Sunday, September 22, 2019

Making Likker

I used to watch my Daddy make moonshine, and while we never made it in the woods, the process was the same.  Corn, sugar, yeast, to make the beer, then distill the beer in a homemade still.  We ran a small still, about fifteen (15) gallons at a time, and generally two runs a year.  We were making it downtown, in an abandoned paint booth in an auto body shop  Hundreds of customers walked past that paint booth without knowing a moonshine still was within feet of them.

Moonshine is un-aged, white spirit made from grain, on which the tax is not paid.  If you've paid the tax and have a license, it is called White Dog.  If you age it in a barrel for a period of time it's called whiskey.

These days one can go into a good, specialty store and buy something that's called moonshie, but Dad would tun his nose up at that crap.  Generally, it's flavored and under 80 proof.  It's okay as a neutral mixer, but it's proofed-down to below what comes off a proper 'shie still.  Dad's was somewhere north of 150 proof, cleear as glass, and had absolutely no flavor.


Anonymous said...

It amazes me sometimes how DIFFERENT the various parts of the country are.

When I moved to PA almost five months ago, the local volunteer ambulance squad was doing a gun raffle as a fund-raiser (they're doing another one right now in fact), the guns include several handguns and an AR-15. Back in NJ where I moved from, even in my fairly Conservative (by NJ standards) town people would've retired to their fainting couches over such a thing, and they'd have been accused of trying to drum up their own business by causing more bloodshed thru the guns they were raffling off.

Also back in NJ, my wife and I were talking to one of her friends and her husband about scotch, and I said I buy pretty good scotch because I don't drink that much of it, maybe four or five bottles (750 ml) a year. Her friend replied (all wide-eyed) "Oh, that's a lot!" Now we have a candidate for Sheriff admitting, publicly and under his own name, that his father made 30 gallons of 'shine a year. I doubt it'll do your campaign any harm and may help.

Personally, I experienced grain alcohol exactly once. The headache started while I was still drunk. I'll stick with scotch or bourbon if I want something harder than beer, thankyouverymuch.

Mark D

pjk said...

A good distiller will discard the foreshots and heads when running the still - that will remove all the methanol from the process. That is the main chemical that will give a headache when consumed. The heads will contain various esters that will also contribute to your headache. You apparently get your shine from a producer more interested in the money than the quality of the product. I doubt very much that PawPaw's dad would have mixed the foreshots into his production.

Also, a 15 gallon still will produce probably 1.35 gallons of full proof spirits (if you could fill it all the way, which you couldn't).

Anonymous said...

pjk: The stuff I drank was in a bar in Philly, so it was (I assume) commercially produced, not moonshine.

Also, I assumed when he gave the capacity that that was the output, not the input. Apparently what I know about distilling could be put in PawPaw's Dad's still and still have plenty of room for 15 gallons of beer.

Mark D