Create Your Own Delicious Bourbon: A Recipe for a 5 Gallon Mash

Experience the Incredible Flavor of Homemade Bourbon!

The Roots of the American Classic

Bourbon, the iconic American spirit, has deep origins in the southern states, particularly Kentucky. The exact source of its name is still a matter of debate, with some speculating that it was inspired by Bourbon County in Kentucky, or even Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Nevertheless, bourbon has been cherished by people all over the world for centuries. It’s worth noting that only bourbon produced in the United States can be legally sold as bourbon. Additionally, the law dictates that bourbon must have at least 51% corn in its recipe, although most recipes use an even higher proportion.

Corn Whiskey vs. Bourbon: The Final Touch

Did you know that bourbon initially starts off as corn-based whiskey? However, what sets it apart is the final step it undergoes. To be officially classified as bourbon, the spirit must be aged for a minimum of two years in an oak barrel. Patience truly is a virtue when it comes to the art of bourbon-making. But let us assure you, the wait is absolutely worth it!

Crafting Your Very Own Bourbon

While there are numerous bourbon distilleries out there, many people are discovering the joy of creating their own spirits right at home. Distilling your own bourbon is much easier than you might think, requiring just one extra step compared to traditional corn whiskey. To get started on this exciting new hobby, all you need is a high-quality still kit. Our top recommendation is the Appalachian stove-top still kit, which includes everything necessary for crafting exceptional moonshine at home. This comprehensive kit comes with a built-in thermometer, a fermentor pot with an airtight lid, an airlock, and even a connected copper cooling pot. With the Appalachian kit, you’ll have all the tools needed to embark on this new adventure.

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copper moonshine still

Essential Steps for Preparing Your Mash

Before you dive into the world of bourbon-making, there are a few essential steps you need to consider. One crucial factor to keep in mind is maintaining precise control over the temperature of your mash. If you don’t have an all-in-one kit like the Appalachian, we recommend using the double boiler method to cook your mash. By using two pots—one larger and one smaller—you can create a water bath to help regulate the temperature more effectively. This method reduces the risk of burning your mash and ensures a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.

Equipment You’ll Need for Your Bourbon Mash

  • All-in-one stovetop still kit OR
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Double boiler/water bath: this can be as simple as two pots, with the smaller pot fitting inside the larger one and having enough volume to cook your mash. The smaller pot should also have a lid.
  • Mixing spoon
  • Grinder (if using green malt)
  • Old blanket
  • Fermentation container with an airtight lid
  • Airlock
  • Siphon tube
  • Distiller
  • Oak barrel or oak chips

The Bourbon Mash Recipe

Ingredients for Your Bourbon Mash

  • Corn flour or corn grits: 3.3 lbs or 1.5 kg (the choice between corn malt or corn flour is up to you; it won’t affect the yield of your mash)
  • Malt: 10.5 oz or 300 grams
  • Water: 2 gallons or 7 liters
  • Distillers yeast

Steps to Create Your Bourbon Mash

Are you ready to embark on your bourbon-making journey? Follow these straightforward steps to create your very own bourbon at home. Make sure you read the recipe thoroughly before starting to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment at hand.

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1. Create Your Mash

Gather all the equipment needed to prepare your mash, whether you’re using an all-in-one kit or the items mentioned above.

  • Fill the larger pot with water, around 2/3 full.
  • Place the smaller pot inside the larger one and fill it with 1.7 gallons or 6 liters of water. Reserve the remaining 1/3 gallon or 1 liter of water for later use.
  • Heat the water to 122°F/50°C.
  • Gradually add the flour or grits to the water while stirring constantly until fully incorporated. Maintain a temperature of 122°F/50°C for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps or thickening.
  • Increase the temperature to 149°F/65°C for another 15 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  • Add the remaining water (1/3 gallon or 1 liter) to the mash and raise the temperature to 167-176°F/75-80°C. Cover the pot and maintain this temperature for 20 minutes.

2. Prepare the Malt

While the mash is cooking, it’s time to prepare the malt. Crush the malt into coarse grains, using a grinder if you have green malt to achieve the desired consistency.
Once the mash has cooled down to 149°F/65°C, add the malt and stir until the mixture is uniform.

3. The Saccharification Process

After achieving a consistent, uniform texture, cover the pot with a lid and wrap it in an old blanket. Place it in a warm area for approximately 7 hours.
This crucial 7-hour period breaks down the carbohydrates in the mash and converts them into simple sugars, a necessary process facilitated by both the corn and malt ingredients.

4. Time to Ferment

Once the 7-hour period has passed, you’ll notice changes in your mash, such as a darker color and potentially a more liquid consistency. It’s time to prepare the distiller’s yeast according to the instructions on the package.
Check the temperature of your mash, ensuring it falls between 77-84.2°F/25-29°C before adding the yeast. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.

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5. The Distillation Process

If you have an all-in-one kit, your pot doubles as a fermentation container, eliminating the need to transfer the mash. However, if you don’t have this type of kit, pour your mash into a fermentation container with an airtight lid, making sure to fit an airlock to prevent souring.
Place the fermentation container in a cool, dark room for approximately 5-7 days. Initially, you may notice the airlock emitting gas, but it should eventually stop. The mash will have a distinct alcohol smell and a bitter taste, indicating successful fermentation.
When your mash reaches these milestones, it’s time to proceed with the distillation.

6. Distill with Care

Open your fermentation container and use a siphon tube or gauze as a filter to separate the liquid from the mash. This step is crucial, as coarse grains can burn during the distillation process.
The subsequent steps will depend on the type of still you’re using. During the first distillation, you should obtain approximately 0.4 gallons or 1.5 liters of raw alcohol with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 30-34%. Dilute this mixture with around 20% water and proceed to distill it a second time at a low temperature.
Discard the first 100-150 ml of the yield, as its quality may be compromised. Collect the remaining moonshine from the distillation until the ABV drops below 45%. This should yield approximately 700-800 ml of distillate with an ABV of 56%.
To achieve the desired taste, dilute your moonshine with approximately 40-45% water and let it stand for about two days before consumption. This will result in a moonshine with a sweet aftertaste and the delightful aroma of corn grits.

Finally, Bourbon!

To transform your corn whiskey into genuine bourbon, it needs to be aged. While traditional wisdom suggests aging it in an oak barrel for two years, you can cheat a little by allowing it to mature for around 9 months in an oak barrel or by using oak chips.
If you’re feeling adventurous and desire a sweeter treat, why not try our Applejack Moonshine recipe?

Enjoy the satisfaction of creating your very own bourbon, and remember, good things come to those who wait! Cheers!