flavors from numerous botanical ingredients. The base spirit, typically a high proof grain alcohol, serves as a canvas for your infused botanicals, giving gin its distinct flavor profile.

It’s important to note that some of these techniques and processes may require more careful handling due to the use of high-proof alcohol and chemicals. As a more experienced moonshiner, you must be attentive to safety protocols and mindful of your local laws and regulations.

Flavored Moonshine

Flavored moonshine offers a delicious twist on traditional moonshine, transforming it into a mixed drink that’s as unique as your taste preferences. The best part about flavored moonshine is that it can be enjoyed at room temperature, making it perfect for sipping during daytime festivities or evening get-togethers.

One of the most popular flavored moonshine recipes is the peach moonshine. This delightful concoction requires fresh peaches, sugar, and a high-proof base spirit like moonshine, rum, or tequila. Simply combine the ingredients and let them infuse the moonshine for a few weeks, and you’ll have a fruity and refreshing beverage that’s perfect for warm weather.

Of course, there’s no limit to the flavors you can create with moonshine. If peach isn’t your favorite, consider trying a blueberry moonshine recipe, which typically involves the same base ingredients and process. The addition of fresh blueberries will give your moonshine a deep fruity taste and a beautiful purplish hue.

For a slightly tangier option, a strawberry lemonade moonshine recipe could be just the ticket. Combining fresh strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar with your moonshine base, this flavorful concoction brings a zesty kick to your classic moonshine.

Coffee moonshine offers a rich, robust flavor that’s perfect for those who crave a caffeinated kick. Simply cold brew your favorite coffee grounds and mix it with your chosen spirit, creating a wonderful blend of coffee and moonshine that’s great for sipping or using in cocktails.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with various fruits, spices, and flavors to make your own unique flavored moonshine. Whether you prefer fruit-infused recipes, spicy mixtures, or something entirely different, your options are limitless.

Health and Safety Precautions

While creating your moonshine recipe, it’s essential to prioritize health and safety. First and foremost, ensure you’re authorized to distill alcohol, as penalties for illegal moonshine production can include jail time, fines, or both.

Using the right ingredients and proper distilling equipment will help ensure that your moonshine is safe. Create a sanitary environment before fermentation and distillation to reduce the risk of contamination.

Methanol is a toxic substance that may be present in moonshine. To minimize its presence, discard the first 5% of your distillate, also known as the “foreshots.” This step will help remove methanol, acetone, and other impurities that are potentially harmful to your health.

Be cautious of the chemicals used when making a sugar shine or any other moonshine recipe. Opt for food-grade materials and utensils during the distillation process to avoid contaminating your moonshine with harmful substances.

Keep in mind that adding candy or other sugar sources during the fermentation process can affect the flavor and safety of your final product. Stick to tried-and-true ingredients while experimenting with your recipe to avoid unintended side effects.

Lastly, inform yourself about the proper handling and storage of your homemade moonshine. By following these health and safety precautions, you will be well on your way to creating a delicious and safe moonshine recipe.

Storage and Presentation

When it comes to storing and presenting your homemade moonshine, there are several factors to consider. Proper storage not only preserves the quality and flavor of your moonshine but also adds a touch of elegance and authenticity to its presentation.

One popular and traditional method for storing moonshine is using mason jars. These glass jars with their tight-sealing lids ensure that your moonshine is properly sealed and protected from external elements. Mason jars also provide an excellent way to showcase your drink’s enticing color and clarity.

After you have chosen a suitable container, it’s time to prepare your moonshine for storage. If you have prepared a moonshine mash, such as a corn whiskey mash, you’ll need to strain it first. Straining is vital for removing any solid particles and impurities, as they can alter the flavor and quality over time. Use a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer to carefully separate the clear liquid from the solid remnants of your mash.

Once your moonshine is properly strained, transfer it into the clean mason jars. Ensure that the lids are tightly sealed to create an airtight environment, preventing any air or contaminants from entering the jar. This helps in maintaining the flavor and quality of your moonshine.

It’s important to store your jars away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dark place. Exposure to heat and light can degrade the quality and alter the taste of your moonshine in the long run. It is best to keep your jars in a basement or cupboard, where the temperature remains relatively stable.

When it’s time to serve, pour the moonshine directly from the mason jars or use a glass decanter for an elegant presentation. Pairing your moonshine with the appropriate glassware, such as whiskey or shot glasses, furthers the drinking experience.

Moonshine Recipe FAQs

What are the essential ingredients for making moonshine?

To make traditional moonshine, you need three main ingredients: corn, sugar, and yeast. These ingredients are combined to create a mixture called corn mash. It is then fermented and distilled to create moonshine.

How do you prepare flavored moonshine?

Flavored moonshine can be prepared by infusing the distilled moonshine with fruits, spices, or other flavorings. For example, you can soak fruit pieces in the moonshine, allowing the flavors to blend and develop. You can also use fruit juices, extracts, or syrups to create flavored moonshine recipes.

What is the process of making corn moonshine?

The process of making corn moonshine starts with creating a corn mash. This mixture consists of corn, sugar, and yeast and is heated and cooled to allow the yeast to convert the sugar into alcohol. Once the fermentation is complete, the liquid is distilled using a pot still. This separates the alcohol from the water, creating a high-proof alcohol known as moonshine.

How can fruit be incorporated into moonshine recipes?

Fruit can be incorporated into moonshine recipes in a few ways. One option is to use fruit in the fermentation process by mixing it with corn mash. This will provide a fruit-infused alcohol after distillation. Another method is to add fruit flavor after distillation by letting fruit pieces, juices, or extracts steep in the moonshine.

How do you make honey moonshine?

To make honey moonshine, begin by using a basic corn moonshine recipe. Replace some of the sugar with honey, allowing it to blend with the corn and yeast during fermentation. After distillation, additional honey can be dissolved into the moonshine if a stronger honey flavor is desired. Be cautious of potential sugar content, as adding too much honey can produce an overly sweet product.

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