Find the best Moonshine Stills and what to look for when Purchasing
If you are new to home distilling, selecting the best equipment for the job can be a challenging task. Many beginners don’t know that different types of moonshine stills are designed for making different kinds of products. For instance, someone planning to make vodka can end up spending hundreds of dollars of the wrong types of still before finding out the right still for making vodka.
The production of moonshine without proper permits is illegal. Remember to check your state laws when distilling any alcohols.
What is a Moonshine Still?
A still is a piece of equipment that relies of heat to separate liquid substances. This allows you to collect the alcohol produced through a process known as fermentation. This process usually involves a moonshine mash, which consists of water, sugar, or grains, and yeast.
The still helps to separate ethanol from the mash since it boils at a slightly lower temperature than water.
Upon boiling, ethanol turns into vapor – which then becomes liquid and drips into a collecting vessel. The still does not produce the ethanol, but it helps to separate it from water and solid substances in the mash wash.
A moonshine still is normally made from copper or steel, and it comes in different shapes and sizes.
Types of Moonshine Stills
There are generally three different types of moonshine stills, with each offering its own set of benefits. The best type for you will depend on the amount of space you have, the kind of flavor you desire, and the amount of purity your want.
The Pot Still is one of the most popular stills in the market. This traditional and simple still features a boiler or big pot to heat the wash, a tube to transfer the vapor and a cooling unit to turn the vapor back into a liquid.
This still produces the natural flavors of your mash and its purity is between 40 and 60 percent. You can improve the purity of your mash by passing it through the still all over again, but it will end up losing flavor.
Another type of still is the Reflux Still. Just like the Pot Still, a Reflux Still has a source of heat for heating the mash, a coil and a tube. However, it operates quite differently. This moonshine still features a long packing column, which is normally a metal material like steel.
During distillation, a little vapor will drip through the packing. This packing column boosts the purity of the product, which ultimately increases the amount of alcohol. This concentrated drink usually has little taste and it will essentially be like you passed it through the Pot Still multiple times.
Hybrid or Fractioning Still
Finally, there’s the Hybrid Still or Fractioning Still. This still has a slightly longer packing column than the Reflux Still. This extra packing helps to condense up to 90 percent of the mash vapor and directs it back to the column. This leads to increased product purity, but the drink has no taste.
This is usually the purest form of alcohol that you can make using a still that doesn’t have a vacuum. It allows you to produce very clear cuts between the different distillation stages (foreshots, heads, hearts and tails).
How to Choose the Right Moonshine Still For You
When looking for the best moonshine still for your needs, you need to determine what features are important to you and prioritize them. Different people have different needs, tastes and preferences. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the best moonshine still for you:
Still Materials and Design
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting your still is the materials used. You should avoid lead soldering because it can cause lead poisoning. It is also important to ensure the material is rust-resistant and durable enough to stand many years of use.
Both stainless stills and copper stills are popular today, but which is better? Well, a steel still can be a good choice for making moonshine. They are also a cheaper option for smaller cuts. However, copper helps to filter small quantities of sediments out. If you keep things clean and make price cuts, you can make just as fine a moonshine with either a copper still or a stainless steel still.
Your Final Product
Another major factor is the kind of flavor you desire. A Pot Still can be a excellent option if you want a moonshine that tastes like your mash. For a flavorless drink that is ideal for mixing, a Fractionating Still or Reflux Still will often do a better job.
Ease of Use
A complicated setup can make distilling difficult. You also want to clean your still. A still with a larger head can be much easier to clean since you will be able to reach the pot with your arm. Otherwise, one with a small opening might make cleaning more difficult.
Lastly, you want to consider location and visibility. The size of the space you have will influence your choice of still.
Making moonshine at home is illegal in some places. In such cases, it is important to get a still that you can properly hide. A small still can be easier to hide inside the house or one that’s easy to dissemble might be a better choice if you’re concerned about visibility.
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